5th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

Sydney, Australia
November 30 - December 4, 1998

Fast and Slow Speech Rate: A Characterisation for French

Brigitte Zellner

IMM, Lettres, UNIL, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland

Many phonetic studies have shown that changes in speech rate have numerous effects at various levels of the temporal structure. This observation is reinforced by a verification with speech synthesis. Changing the number of syllables per second is not a satisfactory manner of creating natural-sounding fast or slow synthetic speech. A systematic comparison of sentences read at two speech rates by a highly fluent French speaker allows a ranking of various mechanisms used to slow down speech. Pausing and producing additional syllables transform the phonological structure of utterances since they impede interlexical binding. It is claimed that knowing the degree of this interlexical binding allows a better characterisation of speech rate changes, and then a better generation of synthetic rhythms. Finally, the expected relationship between lengthening of speech units and pausing was not confirmed in our results. This suggests that the theory on slowing down speech needs revision.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Zellner, Brigitte (1998): "Fast and slow speech rate: a characterisation for French", In ICSLP-1998, paper 0822.