Special Session “Prosody in Social Context” – Submission Deadline Extended to January 8th

Prosody in Social Contexts: Interpersonal Stance and Social Meanings as Encoded by Vocal Cues – Call for Submission (Special Session of Speech Prosody 2018)


Xiaoming Jiang, PhD & Marc D. Pell, PhD 
McGill University, School of Communication Sciences and Disorders
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
2001 ave. McGill College, 8th Floor, Montreal (QC) H3G 1A8 Canada

We now welcome all submissions to our special session! Full papers accepted for the special sessions will be published in SP9 conference proceedings.

 When submitting a paper to a special session, please, mark the correct special session in the list of topics in EasyChair.

Please refer to the SP9 conference website and Special session website


Speech prosody is intrinsically communicative. While for decades, research on prosody has often focused on the communication of linguistic or emotional meanings, new work is beginning to characterize how interpersonal stance and social relations are represented by paralinguistic cues. This means that speech prosody is becoming a major focus for studying social inference-making and person perception.

A number of challenges face empirical studies of how social factors influence prosody and social perception. For example, how do we successfully elicit and define prosody in different interpersonal contexts, how do we understand the relationship between prosody and pragmatic-cognitive abilities, and how do we link prosodic features and their operation to interactive features of the mind/brain? These challenges are not only faced by experimental researchers but also by speech engineers who build artificial intelligence that possesses human-like ability to understand speech in various applied social contexts.

To provoke thought and provide some answers to these challenging questions, this session will focus on recent empirical discoveries on social communication through vocal and speech signals, highlighting what can be learned by adopting a “social cognitive neuroscientific” approach to studying speech prosody. We showcase the recent advancement in this field and facilitate the opportunity of collaborative research on speech prosody during social interaction. We aim to present a multiscale picture of how voice is encoded and decoded in social contexts by combining evidence from acoustic analysis, real-time brain activities (EEG, fMRI) and experimental paradigms in experimental psychology. Computational modeling will also be a welcome topic to address social representation of the speech and voice.

We invite submissions and will organize four dedicated oral presentations which will discuss three broad questions centering around prosody in social contexts. The submitted presentations will focus on how: vocal cues in spoken language encode a speakers’ emotions, “hidden meanings” (white lies, innuendos), interpersonal stance (confidence, politeness), and mental state (believability) to the listener; how the neurocognitive system decodes vocal signals and generates inferences about the true intentions of speakers in different social communicative contexts; and how social-contextual (speaker motivation), individual (speaker tension and social status), and cultural variables (speaker accent) predict social interpretations based on speech prosody.

With unique contributions from diverse disciplines, the demonstration of the promising role using state-of-the-art methodologies, and the dedicated talks characterizing the prosodic mechanisms and unique patterns that reveal the nature of interpersonal and social interaction, we believe that this special session will be of great interest to the wide audience of the SP conference and be a unique contribution to the theme of the SP conference 2018.

Xiaoming Jiang, PhD, develops his research agenda of studying the neurocognitive diversity underlying speech and socio-pragmatic communication who takes a unique approach of combining experimental psychology, neuroimaging/neurophysiology and computational modeling. His recent interest lies in how speaker social group (e.g. sex, accent, cultural background) affects the encoding and decoding of speaker confidence and trustworthiness. His work has received wide media attentions such Forbes and New Scientist. He has been a postdoctoral researcher and research associate in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders in McGill University and a senior speech scientist in Nuance Communication (Montréal, Canada).

Marc D. Pell, PhD, has a broad interest in how humans communicate their emotions, attitudes and intentions in speech, in healthy adults and those with acquired disease of the brain (e.g., stroke, Parkinson’s disease). Much of his research has studied how a speaker’s tone of voice conveys different meanings in spoken language, and how listeners use these cues as a source of pragmatic information for understanding another person’s emotions and cognitive state. He holds appointments as James McGill Professor and Director of the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University (Montréal, Canada).