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

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

Reading Aloud a Connected Text: How the Organization of Topics Affects Sentence-Final Lengthening in English, French and Japanese

Caroline L. Smith, Lisa A. Hogan, Mami O. McCraw

University of New Mexico, USA

Languages differ as to which factors have the greatest effect on durational patterning, although some word- and sentence-level factors are known to be important in many languages. This experiment focuses on a factor operating over larger size units, and tests the extent to which the topic organization of a text affects durational patterns when speakers of English, French and Japanese read aloud. The pattern examined is sentence-final lengthening, which was measured by comparing the duration of words in sentence-final position in continuous text with their duration in sentence-medial position in a control sentence constructed for comparison. The results from all three languages provide evidence that topic structure affects the amount of final lengthening, but the languages appear to differ as to which types of transitions between topics favor more or less lengthening. Other results may be explained by structural differences among the languages.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Smith, Caroline L. / Hogan, Lisa A. / McCraw, Mami O. (2003): "Reading aloud a connected text: how the organization of topics affects sentence-final lengthening in English, French and Japanese", In ICPhS-15, 1799-1802.