ASA 126th Meeting Denver 1993 October 4-8

5aSP23. Syllable duration in Italian and Japanese.

Laura Brighenti

Inst. for Speech and Language Sci., New York Univ., New York, NY 10003

Peter Homel

Baruch College, CUNY, New York, NY 10003

This study analyzes duration of stop syllables in Italian and Japanese. Its results show that the two languages are very similar in terms of syllable length. They also indicate that, in accordance with previous findings, both Italian and Japanese syllable duration is contrastive in terms of gemination, and Italian duration is also contrastive as a function of stress. Finally, they show that both languages present variability in the duration of their syllables, even in cases where the syllable is neither geminate nor stressed. These results point to the following conclusions: (1) other elements outside the syllable itself (i.e., position within word, surrounding syllables, information content, etc.) may be involved in determining syllable duration; and (2) the stress-timed/syllable-timed language distinction may not be useful for understanding how languages assign duration for particular parts of the syllable. In particular, the results of this study indicate that stress and syllable position play an important role in determining syllable duration even in syllable-timed languages.