I conduct experimental research to explore how prosody affects speech perception and the mental representations of phonetic and phonological knowledge. Some themes in my research are:

  1. Prosody in tonal and non-tonal languages
  2. L2 prosody: perception, production, and mental representations
  3. Documenting prosody in understudied languages and populations
  4. Social, linguistic, and emotional aspects of prosody

1. Prosody in tonal and non-tonal languages

Basic research into prosodic systems. It addresses questions like:

  • How are variations of duration, pitch, and intensity used to express lexical, sentence-level, and pragmatic meanings cross-linguistically?
  • How do speakers process prosody and intonation?
  • How do stress and accent are represented cross-linguistically?

Representative Publications

Ortega-Llebaria, M.,Olson, D., Tuninetti, A. (2018). “Explaining cross-language asymmetries in prosodic processing: The Cue-Driven Window Length hypothesis.”  Language and Speech

Wu,Z. and Ortega-Llebaria, M. (2017). “Pitch shape modulates the time course of tone vs. pitch accent processing in Mandarin Chinese.” Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 141 (3),pp. 2263-2276.

Ortega-Llebaria,M. and Prieto, P. (2011). “Acoustic correlates of stress in Central Catalan and Castilian Spanish.” Language and Speech 54(1),pp. 1-25.

Ortega-Llebaria,M., Prieto, P. and Vanrell, M. (2010). “Catalan speakers’ perception of word stress in unaccented contexts.”Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 127(1),pp. 462-471.\

2. L2 prosody: perception, production, and mental representations

This line of research investigates the role of the native language prosody in acquiring the prosodic patterns of a second language. It addresses questions such as:

  • How do speakers of tonal and non-tonal languages (mostly Chinese-English speakers) represent pitch in their bilingual lexicons?
  • What is the extent of the stress deafness phenomenon?
  • What aspects of L2 prosody are most difficult to learn and why?

Representative Publications

Ortega-Llebaria,M,*Nemoga, M., Presson, N. (2017). “Long-term experience with atonal language shapes the perception of intonation in English words:How Chinese–English bilinguals perceive “Rose?” vs.“Rose”.”Bilingualism: Language and Cognition,  pp. 1-17.

Ortega-Llebaria, M.and Colantoni, L. (2014). “The L2acquisition of English intonation: form-meaning associations and maintenance of auditory resolution to acoustic cues.” Studies in Second Language Acquisition 36, pp.331-353.

Ortega-Llebaria, M.,*Hong, G., *Fan, Y. (2013). “English speakers’ perception of Spanish lexical stress: Context-driven L2 stress perception.” Journal of Phonetics 41 (3-4),pp. 186-197.

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3. Documenting prosody in understudied languages, dialects, and populations

Circles’ size reflect the number of speakers per language.

Ideally, an unbiased understanding of speech perception is based in a representative sample of languages and speakers. This line of research contributes to this goal by documenting the prosody of understudied languages and populations 

Representative Publications

Teran,V. and Ortega-Llebaria,M. (2017). “A description of Tucumán Spanish intonation.” Open Linguistics 3(1),pp. 456-490.

Ortega-Llebaria,M. and Bosch, L. (2015). “Cross-dialectal discrimination in early infancy: A look at prosodic, rhythmic and segmental properties”. In Joaquin Romero and MariaRiera (Eds.), The Phonetics-Phonology Interface. Representations and methodologies.Current Issues in Linguistic Theory. 2015:Amsterdam/Philadelphia, pp. 55-71.

Olson,Daniel and Ortega-Llebaria, M.(2010). “Perceptual relevance of code switching and intonation in creating narrow focus.” In Marta Ortega-Llebaria (Ed.) Selected Proceedings of the 4thConference on Laboratory Approaches to Spanish Phonology, Cascadilla Proceedings Project, Cascadilla Press, Sommerville, MA.,pp. 57-68.

Manolescu,A., Olson, D., Ortega-Llebaria, M.(2009) “Cues to contrastive focus in Romanian.” InM. Vigário, S. Frota and M.J. Freitas. (Eds.). Interactionsin Phonetics and Phonology1, John Benjamins: Amsterdam/Philadelphia, pp. 71-90.

4. Social, linguistic, and emotional aspects of prosody

Under construction……