Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

The elements of experimental phonetics
Scripture, Edward Wheeler
The reaction method is an improvement on the preceding 
one. The recorder makes a movement of the finger at the 
moment the speech unit begins and another at the moment it 
ends. His time of response, or reaction time (p. 206), can 
generally be relied upon to be constant within 0.18 at both 
beginning and end ; a record made in this way thus gives the 
true time. The time between the two movements may be 
registered by a stop-watch, by a chronoscope, or by some form 
of the graphic method (pp. 152, 206). 
The phonograph has also been used to measure the inter¬ 
vals between points of stress (centroids) in prose and verse of 
different kinds. This is accomplished by adding a contact 
wheel to the axle and recording electrically the number of 
contacts passed over between one point and another in 
the speech record. 
Measurements, of feet, lines, etc., in verse by means of 
these methods will be considered in the chapter on rhythm. 
Among the phenomena found in investigations of mental 
time-estimates we may notice 1. that judgments of the 
equality of two successive tones or empty intervals are more 
irregular with some persons than with others ; 2. that with 
some persons or under some circumstances the first tone 
seems longer, with or under others shorter; 8. that by mak¬ 
ing a tone louder it can be made shorter without any appar¬ 
ent decrease in length; 4. that similar results are found 
for empty intervals marked off by sharp clicks; 5. that the 
apparent length of an interval bounded by clicks is made 
greater by inserting intermediate clicks. These results have 
important phonetic applications. Further investigation is 
needed of the manner in which loudness or change in pitch 
can be used to replace duration. 
The experiments on speech sounds have made it clear that 
at best the terms ‘ long * and‘ short ’ for the vowels or syl¬ 
lables of a word can mean no more than that they are on an 
average long and short. The assignment of definite relations 
of average length as two moras or one mora likewise means 
only that on a general average the relation will be more like


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