Pilar Prieto

Pilar Prieto

Universitat Pompeu Fabra


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

- Vila-Gimenez I & Prieto P 2020, 'Encouraging kids to beat: Children's beat gesture production boosts their narrative performance', Developmental Science23(6), 1-14. e12967.

- Rohrer PL, Delais-Roussarie E & Prieto P 2020, 'Beat Gestures for Comprehension and Recall: Differential Effects of Language Learners and Native Listeners', Frontiers In Psychology, 11, 575929.

- Xi X, Baills F, Li P & Prieto P 2020, 'Hand gestures facilitate the acquisition of novel phonemic contrasts when they appropriately mimic target phonetic features", Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 63, 3571–3585. 

- Prieto P & Espinal MT 2020, "Prosody, Gesture, and Negation"The Oxford Handbook of Negation, ed. by V. Deprez & M.Teresa Espinal. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.667-693.

- Escandell-Vidal & Prieto P 2020, “Pragmatics and Prosody in Research on Spanish”. In: C. Félix-Brasdefer & D. A. Koike (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Spanish Pragmatics. Foundations and Interfaces. London and New York: Routledge.

- Zhang Y, Baills F & Prieto P 2020, "Hand-clapping to the rhythm of newly learned words improves L2 pronunciation: Evidence from training Chinese adolescents with French words. "Language Teaching Research. 24, 5, 666 - 689.

- Hubscher I, Wagner L & Prieto P 2020, 'Three-year-olds infer polite stance from intonation and facial cues', Journal Of Politeness Research-language Behaviour Culture, 16, 1, 85 - 110.