Speech Prosody 2006

Dresden, Germany
May 2-5, 2006

Timing in News and Weather Forecasts: Implications for Perception

Tatiana Shevchenko, Natalia Uglova

Department of English Phonetics, Moscow State Linguistic University, Russia

The theme of the paper was prompted by common academic practice of listening to TV news: the tempo of speech seems to be accelerating. The aim of the research was to find out which of the following prosodic factors is responsible for creating the effect of fast tempo in TV speech: number of words per minute, number of accented words per minute, mean syllable duration, duration of uninterrupted speech unit, duration of pauses, phonation-to-pause ratio. Regional affiliation, genre and gender of speakers were also taken into account. The method consisted in testing these parameters on the authentic corpus of 26 texts produced by nine American newsreaders, normalized at one minute, and processed with Speech Analyser computer program. The results: the rate of delivery corresponds with data on normal articulation rate with regards to average syllable duration, but predictable re-structuring at the microprosodic level affects unaccented syllables shortening. The duration values of intonation units and pauses are exceptional when compared to data on interview, reading and spontaneous talk in English. Preliminary perception test is aimed at answering the question: How much of what the native speakers hear in news is actually perceived as information and how much is just a background noise?

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Shevchenko, Tatiana / Uglova, Natalia (2006): "Timing in news and weather forecasts: implications for perception", In SP-2006, paper 005.