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LINGUIST List 17.1959

Wed Jul 05 2006

Diss: Phonetics/Phonology: Schreuder: 'Prosodic Processes in Langua...'

Editor for this issue: Meredith Valant <meredithlinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Maartje Schreuder, Prosodic Processes in Language and Music

Message 1: Prosodic Processes in Language and Music
Date: 05-Jul-2006
From: Maartje Schreuder <M.J.Schreuderrug.nl>
Subject: Prosodic Processes in Language and Music

Institution: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
Program: Center for Language and Cognition
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2006

Author: Maartje Schreuder

Dissertation Title: Prosodic Processes in Language and Music

Dissertation URL: http://odur.let.rug.nl/~schreudr/papers.htm#diss

Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics

Subject Language(s): Dutch (nld)

Dissertation Director:
Dicky Gilbers
Jan Koster

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation makes a comparison of language and music. As composer
Lerdahl and linguist Jackendoff show in their 'Generative Theory of Tonal
Music', these two cognitive behaviors share aspects, such as hierarchical
structure, in which prominent elements are separated from non-prominent
elements by means of preference rules and rhythmic and phrasing phenomena.
Recent constraint-based approaches to phonology, such as Optimality Theory,
show that the similarities are even more striking for phonological and
musical analyses.

This dissertation shows that music theory may help to solve linguistic
issues with which linguistic theory alone finds it hard to deal. Three such
issues are investigated experimentally. The first issue is whether speech
is just shortened and compressed when people speak faster, with the same
rhythmic structure, or whether the speech rhythm changes. The second issue
is the question whether recursion can be found in phonology. Are phrasing
phenomena such as early accent placement applied repeatedly in embedded
phonological phrases? The third issue is major and minor modality in
intonation contours of cheerful and sad speech.

One of the main findings is that listeners appear sometimes to base their
perception on auditory illusions, not always on the sound signal as it is.
Listeners hear what they expect to hear. As in music, rhythm is perceived
as more regular than it is in reality. The results of this research confirm
the assumption that speech and music share many features. Both are 'made
of' sound, and both kinds of sound signal are structured by the listener in
a similar way.

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