Prosodic boundary phenomena

Fabian Schubö   Sabine Zerbian   Sandra Hanne   Isabell Wartenburger  


In spoken language comprehension, the hearer is faced with a more or less continuous stream of auditory information. Prosodic cues, such as pitch movement, pre-boundary lengthening, and pauses, incrementally help to organize the incoming stream of information into prosodic phrases, which often coincide with syntactic units. Prosody is hence central to spoken language comprehension and some models assume that the speaker produces prosody in a consistent and hierarchical fashion. While there is manifold empirical evidence that prosodic boundary cues are reliably and robustly produced and effectively guide spoken sentence comprehension across different populations and languages, the underlying mechanisms and the nature of the prosody-syntax interface still have not been identified sufficiently. This is also reflected in the fact that most models on sentence processing completely lack prosodic information.

This edited book volume is grounded in a workshop that was held in 2021 at the annual conference of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft (DGfS). The five chapters cover selected topics on the production and comprehension of prosodic cues in various populations and languages, all focusing in particular on processing of prosody at structurally relevant prosodic boundaries. Specifically, the book comprises cross-linguistic evidence as well as evidence from non-native listeners, infants, adults, and elderly speakers, highlighting the important role of prosody in both language production and comprehension.


  • The patterns of pre-boundary lengthening in German
    Fabian Schubö, Sabine Zerbian
  • Segmental cues to IP-initial boundaries
    Data from English, Spanish, and Portuguese
    Ricardo Napoleão de Souza
  • Chunking an unfamiliar language
    Results from a perception study of German listeners
    Nele Ots, Piia Taremaa
  • Developmental changes in prosodic boundary cue perception in German-learning infants
    Caroline Wellmann, Julia Holzgrefe-Lang, Hubert Truckenbrodt, Isabell Wartenburger, Barbara Höhle
  • Age effects on linguistic prosody in coordinates produced to varying interlocutors
    Comparison of younger and older speakers
    Clara Huttenlauch, Marie Hansen, Carola de Beer, Sandra Hanne, Isabell Wartenburger



Fabian Schubö, University of Stuttgart

Fabian Schubö is an associated researcher at the English department of the University of Stuttgart, Germany. He holds a PhD in General Linguistics from Goethe-University Frankfurt/Main. His research centres around aspects of prosody in German and other languages, mainly focusing on prosodic phrasing, syntax-prosody interface relations, and the prosodic encoding of information structure.

Sabine Zerbian, University of Stuttgart

Sabine Zerbian is Professor of English Linguistics at the University of Stuttgart, Germany. She holds a PhD in General Linguistics from Humboldt-University Berlin. In her research she investigates the production and perception of tone and intonation in Southern African Bantu languages as well as aspects of intonation in language contact varieties, such as English in South Africa, or in Heritage Languages.

Sandra Hanne, University of Potsdam

Sandra Hanne is a research associate and lecturer in the Patholinguistics/Neurocognition of Language Group of the Linguistics Department at the University of Potsdam, Germany. She holds a PhD in Patholinguistics/ Cognitive Science from the University of Potsdam. Her research focuses on the cognitive mechanisms involved in language processing with a special emphasis on the integration of prosody and syntactic parsing as well as the assessment and treatment of acquired language and communication disorders including the development of evidence-based procedures for clinical use.

Isabell Wartenburger, University of Potsdam

Isabell Wartenburger is a Professor of Patholinguistics/Neurocognition of Language at the University of Potsdam, Germany. She holds a Ph.D. from Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin. Her psycho- and neurolinguistic research has focused primarily on babies as well as adult participants with and without acquired language disorders - with a special emphasis on prosody processing and production.

book cover


January 6, 2023
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Cite as
Schubö, Fabian, Zerbian, Sabine, Hanne, Sandra & Wartenburger, Isabell (eds.). 2023. Prosodic boundary phenomena. (Studies in Laboratory Phonology 12). Berlin: Language Science Press. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.7777469


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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ISBN-13 (15)




Details about the available publication format: Hardcover


ISBN-13 (15)


Physical Dimensions

180mm x 245mm