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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 (http://www.fub.it/voice/gfs2003/default.htm), 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.
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