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Indo-European Linguistics

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Summary Details

Query:   Speaking rates
Author:  Julio Santiago
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Typology

Language Family:   Indo-European

Summary:   I recently posted a query to the list 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,

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

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.

LL Issue: 15.25
Date Posted: 07-Jan-2004
Original Query: Read original query


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