SRPP: Handy prosody: how prosody in the voice, lips, and hands shapes the words you hear

Donders Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen
01 December 2023, 14h0015h30
Speech conveys both segmental information about vowels and consonants as well as suprasegmental information about for instance intonation, speech rate, and lexical stress; also known as the prosody of speech. In this talk, I will demonstrate that listeners are keenly sensitive to spoken prosody conveyed through both the auditory and the visual modality. Work from my group showcases the vast variability in how different talkers produce spoken prosody, while also unveiling the remarkable flexibility with which listeners can learn to strategically adapt to this between-talker variability. It also emphasizes that prosody is a multimodal linguistic phenomenon, with the voice, lips, and even hands conveying prosody in concert. For instance, evidence for a ‘manual McGurk effect’ provides a proof-of-concept of how even relatively simple ‘flicks of the hands’ can influence the perception of lexical stress. Moreover, human listeners are shown to actively weigh various multisensory cues to prosody depending on the listening conditions at hand. Thus, prosody – in all its multisensory forms – is a potent factor in speech perception, determining which words we hear.

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