Reduction in prosodic prominence predicts speakers' recall: implications for theories of prosody

Scott H. Fraundorf, Duane G. Watson, Aaron S. Benjamin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Repeated words are often reduced in prosodic prominence, but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. The present study contrasted two theories: does prosodic reduction reflect the choice of a particular linguistic form, or does ease of retrieval within the language production system lead to facilitated, less prominent productions? One test of facilitation-based theories is suggested by findings on human memory: whether a second presentation of an item benefits later memory is predicted by the item's availability at the time of the second presentation. If prosodic reduction partially reflects facilitated retrieval, it should predict later memory. One naive participant described to another participant routes on a map. Critical items were mentioned twice. Following the map task, the speaker attempted written recall of the mentioned items. As expected, acoustic intensity of the second mentions predicted later recall in the same way that difficulty of retrieval has in other tasks. This pattern suggests that one source of prosodic reduction is facilitation within the language production system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)606-619
Number of pages14
JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 28 2015


  • discourse
  • language production
  • prominence
  • prosody
  • recall

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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