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Speech rhythm in multiethnolectal Zurich German

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Proceedings (peer-reviewed)
Author Morand Marie-Anne, Bruno Melissa, Julmi Nora, Schwab Sandra, SchmidStephan,
Project Phonetic features of (multi-)ethnic urban vernaculars in German-speaking Switzerland
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Proceedings (peer-reviewed)

Title of proceedings 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020
Place Tokyo
DOI 10.21437/speechprosody.2020-116

Open Access


Multiethnolects have been observed in (Western) Europe for about 30 years, also in Zurich – the biggest city in Germanspeaking Switzerland, characterized by ethnic and linguistic diversity. Speech rhythm appears to be a salient feature of several European multiethnolects and has been described as a ‘staccato’ rhythm. However, a sociophonetic investigation of rhythm in Swiss German multiethnolects is lacking so far. To investigate rhythmic characteristics of multiethnolectal Zurich German, we recorded read speech of 48 adolescents of two schools in Zurich. Forty adolescents from a third school rated speech samples to indicate how multiethnolectal the speakers sound on a 7-point Likert scale. These rating scores were then correlated with various rhythm metrics (%V, ΔC, ΔV; varcoC, varcoV; nPVI-C, nPVI-V). We found significant correlations between vowel variability measurements and rating scores as well as between syllable rate and rating scores. In contrast, we found no correlations with consonantal variability measurements. Our results support the view that multiethnolectal Zurich German uses less vowel reduction in unstressed syllables which leads to the impression of a ‘staccato’ rhythm of this variety.