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Call for Papers

Few concepts in phonetics and phonology research are as widely used and as vaguely defined, as is the notion of prosodic prominence. Situated at the crossroads of signal and structure, of stress and accent, and of production and perception, the notion of prosodic prominence has received a wide number of contradicting or unspecific definitions. Wagner et al. (2015), in exploring the variety of approaches to the study of prosodic prominence, suggest that the most successful definitions are the vaguest ones, since they are compatible with the various viewpoints adopted by researchers. The proposal by Terken and Hermes (2000), according to which “a linguistic entity is prosodically prominent when it stands out from its environment by virtue of its prosodic characteristics”, is sufficiently generic to encompass a wide number of cases. These cases range from stressed syllables standing out from the other syllables in a word by virtue of loudness and durational cues (e.g. Beckman 1986), to focussed constituents standing out from the other referents mentioned in an utterance by virtue of pitch accent choice and placement (e.g. Gussenhoven 1984, Ayers 1996).

Such a generic definition, in which “being prominent” is equated with “standing out from its environment”, begs the question of whether prominence is indeed a genuinely prosodic phenomenon, or even a phenomenon essentially relevant to phonetics and phonology (cf. Gussenhoven 2015 for discussion). For example, Himmelmann and Primus (2015) redefine prominence to encompass non-prosodic aspects of languages, for example by showing that referents with Agent role are the most prominent within a sentence (at the syntax-semantics interface). Similarly, at the discourse level, prominence relations between referents can be used for interpreting ambiguous pronouns (Arnold 2001). Perhaps more importantly, such a broader understanding of prominence intersects with research on cognition, in particular on the management of attention, which also focusses on entities standing out from their context. Thus, prominence relations operate not only at various levels within a language, but also at the intersection between language and cognition.

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The COFLIS Workshop at PaPE 2019 is organized by: Francesco Cangemi, Stefan Baumann, Michelina Savino, Martine Grice
and supported by:

Uni Bari Uni Cologne Prominence in Language LabPhon Puglia

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