Second-language (L2) speech is consistently slower than first-language (L1) speech, and L1 speaking rate varies within- and across-talkers depending on many individual, situational, linguistic, and sociolinguistic factors. It is asked whether speaking rate is also determined by a language-independent talker-specific trait such that, across a group of bilinguals, L1 speaking rate significantly predicts L2 speaking rate. Two measurements of speaking rate were automatically extracted from recordings of read and spontaneous speech by English monolinguals (n = 27) and bilinguals from ten L1 backgrounds (n = 86): speech rate (syllables/second), and articulation rate (syllables/second excluding silent pauses). Replicating prior work, L2 speaking rates were significantly slower than L1 speaking rates both across-groups (monolinguals' L1 English vs bilinguals' L2 English), and across L1 and L2 within bilinguals. Critically, within the bilingual group, L1 speaking rate significantly predicted L2 speaking rate, suggesting that a significant portion of inter-talker variation in L2 speech is derived from inter-talker variation in L1 speech, and that individual variability in L2 spoken language production may be best understood within the context of individual variability in L1 spoken language production.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Acoustics and Ultrasonics