Timing (linguistics)


Timing (linguistics)

Language timing is the rhythmic quality of a particular type of speech, in particular how syllables are distributed across time. One common way of describing language timing is by dividing languages into those with stress timing and those with syllable timing. However, linguists differ on whether this distinction is a good way to describe differences in timing in different languages, and linguists have proposed a wide variety of schemes to try to come up with a workable terminology and set of concepts. [cite web |url=http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=124 |title=Slicing the syllabic bologna |date=May 5, 2008 |author=Mark Liberman |work=Language Log] [cite web |url=http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=126 |title=Another slice of prosodic sausage |date=May 6, 2008 |author=Mark Liberman |work=Language Log] [cite web |title=Prosodic Typology: On the Dichotomy between Stress-Timed and Syllable-Timed Languages" |author=Antonio Pamies Bertrán |url=http://elies.rediris.es/Language_Design/LD2/pamies.pdf]

yllable timing

In a "syllable-timed language," every syllable is perceived as taking up roughly the same amount of time, though the absolute length of time depends on the prosody. Syllable-timed languages tend to give syllables approximately equal stress.

Finnish, Slovene, French, and Spanish are commonly quoted as examples of syllable-timed languages. This type of rhythm was originally metaphorically referred to as 'machine-gun rhythm' because each underlying rhythmical unit is of the same duration, similar to the transient bullet noise of a machine-gun.

Since the 1950s speech scientists have tried to show the existence of equal syllable durations in the acoustic speech signal without success. More recent research claims that the duration of consonantal and vocalic intervals is responsible for syllable-timed perception.

Mora timing

Some languages such as Japanese and Luganda also have regular pacing, but are mora-timed rather than syllable-timed. [cite book |first=Yallop Collin, Fletcher Janet|last=Clark John |year=2007 |title=Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology |chapter= |editor= |others= |pages=(pp)340 |location=Oxford |publisher=Blackwell |id= |url= |authorlink=] In Japanese, a V or CV syllable takes up one timing unit. Japanese does not have long vowels or diphthongs but "double" vowels, so that CVV takes twice the time as CV. A final /N/ also takes as much time as a CV syllable, and at least in poetry, so does the extra length of a geminate consonant. However, colloquial language is less settled than poetic language, and the rhythm may vary from one region to another, or with time.

tress timing

In a "stress-timed language," syllables may last different amounts of time, but there is perceived to be a fairly constant amount of time (on average) between consecutive stressed syllables. Stress-timing is sometimes called "Morse-code rhythm". Stress-timing is strongly related to vowel reduction processes. [citation
last=Gimson
first=A.C.
year=1989
title=An Introduction to the Pronunciation of English
edition=4th
place=London
publisher=Edward Arnold
] [decitation
last=Kohler
first=K.J.
year=1995
title=Einführung in die Phonetik des Deutschen
edition=2nd
place=Berlin
publisher=Erich Schmidt Verlag
]

English, German, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian, and Czech are typical stress-timed languages, [Grabe, Esther, "Variation Adds to Prosodic Typology", B.Bel and I. Marlin (eds), Proceedings of the Speech Prosody 2002 Conference, 11-13 April 2002, Aix-en-Provence: Laboratoire Parole et Langage, 127-132. ISBN 2-9518233-0-4. ( [http://www.phon.ox.ac.uk/~esther/Grabe.doc .doc] )] as are some southern dialects of Italian. [Grice, M.; D’Imperio, M.; Savino, M.; Avesani, C., 1998. "Strategies for intonation labelling across varieties of Italian" in Hirst, D. ; Di Christo, A., 1998. "Intonation Systems". Cambridge University Press.]

Origin of differentiation

This difference comes from the human's two senses of rhythm. When a human hears a fast rhythm, typically faster than 330 milliseconds (ms) per beat, the series of beats is heard as one solid noise. For example, a human can imitate a machine gun sound, but hardly count its beats. Conversely, when a slow rhythm is heard, typically slower than 450 ms per beat, each beat is separately understood. The speed of a slow rhythm can be controlled beat by beat, such as hand clapping in music.

If a language has a simple syllable structure, the difference between the simplest and the most complicated syllables in the language is not wide, and it is possible to say any syllable in less than 330 ms. This includes languages that have very few consonants in each syllable. Thus we can use the fast syllable-timed rhythm. If a language has complex syllables such as ones with consonant clusters, the difference between syllables can be very wide, such as the words "a" and "strengths" in English. In this case, the language has slow stress-timed rhythm.

See also

* Weak form and strong form

References

Further reading

* Kono, Morio. (1997). "Perception and Psychology of Rhythm." "Accent, Intonation, Rhythm and Pause". (Japanese)

External links

* Roach, Peter (1998). [http://www.personal.rdg.ac.uk/~llsroach/phon2/tempopr.htm "Language Myths", “Some Languages are Spoken More Quickly Than Others”] , eds. L. Bauer and P. Trudgill, Penguin, 1998, pp. 150-8
* [http://www.ehess.fr/centres/lscp/persons/ramus/idlang99.pdf Étude sur la discrimination des langues par la prosodie (pdf document)] (French)
* [http://www.physik.uni-bielefeld.de/complexity/ramus.pdf Languages’ rhythm and language acquisition (pdf document)]
* [http://thormay.net/lxesl/tesol/intonation/intonation1.htm Supra-segmental Phonology (rhythm, intonation and stress-timing)]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Timing — is the spacing of events in time. Some typical uses are:* The act of measuring the elapsed time of something or someone, often at athletic events such as swimming or running, where participants are timed with a device such as a stopwatch. *… …   Wikipedia

  • Comic timing — is the use of rhythm, tempo and pausing to enhance comedy and humour. The pacing of the delivery of a joke can have a strong impact on its comedic effect, even altering its meaning; the same can also be true of more physical comedy such as… …   Wikipedia

  • Stress (linguistics) — In linguistics, stress is the relative emphasis that may be given to certain syllables in a word. The term is also used for similar patterns of phonetic prominence inside syllables. The word accent is sometimes also used with this sense.Types of… …   Wikipedia

  • Mora (linguistics) — Mora (plural moras or morae) is a unit in phonology that determines syllable weight, which in some languages determines stress or timing. As with many technical linguistic terms, the definition of a mora varies. Perhaps the most succinct working… …   Wikipedia

  • Focus (linguistics) — Focus is a concept in linguistic theory that deals with how information in one phrase relates to information that has come before. Focus has been analyzed in a variety of ways by linguists. Historically, there have been two main approaches to… …   Wikipedia

  • Tone (linguistics) — Not to be confused with intonation (linguistics). Top tone ◌̋ ˥ …   Wikipedia

  • Sentence (linguistics) — In the field of linguistics, a sentence is an expression in natural language, and often defined to indicate a grammatical unit consisting of one or more words that generally bear minimal syntactic relation to the words that precede or follow it.… …   Wikipedia

  • Rhythm — For other uses, see Rhythm (disambiguation). Rhythm, a sequence in time repeated, featured in dance: an early moving picture demonstrates the waltz …   Wikipedia

  • Syllable — For the computer operating system, see Syllable (operating system). A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. For example, the word water is composed of two syllables: wa and ter. A syllable is typically made up of a… …   Wikipedia

  • Poetry — This article is about the art form. For other uses, see Poetry (disambiguation). Literature Major forms Novel · Poem · Drama Short story · Novella …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.