A Crosslinguistic Account on Speech Information Rate - Speaker: François Pellegrino

A Crosslinguistic Account on Speech Information Rate

François Pellegrino
(CNRS & University of Lyon, France), Dynamics of Language Lab & Laboratory of Excellence ASLAN

Each language system exhibits some specificities on what is important, mandatory, or conversely superfluous to explicitly encode/decode in speech communication. One language would consider that kind of social relationship between the speaker and hearer is essential to encode, while another would rather consider that the physical configuration between them is highly important. Such examples can be listed with no limits, illustrating that what is a relevant information may dramatically differ among languages. However, once it turns to the capacity to pack such information into a speech stream, one can ask whether such large differences are still salient or whether a convergence occurs, because of functional motivations. In this talk I address issues related to the notion of speech information rate and the hypothetical existence of a regulation of information rate from one language to another. Starting from the existence of cross-linguistic differences in speech rate (in terms of syllables uttered per second), I examine how information rate can be defined using the syllable as an information brick and show an assessment based on 15 languages. I then discuss these results in a broader picture based on perceptual (speech rate perception) and cognitive (connection between speech rate and brain oscillatory rhythms) considerations.

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