Speech Prosody 2006

Dresden, Germany
May 2-5, 2006

Estonian and English Rhythm: a Two-Dimensional Quantification based on Syllables and Feet

Eva Liina Asu (1), Francis Nolan (2)

(1) Institute of the Estonian Language, Tallinn, Estonia
(2) Department of Linguistics, University of Cambridge, UK

This paper expands a recent pilot experiment on Estonian rhythm within the quantificational approach to the study of rhythm, using the Pairwise Variability Index (PVI). The PVI expresses the average difference between adjacent phonological units such as vowels, consonantal intervals or syllables. It is argued here that confining the application of the PVI to the level of the syllable (or its components) misses the essence of Estonian rhythm and indeed of phonetic rhythm in general, and the first experiment reported in this paper quantifies Estonian rhythm in terms of the durational PVI of both the syllable and (innovatively) the foot. In the second experiment, results are compared with the same measures for another language with strong stress, English. Both languages have a similar, relatively low foot PVI, but English has a considerably higher syllable PVI reflecting its radical reduction of unstressed syllables in polysyllabic feet.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Asu, Eva Liina / Nolan, Francis (2006): "Estonian and English rhythm: a two-dimensional quantification based on syllables and feet", In SP-2006, paper 229.