Linguistics in Göttingen - A platform for empirical and theoretical linguistics

Uli Reich (Berlin): Batidas Latinas: Meter and rhythm in Spanish, Portuguese and other types of music

My talk is built on joint work with Martin Rohrmeier (MIT) on the formal principles which organize rhythm and meter in music and language. We claim that some aspects of the rhythmical differences between languages are comparable to rhythmical differences between different interpretations of the same piece of music, in spite of the normally stronger routinization of the corresponding formal techniques in languages and varieties than in musical performance. Building on evidence from Spanish, Portuguese, we find that main differences occur due to the selection of the level of the metrical grid which is performed with full sonority. The same formal decision is observed in the difference between two versions of a piece performed by two jazz pianists. This leads us to a proposal which tries to align Metrical Phonology with metrics in music by foregrounding the temporal nature of moraic structure in the construction of linguistic feet.