ASA 129th Meeting - Washington, DC - 1995 May 30 .. Jun 06

4pSC4. Acoustic and kinematic evidence for difference in language timing structure.

Margaret H. Dunn

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

Proposed differences in the timing organization of Italian and Finnish are examined from the perspectives of simultaneous acoustic duration and bilabial movement (selspot tracked) collected from four native speakers of each language. All utterances were disyllabic, shaped CVC(C)V for Italian and CV(V)C(C)V(V) for Finnish. Italian, generally believed to be syllable-timed, shows regular acoustic intervals between vowels implemented by shortening of the initial vowel in closed syllables. Movement data shows that shortening is achieved by early initiation of clusters and geminate consonants, truncating the initial vowel. Finnish, generally described as mora-timed, shows increments of acoustic duration of disyllabic utterances with the addition of moras, either to vowels or to medial consonants. An apparent constraint on syllable duration leads to acoustic shortening of both initial vowels and intervocalic consonants in the longest utterances. Movement data show that increases in quantity affect both medial consonant and preceding vowel portions of utterances. It is proposed that syllable-timing works directly from vowel to vowel, while mora-timing allows increase in duration of disyllabic utterances, adjusting both vowel and consonant durations to fill out or limit the possible intervals between vowels. [Work supported by NIH Grant DC 00121 to Haskins Laboratories.]