"A large number of complex consonantal clusters alongside with simple CV syllables, presence of long and short vowels within the same utterance and substantial differences in duration of stressed and unstressed syllables enhance durational variability. Durational variability may also differ between languages that impose strict phonotactic constraints leading to fewer consonantal clusters and predominantly CV syllables, and languages that allow complex consonantal clusters (Dauer, 1983). However, even when segmental, prosodic and phonotactic differences between utterances of rhythmically different languages are controlled for, the cross-linguistic differences in durational variability persist (Prieto et al., 2012). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Analysis of English rhythm in speech produced by children and adults revealed that speech rhythm becomes increasingly more stress-timed as language acquisition progresses. Children reach the adult-like target by 11 to 12 years. The employed speech elicitation paradigm ensured that the sentences produced by adults and children at different ages were comparable in terms of lexical content, segmental composition, and phonotactic complexity. Detected differences between child and adult rhythm and between rhythm in child speech at various ages cannot be attributed to acquisition of phonotactic language features or vocabulary, and indicate the development of language-specific phonetic timing in the course of acquisition.
The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 09/2015; 138(3):EL199-204. DOI:10.1121/1.4929616 · 1.50 Impact Factor
"The second aspect of timing within this framework is related to the distribution of more prominent elements against the background of less prominent ones. Despite unsuccessful attempts to find isochrony in any of the timing dimensions of speech rhythm as a linguistic structure, or to support the claim that languages are divided into rhythmic classes based on periodicity (Roach, 1982; Pammies Bertran, 1999; Dauer, 1983), empirical evidence confirms the psychological reality of speech rhythm. Adults and babies can discriminate unfamiliar languages with contrastive rhythms, and cannot distinguish between the timing patterns of rhythmically similar languages (Ramus et al., 1999; Ramus and Mehler, 1999). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The development of speech rhythm in second language (L2) acquisition was investigated. Speech rhythm was defined as durational variability that can be captured by the interval-based rhythm metrics. These metrics were used to examine the differences in durational variability between proficiency levels in L2 English spoken by French and German learners. The results reveal that durational variability increased as L2 acquisition progressed in both groups of learners. This indicates that speech rhythm in L2 English develops from more syllable-timed toward more stress-timed patterns irrespective of whether the native language of the learner is rhythmically similar to or different from the target language. Although both groups showed similar development of speech rhythm in L2 acquisition, there were also differences: German learners achieved a degree of durational variability typical of the target language, while French learners exhibited lower variability than native British speakers, even at an advanced proficiency level.
The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 08/2015; 138(2):533-544. DOI:10.1121/1.4923359 · 1.50 Impact Factor
"This result supports the original prediction that stress is crucial for processing in all languages that have it regardless of putative rhythm class; cf.   . These results add to a host of studies showing that despite some evidence linking fragment monitoring responses to rhythm class (   ), such results do not hold for all studies and all types of stimuli. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In a syllable monitoring experiment, Greek and English speakers (N = 20 per language) monitored for [ma] embedded in Greek real and nonce words; [ma] was word-initial, word-medial or word-final, and stressed, unstressed or rhythmically stressed. Both groups spotted stressed [ma] faster than unstressed [ma]; unstressed [ma] was spotted faster by Greek than English participants. Rhythmically stressed [ma] patterned with unstressed [ma] for both groups. Word category (real or nonce) did not affect latencies. These results show that stress played an important role whether participants were responding to unfamiliar (nonce) stimuli (Greeks) or processing in an altogether unfamiliar language with different stress requirements (English). The importance of stress did not depend on rhythm class, as has sometimes been argued, though familiarity with language did affect responses. The results do not support the view that processing is related to rhythm class and confirm that Greek makes only a binary stress distinction.
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