Jelena Krivokapic Colloquium

"Prosodic structure in speech and body gestures"

Linguistics Linguistics
Jelena Krivokapic will present a talk entitled, "Prosodic structure in speech and body gestures."


The term “prosody” refers to linguistic structure above the segmental level, such as phrasal organization, rhythmic structure, and prominence. Prosodic structure introduces systematic variation in the temporal and tonal properties of speech. Thus segments and speech movements (gestures) become longer in the vicinity of prosodic boundaries and under prominence. This lengthening is cumulative for prosodic boundaries, i.e., it increases with boundary strength, and there is some evidence that it is cumulative for prominence as well, increasing from broad to narrow to contrastive focus. In addition to tonal and temporal manifestations of prosodic structure, there is substantial evidence that body gestures (e.g., speech-related movements of the hands and eyebrows) are also implicated in the expression of prosodic structure. However, the extent and exact nature of this relationship is still poorly understood.

I will present a series of experimental studies examining how structural properties of prosody are reflected in speech production. I start with a brief introduction to prosodic structure and then turn to four experimental studies examining the relationship between body gestures (specifically manual movements) and prosodic structure. The focus is on the coordination of manual and speech gestures (experiment 1) and on the temporal properties of manual gestures under prominence (experiment 2) and at prosodic boundaries (experiments 3-4). The implications of the findings for our understanding of the linguistic representation of prosodic structure are discussed.
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