ASA 127th Meeting M.I.T. 1994 June 6-10

3pSP14. Syllable duration and word boundaries in French: A preliminary report.

Fredericka Bell-Berti

Dept. of Speech, Commun. Sci., and Theatre, St. John's Univ., 8000 Utopia Pkwy., Jamaica, NY 11439

Haskins Labs., 270 Crown St., New Haven, CT 06511

Karen Andreotta

St. John's Univ., Jamaica, NY 11439

Lexington Hearing and Speech Ctr., Jackson Heights, NY 11372

Carole E. Gelfer

William Paterson College, Wayne, NJ 07470

Requisite to understanding a spoken message is the ability to recognize the grouping of segments into syllables and syllables into words. The durations of vowels and consonants are known to vary with their positions in words and phrases, with segments in final syllables being longer than those in nonfinal syllables. Furthermore, relative duration, or rhythm, has been shown to be important in identifying word-boundary location in English noun phrases [L. H. Nakatani and K. Shaffer, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 63, 234--245 (1978)]. However, the situation in French, a ``syllable-timed'' language, is less clear. Durational data will be reported for sets of three-syllable utterances of one, two, and three words, produced in isolation and within sentences by three native speakers of French, as part of this study to identify the cues to word-boundary identification in a nonstress-timed language. [Work supported by St. John's Univsersity and by NIDCD Grant No. DC-00121 to the Haskins Labs.]