Linguists have long distinguished between “stress-timed” and “syllable-timed” languages. Using new methods for comparing rhythm in language and music (A. D. Patel & J. R. Daniele, 2003) and new data on musical rhythm from a range of nations (D. Huron & J. Ollen, 2003), one can begin to address whether stress-timed and syllable-timed languages are associated with distinctive musical rhythms. In conducting such studies, it is important to be aware of historical influences on musical rhythm that might run counter to linguistic influences. An empirical method for studying historical influences is proposed.

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