Syllabic features and phonic impression in English, German, French and Spanish. Delattre, P. and Olsen, C Lingua, 22:160-175.
abstract   bibtex   
An attempt is made to analyze objectively the syllabic features which contribute to the subjective impression a language makes upon a foreign ear. Four languages are involved in this analysis - English, German, French and Spanish. The syllabic character of each one is emphasized by comparison with the others. 2000 syllables are analyzed in each of the four languages. Seven aspects of the syllable emerge from the objective data. (1) Phonic content in terms of place of articulation based either on the ten most frequent syllables or on the complete corpus of 2000 syllables, shows the following preferences: in English, apical consonants with central vowels: in German, apical consonants with center and front vowels; in (2) The research reported herein was performed pursuant to a contract with the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Office of Education. French, apical consonants with front vowels; in Spanish, apical consonants with a balance of open and mid-open vowels. (2) Consonant-to-vowel ratio, or simply consonantal load since each syllable has only one vowel, is highest in German, almost balanced in English, and lowest in French and Spanish. (3) Variety and complexity of syllabic structures are both greater in the two Germanic languages than in the two Romance languages. The prevailing structures are divided among CVC and CV in German and English, whereas in Spanish and French the CV structure holds a majority by itself alone. (4) Syllable length, in terms of number of phonemes, is also greater in Germanic than in Latin languages. (5) The predominance of closed syllables in German and English (63 and 60 percent) is almost as marked as the preference for open syllables in Spanish and French (72 and 76 percent). (6) In frequency of different-syllable structures, Spanish stands alone - it shows the smallest number of different syllables; English shows the largest number, with German and French not far behind. (7) And again Spanish is set apart with respect to the relationship of syllable length with average-group frequency --- Spanish repeats its shorter syllables more often than the three other languages. To these objective data correspond subjective impressions such as frontal resonance, active articulation, auditory richness, forward motion, heaviness, musical predominance, sequential legato, repetitiveness, monotony, (or their opposites) the sum of which contributes considerably to characterizing a language.
@article{delattre_syllabic_1969,
	Author = {Delattre, Pierre and Olsen, C},
	Date = {1969},
	Date-Modified = {2016-09-24 18:56:01 +0000},
	File = {Attachment:files/2924/Delattre, Olsen - 1969 - Syllabic features and phonic impression in English, German, French and Spanish.pdf:application/pdf},
	Journal = {Lingua},
	Keywords = {contrastive, English, French, German, phonetics, Spanish, syllable},
	Pages = {160-175},
	Title = {Syllabic features and phonic impression in English, German, French and Spanish},
	Volume = {22},
	Abstract = {An attempt is made to analyze objectively the syllabic features which contribute to the subjective impression a language makes upon a foreign ear. Four languages are involved in this analysis - English, German, French and Spanish. The syllabic character of each one is emphasized by comparison with the others. 2000 syllables are analyzed in each of the four languages. Seven aspects of the syllable emerge from the objective data. (1) Phonic content in terms of place of articulation based either on the ten most frequent syllables or on the complete corpus of 2000 syllables, shows the following preferences: in English, apical consonants with central vowels: in German, apical consonants with center and front vowels; in (2) The research reported herein was performed pursuant to a contract with the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Office of Education. French, apical consonants with front vowels; in Spanish, apical consonants with a balance of open and mid-open vowels. (2) Consonant-to-vowel ratio, or simply consonantal load since each syllable has only one vowel, is highest in German, almost balanced in English, and lowest in French and Spanish. (3) Variety and complexity of syllabic structures are both greater in the two Germanic languages than in the two Romance languages. The prevailing structures are divided among CVC and CV in German and English, whereas in Spanish and French the CV structure holds a majority by itself alone. (4) Syllable length, in terms of number of phonemes, is also greater in Germanic than in Latin languages. (5) The predominance of closed syllables in German and English (63 and 60 percent) is almost as marked as the preference for open syllables in Spanish and French (72 and 76 percent). (6) In frequency of different-syllable structures, Spanish stands alone - it shows the smallest number of different syllables; English shows the largest number, with German and French not far behind. (7) And again Spanish is set apart with respect to the relationship of syllable length with average-group frequency --- Spanish repeats its shorter syllables more often than the three other languages. To these objective data correspond subjective impressions such as frontal resonance, active articulation, auditory richness, forward motion, heaviness, musical predominance, sequential legato, repetitiveness, monotony, (or their opposites) the sum of which contributes considerably to characterizing a language.},
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