Understanding Expressive Speech Acts: The Role of Prosody and Situational Context in French-Speaking 5- to 9-Year-Olds PurposeThis study was aimed at determining the role of prosody and situational context in children’s understanding of expressive utterances. Which one of these 2 cues will help children grasp the speaker’s intention? Do children exhibit a “contextual bias” whereby they ignore prosody, such as the “lexical bias” found in other ... Article
Article  |   December 01, 2010
Understanding Expressive Speech Acts: The Role of Prosody and Situational Context in French-Speaking 5- to 9-Year-Olds
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Marc Aguert
    University of Poitiers, France
  • Virginie Laval
    University of Poitiers, France
  • Ludovic Le Bigot
    University of Poitiers, France
  • Josie Bernicot
    University of Poitiers, France
  • Contact author: Virginie Laval, University of Poitiers, Laboratoire Langage et Cognition (LaCo), MSHS 99 Avenue du Recteur Pineau, Poitiers 86022, France. Virginie Laval is also affiliated with the Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition et l’Apprentissage (CNRS), UMR 6234, MSHS, Bâtiment A5, 5 rue Théodore Lefebvre, 86000 POITIERS. E-mail: virginie.laval@univ-poitiers.fr.
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language
Article   |   December 01, 2010
Understanding Expressive Speech Acts: The Role of Prosody and Situational Context in French-Speaking 5- to 9-Year-Olds
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2010, Vol. 53, 1629-1641. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/08-0078)
History: Received April 18, 2008 , Revised December 16, 2008 , Accepted March 10, 2010
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2010, Vol. 53, 1629-1641. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/08-0078)
History: Received April 18, 2008; Revised December 16, 2008; Accepted March 10, 2010
Web of Science® Times Cited: 11

PurposeThis study was aimed at determining the role of prosody and situational context in children’s understanding of expressive utterances. Which one of these 2 cues will help children grasp the speaker’s intention? Do children exhibit a “contextual bias” whereby they ignore prosody, such as the “lexical bias” found in other studies (M. Friend & J. Bryant, 2000)?

MethodIn the first experiment, a group of 5- to 9-year-old children and a group of adults performed a computerized judgment task. They had to determine the speaker’s intention on the basis of an utterance produced with a particular prosody (positive or negative) in a particular situational context (positive or negative). In the second experiment, the same prosodic utterances were presented to 5- to 9-year-old children without a situational context.

ResultsThe 5- and 7-year-old children relied primarily on situational context, in contrast to adults, who relied on prosody. The 9-year-olds relied on both cues (Experiment 1). When prosody was the sole cue (Experiment 2), all children relied on this cue to infer the speaker’s intention.

ConclusionsThe results are discussed and integrated into a larger conceptual framework that includes research on lexical bias and sarcasm.

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