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 Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft

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: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>