Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton 2020

7. Acquiring prosody

Tim Wharton


During the past 50 or so years there has been a huge amount of work into the relationship between prosody and meaning. Much of this has been done by researchers working from a phonological perspective, and the result is detailed analyses of prosodic structures and systems, as well as concrete proposals on how they relate to meaning. Recent years have seen an increase in the amount of research into prosody by cognitively oriented approaches to pragmatics, who concern themselves with the role of prosody in pragmatic inference. This has allowed researchers to conceive of prosody in innovative and exciting ways, as well as to suggest original hypotheses as to how it works. When it comes to work on the acquisition of prosody, however, people working in pragmatics - in contrast to those working in phonology - have been rather quiet. This chapter, therefore, is an overview of work on prosodic acquisition with special attention paid to the ways in which it might be informed by work on the pragmatics of prosody. As it stands, it is far from easy to see how findings from the phonological literature might be integrated into more pragmatic approaches and what is needed, I argue, is genuine, bi-directional interdisciplinary collaboration. I hope this chapter goes some way to laying the foundations for such work.

© 2022 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston
Downloaded on 10.12.2022 from
Scroll Up Arrow