[CUNY2011] 2ND CALL: Experimental and Theoretical Advances in Prosody (ETAP) 2
dgwatson at illinois.edu
Tue Apr 12 10:34:58 EDT 2011
2nd Call for Papers
Experimental and Theoretical Advances in Prosody (ETAP) 2
Prosody in Context
Where: McGill University, Montréal
When: September 23-25 2011
Contact: etap2011 at gmail.com
Conference Website: prosodylab.org/etap
Deadline for submissions: May 15 2011
Notification of acceptance: June 15 2011.
The second conference on Experimental and Theoretical Advances in Prosody (
ETAP) is taking place this coming September 23-25 at McGill University in
Montréal, Canada. A special focus of this year's ETAP are contextual
influences on prosody. Examining the effects of context on the prosody of an
utterance - for example, the context-dependent changes in the duration and
prominence of different words or the grouping of words into larger
prosodic/meaning units - provides a powerful tool for understanding
syntactic, semantic, pragmatic and discourse-level factors and their
interplay in language production and comprehension.
Consider, for example, how prominence of a word changes as a function of the
relative salience of that word in the discourse. Acoustic prominence in
English works as a highlighter: the prominence of foregrounded (i.e.,
contextually salient) material is boosted and that of backgrounded material
is reduced. Previous research has established that a match between the
prosody of an utterance and the information structure of the sentence given
the context (i.e., the relative salience of different sentence elements)
facilitates understanding. A mismatch, on the other hand, impairs
comprehension. However, a detailed understanding of the semantic and
acoustic components of these effects is not yet complete. Moreover, in spite
of some cross-linguistic generalizations in the acoustic correlates of
information structure, many questions remain regarding the differences
between languages in how acoustic prominence is used to mark salient
discourse entities, and in whether these differences relate to other
features of those languages like syntax and semantics.
Different disciplines in language research have approached questions about
the relationship between discourse context and prosody from different
perspectives. Researchers in the field of theoretical linguistics have been
developing formalisms to capture effects of context on prosody, including
syntactic and semantic theories of anaphoricity (e.g., alternatives-based
theories of focus, theories of anaphoric de-stressing and ellipsis), and
semantic/pragmatic theories of how speaker and listener knowledge is
represented in discourse and reflected in linguistic expressions (e.g.,
Stalnaker's `common ground', Clark & de Haviland's given-new contract). In
psychology and cognitive science, prosodic prominence has been related to
the notions of focus of attention and general cognitive salience. Some
theories have further investigated prosodic prominence in the context of the
communicative pressures on language, and have proposed that speakers use
prominence to facilitate comprehension for the listener (''audience
design''). Researchers in computer science have examined prosodic prominence
from the perspective of information theory. These theories propose that
speakers attempt to keep the informativity of the signal constant over time.
These different approaches to similar questions would greatly benefit from
cross-talk among researchers from the fields of linguistics, psychology,
cognitive science, neuroscience, and computer science. Bringing together
these different perspectives at a single conference will provide an
opportunity to improve the rate of progress and move beyond terminological
obstacles and differences in approaches.
Broader questions about the role of context in prosody that we hope will be
discussed at this conference include the following:
-- What kinds of context (e.g., linguistic, visual, social, etc.) do we need
to take into account when talking about contextual influences on language?
-- To what extent does context affect choices between different phonological
forms of an utterance?
-- What are the acoustic correlates of discourse salience, importance, and
other contextually relevant factors?
-- What type of anaphoric relations can be encoded using prosodic means
(e.g., focus, givenness)?
-- What types of meaning are encoded in intonational tunes?
-- Can information about the context be automatically extracted from the
-- Does taking context into account improve the naturalness of synthetic
-- How does syntax reflect and interact with context?
-- Given the limited memory capacity of humans, what is the size of the
context that speakers/comprehenders track and are affected by? -- In
language production, to what extent are speakers aware of potential
differences in context availability between them and the comprehenders?
-- Do individuals differ in their ability to use contextual information to
interpret utterances? If so, what determines these differences?
-- How do special populations (e.g. individuals on the autistic spectrum,
patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, etc..) differ from typicals in their
ability to produce or process prosody in context.
-- How early in development do contextual effects on prosody language arise?
-- Are there parallels in contextual effects on prosody in language and in
This conference aims to bring together researchers and students from
different fields working on these issues. There will be 12 invited lectures:
Jennifer Arnold (UNC Chapel Hill, Psychology)
Daniel Büring (Universität Wien, Linguistics)
Mara Breen (UMASS Amherst, Psychology)
Jason Brenier (Nuance)
Fernanda Ferreira (University of South Carolina)
Caroline Féry (Goethe Universität Frankfurt, Linguistics)
Julia Hirschberg (Columbia University, Computer Science)
Florian Jaeger (University of Rochester, Brain and Cognitive Sciences)
Aparna Nadig (McGill, School of Speech Communication and Disorders)
Caroline Palmer (McGill, Psychology)
Jesse Snedeker (Harvard University, Psychology)
Yi Xu (University College London, Department of Speech, Hearing and Phonetic
In addition there will be 14 talks and 40 poster presentations, selected
from the submitted abstracts after peer review.
Abstracts for both posters and presentations can be submitted on line and
must not exceed 500 words. Fifteen lines, which are not included in the word
count, may be used to present examples and references. Abstracts must be
submitted via on the following site:
Student Travel Stipends:
There will be a limited number of travel stipends for student participants
for up to $400. Preference will be given to presenters. Information about
how to apply for a travel stipend will be posted on the conference website
in summer 2011.
The conference is co-organized by Michael Wagner (McGill University), Duane
Watson (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign) and Ted Gibson
(Massachusetts Institute of Technology). More information is posted on the
conference website: prosodylab.org/etap. Questions can be directed at
etap2011 at gmail.com or directly at the conference organizers.
Experimental and Theoretical Advances in Prosody is supported by SSHRC
Conference Grant 646-2010-1013, by the Department of Linguistics at McGill,
and by the Center for Research on Mind, Language and Brain (CRLMB)
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