Children’s pragmatic use of prosodic prominence

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Prosodic cues are known to support the development of early speech perception and basic communication skills such as turn-taking and comprehension of speaker’s intent in infants. Research on the effect of prosody on language development in older children is relatively sparse. This chapter discusses the production and comprehension of prosodic prominence for referential expressions in toddlers and older children. Reviews of past and recent studies with various experimental techniques suggest that both an inventory of intonation contours and online responses to prosodic prominence improve rather gradually throughout childhood. More systematic cross-linguistic studies are needed to reveal how language-specific prosodic structure and individual’s general cognitive ability affect the development of pragmatically relevant use of pitch prominence.


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