This paper examines the semantics of prosodic cues that enhance the bias meaning of negative polar questions in Mandarin Chinese and Japanese. We propose a semantic denotation for each phonetic phenomenon: Mandarin sentence-final stress marks the salience of the proposition with the opposite polarity to that of the surface proposition, while Japanese deaccentuation marks the givenness of the positive answer. The proposed semantics compositionally derives the observed discourse effects. The second part of the paper reports two naturalness rating experiments, which further support the empirical bases of our semantic analyses. Taken together, our study demonstrates the significant interaction between prosodic cues and contexts.
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