Effects of experience with L2 and music on rhythmic grouping by French listeners

Natalie Boll-Avetisyan*, Anjali Bhatara, Annika Unger, Thierry Nazzi, Barbara Höhle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Rhythm perception is assumed to be guided by a domain-general auditory principle, the Iambic/Trochaic Law, stating that sounds varying in intensity are grouped as strong-weak, and sounds varying in duration are grouped as weak-strong. Recently, Bhatara et al. (2013) showed that rhythmic grouping is influenced by native language experience, French listeners having weaker grouping preferences than German listeners. This study explores whether L2 knowledge and musical experience also affect rhythmic grouping. In a grouping task, French late learners of German listened to sequences of coarticulated syllables varying in either intensity or duration. Data on their language and musical experience were obtained by a questionnaire. Mixed-effect model comparisons showed influences of musical experience as well as L2 input quality and quantity on grouping preferences. These results imply that adult French listeners' sensitivity to rhythm can be enhanced through L2 and musical experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)971-986
Number of pages16
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Iambic/Trochaic Law
  • musicality
  • prosody
  • rhythmic grouping
  • second language acquisition


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