Music and language : the case for music in linguistic curricula and research
Houston, David Andrew Samuel
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This dissertation offers an interdisciplinary argument in favour of integrating empirically grounded musicological evidence into linguistic curricula. Phonological, syntactic, and neurological convergences between music and language are identified and supported by existing research. However, differences in semantic content and the deliberateness ascribed to a musical or linguistic event inhibit the extent to which a music-language comparison can advance without qualification. In order to create a forum appropriate for the breadth of this discussion, two experiments were conducted. The first experiment presents a unique music-linguistic phenomenon, suggesting that the major and minor modes in music are non-arbitrarily associated with certain linguistic stimuli (kiki and bouba, respectively) in accord with their phonetic characteristics (e.g. vowel and consonant quality). This topic is considered in the light of evidence from synaesthesia and sound symbolism. Having endeavoured to show the relevance of a joint discussion on music and language, the second experiment explores the level of accord within the linguistic and musical academic communities (university students and teachers/researchers) on salient themes relative to such a discussion. A questionnaire formwas administered, with results indicating that an insufficient amount of interdisciplinary agreement exists to facilitate a productive exchange and evaluation of ideas. Interdisciplinary topics and epistemological implications are discussed.