Representing speech by graphic means is something we humans have been doing for some 5000 years. This text is “what I’m saying”, captured in writing.
Of course, I have never really said this, never spoken these words. This text is born in writing. Like most written texts, it is a simulation of speech that awaits its realization in the reader’s imagination. In yours.
What is the origin of music? — And how does music relate to language? Scientific research into these questions is booming. Psychologists, neurologists, cognitive scientists, biologists, archaeologists, anthropologists, linguists and musicologists are in the origins business. Despite the fact that we’ll never have the kind of evidence that may lead to a scientifically valid answer.
Theories may be fables. They still can be evaluated by how well they connect the things we know, and by their power to inspire new enquiries.
One idea that may seem obvious and common sense is that there are aspects of language — more particularly, of speech — that can be called ‘musical’ and expressive: the ‘rhythm’ and ‘melody’ of speech, or prosody. Rudiments of melody, or intonation, are present in the most basic human and animal vocal expressions — screams, calls, sighs, grunts, and so on. Continue reading →
The first instance of this peculiar abuse I encoutered was a beginner’s piano book. Not the one from which I myself learned the notes and keys – decently titled First Piano Book (Het eerste pianoboek, by Jan Bouws). Its abusive competitor was My First Piano Book (Mijn eerste pianoboek), by somebody calling himself Folk Dean.
Whose book is Folk’s? Folk’s, of course. Not mine or yours.
Despite, or thanks to its irritating title Folk’s (actually Theo’s) book seems to have been a commercial success. Its pronominal abuse (My first …) may have been fashionable on the pedogogical market when it first came out in 1957. But it truly boomed after Windows 95 put My Computer onto your desktop. Nowadays there is hardly a commercial or public website which does not have a corner reserved for you not called yours but mine. It feels both idiotic and intrusive – them using my word for what’s supposed to belong to me.
Looking inward, I catch myself having certain thoughts and sensations. Thinking ‘I’m having this thought’ constitutes a second order thought. Having such second and higher order thoughts is what I am inclined to call ‘consciousness’, as against ‘awareness’, or unreflective wakefulness.
By linking these higher order thoughts to the constancy of proprioception, the active communion within my body, I create the experience of ‘self’. Continue reading →