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Emotional Prosody: Can You Hear What I'm Feeling?
Sociocultural Aspects of Language Pedagogy
Dr. Linda Wine
December 11, 2013 Ã¯Â¿Â½
Ralph Waldo Emerson is notoriously quoted as saying, "Who you are is speaking so loudly that I can't hear what you're saying". In communication, a sender's affect has a generous impact on the message the receiver hears (Russell, Bachorowski, & FernÃÂ¡ndez-Dols, 2003). The impact of emotion in interpreting communication has been hotly contested by philosophers, linguists, and psychologists alike, as establishing impact relies on an empirical understanding of emotion. Researchers have long studied facial expressions and body language as indicators of emotion, and many believe prosody can indicate emotion as well (Bachorowski, 1999; Luakka, 2004; Abelin, 2004). Though the impact is contested, one thing is agreed upon: the emotional affect of both sender and receiver plays a role in how communication is interpreted (Russell et al.,s
2003). In light of this, one must consider the potential for prosody to overtake lexical and syntactical semantics. A greater understanding of the relationship between emotion and prosody will help in recognizing potential impacts of interlocutor affect, and defining any patterns that exist in the prosodic expression of emotion.
Linguistic prosody refers to the rhythm and pattern of speech sounds, to include pitch, stress, and intonation. Emotional prosody refers to this same pattern of sounds, as attributed to the sender's affect. However, as presented by Russell et al. (2003), the assumption that prosodic changes can be attributed to emotion at all has come under fire in recent studies. Examining the history,and modern study, of this field, will broaden our understanding of the extent to which emotion can be reliably interpreted from prosody.
Language is broadly defined, but is established as systematic, using lexical,