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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, Zhang Y, Cheng Y, Bu Y & Prieto P 2021, ‘Listening to Songs and Singing Benefitted Initial Stages of Second Language Pronunciation but Not Recall of Word Meaning‘, Language Learning, 71(2), 369-413.

– Li, P.; Xi, X.; Baills, F.; Prieto, P. 2021, ‘Training non-native aspirated plosives with hand gestures: learners’ gesture performance matters‘, Language Cognition And Neuroscience, 36(10): 1313-1328.

– Winter, B.; Oh, G.E.; Huebscher, I.; Idemaru, K.; Brown, L.; Prieto, P.; Grawunder, S. 2021, ‘Rethinking the frequency code: a meta-analytic review of the role of acoustic body size in communicative phenomena‘, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B-biol. Sci., 376, 1840, 20200400.

– Brown L & Prieto P 2021. “Gesture and prosody in multimodal communication”. In: M. Haugh, D. Kadar, & M. Terkourafi (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Sociopragmatics, 430-453. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

– Cravotta, A., Prieto, P., & Busà, M. (2021). “Exploring the effects of restraining the use of gestures“, Sp. Com., 135, 25-36.

Prieto, P. & Roseano, P. (2021). “The encoding of epistemic operations in two Romance languages: the interplay between intonation and discourse markers”. J. Pragm. 172, 146-163.

– Pronina M, Hübscher I, Holler J & Prieto P 2021. Interactional training interventions boost children’s expressive pragmatic abilities: evidence from a novel multidimensional testing approachCogn. Dev. 57, 101003.

– Pronina M, Hübscher I, Vilà-Giménez I & Prieto P 2021. Bridging the Gap Between Prosody and Pragmatics: The Acquisition of Pragmatic Prosody in the Preschool Years and Its Relation With Theory of MindFront. Psychol. 12:662124.

– Vilà-Giménez I, Dowling N, Demir-Lira ÖE, Prieto P & Goldin-Meadow S 2021. The predictive value of non-referential beat gestures: Early use in parent-child interactions predicts narrative abilities at 5 years of ageChild Dev, 92(8).

ICREA Memoir 2021