LINGUIST List 15.25

Mon Jan 12 2004

Sum: Narrative and Identity; Speaking Rate

Editor for this issue: Steve Moran <>


  1. Emma Moore, Narrative
  2. Julio Santiago, Speaking rates

Message 1: Narrative

Date: Mon, 5 Jan 2004 10:33:32 -0500 (EST)
From: Emma Moore <>
Subject: Narrative

Many thanks to those who responded to my search (Linguist 14.3428) for
recent texts which discuss what makes a ''good'' spoken
narrative. I've summarised the responses below:

Keira Ballantyne suggested the following article which discusses how
two conflicting accounts of narrative events differ and how this
relates to the goal of convincing an audience:

Thornborrow, Joanna (2000) ''The construction of conflicting accounts
in public participation TV''. _Language in Society_ 29(3): 357-77.

Herb Colston referred to an International Humor Studies conference
paper by Neal Norrick, which considered good joke narratives. Neal
Norrick also suggested his (2000) book, _Conversational Narrative_
Amsterdam: Benjamins. Neal noted that, although this book does not
address the issue of what makes a good narrative directly, it does
consider different kinds of oral storytelling. (This supports my view
that what counts as 'good' narrative depends upon the structural and
organisational quality of the narrative and its social context.)

Finally, Tabea Becker noted the publication of a new book on narrative
to appear in the spring:

Becker, Tabea and Uta M. Quasthoff (2004) _Narrative
Interaction_. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
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Message 2: Speaking rates

Date: Wed, 7 Jan 2004 16:11:54 -0500 (EST)
From: Julio Santiago <>
Subject: Speaking rates

I recently posted a query to the list (Linguist 14.3361) for
references on crosslinguistic speech rate comparisons (mainly Germanic
versus Romance languages). Thanks a thousand to Matt Goldrick, Michael
Barrie, Paul Fallon, Stephan Schmid, Anthony Lewis, and Luis
F. Tejedo-Herrero, who took the time to reply.

Here is a summary of their suggestions:

Matt Goldrick recommended reading the following paper on changes in
the voiced-voiceless obstruent distinction across speaking rates in
Thai, French and English:

Kessinger, R. H. & Blumstein, S.E. (1997) Effects of speaking rate on
voice-onset time in Thai, French, and English. Journal of Phonetics,
25, 143-168.

Michael Barrie and Luis F. Tejedo-Herrero suggested the following book

Roach, Peter. 1998. Some languages are spoken more quickly than
others. En Language Myths. Bauer, Laurie & Peter Trudgill, (eds.),
pags. 150-58. London: Pinguin Books.

and Michael Barrie actually took the pain of scanning it and sending
it over (thanks!).

Paul Fallon mentioned that John Laver's ''Principles of Phonetics'',
Cambridge University Press, has a good overview of different ways of
measuring speech (and articulation) rate, and cites statistics from
various languages.

Stephan Schmid sent a link to the abstract of recent work by Laura
Mori regarding Italian (,
and actually made copies of most relevant references cited therein and
mailed them over (just got them, thanks!!!).

Anthony Lewis suggested that the relevant way of measuring speech rate
is a mean for ''syllables per second'' extracted from spontaneous
speech, which, however, should be obtained from within each
intonational phrase.

Thanks again to everyone.

Language-Family: Indo-European; Code: IE 
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