Praat script to detect syllable nuclei and measure speech rate automatically

Behav Res Methods. 2009 May;41(2):385-90. 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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Automation
  • Humans
  • Programming Languages*
  • Speech / physiology*
  • Speech Recognition Software*