Sonia Frota

Sonia Frota
University of Lisbon | UL · Departamento de Linguística Geral e Românica

PhD

About

178
Publications
41,956
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2,813
Citations
Citations since 2017
55 Research Items
1323 Citations
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2017201820192020202120222023050100150200250
Introduction
Professor at the Department of Linguistics, University of Lisbon. Scientific coordinator of the Center of Linguistics of the University of Lisbon, and director of the Lisbon Baby Lab. My research focuses on Prosody in language, comprising phrasing, intonation, and rhythm, using laboratory-based approaches. I also study how prosodic cues may help bootstrapping the learning of language, and may function as early markers of language impairment. I support LingOA - Linguistics in Opean Access.
Additional affiliations
February 2018 - present
University of Lisbon
Position
  • Professor (Full)
December 2011 - January 2018
University of Lisbon
Position
  • Professor (Associate)

Publications

Publications (178)
Chapter
Full-text available
Este capítulo é dedicado ao desenvolvimento prosódico e à avaliação e intervenção prosódicas em contexto clínico. Partindo da caracterização do desenvolvimento prosódico típico, a par do papel da prosódia no processo de aquisição da língua, descrevem-se formas de prosódia atípica em diferentes populações clínicas. De seguida, apresenta-se uma revis...
Article
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In Guinea-Bissau, Portuguese is the only official language, and, for historical and sociopolitical reasons, European Portuguese (EP) is assumed as the variety spoken. However, we find a multilingual space in which Kriol is the national unity language and Portuguese is spoken as a second language. In this context, we analyzed the intonation of neutr...
Article
Full-text available
As children with Down syndrome (DS) typically manifest significant delays in language development, the research has pointed out the predictors of later language skills for this clinical population. The purpose of this study was to systematically explore the evidence for early predictors of language outcomes in infants and toddlers with DS from stud...
Article
Full-text available
Infants have been shown to rely both on auditory and visual cues when processing speech. We investigated the impact of COVID-related changes, in particular of face masks, in early word segmentation abilities. Following up on our previous study demonstrating that, by 4 months, infants already segmented targets presented auditorily at utterance-edge...
Book
Full-text available
This volume focuses on research on prosodic variation, comprising intonation, prosodic phrasing, and segmental phenomena that are prosodically motivated or constrained, in several languages and language varieties. Besides Portuguese (European, Brazilian, and African varieties), the book covers another three unrelated languages and their varieties:...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
An early sensitivity to prosody is well-documented in the language development literature and has been suggested to facilitate language learning. However, prosodic development and its relation to other areas of language development has been less studied. Some studies suggested that early prosodic development and early lexical development are relate...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The speech signal has been shown to contain a fine structure that consists of the fast changing spectral content (e.g., formant transitions, voicing, spectral energy distributions), together with amplitude modulations of the envelope with different timescales. These different modulation frequencies have been associated with linguistic units of diff...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Language includes auditory and visual cues relevant to language learning, and infants have been shown to take advantage of those cues while processing speech. With COVID-19 the use of face masks became pervasive, affecting the auditory and visual cues available to the listener, especially the young language learner. This study examined how acoustic...
Article
Full-text available
Resumo: A Guiné-Bissau é um país multiétnico e multilíngue em que o português é a língua oficial, embora não seja língua materna. Estudos desenvolvidos com base na Fonologia Prosódica e na Fonologia Entoacional sobre o português falado na Guiné-Bissau (PGB) apontam que, quanto à densidade tonal, ele afasta-se da variedade lisboeta (SEP) e aproxima-...
Article
Full-text available
The phonology of prosody has received little attention in studies of motor speech disorders. The present study investigates the phonology of intonation (nuclear contours) and speech chunking (prosodic phrasing) in Parkinson's disease (PD) as a function of medication intake and duration of the disease. Following methods of the prosodic and intonatio...
Article
Different methodologies applied in human and non‐human primate studies limit the comparisons that can be made. The early communicative gestures of 10 children between 7 and 12 months were analysed using a descriptive approach usually found in non‐human primate studies. Silent‐visual gestures were the most used, followed by contact and audible gestu...
Article
Full-text available
Communicative abilities in infants with Down syndrome (DS) are delayed in comparison to typically developing (TD) infants, possibly affecting language development in DS. Little is known about what abilities might underlie poor communication and language skills in DS, such as visual attention and audiovisual speech processing. This study compares DS...
Chapter
Full-text available
The prosodic systems of Basque, Catalan, Portuguese, and Spanish have recently yielded a great deal of detailed work that has contributed to comprehensive descriptions of the different languages and language varieties. Taking a comparative stance, as in Frota and Prieto (2015b) for three Romance languages and Elordieta and Hualde (2014) for Basque,...
Article
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The ability to perceive lexical stress patterns has been shown to develop in language-specific ways. However, previous studies have examined this ability in languages that are either clearly stress-based (favoring the development of a preference for trochaic stress, like English and German) or syllable-based (favoring the development of no stress p...
Poster
Full-text available
The ability to extract word-forms from continuous speech plays a crucial role in language acquisition, particularly for vocabulary development (Singh et al., 2012; Kidd et al., 2018; Hoareau et al., 2019). This ability is known to develop differently across languages (e.g., Mersad et al, 2010), and to be modulated by prosodic structure: namely, wor...
Poster
Full-text available
Attention to talking faces plays an important role in early language and social communication development (Ayneto & Sebastián-Gallés, 2016; Fort et al., 2017; Pejovic, 2019). Specifically, the attentional shift from the eyes to the mouth by 8months of age has been linked to language development (Lewkowicz & Hansen-Tift, 2012). It has been suggested...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The ability to extract word-forms from continuous speech plays a crucial role in language acquisition, particularly for vocabulary development. This ability develops differently across languages, and was recently shown to be modulated by prosody: words at prosodic edges are segmented earlier than in utterance-medial position. Studies on word segmen...
Article
Full-text available
Previous research has shown that eye gaze patterns relate to language development, with more attention to the mouth signaling ongoing acquisition. We examined infants’ eye gaze in a stress perception experiment, in which European Portuguese (EP) learning infants showed a preference for the iambic stress pattern. Specifically, we asked whether there...
Article
Full-text available
Children with deficits in executive functions (EFs) and impairments in pragmatic language have a range of cognitive and language difficulties that affect their literacy and educational achievements. As deficits in EFs and pragmatic impairments are characteristics of autism spectrum disorders, this study examined the associations between EFs and pra...
Chapter
Full-text available
In this exploratory work we investigate the potential of sound-and frequency-based measures to differentiate the writings from two Portuguese authors, Camilo de Castelo Branco and Eça de Queirós. A systematic comparison was made between a sample of 30 excerpts from Amor de Perdição (total ca. 43,000 words) and a similar sample from Os Maias. Other...
Poster
Full-text available
Contrasts such as rising versus falling intonation contours play an important role in language development as they may signal a difference in illocution type. In languages such as Portuguese and Basque, intonation is the sole means to differentiate polar questions from statements, while languages such as English or German additionally use morpho-sy...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Languages exhibit various strategies to deal with tune-text conflicts, arising when voiced segments are insufficient for the realization of complex tones. In languages with consistent prosodic or metrical anchors for tones, it has been observed that selected strategies tend to be either tune preservation strategies (TPS) or segment preservation str...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Prosodic boundaries play a crucial role in signaling speech chunking, and may thus facilitate language learning. Previous studies have shown that infants are sensitive to prosodic boundaries and use them to segment speech. As prosodic boundary cues vary across languages, infants' sensitivity to prosodic boundaries may also vary. The present study e...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In spoken European Portuguese (EP), eyebrow raising has been considered to be a question marker, as it is the dominant visual cue for questions across regional variants. In Portuguese Sign Language (LGP), it is known that questions are conveyed by a specific facial (and bodily) expression, and that non-verbal correlates for intonation are conveyed...
Article
Full-text available
Two outstanding questions in spoken-language comprehension concern (1) the interplay of phonological grammar (legal vs. illegal sound sequences), phonotactic frequency (high-vs. low-frequency sound sequences) and lexicality (words vs. other sound sequences) in a meaningful context, and (2) how the properties of phonological sequences determine thei...
Article
Full-text available
This paper studies the perception of information-seeking yes-no question intonation across varieties of Brazilian Portuguese spoken along the Atlantic Coast, namely Paraíba (North), Minas Gerais (Center) and Rio Grande do Sul (South). The hypothesis that the distinctions found in production studies, leading to major dialectal areas, are reflected i...
Article
European Portuguese (EP) is a language with variable stress, and the main cues for stress are duration and vowel reduction. Previous behavioral study has reported a stress “deafness” effect in EP when vowel quality cues are unavailable. The present study recorded both event-related potentials (ERPs) and behavioral data to examine the stress process...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The effects of medication and disease duration on the prosody of sentence modality and speech chunking in PD patients have been examined. It was found that the two prosodic functions are affected in different ways.
Poster
Full-text available
Parkinson's disease (PD) is characterized by a neurodegenerative chronic disorder with a motor symptomatology presence (WHO 2006). ü This disease affects 1%-2% world's population (60+ y.o.) and is classically characterized by a symptomatic triad that includes rest tremor, akinesia and hypertonia. Although the motor expression of the symptoms involv...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter focuses on early development of intonation. Together with a precocious sensitivity to prosody documented in the literature, recent research has shown that infants’ early perception of pitch-based categories is already language-specific by 4–5 months, and that their discrimination abilities differ not only according to ambient language...
Article
Word segmentation plays a crucial role in language acquisition, particularly for word learning and syntax development, and possibly predicts later language abilities. Previous studies have suggested that this ability develops differently across languages, possibly affected by the languages' rhythmic properties (Rhythmic Segmentation Hypothesis) and...
Article
The syntax-phonology interface refers to the way syntax and phonology are interconnected. Although syntax and phonology constitute different language domains, it seems undisputed that they relate to each other in nontrivial ways. There are different theories about the syntax-phonology interface. They differ in how far each domain is seen as relevan...
Article
Full-text available
Little is known about the relationship between prosodic abilities and executive function skills. As deficits in executive functions and prosodic impairments are characteristics of autism, we examined how executive functions are related to prosodic performance in children with high-functioning autism (HFA). Fifteen children with HFA (M =7;4 years; S...
Article
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) refer to a complex group of neuro- developmental disorders causing difficulties with communication and interpersonal relationships, as well as restricted and repetitive beha- viours and interests. As early identification, diagnosis, and interven- tion provide better long-term outcomes, early markers of ASD have gaine...
Research
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This is the Portuguese version of the CSBS DP Checklist, a parental report that measures different language predictors. The checklist is used as a developmental screening tool for children between 6 to 24 months of age. One of the main goals is the early identification of children at risk for language and communication impairment. The Portuguese ve...
Article
Full-text available
É crescente a valorização da conversão do conhecimento fundamental desenvolvido pelos cientistas em produtos concretos, socialmente relevantes. No Laboratório de Fonética da Universidade de Lisboa tem-se trabalhado nos últimos anos tanto em domínios de investigação fundamental, como de investigação aplicada. Neste artigo é feita uma revisão dos pri...
Chapter
Full-text available
In the present paper we explore a methodology to map prosodic variation in Portuguese, namely intonation and rhythm, which goes beyond the traditional approaches used to represent segmental, lexical or syntactic variation. To find the most adequate mapping method for intonation and rhythm, we tested spatial interaction models for the representation...
Conference Paper
Few studies explore the relation between the performance on prosodic tests and executive function skills. Our goal is to understand how executive functions are related to prosodic performance in a clinic population. As executive impairments and prosodic deficits are characteristic of autism, we analysed a group of 15 children (12 boys) with high-fu...
Chapter
Full-text available
Durante muito tempo, a pesquisa em aquisição da linguagem concentrou-se no estudo da compreensão e da produção de enunciados pela criança. Porém, quando a criança começa a responder ao adulto ou a outra criança, seja através de gestos ou da fala, demonstrando que entendeu o que foi dito, ela já sabe muito sobre a língua da sua comunidade. Por volta...
Article
Full-text available
In European Portuguese, the domain for sandhi phenomena is the intonational phrase. Unlike the intonational phrase, the phonological phrase has been shown to be only relevant for rhythm and prominence-related phenomena (Frota, 2000, 2014). Fricative voicing between words (casa[b]rancas, casa[p]retas) and ressylabification before vowel-initial words...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper, we explore the role of intonation and visual cues in the perception of statements and questions in two varieties of European Portuguese – the standard (SEP) and the insular variety of Azores, Ponta Delgada (PtD) –, previously shown to convey sentence type contrasts by different uses of intonational means and/or facial gestures, namel...
Research
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This short measure is a screening test for Autism Spectrum Disorder in early childhood.
Article
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The present research examines the rhythmic properties of European Portuguese spoken by native speakers of Mandarin Chinese. Based on the rhythm metrics and corpora used in previous studies focused on the comparison across different languages and varieties (Ramus, Nespor & Mehler, 1999; Frota & Vigário, 2001), we aimed at determining the rhythmic pr...
Preprint
Full-text available
Scientific knowledge transfer into society in the form of concrete products is increasingly valued. At the Lisbon Phonetics Lab work has been done for the past years in both basic and applied research. In this paper we survey recent major resources and applications made available by this Lab in areas related to phonological and lexical frequency in...
Poster
Full-text available
The validity of the European Portuguese CDI Short Forms (EP-CDI SF) in identifying language-impaired children (LI) and children at-risk for language impairment (AR) by comparison to typical development (TD), referring to the EP norms, was investigated. Language deficits are pervasive in Down Syndrome, and younger siblings of children with ASD or SL...
Article
Full-text available
https://revistadescubraasdiferencasmaio2017.wordpress.com/2017/05/01/horizonte-21-novas-linhas-de-investigacao-em-trissomia-21/
Research
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The FrePOP (Frequency of Phonological Objects in Portuguese) database is a database of frequency information of phonological objects in different types of corpora, which may be used as reference information. Frequency values for different regions (including the varieties of Portuguese spoken in Brazil and in Africa) and for specific groups of popul...
Research
Full-text available
FreP is a tool for the automatic computation of frequency information of phonological objects in the Portuguese language.
Article
We describe the European Portuguese version of a test of prosodic abilities originally developed for English: the Profiling Elements of Prosody in Speech-Communication (Peppé & McCann, 2003). Using this test, we examined the development of several components of European Portuguese prosody between 5 and 20 years of age (N = 131). Results showed pros...
Article
Full-text available
In this article we examine three different hiatus resolution phenomena (Vowel Merger, Semivocalization and Back Vowel deletion) in five different urban regions in the north, centre and south of Portugal. These five regions show similarities with the Standard variety of European Portuguese: specifically lexical stress blocks Vowel Merger, whereas Se...
Article
Full-text available
Individuals with Parkinson's disease (PD) have to deal with several aspects of voice and speech decline and thus alteration of communication ability during the course of the disease. Among these communication impairments, three major challenges include: (1) dysarthria, consisting of orofacial motor dysfunction and dysprosody, which is linked to the...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction Individuals with Parkinson's disease (PD) have to deal with several aspects of voice and speech decline and thus alteration of communication ability during the course of the disease. Among these communication impairments, 3 major challenges include: (1) dysarthria, consisting of orofacial motor dysfunction and dysprosody, which is link...
Conference Paper
Like consonants and vowels, infants’ ability to discriminate lexical pitch becomes language-specific with age (Mattock & Burnham, 2006). We know less about when infants perceive pitch marking of prosodic units. We tested English-learning infants on Portuguese bisyllabic stimuli where statements and yes/no questions are segmentally identical but dis...
Presentation
Full-text available
This study explores the role of intonation and visual cues in the perception of sentence types in two European Portuguese varieties (SEP – standard, and PtD – Azores), previously shown to convey sentence type contrasts by using different intonational means and/or with facial gestures (Cruz, Swerts & Frota 2015). Forty native speakers from SEP and P...
Poster
Full-text available
Establishing sentence modality and chunking the speech stream into units are two of prosody’s main functions. Both functions affect phrase-level meanings, playing a crucial role in communication. Portuguese uses contrasting nuclear contours to express modality, and intonational breaks for chunking (Frota, 2014). This study examines the impact of Pa...
Poster
Full-text available
This study investigated the CPS in IPB perception in European Portuguese, a language where pitch movements combined with boundary lengthening are mostly confined to IP-edges, namely the IP-final stressed syllable and the boundary syllable. Delexicalized sentences were used to address the debate of whether the CPS is, or not, purely prosody-driven.
Article
Full-text available
Intonation is the phonologically structured variation in phonetic features, primarily pitch, to express phrase-level meanings. As in other speech sound domains, analyzing intonation involves mapping continuously variable physical parameters to categories. The categories of intonation are organized in a set of relations and rule-governed distributio...
Article
Full-text available
This paper describes the European Portuguese MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories short forms, the first published instruments for the assessment of language development in EP-learning infants and toddlers. Normative data from the EP population are presented, focusing on developmental trends for vocabulary learning, production of m...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Several behavioral studies have suggested that speakers of languages with variable stress (e.g., Spanish) are better than speakers of languages with fixed stress (e.g., French) at discriminating stress contrasts. European Portuguese (EP) is a language with variable stress, and the main cues for stress are duration and vowel reduction. However, when...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In Portuguese, different strategies for dealing with tune-text accommodation have been reported. However, no systematic research has been conducted exploring crucial cases of complex nuclear melodies realized in nuclear words with final stress, as in yes-no questions. Based on reading and semispontaneous data from ten regions in Brazil and eleven r...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Infants' ability to distinguish between forms of phonetic variation in speech that are relevant to meaning is essential for their language development. Little is known about the developmental course of infants' perception of pitch contrasts, particularly in the presence of segmental variability which entails the ability to extract and generalize th...
Presentation
Full-text available
Little is known about the developmental course of infants’ perception of pitch, particularity in the presence of segmental variability. Using single-bisyllabic utterances, Experiments 1 and 2 respectively examined native discrimination of the statement (falling)/yes-no question (rising) tune by European Portuguese (EP)-learning infants, and EP-lear...
Poster
Prosody establishes sentence modality and chunks the speech stream into sense units. Both functions affect phrase-level meanings, playing a crucial role in communication. Portuguese uses nuclear contours to express modality and intonational breaks for chunking. This study examines the impact of Parkinson’s disease (PD) on these functions considerin...
Chapter
The main goal of this paper is to provide a phonological analysis of neutral yes-no questions in Brazilian Portuguese in seven varieties (Paraíba, Sergipe, Bahia, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul), most of them along the Atlantic Coast. The analysis followed the autosegmental-metrical framework (Ladd, 2008), and th...
Chapter
This chapter describes the intonation system of Portuguese, concentrating on the analysis of the three main functions of intonation: demarcation, highlighting, and distinction of utterance types. It is based on the description of a single variety: the Lisbon variety for European Portuguese (EP), and the Rio de Janeiro variety for Brazilian Portugue...
Chapter
There is a lack of research investigating prosody in Portuguese children with autism. In this chapter, we analyze 15 Portuguese children aged 5-9 years with high-functioning autism (HFA) in comparison to their typically developing peers. We also evaluated nonverbal intelligence, vocabulary, phonological awareness, pragmatics, attention, and executi...