Phonological Complexity, Segment Rate and Speech Tempo Perception

Leendert Plug, Rachel Smith


Studies of speech tempo commonly use syllable or segment rate as a proxy measure for perceived tempo. In languages whose phonologies allow substantial syllable complexity these measures can produce figures on quite different scales; however, little is known about the correlation between syllable and segment rate measurements on the one hand and naïve listeners’ tempo judgements on the other.

We follow up on the findings of one relevant study on German [1], which suggest that listeners attend to both syllable and segment rates in making tempo estimates, through a weighted average of the rates in which syllable rate carries more weight. We report on an experiment in which we manipulate phonological complexity in English utterance pairs that are constant in syllable rate. Listeners decide for each pair which utterance sounds faster. Our results suggest that differences in segment rate that do not correspond to differences in syllable rate have little impact on perceived speech tempo in English.


 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-987

Cite as: Plug, L., Smith, R. (2017) Phonological Complexity, Segment Rate and Speech Tempo Perception. Proc. Interspeech 2017, 1403-1406, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-987.


@inproceedings{Plug2017,
  author={Leendert Plug and Rachel Smith},
  title={Phonological Complexity, Segment Rate and Speech Tempo Perception},
  year=2017,
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2017},
  pages={1403--1406},
  doi={10.21437/Interspeech.2017-987},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2017-987}
}