Newcomers and LangSoc longtimers alike are warmly welcomed to the first LangSoc lecture of the 2016/17 academic year! It will be given by Edinburgh’s own Bob Ladd, on the subject of singing in tone languages. You can find his abstract below.
Doors at 18:00 for an 18:15 start.
Free for LangSoc members, £2 for non-members.
Everyone is welcome to join us at the pub afterwards!
Speakers of European languages who discover the existence of tone languages are almost invariably mystified, and a question that often comes up is “So how do they sing?” In the past 15 years there has been quite a lot of research on this question, some of it here in Edinburgh, and the answer appears to have two parts. The boringly obvious part is that a lot of language use, including song lyrics, is pretty predictable, so mangling the phonetic shape of words may not make much difference to intelligibility. (The same applies to whispering in languages with voicing contrasts!) The more interesting part is that pairing a song text with a tune in a tone language involves various expectations about what ‘fits’ or sounds right. (The same kinds of expectations apply to the placement of stressed and unstressed syllables relative to a tune in English songs.) All tone languages that have been investigated seem to approach this problem of matching tune and text in remarkably similar ways.
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