Linguistics: Does language hit the beat?
Does language hit the beat? Studying linguistic rhythm by means of sensorimotor synchronisation
Dr Tamara Rathcke,
University of Kent
For decades, the concept of rhythm in language has been controversially debated (Roach 1982, Cummins 2012). There is a great deal of disagreement on the unit, the definition, the study method and the sheer existence of rhythm in language (cf. Nolan & Jeon 2014). However, it has also been noted that previous studies did not involve the core feature of rhythm – its ability to entrain movement (Cummins 2009, 2012). Rhythmic perception-action coupling through sensorimotor synchronization has been predominantly studied with non-verbal, simple and complex auditory signals like metronome and music (Repp 2005, Repp & Su 2013). Applications of the paradigm to language are relatively rare (Lidiji et al. 2011, Falk, Rathcke & Dalla Bella 2014, Rathcke, Falk & Dalla Bella 2019), and could provide a valuable tool for studying and understanding rhythmic properties of speech and language. In this talk, I will present an experiment with twenty-nine English-speaking (and maybe a few French-speaking) participants who tapped in synchrony with, and after listening to, sentences of different length. I will discuss if, and what, we can learn about language rhythm from movement-based paradigms.
John Woolley Bldg. A20 Science Road