The language you speak does not change how you hear music, study finds

Known as 'native listening', it is already known that our primary language acts as a 'template' for how we hear sounds from other languages

Matt Payton
Thursday 25 February 2016 11:51 GMT

The language we speak may affect how we perceive others, but it doesn't affect how you hear music, a new study has found.

Previous research has found that speaking multiple languages affects you view the world.

A study on bilingual English and German speakers found that when speaking English, they were more action-orientiated than when speaking German.

Our primary language also acts as a "template" for how we hear sounds from other languages - something that is called "native listening".

In this new study, researchers from the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) investigated whether a similar relationship could exist between language and the perception of non-linguistic sounds such as music.

SISSA's Alan Langus and Professor Marina Nespor hypothesised this could exist due to most of the same regions that process language also processing music.

The pair conducted a series of tests on participants who were native Italian, Persian and Turkish speakers.

These three languages were chosen as they all have distinctive rhythm and pitch.

Langus and Nespor tested to find if preferred rhythm of a subject's mother tongue could be transferred to musical tones or images.

Professor Nespor said: "We found no transfer of the effect to the other domains of non-linguistic auditory and visual stimuli."

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