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Friday, June 28, 2013

Emotional Prosody

This is, more or less, the ability to perceive emotion in someone else's speech, in tones of voice, etc... I am learning a lot from writing this article. Most articles on this have to do with brain injuries which impede the processing of emotional prosody. So everything would sound like Siri to you. You wouldn't get anger, sarcasm, reserve, and a thousand other shades of vocal emotion. I suppose that neuro-typical people have a different way of processing emotional prosody than those who aren't.

I invented a term today called "pragmatic prosody." (Well, I didn't really invent it, I guess, because a search reveals that the term is already in use.) My idea is to link emotional, pragmatic, and other dimensions of prosody to poetic prosody itself, rather than some dumb syllable-counting exercise. "La conciencia prosódica en Olvido García Valdés." It's fun to come up with new ideas.


I remember a talk by someone in Spanish, about poetry, by a distinguished professor at a 3rd rate place, who read poetry out loud in Spanish without realizing that a diphthong should not be pronounced as two separate syllables. So this professor would fail Spanish prosody 101.

Yet these phenomena are most noticeable in their failure.


Vance Maverick said...

I met a strange extroverted character at a party who told me proudly he had Asperger's and couldn't pick up social/emotional cues in conversation. I didn't buy it until in another context he asked rhetorically what the difference is between "tenacious" and "stubborn". The answer he meant was that it depends on whether the activity in question is successful. He was surprised when I said it was rather an implied positive or negative attitude. (On which we ironize, but I didn't get to that....)

(Also it seems like you're using the term for certain features of language, and the processing or receptivity to them, indifferently.)

Jonathan said...

There is also "semantic prosody," which deals exactly with those kinds of distinctions. For example, "stubborn" is not only negative, but implies someone who doesn't want to do what you want her to do. Someone holding to a position without moving. Tenacious is more active, persistent behavior in pursuit of a goal.