Aspects of connected speech

Many years ago scientists tried to develop machines that produced speech from a vocabulary of pre-recorded words; the machines were designed to join these words together to room sentences. For very limited messages, such as those of a ³talking clock´, this technique was usable, but for other purposes the quality of the speech was so unnatural hat it was practically unintelligible.

Rhythm The notion of rhythm involves some noticeable event happening at regular intervals of time; one can detect the rhythm of a heart-beat, of a flashing light or of a piece of music. It has often been claimed that English speech is rhythmical, and that the rhythm is detectable in the regular occurrence of stressed syllables; of course, it course, it is not suggested that the timing is as regular as a clock-the regularity of occurrence is only relative. The theory that English has stress timed rhythm implies that stressed syllables will tend to occur at relatively regular intervals whether they are separated by unstressed syllables or not; this would not be the case in ³mechanical speech´. An example is given below. In this sentence, the stress syllables are given numbers: syllables 1 and 2 are not separated by any unstressed syllables, 2 and 3 are separated by one unstressed syllable, 3 and 4 by two and 5 by three.

1

2

3 the µpath to the

4

5

µwalk µdown

µend of the ca¶nal

The stress-timed rhythm theory states that the times from each stressed syllable to the nest will tend to be the same, irrespective of the number of intervening unstressed syllables. The theory also claims that while some languages (e.g. Russian and Arabic) have stress-timed rhythm similar to that of English, other (such as French, Telugu and Yoruba) have a different rhythmical structure called syllable-timed rhythm; in these languages, all syllables, whether stressed or unstressed, then to occur at regular time-intervals and the time between stressed syllables will be

To understand how this could be done.shorter to longer in proportion to the number of unstressed syllables. The example sentence given above would be divided into feet as follows : 1 µWalk 2 µdown the 3 µpath to the 4 µend of the ca 5 µnal Some theories of rhythm go further that this. A diagram of its rhythmical structure can be made. forming one foot. the foot begins with a stressed syllable and includes all following unstressed syllables up to (but not including) the following stressed syllable. the foot. and point to the fact that some feet are stronger than others. S Twent w ty The word µplaces¶has the same form: S Pla w ces . is used (with an obvious parallel in the metical analysis of verse). let¶s start with a simple example : the word µtwenty¶ has one strong and one weak syllable. Some writers have developed theories of English rhythm in which a unit of rhythm. where S stands for ³strong´ and W stands for ³weak´. producing strong-weak patterns in larger pieces of speech above the level of the foot.

. And additional factor is that in speaking English we vary in how rhythmically we speak: sometimes we speak very rhythmically ( this is typical of some styles of public speaking) while at other times we speak arhythmically ( that is without rhythm).from example. but this happens.Now consider the phrase µtwenty places.e will be rhythmically stronger. i. where µplaces¶ will normally carry stronger stress than ³twenty´ . but this is a difficult question and one for which we have only partial answers. when we are hesitant of nervous. it seems that stresses are altered according to contest : we need to be able to explain how and why this happens. We can make our ³tree deagram´ grow to look like this : w s twen ty pla ces in brief.

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