The problem of speech patterns in time

Robert F. Port

Published in print August 2007 | ISBN: 9780198568971
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:
 The problem of speech patterns in time

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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One of the ways in which spoken languages differ from each other is in the temporal patterning of speech. These temporal patterns can be examined on several time scales, from very local (subsegmental and segmental) to global. The global patterns lasting from a quarter second to a second or so are most noticeable when we listen to speech in any language but our own. We may also become aware of rhythmic patterns in our own language when we hear it spoken by someone whose native language is something else. Presumably there is some kind of pattern in the timing of speech gestures that accounts for our perception of rhythmic differences between languages. This article examines the problem of speech patterns in time, two conceptual frames for temporal patterns in speech (symbol strings and cycles), global timing constraints (“stress-timed” vs. “syllable-timed” languages), regular “mora timing” in Japanese, harmonic timing effect, modelling rhythm with dynamical systems, and phrase edge timing phenomena.

Keywords: temporal patterns; speech; speech patterns; symbol strings; cycles; global timing constraints; mora timing; Japanese; harmonic timing effect; phrase edge timing

Article.  8004 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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