As she recites the same sequences of numbers over and over - "one two one, one two one, one two one, two three two, one two one..." - her words cease to be words and become a song. Albeit with really boring lyrics. I wonder if she knows she's singing; I wonder if the other patients hear the song when she pokes them with a stick while reciting numbers.
Diana Deutsch hears the music. She's a professor of the music of psychology interviewed on an old episode of the NPR show Radiolab. She says that one day, she was editing a recording of her own voice, and happened to leave a short phrase, "sometimes behaves so strangely," on a loop. She left the room, and after a short time, she began to think she was hearing music back in the studio. But no, it was simply her own voice saying sometimes behave so strangely over and over.
Our words are full of music.
Every language, every accent has its own language. From the lilt of the Irish brogue, which sounds for all the world just like an Irish jig, to the slow southern twang, to the regimented march of German, each language sings to its own tune. There are elements to the tunes that run across every language. Deutsch did a study in which she listened to parents praising their babies. In every language she studied, the pitch was the same - a high note that slides down into a low note. Say "good girl" to an imaginary baby out loud. Or watch a few seconds of the video below - the trainer uses that same tune whenever she praises the parrot.
Deutsch wondered if people who speak tonal languages have better pitch than those who speak languages that aren't tonal. She did a study in which she played a series of notes to both English-speaking and Mandarin-speaking children, all of whom had grown up playing music. Only 14% of the English-speaking kids could name all the notes that were being played. 74% of the Mandarin-speakers could.
Remember that next time you want to punch a karaoke singer at the local bar off the stage. It's not their fault that their voice is breaking your ears, it's the English language.