Prosody as an interactional resource: A clinical linguistic perspective

Bill Wells, John Local

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sue Peppé's article (2009) surveys key issues relevant to the clinical assessment and management of prosodic aspects of spoken communication. In the first part of this commentary, we demonstrate one approach to assessment, which involves close analysis of the use of prosody in spontaneous talk-in-interaction. This approach derives from one pioneered by David Crystal, supplemented by techniques drawn from Conversation Analysis which allow for greater precision and objectivity in the characterization of prosodic meaning. The type of analysis is illustrated with data from an 11-year-old boy with severe autism. In the second part, the same data are used to illustrate how phonetic, phonological and interactional notations can be combined in a single transcription. It is suggested that this notational system can be of value in highlighting how mutual understanding can be achieved through prosody, even when one participant is not using a recognized prosodic system. The two parts of the commentary are linked by the notion that a prime function of prosodic features is to contribute to the management of turn-taking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-325
Number of pages5
JournalInternational journal of speech-language pathology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Prosody
  • developmental
  • Social interaction

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