Assessing Rhythmic Differences with Synchronous Speech

Michael L. O’Dell, Tommi Nieminen, Liisa Mustanoja, University of Tampere

In this study, we looked at speech rhythm in Finnish using the technique of synchronous speech developed by Cummins. As predicted, synchronous reading resulted in a reduction of timing variation. The homogeneity achieved, however, did not necessarily represent average behavior, but often an extreme outside the range of performance in the solo reading. While the synchronous speech task was easy for speakers in general, there were clear differences in how difficult it was for speakers to synchronize their speech. These differences were not however related in an obvious way to differences between speakers themselves. It would appear that most of the work of synchrony was achieved at approximately the level of pause group; at finer levels speakers did not consistently adjust their timing to improve synchronization.