This study investigates when in time the prosodic correlates of a syntactic contrast can be detected in acoustic and articulatory signals. Specifically, we attempt to localize information that distinguishes non-restrictive relative clauses (NRRCs) and restrictive relative clauses (RRCs). On several accounts (e.g. Selkirk 2005), the two types of relative clauses differ in prosodic phrase organization, and this predicts that the two structures should differ in the vicinity of the phrase boundaries before and after the relative clause.
To test this prediction, we used a neural network-based analysis procedure. The results showed that for some speakers, the syntactically conditioned prosodic information was distributed in a wide region around prosodic boundaries, while for the other speakers, the information was more concentrated at specific locations. For those speakers who showed concentrated patterns, there was variation in where prosodic information was located relative to phrase boundaries.