Prosody and spoken-word recognition

McQueen, J. M., & Dilley, L. C. (2020). Prosody and spoken-word recognition. In C. Gussenhoven, & A. Chen (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of language prosody (pp. 509-521). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
This chapter outlines a Bayesian model of spoken-word recognition and reviews how
prosody is part of that model. The review focuses on the information that assists the lis­
tener in recognizing the prosodic structure of an utterance and on how spoken-word
recognition is also constrained by prior knowledge about prosodic structure. Recognition
is argued to be a process of perceptual inference that ensures that listening is robust to
variability in the speech signal. In essence, the listener makes inferences about the seg­
mental content of each utterance, about its prosodic structure (simultaneously at differ­
ent levels in the prosodic hierarchy), and about the words it contains, and uses these in­
ferences to form an utterance interpretation. Four characteristics of the proposed
prosody-enriched recognition model are discussed: parallel uptake of different informa­
tion types, high contextual dependency, adaptive processing, and phonological abstrac­
tion. The next steps that should be taken to develop the model are also discussed.
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