Mariapaola D'ImperioRutgers University, USA
Perceiving intonation in a multifaceted society: the role of cognitive and indexical factors
Speech production and perception are characterized by a great deal of variability, depending on factors such as contextual information and individual differences. Among possible sources of individual variability, socio-indexical information (such as gender, regional origin, social values and attitudes) has been extensively studied in the last two decades, especially in the realm of speech production. Individual cognitive variability in speech processing has only been quite recently uncovered, though mainly for segmental processing. In this talk I will first review literature on the impact of individual differences on perception, with a special look at prosody perception and musical aptitude. I will then report on more recent studies in which socio-pragmatic skills (i.e., empathic skills) and indexical information (i.e. exposure to non-native dialects) modulate the use of intonation cues to the purpose of either resolving lexical ambiguity or processing pragmatic meaning. Results will be discussed in the light of current theories of prosody-meaning mapping and research perspectives will be outlined.