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Nordic Prosody

Proceedings of the Xth Conference, Helsinki 2008

Edited By Martti Vainio, Reijo Aulanko and Olli Aaltonen

This volume contains the revised texts of talks and posters given at the Nordic Prosody X conference, held at the University of Helsinki, in August 2008. The contributions by Scandinavian and other researchers cover a wide range of prosody-related topics from various theoretical and methodological points of view. Although the history of the conference series is Nordic and Scandinavian, the current volume presents studies that are of mainly Baltic origin in the sense that of the eight languages presented in the proceedings only English is not natively spoken around the Baltic Sea. Research issues addressed in the 25 articles include various aspects of speech prosody, their regional variation within and across languages as well as social and idiolectal variation. Speech technology and modelling of prosody are also addressed in more than one article.


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18. Coupled oscillator model for speech timing: overview and examples 179


COUPLED OSCILLATOR MODEL FOR SPEECH TIMING: OVERVIEW AND EXAMPLES Michael L. O’Dell Tommi Nieminen 1 Background The present article is intended to sum up the past ten years of our research concerning the timing of speech and the development of a coupled oscillator model (COM) for speech timing. This enterprise started with our paper (O’Dell and Nieminen, 1998) presented at the 1998 Finnic Phonetics symposium in Pärnu —the first of the series to be held in Estonia—and has since continued through several conferences and conference papers. Our initial focus (O’Dell and Nieminen, 1998, 1999) was on the so-called rhythm dichotomy (Pike, 1945) and particularly Eriksson’s (1991) re-inter- pretation of it. Eriksson had noted that in both stress-timed and syllable-timed languages, a simple linear relation holds between the duration of the stress group and the number of the syllables in it, the only difference being in the constant term of the linear regression equation (y-intercept). This intriguing observation provides simple mathematical tools with which to describe the classic rhythm dichotomy and we proposed the COM as a possible explanation of the observed mathematical relation. Later, we have expanded the scope of the model and applied it to additional data and other types of timing phenomenon (O’Dell and Nieminen, 2001, 2002a, b, 2006). Most recently we have been developing statistical tools to account for rhythmic variation in spontaneous speech (O’Dell et al., 2007, 2008). In the following we first present, in Section 2, a brief introduction to the terminology and...

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