How syllable-timed is Italian? We investigate two contexts for vowel reduction, unstressed syllables and syllables in polysyllabic words. In a production experiment, a large sample of speakers from Tuscany read di- and trisyllabic target words with different stress placement in a sentence context. Results showed vowel reduction in unstressed syllables, both in terms of duration and spectral quality as well as polysyllabic shortening (without spectral reduction). These temporal adjustments are of similar magnitude as reported for stress-timed languages. Results of a two-alternative forced choice task, however, showed little sensitivity to temporal patterns in monosyllabic fragments. Hence, production patterns appear to be more stress-timed than perceptual mechanisms which has implications for duration models in speech synthesis.
Bibliographic reference. Braun, Bettina / Geiselmann, Sabine (2011): "Italian in the no-man's land between stress-timing and syllable-timing? speakers are more stress-timed than listeners", In INTERSPEECH-2011, 2697-2700.