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Suprasegmental aspects of speech (last paragraph on page: 44 - 45)
1. Paralinguistic features (voice quality – vocal adjustments)
o Not generally to convey linguistic meaning although they may be used
to add to the effect of an utterance
o Ex. Whispering
1. indicates that a speaker does not wish to be overheard
2. but does not change the linguistic meaning of what is said
2. Linguistic features
o are referred to as suprasegmental features (prosody)
o indicate meaning differences
o ex. Placing stress on a praticular word within an utterance can
change the meaning of that utterance  'She didn't break the
window' vs. 'She didn't break the window'
Prosody can be defined as
o phonetic and phonological features that are not segmental i.e. not attributable to
vowel and consonant places in the phonological structure.
o relates to the function of information focus & emphasis
Interaction of prosody with pragmatics:
 turn taking
 Presupposition
 Speech acts functions
Prosody is central to communication. It can be used to
 convey different emotions or attitudes
 signal the difference between illocutionary acts such as questions & statements
o statements, offers, promises, requests, orders, exclamations
(interaction of prosody with pragmatics/ role of prosody within of
 make grammatical distinctions
o delimitation of where one piece of information ends & another begins
 topic demarcation, turn delimitation, speaker's turn to mark
continuity & discontinuity
o operates in the grouping of words into larger prosodic unitsi.e. tone units/
tone-grouping- which coincide with grammatical units such as the clause
or sentence.
(grammatical functions of prosody)
 handle subtle aspects of interaction
o the management of the system for the exchange of speaker turns
o turn-yeilding
o turn-holding
o turn-competition: interruptions, fending of interruptions, relinqiushing of
a prosodic difficulty could cause a client difficulty in maintaining
"conversational interactions"
Some of the illocutionary acts, like questions, have associations with specific
grammatical structures & specific intonation patterns
o Pragmatic functions of prosody are closeley related to grammatical
o Questions constitute a type of speech act chracterized by particular
grammatical structures & also by particular intonation patterns
Prosodic breakdown or problems with prosodic development can affect all theses
aspects of communication.
Prosodic difficulties have been found in a wide range of developmental &
acquired clinical conditions:
 dysarthria
 aphasia
 right hemisphere damage
 hearing impairment
 learning difficulties
 autism
 developmental speech & language disorders
Prosody is conveyed by controlling three features
o Pitch (Fo)  rate of vibration of vocal cords
o Loudness (intensity)  respiratory drive
o Length (duration)  time taken for articulation
Prosody has four components which are: intonation – tone – tempo and loudness.
Intonation: Patterns of pitch rises and falls and pattern of stress and has the following
 Rhythm :the distribution of various levels of stress across a syllable chain.
 Pitch declination: Used to identify major linguistic units such as clauses
and sentences.
 New vs. given information
 Contrastive stress: used to mark a word, phrase or clause that contradicts
with one that was previously stated or implied in the discourse.
 Lexical stress:
 IMport vs. imPORT.
 PROtest vs. proTEST.
Tone: The regulation of Fo to produce contrasts such as falling pitch,
rising pitch.
Tempo: it includes aspects that have a primary effect on the temporal pattern of
Pause (juncture): used to identify certain syntactic boundaries, especially
sentence, clause and phrase boundaries.
 Silence is a pause without fillers.
Phrase-final lengthening: lengthening of the last stressable syllable.
 Red, green and blue were the decorator’s colors.
 Blue, green and red were the decorator’s colors.
Speaking rate: as the rate increases the duration required to say the utterance
 Loudness: the perceived strength of a sound.
Development of prosody:
 In the early stages of language development, prosody often is more advanced
than phonological, syntactic or semantic development.
 The developing prosodic system interacts with the other aspects of language
and reaches adult characteristics only at puberty
Prosodic difficulties affect:
 Intonation
 Tempo
 Loudness
Prosodic difficulties are:
 Assessed perceptually.
 Can be receptive or expressive difficulties.
 Present in both acquired and developmental speech and language disorders
(mentioned above)
The interaction between the different aspects of prosody.
Accentuation has a dual function: delimitative & focusing
 Accentuation is used to:
 highlight important information in the utterance
o e.g. 'new' information
 delimit stretches of talk when the point of major prominance is
reached, the listener knows that potentially the stretch of talk is, or is
nearly, completed.
For some speakers with communication difficulties, the two functions may become
dissociated; in particular, accentuation may be reserved for its delimitative function,
and not used at all to convey information focus
 i.e. a client who fails to use accentuation appropriately to highlight the
important elements of the utterance may still be using it for other
communicative purposes
Assessment of the comprehension of prosody:
 Judgment tasks.
 Response to conversation.
Assessment of the production of prosody is done through:
 Observation of habitual speech.
 Reading a standardized passage.
 Instrumental analysis.
Some points to consider when assessing prosody:
 When assessing accentuation, and prosody in general, it is necessary
simultaneously to take account of other levels of linguistic organization, such as
grammar and lexis (example on: using correct words but wrong accentuation,
incorrect words & appropriate accentuation in extracts of Philip Vs Len)
 When assessing a client's use of prosodic means to indicate focus, it is
important not only to be aware of the prosodic variation that is attributable to
focus, but also to take account of prosodic differences that may be attributable
to other sources, the dialect or accent background of the speaker.
Screening for semantic anomaly to ensure that any incorrect responses on the
focus accent judgement task could be attributed to prosodic factors, rather than to
a more general inability to recognize anomalous sentence pairs.
 When assessing the client's prosodic abilities, it is important to compare the client's
prosodic abilities to his/her other languages, specifically receptive language skills,
in addition to comparing the client's performance with that of his/her peers.