Speech rhythm as naturally occurring and culturally transmitted behavioral patterns
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Ordin, M. (2019), Speech rhythm as naturally occurring and culturally transmitted behavioral patterns. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci., 1453: 5-11. doi:10.1111/nyas.14234
Rhythm is fundamental to every motor activity. Neural and physiological mechanisms that underlie rhythmic cognition, in general, and rhythmic pattern generation, in particular, are evolutionarily ancient. As speech production is a kind of motor activity, investigating speech rhythm can provide insight into how general motor patterns have been adapted for more specific use in articulation and speech production. Studies on speech rhythm may further provide insight into the development of speech capacity in humans. As speech capacity is putatively a prerequisite for developing a language faculty, studies on speech rhythm may cast some light on the mystery of language evolution in the human genus. Hereby, we propose an approach to exploring speech rhythm as a window on speech emergence in ontogenesis and phylogenesis, as well as on diachronic linguistic changes.