- Phonetics and phonology: the study of the sound systems of languages
- Segmental phonetics and phonology: the study of the minimal segments
(phones, phonemes) which make up speech
- Prosody: everything else
- Timing: duration, relative duration
- Stress (prominence): duration, pitch, and loudness
- Meter: stress patterns
- Hierarchical levels: segments, syllables, etc.
- What linguists are after
Language vs. Music
- Periodicity and beats in language?
- Languages seem to be roughly periodic,
but this has been difficult to find.
- Where might the periodicity be?
Possibly in some languages, but definitely not in a language such as
where syllables vary dramatically in length
the U ni ted States of A me ri ca
- Moras (units somewhat smaller than syllables)
In Japanese moras tend to be the same length, but only on
average when many of them are added together
ka n ta n na ko to da t ta
di ji ta ru ko n pyu u ta a
- Stress units
Are the strong stresses (prominent syllables) equally spaced in a
language such as English?
Approximately in poetry, but apparently not in normal speech.
This discussion of the development of more
styles leads to a consideration
of the gross differences
between old and new.
- Meter in language?
- Are there recurring patterns of strong and weak beats in
language as in music?
- 2-beat meter:
Once upon a midnight dreary /
As I pondered weak and weary /
Over many a quaint
and curious volume of forgotten lore
- 3-beat meter:
There was an old man from Dundee /
Who slept with an ape in a tree /
The result was most horrid / ...
- 7-beat meter:
I wondered why he said he could not
afford a bed with a cricket on
his head ...
Take me back to the Rhythm and Cognition
Last updated: 2 November 1995
Copyright 1995, The Trustees of