Prosody is a part of language that comprises a variety of phenomena, such as intonation (the melody of speech), phrasing (the chunking of the speech continuum), prominence (the highlighting words or phrases), or rhythm (the cadence of speech). At the phonetic level, fundamental frequency or pitch, acoustic intensity or loudness and duration are the main prosodic features. Prosodic features can be used to convey several dimensions of meaning, such as affective or emotional meanings (e.g., friendliness, confidence, surprise), or informational meanings that are related to the linguistic message
(e.g., questioning, asserting, emphasis. We are particularly interested in the latter kind of meanings, which have been encoded in the grammar of various languages (cf. Gussenhoven 2002, 2004).
This is a brief introductory course on prosody as part of the grammar of a given language or language variety. The course covers the main functions of prosody in language, focusing primarily on intonation. However, crucial to the understanding of the phonological organization of intonation is prosodic phrase structure and stress. And some, if not all of these features together, contribute to the perception of rhythm in language.