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Rate of Syllable Production in Selected Languages Aubrey Wilson and Ron Netsell Missouri State University Abstract In different situations and across varying.

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Presentation on theme: "Rate of Syllable Production in Selected Languages Aubrey Wilson and Ron Netsell Missouri State University Abstract In different situations and across varying."— Presentation transcript:

1 Rate of Syllable Production in Selected Languages Aubrey Wilson and Ron Netsell Missouri State University Abstract In different situations and across varying languages and dialects, speech rate is often perceived very differently. The purpose of the present research was to quantify the rate of speech for three languages: English, Arabic, and Tamil. The null hypothesis was that these languages would have the same speaking rate. Three native speakers from each language were recruited. Each participant recorded a five minute speech sample in their native language. The speech samples were analyzed and speaking rate was calculated in syllables per second (SPS) for each participant. Tamil speakers were found to have the fastest speaking rate, followed by Arabic speakers, then English speakers. Introduction Some have found speaking rate to vary across languages (Robb & Gillion, 2007), while others believe it may be a myth that some languages are spoken more quickly than others (Roach, 1998). Most studies involving the rate of speech used two different measures - speaking rate and articulation rate. Speaking rate can be defined as the number of syllables in a speech sample divided by the duration of the speech sample. Articulation rate can be defined as the number of syllables in a speech sample divided by the duration of the speech sample, with the pauses removed (Braun & Oba, 2007; Roach, 1998; Robb & Gillon, 2007; Sturm & Seery, 2007). Typically, speaking rate and articulation rate are measured in syllables per second (Braun & Oba, 2007; Crystal & House, 1990; Dellwo, Ferragne, & Pellegrino, 2006; Nishio & Niimi, 2006; Roach, 1998; Sturm & Seery, 2007; Tsao & Weismer,1997; Verhoeven, De Pauw, & Kloots, 2004). Minimal data have been published regarding speaking rates for different languages. While it is uncertain if there are true differences in speaking rates across different languages, it is clear that more research on the subject needs to be conducted. Method Participants: The participants consisted of three native speakers of English, Arabic, and Tamil – which yielded nine participants total. The participants were adult males, native speakers of their language, and had no history of a speech or language disorder. Procedures: Participants were given the following instructions: “I want you to speak for 5 minutes in your native language at a natural conversation rate. You can talk about anything you want, but try not to talk about anything too emotional”. The participants then put on a microphone headset and recorded a five minute speech sample into the free recording program, Audacity. Audacity was used to record each speech sample and to calculate speaking rate in syllables per second. Pauses of more than 250 ms were deleted (Tsao & Weismer, 1997). Results Table 1. Arabic Speaking Rate. Table 2. Tamil Speaking Rate. Table 2. English Speak Rate. Table 4. Average Speaking Rate of English, Arabic and Tamil. Discussion Tamil speakers were found to have the fastest speaking rate with an average of 6.5 SPS, followed by Arabic speakers with an average 5.5 SPS, and finally English speakers with an average of 3.5 SPS. These results are clinically significant because English was found to have the slowest speaking rate; therefore, some accent reduction clients learning English may benefit from slowing down their speaking rate. The results of this study indicate that some languages are truly spoken more quickly than others. Since this was a preliminary study, it would be beneficial for additional research to be conducted on speaking rate. Additional factors may be considered for future research include: recruiting more participants, using a computer program to delete pauses, and having participants engage in conversation for comparison with the monologues of the present study. References Arnfield, S., Roach, P., Setter, J., Greasley, P. & Horton, D. (1995). Emotional stress and speech tempo variation. Proceedings of the ESCA/NATO Workshop on Speech Under Stress, Lisbon, Audacity Free Audio Editor and Recorder (2009). Retrieved on January 3, 2009 from: Boersma, P. & Weeink, D. Praat – doing phonetics by computer. Retrieved on June 7, 2008 from Braun, A. & Oba, R. (2007). Speaking tempo in emotional speech – A cross-cultural study using dubbed speech. In: Marc Schröder / Anton Batliner / Christophe d'Alessandro (eds.): Proceedings of the International Workshop on Paralinguistic Speech – between Models and Data., Crystal, T. H. & House, A. S. (1990). Articulation rate and duration of syllables and stress groups in connected speech [Electronic version]. The Journal of Acoustical Society of America, Jul;88(1), Dellwo, V., Ferragne, E., & Pellegrino, F. (2006). The perception of intended speech rate in English, French and German by French speakers. Department of Phonetics & Linguistics, University College, London. Hincks, R. (2008). Presenting in English or Swedish: Differences in speaking rate. Proceedings, FONETIK, Department of Linguistics, University of Gothenburg. Laver, John (1994). Principles of Phonetics. Retrieved September 21, 2008 from pg=PA542&lpg=PA542&dq=Arabic+Syllables/Second&source=web&ots=HMiJ12sqvI&sig=oZTDquNOfoVN_JzWzJ4O7tBi9qo&hl =en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=2&ct=result#PPA5,M1 Nishio, M. & Niimi, S. (2006). Comparison of speaking rate, articulation rate and alternating motion rate in dysarthric speakers. Folia Phoniatr Logop, 58, Robb, M., Maclagan, M., & Chen, Y. (2003). Speaking rates of American and New Zealand varieties of English. Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, 17, Robb, M. & Gillon, G. (2007). Speech rates of New Zealand English – and American English – speaking children. Advances in Speech- Language Pathology, 9 (2), Roach, P. (1998). Some languages are spoken more quickly than others. Language Myths (Bauer, L. & Trudgill, P. eds.). Penguin Group, Sturm, J. A. & Seery, C. H., (2007). Speech and articulatory rates of school-age children in conversation and narrative contexts. Language, Speech and Hearing Sciences in Schools, 38, Tsao, Y.C. & Weismer, G. (1997). Interspeaker variation in habitual speaking rate: Evidence for a neuromuscular component. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 40, Tsao, Y.C., Weismer, G. & Iqbal, K. (2006). Interspeaker variation in habitual speaking rate: Additional evidence. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 49, Verhoeven, J., De Pauw, G., & Kloots, H. (2004). Speech rate in a pluricentric language: A comparison between dutch in belgium and the Netherlands. Language and Speech, 47(3), Participant 001Participant 002Participant 003 SecondsAverage SPS Total Participant 004Participant 005Participant 006 SecondsAverage SPS Total Participant 007Participant 008Participant 009 SecondsAverage SPS Total EnglishArabicTamil Average SPS Average SPS Average SPS Overall Average SPS


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