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Re: sometimes behave so strangely

At 12:10 AM 12/13/2006, Valter Ciocca wrote:
Dear Diana, Al and list,

You also raise the point that the transformation of the phrase from speech to song endures - so that when people listen again to the full sentence, I appear to burst into song. This , to my mind, is a particularly puzzling aspect of the effect. People have told me that the effect is still present, unattenuated, even months later - and this was certainly my experience. As you point out, perhaps the most important question raised by this demonstration is why people don't always hear speech as song. After all, the vowel components of words are harmonic complexes - yet the pitch characteristics of speech are usually suppressed in perception.

true, unless you speak a tonal language, in which case you will focus on pitch patterns in order to figure out the meaning of words. In fact, I wonder whether speakers of tonal languages might be more resistant to transforming pitch into singing since for them focusing on pitch patterns has become part of the speech schema.

I wondered about this, and I asked a Chinese friend how they reconcile tones and melodies. She said they basically ignore the tones in song lyrics. However, I would think that might led to some (perhaps amusing) confusions. I don't know Chinese, would it be possible to have some lyrics which when put in a particular melody would have a drastically different meaning?

I also wonder how strong the effect of Diana's repeated phrase would be if spoken in a flat Midwestern accent rather than a lilting British one :)