#Speech tempo and pausation

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Tempo. The tempo of speech is the rate at which utterances and their smaller units are pronounced. On the acoustic level tempo is generally measured by the number of syllables per second. Tempo of speech may vary depending on the size of audience, the acoustic qualities of the room, the individuality of the speaker and other. But most significant for the is how variations in tempo correlate with changes in meaning. By slowing down the tempo of speech we can make an utterance or part of it more prominent, thus underlining the semantic importance of it. On the contrary, by increasing the speed of utterance we diminish prominence and, as a result the actual semantic importance of what we say. Tempo can also be used to express the speaker's attitude or emotion. For example, fast tempo may express excitement, joy, anger, etc. Slow tempo shows relaxation or calmness, reserved and phlegmatic attitude on the part of the speaker. Everybody's speech has some norm of tempo, deviations from which affect meaning. Phoneticians generally distinguish normal tempo and two departures from the norm: fast and slow.
Pauses. The speech continuum is divided into units of different length and hierarchy by means of pauses. It is the main function of a pause to segment connected speech into utterances and intonation groups to delimit one utterance or intonation group from another. Pauses are closely related with tempo: the number and length of pauses affect the general tempo of speech. Phoneticians distinguish 3 main types of pauses: silent pauses, pauses of perception and voiced (or filled} pauses. A silent pause is a stop in the phonation (a stop of the work of the vocal cords, which results in the cessation of sound). Pauses of perception are not a stop in phonation, as there is no period of silence. The effect of a pause is produced by a sharp change of pitch direction, or by variations in duration, or both. Pauses of perception are generally marked by a wavy line which is used at the junction of intonation groups. Voiced pauses have usually the quality of the central vowel [3: (Э)] with or without nasalization [э (m)]. They are used to signal hesitation or doubt and are therefore called hesitation pauses. Pauses are very important constituents of intonation. Besides their segmentative and delimitative functions they also perform a unifying function showing the relations between utterances or intonation groups.


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