.... "If the brain was so simple that we could understand it, then we would be so simple that we couldn't." -- Emerson M. Pugh


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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Processing the Flow of Speech

This post from 'Cognitive Daily' reports research suggesting a facilitative effect music may have on learning language; specifically learning how to properly partition words and syllables in the flow of speech -- a daunting, almost inexplicable, task that native speakers take for granted.
And in an earlier post at the same blog, research is discussed regarding the role of consonants versus vowels in an infants' incredible ability to learn speech processing.

This all relates to the study within linguistics of "prosody," or the rhythm, stress, and intonation of language, and it's relationship to structure and semantics. This is probably one of the most important, and yet least understood, areas of all linguistics, and very rich ground for ongoing research.
Given that all languages do have rhythmic and stress components it is natural that music could have some influence on the learning of language. Moreover, I have always been intrigued by the frequency with which individuals skilled in mathematics also possess greater-than-average musical talents; playing and/or composing music. I suspect that mathematical algorithms, yet to be uncovered, very much underly most music, and there is much cerebral linkage between the two talents. Moreover, language itself (with its prosodic elements) may eventually reduce in part to certain mathematical rules/formulas. THAT, however, is of course a long way off.

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