Proc. of the European Conf. on Speech Communication and Technology (Eurospeech), Vol. 2, pp. 1011-1014, Rhodes, 1997
The temporal properties of spoken Japanese are similar to those of English
T. Arai and S. Greenberg
Abstract: The languages of the world are generally classified into two types on the basis of their segmental timing. “Syllable-timed” languages, such as Japanese, are considered isochronous, exhibiting a highly regular pattern of syllabic duration. In contrast are the “stress-timed” languages, such as English, whose syllable timing varies greatly, both within and across sentential domains. The present study demonstrates that, even in a language as theoretically isochronous as Japanese, the duration of syllabic segments is as variable as their English counterparts. Moreover, the variability of moraic duration is as high as that observed for syllabic units. Two measures of segmental timing, syllable duration and the low-frequency modulation spectrum, indicate that the coarse temporal characteristics of English and Japanese are remarkably similar. Such common properties may reflect inherent temporal characteristics of physiological mechanisms underlying the production and perception of speech that are shared by all languages of the world.