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Determinants of phonetic word duration in ten language documentation corpora: Word frequency, complexity, position, and part of speech


Strunk, Jan; Seifart, Frank; Danielsen, Swintha; Hartmann, Irene; Pakendorf, Brigitte; Wichmann, Søren; Witzlack-Makarevich, Alena; Bickel, Balthasar (2020). Determinants of phonetic word duration in ten language documentation corpora: Word frequency, complexity, position, and part of speech. Language Documentation & Conservation, 14:423-461.

Abstract

This paper explores the application of quantitative methods to study the effect of various factors on phonetic word duration in ten languages. Data on most of these languages were collected in fieldwork aiming at documenting spontaneous speech in mostly endangered languages, to be used for multiple purposes, including the preservation of cultural heritage and community work. Here we show the feasibility of studying processes of online acceleration and deceleration of speech across languages using such data, which have not been considered for this purpose before. Our results show that it is possible to detect a consistent effect of higher frequency of words leading to faster articulation even in the relatively small language documentation corpora used here. We also show that nouns tend to be pronounced more slowly than verbs when controlling for other factors. Comparison of the effects of these and other factors shows that some of them are difficult to capture with the current data and methods, including potential effects of cross-linguistic differences in morphological complexity. In general, this paper argues for widening the cross-linguistic scope of phonetic and psycholinguistic research by including the wealth of language documentation data that has recently become available.

Abstract

This paper explores the application of quantitative methods to study the effect of various factors on phonetic word duration in ten languages. Data on most of these languages were collected in fieldwork aiming at documenting spontaneous speech in mostly endangered languages, to be used for multiple purposes, including the preservation of cultural heritage and community work. Here we show the feasibility of studying processes of online acceleration and deceleration of speech across languages using such data, which have not been considered for this purpose before. Our results show that it is possible to detect a consistent effect of higher frequency of words leading to faster articulation even in the relatively small language documentation corpora used here. We also show that nouns tend to be pronounced more slowly than verbs when controlling for other factors. Comparison of the effects of these and other factors shows that some of them are difficult to capture with the current data and methods, including potential effects of cross-linguistic differences in morphological complexity. In general, this paper argues for widening the cross-linguistic scope of phonetic and psycholinguistic research by including the wealth of language documentation data that has recently become available.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Comparative Language Science
Special Collections > Centers of Competence > Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Language Evolution
Dewey Decimal Classification:490 Other languages
890 Other literatures
410 Linguistics
Language:English
Date:2020
Deposited On:24 Jul 2020 06:39
Last Modified:23 Feb 2024 02:43
Publisher:University of Hawai‘i Press
ISSN:1934-5275
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Official URL. An embargo period may apply.
Official URL:http://hdl.handle.net/10125/24926
Related URLs:https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/handle/10125/24926 (Publisher)
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)