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Re: Statistics for word rate in natural speech

Hi Kevin, Here are a couple references that address issues of word duration from a more linguistic perspective.  If you dig further I'm afraid you will still find that most such studies deal in syllables (not words), in part because the notion of what counts as a single word is not uncontroversial (perhaps surprisingly to non-linguists).

    title = {Variability in word duration as a function of probability, speech style, and prosody},
    volume = {52},
    url = "" href="http://las.sagepub.com/cgi/doi/10.1177/0023830909336575">http://las.sagepub.com/cgi/doi/10.1177/0023830909336575},
    doi = {10.1177/0023830909336575},
    number = {4},
    journal = {Language and Speech},
    author = {Baker, Rachel E. and Bradlow, Ann R.},
    year = {2009},
    pmid = {20121039},
    pmcid = {PMC2841971},
    pages = {391-413},

    title = {Across-language perspective on speech information rate},
    volume = {87},
    issn = {1535-0665},
    url = "" href="http://muse.jhu.edu/content/crossref/journals/language/v087/87.3.pellegrino.html">http://muse.jhu.edu/content/crossref/journals/language/v087/87.3.pellegrino.html},
    doi = {10.1353/lan.2011.0057},
    number = {3},
    journal = {Language},
    author = {Pellegrino, François and Coupé, Christophe and Marsico, Egidio},
    year = {2011},
    pages = {539-558},

-- dan

Daniel McCloy
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences
University of Washington

On Sun, Jun 19, 2016 at 9:48 PM, Kevin Austin <kevin.austin@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Thank you.

I’m not a linguist or psycholinguist, so I write only from direct experience.

My reading is that the question is not very 'well-formed', and therefore the answers do not respond to the question.

The question was about ‘words’ [whatever they may happen to be], and the answers start with the idea of syllable, and Jont’s answer seems to be in ‘base phonemic elements’. For example, the two words, “I”, and “stopped”, count two words, each of one syllable, but ‘stopped’ is ccvcc [if the /p/ is pronounced].

10ms [ie 100Hz] seems to be a very small duration, and may only apply to a very limited number of phonemes. I had learned that the shortest time that was reliable for the [sequential] discrimination of auditory events was in the range of 25 to 40 ms — 40 to 25Hz. A ~16Hz limit works out to be around 60-70ms.

But sixteen “what’s”? Try the test. Record sixteen one syllable words, with cv or vc forms: be, am, so, it, two, aught, tea, ear, tie . . etc Most of these are two phonemes, or three if a diphthong is considered a grouped vowel, as in the word ‘tie’. Say them quickly. Edit them into a sequence with no gaps, and shorten the sequence to be 1,000ms. Is it possible to do sequential segmentation? leaving aside the articulatory problems.

Record: “I spied the top pie”, and “North-eastern Carolinian national seashore”. Both are ‘five words’. For interest, edit out the words: ‘top', ‘pie', ‘Carolinian', and ‘national’. Tricks such as producing the /d/ in spied as being the stopped diphthong /ai/, and the contracting of the /p/, and the /n/, likely increase the rate of delivery in natural speech, but most likely mostly in informal contexts.

“What was the question again?” cv ccvc cv ccvccvcvcvc


> On 2016, Jun 19, at 8:03 AM, Jont Allen <jontalle@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> All,
> A comment that I hope is helpful.
> In our speech work we have learned, from extensive analysis, that the fastest temporal resolution that speech is processed at, by the auditory system, is about 10 [ms].
> That means that the natural temporal units for talking about speech (or singing) is in centiseconds [cs]. For example, the plosive burst of say /ka/ is about 1-2 [cs].
> I have not found very many examples of less than 1 [cs], as the perception deteriorates quickly when you go below (shorter that) 1 [cs].
> Based the numbers below for rapper Big Boi, 379 syllables/m is about 16 [cs]
> 1000*60/379 = 15.8
> This seems like a nice way to quantify this rate. Its close to the perceptual lower limit of 1 [sc]. A full syllable (CV, VC) of 16 seems pretty short.
> Jont Allen
> On 06/18/2016 11:39 PM, Arun Chandra wrote:
>> In Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro", Bartolo sings his revenge aria at about quarter == 112mm, which means the syllables are going by in triplets at about 336 per minute.
>> in Rossini's "Barber of Seville", the character Bartolo (the same character, again) sings his accusing aria to Rosina (his ward) at about quarter == 116mm, which means the sixteenth note syllables are going by at about 464 per minute.
>> the "Modern Major General's Song" by Gilbert and Sullivan goes by at about 184mm, so it's syllables are about 368 per minute.
>> arun
>> On 6/18/16 4:07 AM, Huron, David wrote:
>>> We have a wide tolerance for speech with "normal" paces ranging between 170 and 260 syllables per minute.
>>> (Yuan, Liberman & Cieri, 2006; Towards an integrated understanding of speaking rate in conversation. INTER SPEECH conference Proc.)
>>> Music exhibits an enormous range of lyrical pace. Judy Garland's rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" clocks in at a leisurely 64 syllables per minute. By contrast, in "Ms. Jackson" by OutKast, rapper Big Boi reaches an extraordinary 379 syllables per minute.
>>> -David Huron with Nat Condit-Schultz
>>> ________________________________________
>>> From: AUDITORY - Research in Auditory Perception [AUDITORY@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] on behalf of Bruno L. Giordano [brungio@xxxxxxxxx]
>>> Sent: Friday, June 17, 2016 8:32 AM
>>> To: AUDITORY@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>>> Subject: Statistics for word rate in natural speech
>>> Hello,
>>> I am looking for published statistics on average word rate in natural speech (words/minute).
>>> Is there some golden standard reference for this?
>>> Thank you!
>>>         Bruno
>>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>>> Bruno L. Giordano, PhD
>>> Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
>>> 58 Hillhead Street, University of Glasgow
>>> Glasgow, G12 8QB, Scotland
>>> T +44 (0) 141 330 5484
>>> Www: http://www.brunolgiordano.net
>>> Email charter: http://www.emailcharter.org/