15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-15)

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

A Comparison of Speech Rhythm in British and Hong Kong English

Jane Setter

University of Reading, UK

This paper presents the results of a study of rhythm and timing in English spoken by Hong Kong Cantonese speakers, for whom English is a second language. A corpus of Hong Kong English (HKE) speech data was collected on computer, and measurements of syllable duration were made. These measurements were then compared statistically with syllable measurements taken from an existing corpus of British English (BrE) speakers. Taking syllable duration as the dependent variable, this paper looks at the effects of stress level in the two types of English.
   It is found that the HKE speakers examined show less difference in the relative syllable duration of tonic, stressed, unstressed and weakened syllables than the BrE speakers. This is discussed with regard to possible intelligibility problems which may arise due to divergent English speech rhythm when a native speaker of English listens to a Hong Kong English speaker.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Setter, Jane (2003): "A comparison of speech rhythm in British and Hong Kong English", In ICPhS-15, 467-470.