Linguistic experience and rhythm perception

Sumio Kobayashi, Amalia Arvaniti


Many types of auditory perception are influenced by features of one’s native language. The current work focuses on whether native language affects rhythm perception. Native English, Japanese and Russian speakers were asked to rate the rhythmic difference between a pair of sound files, a familiarization stimulus with either binary or non-binary rhythm and a comparison that included either a clash (succession of accented syllables) or a lapse (succession of unaccented syllables). Stimuli were of three types, linguistic, musical, and tonal; they all had the same rhythm structure but were tested in separate blocks. It was anticipated that Russian and English participants would be less sensitive to rhythm irregularities (clashes and lapses), as these are relatively rare in these languages, and thus they would be perceptually compensated. Since lapses occur frequently in Japanese due to the sparsity of accented syllables, participants were expected to be more familiar with and thus more sensitive to rhythm irregularities. The results confirmed that Japanese participants were better able to detect rhythm irregularities than English and Russian participants, between whom there were no differences; this applied to all three stimulus types. In conclusion, these cultural differences in rhythm perception appear to be influenced by linguistic experience.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-113

Cite as: Kobayashi, S., Arvaniti, A. (2020) Linguistic experience and rhythm perception. Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020, 551-555, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-113.


@inproceedings{Kobayashi2020,
  author={Sumio Kobayashi and Amalia Arvaniti},
  title={{Linguistic experience and rhythm perception}},
  year=2020,
  booktitle={Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020},
  pages={551--555},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-113},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-113}
}