Stan van der Burght

Stan is a postdoc at the Psychology of Language department where he studies how humans produce and comprehend language. In particular, he is interested in intonation of spoken language: how it conveys differences in meaning, and how speakers and listeners differ in the way they use and interpret intonation in everyday conversation (spoiler: they differ a lot).

Before working at the MPI for Psycholinguistics, Stan worked at the MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany. His master’s degree is in Clinical Neuroscience, obtained at UCL.

When he’s not studying language, chances are that you find Stan playing the piano.

The melody of speech

In spoken language, it’s not only the words we say that matter, but also how we say them. When we speak, we constantly produce small changes in the tone of our voice, how loudly we speak, or when we decide to pause for a bit (the technical term for these aspects of speech is prosody). How we speak can convey how we feel about something, but it can also affect the meaning of our words. As we will see next, the same sentence can have different meanings, just by changing how we say it.