Articulation Rate and Syllable Reduction in Spanish and Portuguese

TitleArticulation Rate and Syllable Reduction in Spanish and Portuguese
Publication TypePresentation
Year of Publication2012
Conference NameDag van de Fonetiek 2012
AuthorsVoigt, Stefanie, Anja Schüppert, and Charlotte Gooskens
PublisherNederlandse Vereniging voor Fonetische Wetenschappen
Conference LocationUtrecht, The Netherlands

Jensen (1989) found an asymmetry in mutual intelligibility of South-American Spanish and Portuguese. According to Vaughan and Letowski (1997), Gordon-Salant et al. (2007) and Schüppert et al. (In press) a higher articulation rate shows negative effects on intelligibility.
This study compares canonical articulation rates (number of canonical syllables per second) and phonetic articulation rates (phonetic syllables per second) of European Spanish and Portuguese based on radio podcasts. The results show that Portuguese and Spanish speakers exhibit no difference in canonical articulation rate but the phonetic articulation rates differ among the two languages. By comparing those two measures we found that Portuguese speakers reduce syllables significantly more than Spanish speakers due to vowel elision in post-stressed and final position, which results in longer, but fewer syllables per second.
The results lead to a future experiment where intelligibility scores of European Spanish and Portuguese will be correlated with articulation rate.