A group of researchers at Queen Margaret University College (Edinburgh) have developed a way of assessing prosody using computer-based tasks. “Profiling Elements of Prosodic Systems - Children” (PEPS-C) was developed from a procedure for assessing prosody in adults. The test is useful for assessing any individual from 5 years of age who is suspected of having an expressive and/or receptive prosodic disorder. It can be used by Speech and Language Therapists and other related professionals.
The new computerised version is available in four accent varieties: Standard Scottish English (Edinburgh), Southern British English, North American English and Australian English. Foreign language versions (e.g. Spanish, French) are being developed. The Scottish version has norms available for 120 typically developing Scottish children aged 5 to 14. The research version of the test has recently been revised to make it more accessible for clinicians.
Prosody is involved in a wide range of more or less well defined communicative functions; for PEPS-C, we selected four where intonation and prosody are generally agreed to have an important role: turn-end type, affect, chunking and focus. Each area is assessed in terms of input (comprehension) and output (expression) skills. Auditory discrimination and production ability are assessed using form tasks.
Turn-End Type The distinction between a question with rising pitch and a statement with falling pitch is used. For the input task children are required to listen to single words (food items) and decide whether they sound like questions, i.e. if the person on the computer was “asking them if they want some”; or if they sound like statements, i.e. if the person was “just telling them what the food is”. For the output task the child is required to produce this distinction.
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