Speakers of rural accents have been said to speak more slowly than speakers of urban accents. However, there would appear to have been no previous empirical investigation of such a claim. In the study reported here, recordings were made of 12 Orkney English speakers and 12 Edinburgh English speakers, during a reading task and in conversation with the experimenter. Measurements, in syllables per second, were made of both the Speaking Rate and the Articulation Rate (i.e. the rate calculated after excision of pauses) of each speaker in reading mode and in conversation mode. Comparison of the results for the two groups revealed no tendency for the urban (Edinburgh) speakers to speak faster than the rural (Orkney) speakers. The claim that rural speakers speak more slowly than urban speakers therefore still awaits empirical support. Some discussion is offered concerning the possible relationships among speech tempo, lifestyle and accent
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