Spanish has been characterized as “syllable‐timed” as opposed to English and German, which have been called “stress‐timed” languages. This report describes a search for phonetic correlates of the term “syllable‐timed.” Measurements were made of the relative durations of the stressed and unstressed vowels in polysyllabic words spoken by four speakers of Mexican Spanish. A perceptual experiment was then conducted using the method of self‐adjustment, where subjects could independently control the duration of each vowel in a synthesized polysyllabic word in order to produce stress on a certain specified syllable. Vowel durations were slightly different for the same test word in production and perception studies, with the unstressed vowels of the latter being more uniform. Although absolute equality of vowel (or syllable) duration was not found (since stressed vowels are always longer than unstressed), unstressed vowels generally had uniform durations. This uniform duration phenomenon appears to be what underlies the perception of “syllable‐timed” in Spanish.

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