Advertisement

Prosody and Meaning: Theory and Practice

  • Tim Wharton
Chapter
Part of the Educational Linguistics book series (EDUL, volume 15)

Abstract

Prosodic elements such as stress and intonation are generally seen as providing both ‘natural’ and properly linguistic input to utterance comprehension. They typically create impressions, convey information about emotions or attitudes or alter the salience of linguistically possible interpretations, rather than conveying distinct propositions or concepts in their own right. These aspects of communication present a challenge to pragmatic theory: how should they be described and explained? This chapter examines some of the theoretical questions raised in the study of the pragmatics of prosody. It explores a range of distinctions made in the study of meaning – between natural meaning and non-natural meaning, coding and inference, between linguistic coding and non-linguistic coding – and considers their relation to prosody. Three theoretical questions are asked: How can the different types of prosody be characterised? What is the relationship between prosody and intentional communication? What kind of meaning does prosody encode? In the final section of the chapter, the discussion is extended to the practical domain. To what extent is the theoretical debate reflected in the teaching of English pronunciation? Can the theory usefully inform the practice?

Keywords

Natural Sign Natural Behaviour Intentional Communication Lexical Stress British National Corpus 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Bachman, L. 1990. Fundamental considerations in language testing. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Barkow, J., L. Cosmides, and J. Tooby, eds. 1995. The adapted mind: Evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Blakemore, D. 1987. Semantic constraints on relevance. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  4. Blakemore, D. 2002. Relevance and linguistic meaning: The semantics and pragmatics of discourse markers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bolinger, D. 1983a. The inherent iconism of intonation. In Iconicity in syntax, ed. J. Haiman, 97–109. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  6. Bolinger, D. 1983b. Where does intonation belong? Journal of Semantics 2: 101–120.Google Scholar
  7. Brazil, D. 1975. The communicative value of intonation in English. Birmingham: University of Birmingham.Google Scholar
  8. Canale, M. 1983. From communicative competence to communicative language pedagogy. In Language and communication, ed. J. Richards and R. Schmidt, 2–28. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  9. Canale, M., and M. Swain. 1980. Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second language teaching and testing. Applied Linguistics 1: 1–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cantarutti, Marina. 2010. Perceiving prosody as a communicative strategy: Prosodic orientation in interaction. In Proceedings of the XXXV FAAPI Conference: EFL and Art, Córdoba, Argentina, 23 Sept 2010, Paper 45.Google Scholar
  11. Carston, R. 2002. Thoughts and utterances: The pragmatics of explicit communication. Oxford: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Celce-Murcia, M., Z. Dörnyei, and S. Thurrell. 1995. Communicative competence: A pedagogically motivated model with content specifications. Issues in Applied Linguistics 6(2): 5–35.Google Scholar
  13. Chen, A., and C. Gussenhoven. 2003. Language-dependence in signalling of attitude in speech. In Proceedings of Workshop on the Subtle Expressivity of Emotion, CHI 2003 Conference on Human and Computer Interaction, ed. N. Suzuki and C. Bartneck.Google Scholar
  14. Chevallier, C., I. Noveck, F. Happé, and D. Wilson. 2011. What’s in a voice: Prosody as a test for the Theory of Mind account of autism. Neuropsychologia 49(3): 507–517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Clark, B. 2007. ‘Blazing a trail’: Moving from natural to linguistic meaning in accounting for the tones of English. In Interpreting utterances; pragmatics and its interfaces. Essays in honour of thorstein fretheim, ed. R.A. Nilsen, N.A. Appiah Amfo, and K. Borthen, 69–81. Oslo: Novus.Google Scholar
  16. Clark, B., and G. Lindsey. 1990 Intonation, grammar and utterance interpretation. University College London Working Papers in Linguistics 2: 32–51.Google Scholar
  17. Couper-Kuhlen, E. in press. Some truths and untruths about final intonation in conversational questions. In Questions. formal, functional and interactional perspectives, ed. J.P. de Ruiter. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Cummings, L., ed. 2009. The pragmatics encylopaedia. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Eibl-Eibesfeldt, I. 1972. Similarities and differences between cultures in expressive movements. In Non-verbal communication,ed. R. Hinde, 297–312. Cambridge: Cambridge University.Google Scholar
  20. Ekman, P. 1989. The argument and evidence about universals in facial expressions of emotion. In Handbook of social psychophysiology, ed. H. Wagner and A. Manstead, 143–164. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  21. Ekman, P. 1992. An argument for basic emotion. Cognition and Emotion 6(3/4): 169–200.Google Scholar
  22. Ekman, P. 1999. Emotional and conversational nonverbal signals. In Gesture, speech and sign, ed. L. Messing and R. Campbell, 45–57. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Escandell-Vidal, V. 1998. Intonation and procedural encoding: The case of Spanish interrogatives. In Current issues in relevance theory, ed. V. Rouchota and A. Jucker, 169–203. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  24. Escandell-Vidal, V. 2002. Echo-syntax and metarepresentations. Lingua 112: 871–900.Google Scholar
  25. Fretheim, T. 2002. Intonation as a constraint on inferential processing. In Proceedings of the Speech Prosody 2002 Conference, ed. B. Bel and I. Marlien, 59–64.Google Scholar
  26. Fridlund, A. 1994. Human facial expression: An evolutionary view. San Diego: Academic.Google Scholar
  27. Gigerenzer, G. 2000. Adaptive thinking: Rationality in the real world. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Gigerenzer, G., P. Todd, and The ABC Research Group. 1999. Simple heuristics that make us smart. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Grice, H.P. 1957. Meaning. Philosophical Review 66: 377–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Grice, H.P. 1967. William James Lectures, delivered at Harvard University, ms. Google Scholar
  31. Grice, H.P. 1989. Studies in the way of words. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Gussenhoven, C. 1984. On the grammar and semantics of sentence accents. Dordrecht: Foris.Google Scholar
  33. Gussenhoven, C. 2002. Intonation and interpretation: Phonetics and phonology. In Speech prosody 2002: Proceedings of the First International Conference on Speech Prosody, Aix-en-Provence, ProSig and Universite de Provence Laboratoire Parole et Language, 47–57.Google Scholar
  34. Gussenhoven, C. 2004. The phonology of tone and intonation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Gussenhoven, C. 2006. Semantics of prosody. In Encyclopaedia of language and linguistics, vol. 11, 2nd ed., ed. K. Brown, 170–172. Oxford: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  36. Hall, A. 2004. The meaning of but: A procedural reanalysis. University College London Working Papers in Linguistics 16: 199–236.Google Scholar
  37. Halliday, M. 1963. Explorations in the function of language. London: Arnold.Google Scholar
  38. Halliday, M. 1967. Intonation and grammar in British English. The Hague: Mouton.Google Scholar
  39. Hauser, M. 1996. The evolution of communication. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  40. Hirschberg, J., and G. Ward. 1995. The interpretation of the high-rise question contour in English. Journal of Pragmatics 24: 407–412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hirschfeld, L., and S. Gelman, eds. 1994. Mapping the mind: Domain specificity in cognition and culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  42. House, J. 1990. Intonation structures and pragmatic interpretation. In Studies in the pronunciation of English, ed. S. Ramsaran, 38–57. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  43. House, J. 2006. Constructing a context with intonation. Journal of Pragmatics 38(10): 1542–1558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. House, J. 2007. The role of prosody in constraining context selection: A procedural approach. In Nouveaux Cahiers de Linguistique Française 28: 369–383.Google Scholar
  45. Hymes, D. 1972. On communicative competence. In Sociolinguistics, ed. J. Pride and J. Holmes. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  46. Imai, K. 1998. Intonation and relevance. In Relevance theory: Applications and implications, ed. R. Carston and S. Uchida, 69–86. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  47. Jenkins, J. 2000. The phonology of English as an international language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Kendon, A. 2004. Gesture: Visible action as utterance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  49. König, E. 1991. The meaning of focus particles: A comparative perspective. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Ladd, R. 1978. The structure of intonational meaning. London: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Ladd, R. 1996. Intonational phonology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  52. McNeill, D. 1992. Hand and mind: What gestures reveal about thought. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  53. Millikan, R. 1984. Language, thought and other biological categories. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  54. O’Connor, J., and G. Arnold. 1973. Intonation of colloquial English. Harlow: Longman.Google Scholar
  55. Origgi, G., and D. Sperber. 2000. Evolution, communication and the proper function of language. In Evolution and the human mind: Modularity, language and meta-cognition, ed. P. Carruthers and A. Chamberlain, 140–169. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Ostler, N. 2010. The last Lingua franca: English until the return of Babel. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  57. Padilla Cruz, M. 2009a. Towards an alternative relevance-theoretic approach to interjections. International Review of Pragmatics 1(1): 182–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Padilla Cruz, M. 2009b. Might interjections encode concepts? Lodz Papers in Pragmatics 5(2): 241–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Pell, M. 2002. Surveying emotional prosody in the brain. In Proceedings of the Speech Prosody 2002 Conference, ed. B. Bel and I. Marlien, 77–82.Google Scholar
  60. Pierrehumbert, J., and J. Hirschberg. 1990. The meaning of intonational contours in the interpretation of discourse. In Intentions in communication, ed. P. Cohen, J. Morgan, and M. Pollack, 271–311. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  61. Sag, I., and M. Liberman. 1975. The intonational disambiguation of indirect speech acts. Papers from the eleventh regional meeting of the Chicago Linguistics Society. Chicago: Chicago Linguistics Society, 487–497.Google Scholar
  62. Seeley, T. 1989. The honey-bee colony as a superorganism. American Scientist 77: 546–553.Google Scholar
  63. Sperber, D. 1996. Explaining culture: A naturalistic approach. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  64. Sperber, D. 2002. In defense of massive modularity. In Language, brain and cognitive development: Essays in honor of Jacques Mehler, ed. E. Dupoux, 47–57. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  65. Sperber, D., and D. Wilson. 1986/1995. Relevance: Communication and cognition. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  66. van Hooff, J. 1972. A comparative approach to the phylogeny of laughter and smiling. In Non-verbal communication, ed. R. Hinde, 209–238. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  67. Vandepitte, S. 1989. A pragmatic function of intonation. Lingua 79: 265–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Ward, G., and J. Hirschberg. 1988 Intonation and propositional attitude: The pragmatics of L*  +  H L  H%. In Proceedings of the Fifth Eastern States Conference on Linguistics, 512–522. Columbus: OSU Department of Linguistics.Google Scholar
  69. Wharton, T. 2003a. Interjections, language and the ‘showing’/‘saying’ continuum. Pragmatics and Cognition 11–1(May): 39–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Wharton, T. 2003b. Natural pragmatics and natural codes. Mind and Language 18(5): 447–477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Wharton, T. 2009. Pragmatics and Non-verbal communication. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Wharton, T. in press. Pragmatics and prosody. In The Cambridge handbook of pragmatics, ed. K. Allan and K. Jasczolt. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  73. Wichmann, A. 2002. Attitudinal intonation and the inferential process. In Proceedings of the Speech Prosody Conference, ed. B. Bel and I. Marlien, 11–16.Google Scholar
  74. Wichmann, A., and D. Blakemore, eds. 2006. Prosody and pragmatics. Special issue of Journal of Pragmatics 38(10): 1537–1541.Google Scholar
  75. Wilson, D., and D. Sperber. 1993. Linguistic form and relevance. Lingua 90(1): 1–25.Google Scholar
  76. Wilson, D., and T. Wharton. 2006. Relevance and prosody. Journal of Pragmatics 38: 1559–1579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Media and CommunicationKingston UniversityLondonUK

Personalised recommendations