Influence of prosodic boundaries on comprehension of spoken English sentences

Dawn G. Blasko, Michael D. Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Three experiments investigated the role of prosody in the comprehension of auditory sentences. In Exp. 1 an analysis of three novice talkers and one expert talker verified the production parameters of one type of syntactic ambiguity and showed that pitch cues were more prominent than duration cues. In Exp. 2, 16 listeners used prosodic information to make consistent decisions reliably about phrase boundaries. In Exp. 3, 40 participants listened to sentences in which prosody was inconsistent with later morphosyntactic information, indicated their understanding, and then judged whether a visual target was related to the meaning of the sentence. Inconsistent prosody slowed comprehension and contributed to slower, less accurate judgments of sentence meaning. This suggests that prosodic information contributes to the perception of spoken language and can affect comprehension even when the syntactic structure indicated by prosody is contradicted by subsequent morphosyntactic information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-18
Number of pages16
JournalPerceptual and motor skills
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems


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