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

– Baills F, Suárez N, González S & Prieto P 2019, ‘Observing and producing pitch gestures facilitates the learning….’, Studies In Second Language Acquisition, 41, 1, 33 – 58.

– Borràs-Comes J, Kiagia, E & Prieto P 2019, ‘Epistemic intonation and epistemic gesture are mutually co-expressive: Empirical results from two intonation-gesture matching tasks’, Journal of Pragmatics, 150, 39 – 52.

– Cravotta A, Busa MG & Prieto P 2019, ‘Effects of Encouraging the Use of Gestures on Speech’, Journal of Speech Language And Hearing Research, 62, 9, 3204 – 3219.

– Esteve-Gibert N, Igualada A & Prieto P 2019, “El gest com a facilitador i precursor del desenvolupament del llenguatge“, Llengua, Societat i Comunicació17.

– Hübscher I, Garufi L & Prieto P 2019, “The development of polite stance in preschoolers: how prosody, gesture and body cues pave the way“, Journal of Child Language, 46(5), 825-862.

– Hübscher I, Vincze L & Prieto P 2019, ‘Children’s Signaling of Their Uncertain Knowledge State: Prosody, Face, and Body Cues Come First‘, Language Learning And Development, 15, 4, 366 – 389.

– Hübscher I & Prieto P 2019, ‘Gestural and Prosodic Development Act as Sister Systems and Jointly Pave the Way for ….., Frontiers In Psychology, 10, 1259.

– Van Maastricht L, Krahmer E, Swerts M & Prieto P 2019, “Learning direction matters:  A study on L2 rhythm acquisition.…”, Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 41, 1, 87 – 121.

– Vilà-Giménez I, Igualada A & Prieto P 2019, “Observing storytellers who use rhythmic beat gestures improves children’s narrative discourse performance“, Developmental Psychology 55(2), 250-262

– Yuan C, González S, Baills F & Prieto P 2019, “Observing pitch gestures favors the learning of Spanish intonation by Mandarin speakers“, Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 41, 1, 5 – 32.