It has become a truism in the literature on infant-directed speech (IDS) that IDS is pronounced more slowly than adult-directed speech (ADS). Using recordings of 22 Japanese mothers speaking to their infant and to an adult, we show that although IDS has an overall lower mean speech rate than ADS, this is not the result of an across-the-board slowing in which every vowel is expanded equally. Instead, the speech rate difference is entirely due to the effects of phrase-final lengthening, which disproportionally affects IDS because of its shorter utterances. These results demonstrate that taking utterance-internal prosodic characteristics into account is crucial to studies of speech rate.
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