Prosody (linguistics)

Prosody (Linguistics)

Prosody (linguistics)

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In linguistics, prosody (pronounced ) is the rhythm, stress, and intonation of speech. Prosody may reflect various features of the speaker or the utterance: the emotional state of the speaker; the form of the utterance (statement, question, or command); the presence of irony or sarcasm; emphasis, contrast, and focus; or other elements of language that may not be encoded by grammar or choice of vocabulary.

Acoustic attributes of prosody

In terms of acoustics, the prosodics of oral languages involve variation in syllable length, loudness, pitch, and the formant frequencies of speech sounds. In sign languages, prosody involves the rhythm, length, and tension of gestures, along with mouthing and facial expressions. Prosody is typically absent in writing, which can occasionally result in reader misunderstanding. Orthographic conventions to mark or substitute for prosody include punctuation (commas, exclamation marks, question marks, scare quotes, and ellipses), and typographic styling for emphasis (italic, bold, and underlined text).

The details of a language's prosody depend upon its phonology. For instance, in a language with phonemic vowel length, this must be marked separately from prosodic syllable length. In similar manner, prosodic pitch must not obscure tone in a tone language if the result is to be intelligible. Although tone languages such as Mandarin have prosodic pitch variations in the course of a sentence, such variations are long and smooth contours, on which...
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