Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New study suggests speakers of different languages perceive rhythm differently

04.12.2006
Do the sounds of our native languages affect how we hear music and other non-language sounds" A team of American and Japanese researchers has found evidence that native languages influence the way people group non-language sounds into rhythms.

People in different cultures perceive different rhythms in identical sequences of sound, according to Drs. John R. Iversen and Aniruddh D. Patel of The Neuroscience Institute in San Diego and Dr. Kengo Ohgushi of the Kyoto City University of Arts in Kyoto, Japan. This provides evidence that exposure to certain patterns of speech can influence one's perceptions of musical rhythms.

In future work, they believe they may even be able to predict how people will hear rhythms based on the structures of their own languages. The researchers will present their findings Nov. 30 at the Fourth Joint Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) and the Acoustical Society of Japan (ASJ), which will be held at the Sheraton Waikiki and Royal Hawaiian Hotels in Honolulu, Hawaii. The meeting will run from Nov. 28 through Dec. 2, and more than 1600 papers will be presented.

Researchers have traditionally tested how individuals group rhythms by playing simple sequences of tones. For example, listeners are presented with tones that alternate in loudness (...loud-soft-loud-soft...) or duration (...long-short-long-short...) and are asked to indicate their perceived grouping. Two principles established a century ago, and confirmed in numerous studies since, are widely accepted: a louder sound tends to mark the beginning of a group, and a lengthened sound tends to mark the end of a group. These principles have come to be viewed as universal laws of perception, underlying the rhythms of both speech and music. However, the cross-cultural data have come from a limited range of cultures, such as American, Dutch and French.

This new study suggests one of those so-called "universal" principles, perceiving a longer sound at the end of a group, may be merely a byproduct of English and other Western languages. In the experiments Iversen, Patel and Ohgushi performed, native speakers of Japanese and native speakers of American English agreed with the principle that they heard repeating "loud-soft" groups. However, the listeners showed a sharp difference when it came to the duration principle. English-speaking listeners most often grouped perceived alternating short and long tones as "short-long." Japanese-speaking listeners, albeit with more variability, were more likely to perceive the tones as "long-short." Since this finding was surprising and contradicted a common belief of perception, the researchers replicated and confirmed it with listeners from different parts of Japan.

To uncover why these differences exist, one clue may come from understanding how musical rhythms begin in the two cultures. For example, if most phrases in American music start with a short-long pattern, and most phrases in Japanese music start with a long-short pattern, then listeners might learn to use these patterns as cues for how to group them. To test this idea, the researchers examined phrases in American and Japanese children's songs. They examined 50 songs per culture, and for each beginning phrase they computed the duration ratio of the first note to the second note and counted how often phrases started with a short-long pattern versus other possible patterns such as long-short, or equal duration. They found American songs show no bias to start phrases with a short-long pattern. But Japanese songs show a bias to start phrases with a long-short pattern, consistent with their perceptual findings.

One basic difference between English and Japanese is word order. In English, short grammatical, or "function," words such as "the," "a," and "to," come at the beginning of phrases and combine with longer meaningful, or "content," words such as a nouns or verbs. Function words are typically reduced in speech, having short duration and low stress. This creates frequent linguistic chunks that start with a short element and end with a long one, such as "to eat," and "a big desk." This fact about English has long been exploited by poets in creating the English language's most common verse form, iambic pentameter.

Japanese, in contrast, places function words at the ends of phrases. Common function words in Japanese include "case markers," or short sounds which can indicate whether a noun is a subject, direct object, indirect object, etc. For example, in the sentence "John-san-ga Mari-san-ni hon-wo agemashita," ("John gave a book to Mari") the suffixes "ga," "ni" and "wo" are case markers indicating that John is the subject, Mari is the indirect object and "hon" (book) is the direct object. Placing function words at the ends of phrases creates frequent chunks that start with a long element and end with a short one, which is just the opposite of the rhythm of short phrases in English.

In addition to potentially uncovering a new link between language and music, the researchers' work demonstrates there is a need for cross-cultural research when it comes to testing general principles of auditory perception.

Turner Brinton | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.aip.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Closing the carbon loop

08.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>