Behavior Research Methods

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 385–390

Praat script to detect syllable nuclei and measure speech rate automatically


DOI: 10.3758/BRM.41.2.385

Cite this article as:
de Jong, N.H. & Wempe, T. Behavior Research Methods (2009) 41: 385. doi:10.3758/BRM.41.2.385


In this article, we describe a method for automatically detecting syllable nuclei in order to measure speech rate without the need for a transcription. A script written in the software program Praat (Boersma & Weenink, 2007) detects syllables in running speech. Peaks in intensity (dB) that are preceded and followed by dips in intensity are considered to be potential syllable nuclei. The script subsequently discards peaks that are not voiced. Testing the resulting syllable counts of this script on two corpora of spoken Dutch, we obtained high correlations between speech rate calculated from human syllable counts and speech rate calculated from automatically determined syllable counts. We conclude that a syllable count measured in this automatic fashion suffices to reliably assess and compare speech rates between participants and tasks.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Dutch Language and CultureUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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