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Nordic Prosody

Proceedings of the XIIth Conference, Trondheim 2016

Edited By Jardar Eggesbö Abrahamsen, Jacques Koreman and Wim van Dommelen

This volume contains articles based on the presentations given at the Nordic Prosody XII conference, which was held at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Trondheim, Norway) in August 2016. The contributors investigate various prosodic aspects, including intonation, rhythm, speaking rate, intensity, and breathing, using approaches ranging from phonetic and phonological analysis to speech technology methods. While most of the studies examine read speech, some of them explore the prosodics of spontaneous speech. The languages that receive most attention are Norwegian, Swedish and Icelandic as well as Estonian, Latgalian and Polish. In addition to the larger Nordic languages, several papers focus on regional languages spoken in these areas.

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Stability of timing patterns in Polish. Experimental verification of the rhythm class hypothesis (Agnieszka Wagner)


Agnieszka Wagner

Stability of timing patterns in Polish. Experimental verification of the rhythm class hypothesis

Abstract: This paper investigates the stability of timing patterns in Polish across different speaking rates, phonotactic and poetic metrical structures and elicitation methods. Timing patterns of utterances from a recently developed Polish rhythmic database were described by means of rhythm metrics: PVI, ΔV, ΔC and %V and Varco. The rhythm scores were subjected to statistical analyses that showed a significant effect of the investigated factors on the timing patterns, which was reflected in the differences in the rhythm scores and in the position of Polish data in a two-dimensional “rhythm space”. Analyses of cross-linguistic and within-language durational variability and an attempt to determine rhythm class affiliation of the Polish language (a “rhythmic outlier”) failed to provide support for the rhythm class hypothesis. It is claimed that speech rhythm can not be adequately described by means of measures which rely solely on durational variability, and that studies which apply rhythm metrics to investigate speech timing or rhythm should take into account numerous limitations of such an approach.

1. Introduction and Background

For many years the research on speech rhythm has been dominated by the notion of isochrony (Pike, 1945; Abercrombie, 1967), which was the central concept underlying the so-called rhythm class hypothesis. According to this hypothesis every language, on the basis of its stable contrastive timing properties, can be assigned to one of two main rhythmic categories1: stress-timing...

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