LINGUIST List 9.1840

Thu Dec 24 1998

FYI: Eng/Jap speech rhythm, Semiotic Society

Editor for this issue: Jody Huellmantel <>


  1. Keiichi Tajima, Dissertation on English / Japanese speech rhythm
  2. alan harris, SEMCOM: JOIN SSA! (fwd)

Message 1: Dissertation on English / Japanese speech rhythm

Date: Wed, 23 Dec 1998 18:10:47 -0500 (EST)
From: Keiichi Tajima <>
Subject: Dissertation on English / Japanese speech rhythm

I would like to announce that my doctoral dissertation, "Speech
Rhythm in English and Japanese: Experiments in Speech Cycling", is
now available on the Web. I have made compressed and uncompressed
PostScript versions available. If you are interested, please pick up
a copy at the following URL: (uncompressed, 2.3MB)

or (compressed, 700KB)

A list of other publications is available at:

A brief abstract of my dissertation follows:

	Speech Rhythm in English and Japanese: 
			Experiments in Speech Cycling
		Keiichi Tajima
		Indiana University

Languages are felt to be spoken with different kinds of rhythm.
Linguists have proposed typological distinctions such as
"stress-timing" vs. "syllable-timing". Despite their intuitive
appeal, there is little phonetic evidence for the distinction.
Meanwhile, generative phonology does not clearly explicate how formal
representations of linguistic rhythm, such as metrical grids, are
phonetically interpreted.

This thesis compared the rhythmic organization of English and Japanese
using a novel experimental method, called "speech cycling", in which
subjects produce a phrase repeatedly in time with a controlled
metronome. The task induces overtly rhythmic forms of speaking, and
overcomes certain difficulties of finding physical correlates of
speech rhythm and its variation across languages.

Three speech cycling experiments were conducted with native English
and Japanese speakers. Experiment 1 found that both groups of
speakers prefer rhythmic patterns in which prominent syllables fall at
"simple harmonic phases", such as halfway or two-thirds of the way
between the start of successive repetitions. English and Japanese
differed, however, in the types of syllables that were prominent, and
thereby drawn toward simple harmonic phases. Experiment 2 showed that
initial syllables of foot-level units were more "temporally stable"
than were foot-internal syllables in both languages when inherent
vowel duration was used to "perturb" the timing of vowel onsets.
Experiment 3 found that English stressed syllables were more
temporally stable than were Japanese accented syllables when an extra
syllable was inserted into a foot-sized unit, suggesting that English
is more stress-timed than Japanese.

Altogether, this phonetic investigation of stylized forms of speaking
was shown to be an effective tool for understanding rhythmic
organization of speech across languages.

Thank you.

Keiichi Tajima, Ph.D
Indiana University
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Message 2: SEMCOM: JOIN SSA! (fwd)

Date: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 03:16:37 -0800 (PST)
From: alan harris <>
Subject: SEMCOM: JOIN SSA! (fwd)

SEMCOM is an online bulletin primarily for dissemination of semiotic,
semiological, discursive, linguistic, visual and allied information
pertaining to the study of signs. It is solely owned and operated by
Alan C. Harris Ph.D. and is distributed free of charge to members of
the Commission on Semiotics and Communication, National Communication
Association, members of the Semiotic Society of America, and other
"fellow travelers" who request the service. . . // [If you would like
to be included in the SEMCOM list, please reply or send a note to with the command, "add SEMCOM", in the body.
tia, a.]


The SSA is the premier professional organization on the North American
continent for the study of semiotic and semiological systems and
processes. The organization deserves and needs your support. If you
are of the "semiotic persuasion," it behooves you to invest $45
regular membership, $25 for students (yearly--includes the TAJS).

1999 SSA Officers and Committees President: Floyd Merrell (Purdue
University) Immediate Past President: Jean Umiker-Sebeok (Indiana
University) Past President: Myrdene Anderson (Purdue University)
Vice-President/President-Elect: William Pencak (Penn State University)
Executive Director: Linda Rogers (Kent State University)

******* The American Journal of Semiotics (TAJS)
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 Semiotic Scene
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FOR MEMBERSHIP INFO', contact: Exec. Director, SSA, Assoc. Prof. Linda
Rogers, College of Grad. Sch. of Education, Kent State University, POB
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