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Stress timing/Syllable timing

In a stress-timed language, syllables may last different amounts of time, but there is perceived to be a fairly constant amount of time (on average) between consecutive stressed syllables. Stress-timing is sometimes called Morse-code rhythm. Stress-timing is strongly related to vowel reduction processes. English, German, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian,Faroese, Dutch and Portuguese are typical stress-timed languages, as are some southern dialects of Italian.

European Portuguese is more stress-timed than the Brazilian. The latter has mixed characteristics and varies according to speech rate, gender and dialect. At fast speech rates, Brazilian Portuguese is more stress-timed, while in slow speech rates, it is more syllable-timed. The dialects of Rio Grande do Sul and Bahia are considered to sound more syllable-timed than the others, while the southeastern dialects such as the mineiro, in Minas Gerais, are more stress-timed. Also, male speakers of Brazilian Portuguese speak faster than female speakers and speak in a more stress-timed manner.

In a syllable-timed language, every syllable is perceived as taking up roughly the same amount of time, though the absolute length of time depends on the prosody. Syllable-timed languages tend to give syllables approximately equal prominence and generally lack reduced vowels.

Finnish, Icelandic, Cantonese Chinese, French, Italian and Spanish are commonly quoted as examples of syllable-timed languages. This type of rhythm was originally metaphorically referred to as “machine-gun rhythm” because each underlying rhythmical unit is of the same duration, similar to the transient bullet noise of a machine-gun.

Since the 1950s, speech scientists have tried to show the existence of equal syllable durations in the acoustic speech signal without success. More recent research claims that the duration of consonantal and vocalic intervals is responsible for syllable-timed perception.


Date: 2015-02-16; view: 1111

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Functions of intonation | Sentence Stress
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