Speech Prosody 2008

Campinas, Brazil
May 6-9, 2008

Comparing Native and Non-Native Speech Rhythm Using Acoustic Rhythmic Measures: Cantonese, Beijing Mandarin and English

Peggy P. K. Mok (1), Volker Dellwo (2)

(1) Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China
(2) Department of Phonetics and Linguistics, University College London, UK

This study investigates the speech rhythm of Cantonese, Beijing Mandarin, Cantonese-accented English and Mandarin-accented English using acoustic rhythmic measures. They were compared with four languages in the BonnTempo corpus: German and English (stress-timed) and French and Italian (syllable-timed). Six Cantonese and six Beijing Mandarin native speakers were recorded reading the North Wind and the Sun story with a normal speech rate, telling the story semi-spontaneously and reading the English version of the story. Both raw and normalised rhythmic measures were calculated using vocalic, consonantal and syllabic durations (ÄC, ÄV, ÄS, %V, VarcoC, VarcoV, VarcoS, rPVI_C, rPVI_S, nPVI_V, nPVI_S). Results confirm the syllable-timing impression of Cantonese and Mandarin. Data of the two foreign English accents poses a challenge to the rhythmic measures because the two accents are syllable-timed impressionistically but were classified as stress-timed by some of the rhythmic measures (ÄC, rPVI_C, nPVI_V, ÄS, VarcoS, rPVI_S and nPVI_S). VarcoC and %V give the best classification of speech rhythm in this study.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Mok, Peggy P. K. / Dellwo, Volker (2008): "Comparing native and non-native speech rhythm using acoustic rhythmic measures: Cantonese, Beijing Mandarin and English", In SP-2008, 423-426.