Pilar Prieto

Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF)


Pilar Prieto is an ICREA Research Professor at the Department of Translation and Language Sciences at UPF (Universitat Pompeu Fabra), Barcelona, Catalunya.  After obtaining her doctoral degree in Romance Linguistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Bell Laboratories (Murray Hill, New Jersey), where she continued working on the linguistic meaning of prosody across languages. Since 2008 she coordinates the "Prosodic Studies Group" at the Department of Translation and Language Sciences, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

Research interests

My main research goal is to understand the role of prosody and co-speech gestures in human communication from a crosslinguistic, developmental, and cognitive perspective. Three important strands of this research include: (a) to incorporate this knowledge into semantic models of language that model the interface areas with other components; (b) to empirically investigate how humans process prosodic and gestural patterns in combination with speech; and (c) to investigate the cognitive and developmental benefits of prosody and gesture in different areas, such as first and second language acquisition, as well as communication training for language impaired and non-impaired populations. The social significance of this research topic is high, as ICT training procedures based on prosodic and gestural awareness can be proven valuable to improve language abilities in populations with neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by impaired social interaction.

Selected publications

– Armstrong ME,  Andreu L, Esteve-Gibert N & Prieto P 2016, ‘Children’s processing of morphosyntactic and prosodic cues in overriding context-based hypotheses: an eye tracking study’, Probus, 28, 1, 57 – 90.

– Hualde JI & Prieto P 2016, ‘Towards an International Prosodic Alphabet’, Laboratory Phonology: Journal of the Association for Laboratory Phonology, 7(1):5, pp. 1-25.

– Roseano P, Gonzalez M, Borras-Comes J & Prieto P 2016, ‘Communicating Epistemic Stance: How Speech and Gesture Patterns Reflect Epistemicity and Evidentiality’, Discourse Processes, 53, 3, 135 – 174.

– Li F, González-Fuente S, Prieto P & Espinal MT 2016, ‘Is Mandarin Chinese a truth-based language? Rejecting responses to negative propositions’, Frontiers in Psychology, 7: 1967.

– Astruc L, Vanrell MM & Prieto P 2016, ‘Cost of the action and social distance affect the selection of question intonation in Catalan’, Intonational grammar in Ibero-Romance. Approaches across linguistic subfields, ed. by Armstrong ME, Henriksen N & Vanrell MM, pp. 93-114. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

– Esteve-Gibert N, Liszkowski U & Prieto P 2016, ‘Prosodic and gestural features distinguish the intention of pointing gestures in child-directed communication’, Intonational grammar in Ibero-Romance. Approaches across linguistic subfields, ed. by Armstrong ME, Henriksen N & Vanrell MM, pp. 251-276, Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

– Hübscher I, Wagner L & Prieto P 2016, ‘Young children’s sensitivity to polite stance expressed through audiovisual prosody in requests’, Proceedings of Speech Prosody 2016, Boston, USA, May 31-June 3.

– Kushch O & Prieto P 2016, ‘The effects of pitch accentuation and beat gestures on information recall in contrastive discourse’, Proceedings of Speech Prosody 2016, Boston, USA, May 31-June 3.