Resolving the elusiveness of linguistic rhythm, cross-linguistic realities and the speech production system 


UCSB Academic Senate, 2022-23

PI: Argyro Katsika

Collaborator: Matthew Gordon

It is broadly accepted that any language is inherently rhythmic. The predominant approach is that languages belong in one of the following rhythm classes: mora-, syllable-, or stress-timed. These terms imply that moras, syllables and stresses respectively occur at regular intervals, and are thus isochronous. However, the plethora of measures of isochrony that have been proposed in the literature have failed to validate this rhythm typology, and linguistic rhythm remains to-date elusive and unsupported by quantitative data. We argue that a main cause for this unsuccessful quest for isochrony is that prior research on the matter has neglected the role of other linguistic structures, such as prosodic and morpho-phonological properties. These dimensions are specific to each language, and they are known to affect different levels of timing. The work proposed here aims to determine which timing patterns are more stable across languages and the contribution of each language property in them by means of a corpus consisting of a fable spoken in 220 languages.