suprasegmental

Linguistics
Theoretical linguistics
Phonetics
Phonology
Morphology
Syntax
Semantics
Lexical semantics
Statistical semantics
Structural semantics
Prototype semantics
Pragmatics
Applied linguistics
Language acquisition
Psycholinguistics
Sociolinguistics
Linguistic anthropology
Generative linguistics
Cognitive linguistics
Computational linguistics
Descriptive linguistics
Historical linguistics
Comparative linguistics
Etymology
Stylistics
Prescription
History of linguistics
List of linguists
Unsolved problems


In linguistics, prosody (from Greek προσωδία) is the study of rhythm, intonation, and related attributes in speech. It describes all the acoustic properties of speech that cannot be predicted from a local window on the orthographic (or similar) transcription. So, prosody is relative to a default pronunciation of a phoneme/feature bundle/segment/syllable; it does not include coarticulation because coarticulation is predictable from the immediate phonological or orthographic neighborhood. Qualitatively, one can understand prosody as the difference (in terms of acoustic properties) between a well-performed play, and one on first reading.

Syntactically, the term generally covers intonation, rhythm, and focus in speech.

Acoustically, prosody describes changes in the syllable length, loudness, pitch, and formant structure of speech sounds. Looking at the speech articulators, it describes changes in the velocity and range of motion in articulators like the jaw and tongue, along with quantities like the air pressure in the trachea and the tensions in the laryngeal muscles.

Phonologically, prosody is described by tone, intonation, rhythm, and lexical stress.

A precise definition of prosody and its effects depends upon the language. For instance, some languages make lexical distinctions based on vowel duration. In such languages, syllable length would thus be at least partly predictable from a transcription and thus not completely prosodic. Likewise, in tone languages such as Mandarin, the pitch and/or intonation is at least partially predictable from the lexical tone of a word, and thus not completely prosodic.

Similarly, the formant structure of vowels is primarily determined by a phonological or orthographic transcription, but not entirely. Vowels are generally more completely realized in accented or focussed syllables. From an acoustic point of view, it means that the formant structure is farther from the structure of a neutral vowel (typically the schwa), and closer to the vowels that one might see in the stressed syllables of a carefully spoken word. Thus, the precise formant structure of vowels normally contains a mixture of prosodic and lexical information.

The prosodic features of a unit of speech, whether a syllable, word, phrase, or clause, are typically called suprasegmental features because they typically affect all the segments of the unit.

Prosodic units do not always correspond to grammatical units, although both may reflect how the brain processes speech. Phrases and clauses are grammatical concepts, but they may have prosodic equivalents, commonly called prosodic units, intonation units, or declination units, which are the actual phonetic spurts or chunks of speech. These are often believed to exist as a hierarchy of levels. Such units are characterized by several phonetic cues, such as a coherent pitch contour, and the gradual decline in pitch and lengthening of vowels over the duration of the unit, until the pitch and speed are reset to begin the next unit. Breathing, both inhalation and exhalation, only seems to occur at these boundaries.

Different schools of linguistics describe somewhat different prosodic units. One common distinction is between continuing prosody, which in English orthography we might mark with a comma, and final prosody, which we might mark with a full stop (period). This is the common usage of the IPA symbols for "minor" and "major" prosodic breaks (American English pronunciation):

Jack, preparing the way, went on.
[ˈdʒæk | pɹəˌpɛəɹɪŋ ğə ˈweɪ | wɛnt ˈɒn ‖ ]


Jacques, préparant le sol, tomba.
[ˈʒak | pʁepaʁɑ̃ lɵ ˈsɔl | tɔ̃ˈba ‖ ]


Note that the last syllable with a full vowel in a French prosodic unit is stressed, and that the last stressed syllable in an English prosodic unit has primary stress. This shows that stress is not phonemic in French, and that the difference between primary and secondary stress is not phonemic in English; they are both elements of prosody rather than inherent in the words.

The pipe symbols – the vertical bars | and ‖ – used above are phonetic, and so will often disagree with English punctuation, which only partially correlates with prosody.

However, the pipes may also be used for metrical breaks -- a single pipe being used to mark metrical feet, and a double pipe to mark both continuing and final prosody, as their alternate names "foot group" and "intonation group" suggest. In such usage, each foot group would include one and only one heavy syllable. In English, this would mean one and only one stressed syllable:

Jack, preparing the way, went on.
[ˈdʒæk ‖ pɹəˌpɛəɹɪŋ | ğə ˈweɪ ‖ wɛnt ˈɒn ‖ ]


In many tone languages with downdrift, such as Hausa, [ | ] is often used to represent a minor prosodic break that does not interrupt the overall decline in pitch of the utterance, while [ ‖ ] marks either continuing or final prosody that creates a pitch reset. In such cases, some linguists use only the single pipe, with continuing and final prosody marked by a comma and period, respectively.

In transcriptions of non-tonal languages, the three symbols pipe, comma, and period may also be used, with the pipe representing a break more minor than the comma, the so-called list prosody often used to separate items when reading lists, spelling words, or giving out telephone numbers.

It can be assumed that many people can communicate and interpret extensibly using slight colours, tonation and rhythm in the voice to extend emotions and clever nuances in conversation. However, it should be noted that not everyone is assumed able to fully understand or even acknowledge such extensive tonal characteristics in particular speech - even in their native language. See Sociolinguistics

See also

Linguistics is the scientific study of language, which can be theoretical or applied. Someone who engages in this study is called a linguist.
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Theoretical linguistics is the branch of linguistics that is most concerned with developing models of linguistic knowledge. Part of this endeavor involves the search for and explanation of linguistic universals, that is, properties all languages have in common.
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Phonetics (from the Greek word φωνή, phone meaning 'sound, voice') is the study of the sounds of human speech. It is concerned with the actual properties of speech sounds (phones), and their production, audition and perception, while phonology, which
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Phonology (Greek φωνή (phōnē), voice, sound + λόγος (lógos), word, speech, subject of discussion), is a subfield of linguistics which studies the sound system of a
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Morphology is the field within linguistics that studies the internal structure of words. (Words as units in the lexicon are the subject matter of lexicology.
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In computer science, SYNTAX is a system used to generate lexical and syntactic analyzers (parsers) (both deterministic and non-deterministic) for all kind of context-free grammars
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Lexical semantics is a subfield of linguistics. It is the study of how and what the words of a language denote (Pustejovsky, 1995). Words may either be taken to denote things in the world, or concepts, depending on the particular approach to lexical semantics.
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Statistical Semantics is the study of "how the statistical patterns of human word usage can be used to figure out what people mean, at least to a level sufficient for information access" (Furnas, 2006).
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Structural semantics deals with relationships between the meanings of terms within a sentence, and how meaning can be composed from smaller elements.

See also

  • Principle of compositionality
  • Ferdinand de Saussure

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Prototype Theory is a mode of graded categorization in Cognitive Science, where some members of a category are more central than others. For example, when asked to give an example of the concept furniture, chair is more frequently cited than, say, stool.
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Pragmatics is the study of the ability of natural language speakers to communicate more than that which is explicitly stated. The ability to understand another speaker's intended meaning is called pragmatic competence.
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Applied linguistics is an interdisciplinary field of study that identifies, investigates, and offers solutions to language-related real life problems. Some of the academic fields related to applied linguistics are education, linguistics, psychology, anthropology, and sociology.
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Language acquisition is the process by which the language capability develops in a human. First language acquisition concerns the development of language in children, while second language acquisition focuses on
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Psycholinguistics or psychology of language is the study of the psychological and neurobiological factors that enable humans to acquire, use, and understand language.
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Sociolinguistics is the study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural norms, expectations, and context on the way language is used. Sociolinguistics overlaps to a considerable degree with pragmatics.
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Linguistic anthropology is that branch of anthropology that brings linguistic methods to bear on anthropological problems, linking the analysis of semiotic and particularly linguistic forms and processes (on both small and large scales) to the interpretation of sociocultural
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Generative linguistics is a school of thought within linguistics that makes use of the concept of a generative grammar. The term "generative grammar" is used in different ways by different people, and the term "generative linguistics" therefore has a range of different,
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In linguistics and cognitive science, cognitive linguistics (CL) refers to the school of linguistics that understands language creation, learning, and usage as best explained by reference to human cognition in general.
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Computational linguistics is an interdisciplinary field dealing with the statistical and/or rule-based modeling of natural language from a computational perspective. This modeling is not limited to any particular field of linguistics.
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Descriptive linguistics is the work of analyzing and describing how language is spoken (or how it was spoken in the past) by a group of people in a speech community. All scholarly research in linguistics is descriptive; like all other sciences, its aim is to observe the linguistic
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Historical linguistics (also diachronic linguistics) is the study of language change. It has five main concerns:
  • to describe and account for observed changes in particular languages;

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Comparative linguistics (originally comparative philology) is a branch of historical linguistics that is concerned with comparing languages in order to establish their historical relatedness. Languages may be related by convergence through borrowing or by genetic descent.
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Etymology is the study of the history of words - when they entered a language, from what source, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.

In languages with a long written history, etymology makes use of philology, the study of how words change from culture to
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Stylistics is the study of varieties of language whose properties position that language in . For example, the language of advertising, politics, religion, individual authors, etc., or the language of a period in time, all belong in a particular situation.
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In linguistics, prescription can refer both to the codification and the enforcement of rules governing how a language is to be used. These rules can cover such topics as standards for spelling and grammar or syntax; or rules for what is deemed socially or politically correct.
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Linguistics as a study endeavors to describe and explain the human faculty of language and has been of scholarly interest throughout recorded history. Contemporary linguistics is the result of a continuous European intellectual tradition originating in ancient Greece that was later
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A linguist in the academic sense is a person who studies linguistics. Ambiguously, the word is sometimes also used to refer to a polyglot (one who knows more than 2 languages), or a grammarian, but these two uses of the word are distinct.
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This article discusses currently unsolved problems in linguistics.

Some of the issues below are commonly recognized as problems per se, i.e., it is general agreement that the solution is unknown. Others may be described as controversies, i.e.
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Linguistics is the scientific study of language, which can be theoretical or applied. Someone who engages in this study is called a linguist.
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