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

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

Rhythmic Differences within Romance: Identifying French, Spanish, European and Brazilian Portuguese

Andreas Dufter (1), Uli Reich (2)

(1) Universität München, Germany
(2) Universität zu Köln, Germany

Tradition has it that the Romance languages all share the property of being syllable-timed. More recent work, however, has challenged this view, emphasizing differences between languages and even between national varieties of a language like Portuguese.
   To test whether French, Spanish, European and Brazilian Portuguese have their own prosodic signature, we conducted a perception experiment. We used low-pass filtered samples of carefully read, fast read, and elicited spontaneous speech as stimuli. These were presented to subjects familiar with at least one Romance idiom and who were asked to identify the language. We found that recognition was best for French, irrespective of speaking style, and second best for Spanish. Brazilian Portuguese was recognized at above pure chance, unlike European Portuguese. In general, identification was easier for spontaneous than for read speech. However, even for stimuli of the same language and same style, we found differences in recognizability depending on speaker-specific variables.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Dufter, Andreas / Reich, Uli (2003): "Rhythmic differences within Romance: identifying French, Spanish, European and Brazilian Portuguese", In ICPhS-15, 2781-2784.