Emotional expressions as communicative signals

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It is widely assumed that emotions in speech are mainly expressed through prosody, particularly in terms of intonational contours. However, no theoretical models have been specifically developed to explain how exactly emotional meanings are conveyed by prosody. In this paper we explore the idea that emotional expressions are evolutionarily designed to elicit behaviours that are beneficial to the signaller. We show with experimental data that emotional meanings are encoded along a set of benefit-oriented <i>bio-informational dimensions</i> which involve both segmental and prosodic aspects of the vocal signal. We argue further that the proposed bio-informational dimensions allow emotional meanings to be encoded in parallel with non-emotional meanings, thus there is unlikely to be an autonomous affective prosody.


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