14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-14)

San Francisco, CA, USA
August 1-7, 1999

Coupled Oscillator Model of Speech Rhythm

Michael L. O'Dell, Tommi Nieminen

University of Tampere, Finland

Attempts to verify instrumentally tendencies toward stress timing or syllable timing have been less than successful, leading many researchers to abandon the rhythm dichotomy as too simplistic. One empirical finding which suggests an underlying unity in the rhythms of different languages is a statistical tendency for duration of stress group to be a linear function of the number of syllables contained in it, with languages differing mainly in the constant term of the linear function. We use a robust mathematical model of simple coupled oscillators to argue that the linear relation observed may reflect a very general tendency of rhythmic systems organized in hierarchical interaction, regardless of concrete details, which may differ in complex ways. In addition, the oscillator model provides a rich conceptual tool for elucidating rhythmical differences in speech behavior.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  O'Dell, Michael L. / Nieminen, Tommi (1999): "Coupled oscillator model of speech rhythm", In ICPhS-14, 1075-1078.