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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: Timing Relationship Between Spoken and Sung Utterances in Japanese: Speech rhythm and musical rhythm Add Dissertation
Author: Hitomi Nakata Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Reading, Linguistics
Completed in: 2006
Linguistic Subfield(s): Phonology; Anthropological Linguistics;
Subject Language(s): Japanese
Director(s): Linda Shockey
Peter Roach

Abstract: This study examines the relationship between linguistic rhythm and
rhythm in music in Japanese, with emphasis on the timing relationship
between spoken and sung utterances. Application of several
measures suggest a strong link between prosodic units in spoken
Japanese and their behaviour under musical conditions which
collectively reveal timing patterns above the level of the mora.

Several empirical studies on the issue of spoken rhythm in relation to
music were closely scrutinised, including those of cognitive
approaches, metrical approaches, and numerical analyses of
languages and the music of the culture. A few research questions
were brought out; 1) is the unit of timing in speech and music the
mora? 2) are timing patterns in sung language very different from
those in spoken language, i.e. does the relatively fixed tempo of music
constrain the execution of linguistic patterns?, and 3) is there evidence
that the unit of timing in Japanese is changing over time? Question 2
is addressed by the following hypotheses: 1) musical structure
overrides phonetic structure, but 2) phonetic features may dominate
musical constraints. These hypotheses will be tested from acoustic

Based on these predictions, three types of experiments were
systematically designed. First, data analysis of existing songs was
conducted, which provided partial evidence for the predictions. Then,
a set of four performance-based experiments were employed such as a
task of testing musical rhythm, a tapping task for linguistic perception, a
mapping task when singing, and a judgement task of the
appropriateness of songs. Finally, an acoustic measurement based on
quasi-controlled text reading/singing was applied to examine more
specific phonetic behaviours and their possible effects on timing
patterns in larger units.

Consistent results across these experiments indicate all the questions
and hypotheses were generally supported in that subjects exhibited
their sensitivity to units larger than the mora. This finding was also
observed under musical conditions and from both perceptual and
productive performances. A possible tight relationship in timing
between a language and music was, thus, suggested. This
consistency was particularly observed amongst the younger subjects,
in contrast with older subjects who showed their sensitivity to smaller

Acoustic measurement revealed some phonetic realities and a possible
discourse factor in singing, all which could be determiners of both
spoken and sung timing. Relative values of segmental durations and
the variability of normalised indices for moras/syllables were not much
different under singing condition, which leads to a further argument of
whether a magnitude of forming similar patterns in both domain are
unilateral or not. That is, the effect on the influence of relative timing
could occur in two directions: from linguistic timing to metrical
constraints in music, or vice versa.

Overall, acoustic and non-acoustic experiments support each other
and indicate a movement over time (i.e. with younger age groups)
towards a temporal structure which is not strictly moraic in spoken
Japanese. This was also manifested in musical settings. A few
suggestions are made for future studies such as a potential method of
conjoining numerical techniques and cultural aspects of music.