Prosody's Role in Language Acquisition and Adult Parsing

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25 Scopus citations


There has been recent interest in the role of prosody in language acquisition as well as in adult sentence processing. Although the specific questions about prosody asked in these two domains may appear to differ, there are at least three basic issues that they have in common. These include the role of prosody in segmentation (i.e., deciding whether two adjacent sections of speech belong to the same or to different linguistic units), structural bracketing (i.e., discerning structural relations among linguistic units), and the reliability of prosodic cues. Data from both language acquisition and adult parsing research suggest that, although prosody almost certainly plays a role in segmentation, it probably does not aid in bracketing. Research on the reliability of prosodic cues suggest that these are probably more reliable and robust in child-directed than in adult-directed speech registers, raising questions about how child and adult listeners interpret the presence vs. absence of prosodic cues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-356
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of psycholinguistic research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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