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LINGUIST List 18.2363

Wed Aug 08 2007

Diss: Phonetics/Phonology: Meireles: 'Speech Rhythmical Restructuri...'

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        1.    Alexsandro Meireles, Speech Rhythmical Restructurings in Brazilian Portuguese

Message 1: Speech Rhythmical Restructurings in Brazilian Portuguese
Date: 07-Aug-2007
From: Alexsandro Meireles <meirelesalexgmail.com>
Subject: Speech Rhythmical Restructurings in Brazilian Portuguese
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Institution: State University of Campinas
Program: Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007

Author: Alexsandro Rodrigues Meireles

Dissertation Title: Speech Rhythmical Restructurings in Brazilian Portuguese

Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics

Subject Language(s): Portuguese (por)

Dissertation Director(s):
PlĂ­nio Almeida Barbosa
Dani Byrd
Louis Goldstein
Robert Port
Elliot Saltzman

Dissertation Abstract:

The present thesis deals with speech rhythmical restructurings due to
speech rate variation in Brazilian Portuguese. Rhythmical restructuring is
considered as a reorganization of stress groups along the utterance due to
speech rate variation. Speech rate variation, on the other side, is one of
the greatest causes of phonetic change, since this speech chain's
perturbation makes it possible to evaluate the possibilities of variation
which would reveal new stable patterns. In order to explain how speech rate
change modifies the rhythmic structure of speech, the thesis was split into
three different parts.

The first part presents the theoretical background on which our experiments
were based upon. In this part, it is introduced the thesis' main
theoretical motivation, the application of Dynamical Systems Theory to
language. Its theoretical basis is found in the Articulatory Phonology
(Browman & Goldstein, 1992) and the Dynamical Model of Rhythm (Barbosa,
2006). Both models are used as our experiments' theoretical basis.

The second part, after presenting some basic notions about rhythm,
presents an acoustical and an articulatory experiment which reveal rhythmic
variations on sentences in which speech rate was varied. The acoustical
study's main results in stretches with rhythmical restructurings are: a)
the number of VV units (vowel-to-vowel) increases proportionally to speech
rate increase; b) the stress group's duration tends to be constant with
speech rate increase; c) the standard deviation of VV units' duration, as
well as the stress groups' duration, is smaller at fast rates. On the other
hand, the articulatory study, through the use of a magnetometer (EMMA),
reveals that speech rate tends to affect all gestures in a utterance,
independently of the VV unit phrasal position.

The third part works with lexical rhythmic variation. Specifically,
variation/change from antepenultimate stress words to penultimate stress
words is studied. Firstly, historical aspects of this lexical
variation/change is presented,then, an analysis by the light of
Articulatory Phonology is presented. In order to do so, two studies were
made: an acoustical and an articulatory one (EMMA). The acoustical study's
main conclusion is that antepenultimate stress words variation to
penultimate stress words is influenced by speech rate. Higher probability
of penultimate stress words forms is to be expected at fast rates.
Nevertheless, there are individual/dialectal factors involved, since there
are speakers who never produced such forms at fast rates. On the other
hand, the articulatory studies were used to corroborate the previous
acoustical results, for coarticulation increase between post-stress
consonants with speech rate increase would explain the perception of
antepenultimate stress words as penultimate stress words, especially at
fast rates.

Finally, this thesis shows how dynamical explanations of linguistic
phenomena like linguistic change and variation may come to reconcile
phonetic and phonological aspects of language. Specifically, it presents
how speech continuous variations through speech rate increase are able to
modify speech's rhythmic structure and take part in linguistic

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