MAN-MACHINE SYSTEMS LABORATORY REPORT
The paper reports a statistical study that has been carried out in an attempt to gain insight into the nature and underlying causes of rhythm in spoken British English. Two sets of utterances were selected as specially suited to the study, being both widely available as published audio tapes and spoken carefully in an attempt to exemplify normal spoken British English for the benefit of foreign students of the language [Study Units 30 and 39 from M.A.K. Halliday, A Course in Spoken English: Intonation (Oxford University, Oxford, 1970)]. Segmental analysis were performed and the resulting data on segment durations together with additional (higher level) information were prepared for computer analysis. It was found that, although there was some tendency towards isochrony (equally timed rhythmic units), constraints of isochrony accounted for at most 10% of the durational structure of the rhythmic units. Much of the rhythmic structure (about 45%) is adequately accounted for by the mean durations of the constituent phonemes. Other factors play a minor role. [Work supported by the National Research Council of Canada].