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Board Member of the International Speech Communication Association (ISCA)

I’ve been recently elected as ISCA (International Speech Communication Association) Board Member in charge of Workshops. I will hold the position until 2025.



LINGUAE Seminar (Institut Jean-Nicod, Paris)

The impact of individual pragmatic skills on the prosodic-meaning mapping

WHEN: Thursday, 3rd December | 9am EST


The pragmatic valence of intonation contours has been under investigation for various decades, though only recently studies have unveiled that both group- and speaker-specific strategies are employed at the level of meaning decoding in prosodically variable stimuli (e.g., Cangemi et al. 2015 for focus in German; Portes & German 2019 for yes/no questions in French; Warren 2016 for uptalk in New Zealand English). Variability in encoding intonational meaning has mainly focused on pitch contours in production. Co-speech gestures have also been recently found to variably mark information structure and appear to precede prosodic encoding in children (Estève-Gibert et al., to appear). However, research on the impact of listener’s cognitive differences on decoding intonation-meaning is still in its infancy.

In this talk I will offer evidence showing that the intonation-meaning mapping is not homogeneous within a language-community. Specifically, I will show the results of two recent studies on the role of pragmatic skills on recovering intonational meaning. I will first briefly show the results of an Eyetracking study on French intonation processing showing the impact of individual empathy scores on recovering contrastive meaning (Esteve-Gibert et al. 2020). I will then present a perception experiment in which the role of pitch range in the nuclear configuration region is tested as a predictor of type (negative vs positive) and degree of epistemic bias in Salerno Italian (Orrico & D’Imperio 2020). Here, two independent sources of individual variability were uncovered: Listeners’ prolonged exposure to either a different language or variety and their Empathy Quotient (EQ), which interacted in epistemic bias identification. I will then discuss the results in terms of viable theoretical models of intonation-meaning mapping.

Cangemi, F., M. Krüger, M. Grice (2015). “Listener-specific perception of speaker-specific production in intonation”. In Susanne Fuchs, Daniel Pape, Caterina Petrone, Pascal Perrier (eds.), Individual Differences in Speech Production and Perception, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang (pp. 123-145).

Esteve-Gibert, N., Lœvenbruck, H., Dohen, M. & D’Imperio, M. (to appear). “Pre-schoolers use head gestures (and not prosody yet) to highlight important information in speech”. Developmental Science.

Esteve-Gibert, N., Schafer, A., Hemforth, B., Portes, C., Pozniak, C. & D’Imperio, M. (2020). “Intonation and empathy in the online processing of contrastive meaning in French”. Memory & Cognition, 48(4), 566-580.

Orrico, R. & D’Imperio, M. (2020). “Individual empathy levels affect gradual intonation-meaning mapping: The case of biased questions in Salerno Italian”. Laboratory Phonology: Journal of the Association for Laboratory Phonology 11(1): 12, pp. 1–39. DOI:

Portes, C., & German, J. S. (2019). “Implicit effects of regional cues on the interpretation of intonation by Corsican French listeners”. Laboratory Phonology: Journal of the Association for Laboratory Phonology 10(1): 22, pp. 1–26. DOI:

Warren, P. (2017). “The interpretation of prosodic variability in the context of accompanying sociophonetic cues”. Laboratory Phonology: Journal of the Association for Laboratory Phonology, 8(1). DOI:

International Chair Position 2021 (Paris, France)

I just obtained an EFL (Empirical Foundations of Language) International Chair position to give a lecture series in Paris next summer (over a 4 week period).

It is a visiting professor position, that will also allow me to continue my collaborations with the Paris colleagues.

The title of my lecture series is: Prosodic interfaces with pragmatic meaning: a laboratory phonology perspective

NSF Interdisciplinary Grant 

I have been just awarded an NSF interdisciplinary grant in collaboration with Dimitris Metaxas at Computer Science.


Project Title: NSF Convergence Accelerator–Track D: Data & AI Methods for Modeling Facial Expressions in Language with Applications to Privacy for the Deaf, ASL Education & Linguistic Research

Award Amount: $960,000