Rate of Syllable Production in Selected Languages Aubrey Wilson and Ron Netsell Missouri State University Abstract In different situations and across varying languages and dialects, speech rate is often perceived very differently. The purpose of the present research was to quantify the rate of speech for three languages: English, Arabic, and Tamil. The null hypothesis was that these languages would have the same speaking rate. Three native speakers from each language were recruited . Each participant recorded a five minute speech sample in their native language. The speech samples were analyzed and speaking rate was calculated in syllables per second (SPS) for each participant. Tamil speakers were found to have the fastest speaking rate, followed by Arabic speakers, then English speakers. Method Discussion Participants: The participants consisted of three native speakers of English, Arabic, and Tamil – which yielded nine participants total. The participants were adult males, native speakers of their language, and had no history of a speech or language disorder. Procedures: Participants were given the following instructions: “I want you to speak for 5 minutes in your native language at a natural conversation rate. You can talk about anything you want, but try not to talk about anything too emotional”. The participants then put on a microphone headset and recorded a five minute speech sample into the free recording program, Audacity. Audacity was used to record each speech sample and to calculate speaking rate in syllables per second. Pauses of more than 250 ms were deleted (Tsao & Weismer, 1997). Tamil speakers were found to have the fastest speaking rate with an average of 6.5 SPS, followed by Arabic speakers with an average 5.5 SPS, and finally English speakers with an average of 3.5 SPS. These results are clinically significant because English was found to have the slowest speaking rate; therefore, some accent reduction clients learning English may benefit from slowing down their speaking rate. The results of this study indicate that some languages are truly spoken more quickly than others. Since this was a preliminary study, it would be beneficial for additional research to be conducted on speaking rate. Additional factors may be considered for future research include: recruiting more participants, using a computer program to delete pauses, and having participants engage in conversation for comparison with the monologues of the present study. Results Introduction Some have found speaking rate to vary across languages (Robb & Gillion, 2007), while others believe it may be a myth that some languages are spoken more quickly than others (Roach, 1998). Most studies involving the rate of speech used two different measures speaking rate and articulation rate. Speaking rate can be defined as the number of syllables in a speech sample divided by the duration of the speech sample. Articulation rate can be defined as the number of syllables in a speech sample divided by the duration of the speech sample, with the pauses removed (Braun & Oba, 2007; Roach, 1998; Robb & Gillon, 2007; Sturm & Seery, 2007). Typically, speaking rate and articulation rate are measured in syllables per second (Braun & Oba, 2007; Crystal & House, 1990; Dellwo, Ferragne, & Pellegrino, 2006; Nishio & Niimi, 2006; Roach, 1998; Sturm & Seery, 2007; Tsao & Weismer,1997; Verhoeven, De Pauw, & Kloots, 2004). Minimal data have been published regarding speaking rates for different languages. While it is uncertain if there are true differences in speaking rates across different languages, it is clear that more research on the subject needs to be conducted. Table 1. Arabic Speaking Rate. Table 2. Tamil Speaking Rate. Participant 001 Participant 002 Participant 003 Participant 004 Participant 005 Participant 006 Seconds Average SPS Average SPS Average SPS Seconds Average SPS Average SPS Average SPS 0-10 5.3 5.9 5.2 0-10 7.0 5.8 6.5 10-20 5.2 5.5 5.4 10-20 6.6 5.9 6.4 20-30 5.5 5.4 5.5 20-30 6.8 6.1 6.8 30-40 6.1 5.8 5.0 30-40 6.7 6.1 6.6 40-50 6.2 5.9 5.6 40-50 6.4 6.3 7.5 50-60 4.5 5.5 5.5 50-60 6.8 6.0 6.4 Total 5.5 5.7 5.4 Total 6.7 6.0 6.7 Table 2. English Speak Rate. References Table 4. Average Speaking Rate of English, Arabic and Tamil. Participant 007 Participant 008 Participant 009 Seconds Average SPS Average SPS Average SPS 0-10 3.9 3.9 4.0 10-20 3.2 4.6 4.0 20-30 3.1 4.5 2.0 30-40 4.2 3.0 3.2 40-50 3.7 2.9 3.0 50-60 2.6 4.0 3.0 Total 3.5 3.8 3.2 English Arabic Tamil Average SPS 3.5 5.5 6.7 Average SPS 3.8 5.7 6.0 Average SPS 3.2 5.4 6.7 Overall Average SPS 3.5 5.5 6.5 Arnfield, S., Roach, P., Setter, J., Greasley, P. & Horton, D. (1995). Emotional stress and speech tempo variation. 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