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speech and music

My students and I are working on the tendency of speech to
be spoken with strong rhythmical constraints.  Although
speech does not ALWAYS have a periodic structure underlying
it, it very often does.  Thus, preachers and news
broadcasters frequently impose a fairly strict regularity on
their speech - for short intervals at least.  If a person
simply repeats a phrase over and over (eg, `auditory
list...auditory list...auditory list...), you will find that
the stress on `list' tends to occur exactly halfway between
the stresses on `auditory'.  Or else speakers can put the
onset of `list' at 1/3 or 2/3 of the way through the phrase
         If you don't believe this, please check a recent
manuscript to appear in J. Phonetics later this spring by
Fred Cummins and R. Port. We used both trained musicians and
nonmusicians and tried to get them to hit other target phase
angles without success.  You can pick up a prepublication
draft of this paper by putting this in your web browser:

We also have a more general paper on they rhythmic aspects
of speech with comparisons to many nonspeech rhythmicities
available here:

Someone has already pointed out the periodicity in the
Japanese mora. I did a study of this some years ago in:
   Port, Robert, Jonathan Dalby and Michael O'Dell (1987)
   Evidence for mora timing in Japanese. JASA 81, 1574-1585
and the basic effect has been replicated by others, eg,
   Han, Mieko (1994) Acoustic manifestations of mora timing
   in Japanese. JASA 96, 73-82.

See you, Bob Port

  (  (  (  O  )  )  )  (  (  (  O  )  )  )  (  (  (  O  )  )  )
                       Lingstcs/Comp Sci/Cogntv Sci
   ROBERT F. PORT      330 Memorial Hall, Indiana University
                       Bloomington, Indiana 47405
     812-855-9217      Fx 812-855-5363