English Language & Linguistics

Tamara Rathcke wins funding on Speech-to-Song Illusion

4 March 2016

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Dr Tamara Rathcke, Lecturer in the Department of English Language & Linguistics, has just won a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant for a project entitled 'Speaking or Singing? Unveiling Individual Variation in the Perception of the "Speech-to-Song Illusion"', in conjunction with Professor Simone Dalla-Bella (University of Montpellier) and Dr Simone Falk (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich).

Can speech ever sound like song? Seemingly impossible, the 'Speech-to-Song Illusion' (S2S) is a striking example of a perceptual effect where a spoken phrase repeated several times shifts to being heard as sung without any change to the speech sounds. The previous work conducted by Tamara and her co-researchers revealed that sound acoustics play a crucial role in S2S; but so far, the cognitive processes underpinning the transformation remain unclear. The new project will examine the role of the individual perceiver, as not all listeners are equally likely to experience the effect. They aim to investigate healthy native and non-native populations with normally distributed characteristics such as musical training, language skills and working memory capacity, in order to unveil if, and how, these characteristics may predict listeners’ performance in S2S. The project will illuminate how the link between language and music is mediated by cognitive abilities and previous experience of the listener, and produce academic contributions as well as a database available for other researchers and a web resource accessible to the general public.

For more details of British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grants, please see the page here: www.britac.ac.uk/funding/guide/srg.cfm

English Language & Linguistics, School of European Culture and Languages, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NF

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