Restructuring Rhythm Patterns

TitleRestructuring Rhythm Patterns
Publication TypePresentation
Year of Publication2003
Conference NameDag van de Fonetiek 2003
AuthorsSchreuder, Maartje, and Dicky Gilbers
PublisherNederlandse Vereniging voor Fonetische Wetenschappen
Conference LocationUtrecht, The Netherlands

For this experiment we wondered whether the influence of a higher speech rate leads to adjustment of the phonological structure, as it does in music, or just to 'phonetic compression', i.e. shortening and merging of vowels and consonants, with preservation of the phonological structure. If the rhythmic structure is adjusted, this implies that every speech rate has its own register, in terms of Optimality Theory (Prince & Smolensky, 1993) its own ranking of constraints.

The allegro (fast) data were obtained by means of a multiple-choice quiz in which two subjects competed each other in answering simple questions as quickly as possible. Afterwards the subjects were asked to read the words in a sentence, at a moderate speech rate. The data were judged by five trained listeners, and were phonetically analysed in PRAAT.

The results showed a preference for restructured rhythms in fast speech. Particularly for the fastest speakers correspondence constraints prevailed in their andante (moderate) speech, whereas in allegro tempo markedness constraints dominated the correspondence ones.