Interspeaker Variation in Habitual Speaking Rate Evidence for a Neuromuscular Component Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 1997
Interspeaker Variation in Habitual Speaking Rate
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ying-Chiao Tsao, PhD
    Department of Special Education/Communication Disorders, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Kearney, NE 68849-4590.
  • Gary Weismer
    University of Wisconsin-Madison
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 1997
Interspeaker Variation in Habitual Speaking Rate
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 1997, Vol. 40, 858-866. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4004.858
History: Received August 23, 1996 , Accepted January 21, 1997
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 1997, Vol. 40, 858-866. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4004.858
History: Received August 23, 1996; Accepted January 21, 1997

Neuromuscular and sociolinguistic hypotheses were proposed to explore and account for the nature of individuals’ idiosyncratic speech rates. One hundred subjects (50 males and 50 females) read the Farm Script passage at both habitual and maximum rates. FAST and SLOW subgroups of subjects were selected for both genders based on their overall speaking rates. The articulation rate data derived from 30 selected subjects (SLOW and FAST) revealed the following findings: (a) a significant linear regression function existed between the habitual and maximum rates, (b) significantly different maximum rates were found for the SLOW and the FAST groups, (c) roughly equivalent relative changes from habitual to maximum rate for both SLOW and FAST groups. No significant gender differences were found across different speech tasks and measures of speech rates. The weight of the evidence seems to suggest that neuromuscular constraints play a role in the determination of an individual’s habitual speaking rate. Nevertheless, the study did not suggest that either neuromuscular hypotheses or sociolinguistic hypotheses alone can account for the control of individuals’ speaking rates due to the unusual ability demonstrated by a few subjects in the SLOW group, to speak at very fast maximum rates.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported in part by NIH Grant No. DC 00319 from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) and a minigrant from the graduate office at the University of Nebraska-Kearney. We would like to thank Anders Lofqvist, David Ostry, Bruce Smith, and an anonymous reviewer for comments on earlier versions of the manuscript.
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