A cross-linguistic, longitudinal case study of pauses and interpausal units in spontaneous speech corpora of older speakers of German and French

Annette Gerstenberg, Susanne Fuchs, Julie Marie Kairet, Johannes Schröder, Claudia Frankenberg


Prosodic characteristics of older adults are highly individual, which is why longitudinal data appear to be more suited to mapping age-specific developments rather than a comparison of age groups. Using interviews featuring spontaneous speech, conducted in two waves nine to ten years apart, five German and five French speakers are evaluated. The transcripts are segmented manually and interpausal units (IPU), articulation rate (number of syllables/length of the IPU in seconds) and pauses are compared; with only intra-turn pauses being considered. Whilst the articulation rate of the German speakers decreased in the ten years, the French speakers showed a steady increase. This could be due to the increased number of filled pauses, which are used by younger speakers with the effect that the interruption of the flow of speech is avoided. The length of IPU also differed between samples, with the German speakers showing no decrease and the French speakers showing a gradual decrease. In both samples, the number of syllables/IPUs decreased. The parameters used in the longitudinal study evolved with varying dynamics in divergent directions: for a more detailed explanation it has been proven necessary to consider language-specific adaptation and compensation processes, as can be observed in spontaneous speech data.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-43

Cite as: Gerstenberg, A., Fuchs, S., Kairet, J.M., Schröder, J., Frankenberg, C. (2018) A cross-linguistic, longitudinal case study of pauses and interpausal units in spontaneous speech corpora of older speakers of German and French. Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018, 211-215, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-43.


@inproceedings{Gerstenberg2018,
  author={Annette Gerstenberg and Susanne Fuchs and Julie Marie Kairet and Johannes Schröder and Claudia Frankenberg},
  title={A cross-linguistic, longitudinal case study of pauses and interpausal units in spontaneous speech corpora of older speakers of German and French},
  year=2018,
  booktitle={Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018},
  pages={211--215},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-43},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-43}
}