Marc D. Pell
(McGill University, Montréal, Canada)
Prosody as a beacon for understanding a speaker’s stance and intentions
Speech prosody plays an important interpersonal function in human communication, supplying critical details for understanding a speaker’s stance towards their utterance and other people involved in the interaction. For example, listeners use prosody to infer the speaker’s certainty or commitment when making particular speech acts, to decipher whether the speaker holds a positive or negative attitude towards aspects of the communication situation, or simply to recognize that the speaker means to elicit empathy and support by how they vocally express their utterance. In this talk, I will look at some concrete examples of how speech prosody serves as an early “beacon” for understanding the disposition and intended meanings of a speaker during on-line speech processing (based on how listeners interpret irony, requests, and complaints). Behavioural and electrophysiological evidence will be considered.