Tuesday, August 01, 2017
  Birds do it, bugs do it....

An interesting piece of research on prosody was reported, oddly enough, by Catholic World Report. The study was done by the KU linguistics dept, cooperating with KUMC for the medical stuff...
Minai said there was already a study that suggested fetuses could discriminate between different types of language, based on rhythmic patterns, but none using the more accurate device available at the Hoglund Brain Imaging Center at KU Medical Center called a magnetocardiogram (MCG).

“The previous study used ultrasound to see whether fetuses recognized changes in language by measuring changes in fetal heart rate,” Minai said. “The speech sounds that were presented to the fetus in the two different languages were spoken by two different people in that study. They found that the fetuses were sensitive to the change in speech sounds, but it was not clear if the fetuses were sensitive to the differences in language or the differences in speaker, so we wanted to control for that factor by having the speech sounds in the two languages spoken by the same person.”

Minai had a bilingual speaker make two recordings, one each in English and Japanese, to be played in succession to the fetus. English and Japanese are argued to be rhythmically distinctive. English speech has a dynamic rhythmic structure resembling Morse code signals, while Japanese has a more regular-paced rhythmic structure.

Sure enough, the fetal heart rates changed when they heard the unfamiliar, rhythmically distinct language (Japanese) after having heard a passage of English speech, while their heart rates did not change when they were presented with a second passage of English instead of a passage in Japanese.
Well, I'd argue with the Morse/non-Morse analogy. Japanese is more like Morse numbers, while English is more like Morse letters. Still not good. Standard English has very little distinction of length and lots of variation in pitch and intensity. Nevertheless, the two languages are unquestionably different when seen in envelope form.

Here's a comparison of two 30-second segments. Upper is two Americans discussing urban planning, lower is two Japs discussing something or other.



The real difference is not the rhythm of syllables but the shape of each syllable. English syllables are rounder and longer. Most Jap syllables are short and sharp, with some very long sentence-ending downsweeps, especially from females.

Perceiving and anticipating rhythm is a uniquely human talent among mammals. Most birds and some insects can do it, but other mammals fail.


= = = = =

Later constants and variables note:

1. The study says "the heart doesn't hear", so the action must have been mediated by the brain. Wouldn't be so sure. The eardrum and ossicles are designed to couple airborne sound to a fluid cochlea. They don't work well underwater when the source and sink are both liquid. Unborn babies are unquestionably swimming, and the auditory system is a late bloomer. More likely the heart IS hearing the vibrations, mechanically or via the vagus nerve, from the entire body.

2. The authors state explicitly that the heart is speeding up because of the unfamiliarity of Japanese. Wouldn't be so sure. The heart is a highly responsive astable multivibrator, constantly phaselocking to incoming rhythm. Musicians and propagandists understand this response. That's why war is accompanied by marches, and that's why Cable Fake "News" is accompanied by a constant backbeat. The shorter sharper syllables of Japanese should phaselock the heart to anticipate a faster rhythm whether the actual speech is faster or not. Phaselocking works best through the entire body, which is why marching bands and rock bands emphasize frequencies BELOW audible range. Feel that bass drum in your belly? So does the unborn baby inside the belly.

I would have designed the experiment to check for this effect, using a third language with even rounder syllables than English, eg Brazilian Portuguese. Make six ordered pairs from the three languages. Then you'd know if the phaselock or the unfamiliarity was dominant.

= = = = =

"The heart is a highly responsive astable multivibrator" would be a good title for a romance novel in the Harlequin Autistic Series.

Labels: ,

 


<< Home

blogger hit counter
My Photo
Name:
Location: Spokane

Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

My graphics products:

Free stuff at ShareCG

And some leftovers here.

ARCHIVES
March 2005 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / May 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 / November 2007 / December 2007 / January 2008 / February 2008 / March 2008 / April 2008 / May 2008 / June 2008 / July 2008 / August 2008 / September 2008 / October 2008 / November 2008 / December 2008 / January 2009 / February 2009 / March 2009 / April 2009 / May 2009 / June 2009 / July 2009 / August 2009 / September 2009 / October 2009 / November 2009 / December 2009 / January 2010 / February 2010 / March 2010 / April 2010 / May 2010 / June 2010 / July 2010 / August 2010 / September 2010 / October 2010 / November 2010 / December 2010 / January 2011 / February 2011 / March 2011 / April 2011 / May 2011 / June 2011 / July 2011 / August 2011 / September 2011 / October 2011 / November 2011 / December 2011 / January 2012 / February 2012 / March 2012 / April 2012 / May 2012 / June 2012 / July 2012 / August 2012 / September 2012 / October 2012 / November 2012 / December 2012 / January 2013 / February 2013 / March 2013 / April 2013 / May 2013 / June 2013 / July 2013 / August 2013 / September 2013 / October 2013 / November 2013 / December 2013 / January 2014 / February 2014 / March 2014 / April 2014 / May 2014 / June 2014 / July 2014 / August 2014 / September 2014 / October 2014 / November 2014 / December 2014 / January 2015 / February 2015 / March 2015 / April 2015 / May 2015 / June 2015 / July 2015 / August 2015 / September 2015 / October 2015 / November 2015 / December 2015 / January 2016 / February 2016 / March 2016 / April 2016 / May 2016 / June 2016 / July 2016 / August 2016 / September 2016 / October 2016 / November 2016 / December 2016 / January 2017 / February 2017 / March 2017 / April 2017 / May 2017 / June 2017 / July 2017 / August 2017 /


Major tags or subjects:

Carbon Cult
Defensible spaces
Experiential education
Grand Blueprint
Гром победы
Heimatkunde
Language updates
Metrology
Natural law = Sharia law
New toys
Patient things
Skill-estate
Switchover

Powered by Blogger