Music and Language
Posted: 12 September 2013 01:47 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I was listening to “world music” in the car and it struck me that while I don’t understand the lyrics, I’m still able to make an emotional connection to the vocals. The message isn’t the lyrics, the message is the emotions. It works the same way for me with subtitled movies. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything because I can read the subtitles while hearing the emotions in the voices. Anger is anger, regardless of the language you use to talk about your anger.

Many years ago, I was taught that music and language are processed in different parts of the brain and therefore aren’t closely related, but even a cursory scan of current online materials tells me this is probably outdated thinking.

So my questions for the linguists here is do you have a recommendation for where I could find the best current thinking on the subject of the relationships between music and language? Is there someone known to be the leader in this area?

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Posted: 12 September 2013 02:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Warning, heavy Chomsky:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3HLqCHO08s

[EDIT: changed above link to point to the original live lecture]

[ Edited: 12 September 2013 03:49 PM by sobiest ]
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Posted: 12 September 2013 03:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Oliver Sacks wrote a 2007 book about music and the brain, Musicophilia. He writes in a very approachable, yet scientifically valid, manner. There is at least one chapter on music and language, specifically aphasia. I don’t know how much else of the book relates to language.

I’m sure there’s a lot in the peer-reviewed literature. I’ve never looked at studies relating to music in the brain, but what’s there on language and how it’s processed is fascinating and our knowledge is growing by leaps and bounds. I don’t think I’d trust anything written prior to, say, 2005, so much has changed regarding what we know of the brain.

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Posted: 12 September 2013 06:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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So my questions for the linguists here is do you have a recommendation for where I could find the best current thinking on the subject of the relationships between music and language? Is there someone known to be the leader in this area?

Probably Happy Dog, you could find the best answer in your own mind. Certainly not ln the 20th Century ramblings of Chomsky.  And Sacks? What a card.
Best you think for yourself and ask yourself, “What is the Cultural function of music?”

You seem bright, I bet you could come up with some answers of your own.

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Posted: 13 September 2013 02:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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While that approach might yield some interesting observations on the cultural role music plays and how it is similar or different from the role played by language, it would yield almost nothing meaningful and objective about the psychological impact on us and the neurological processes underlying how we perceive and receive music. Brain function is not something that can be deduced by cogitating on it. (That’s like trying to figure out how the eye works by watching stuff.)

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Posted: 13 September 2013 06:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Best you think for yourself and ask yourself, “What is the Cultural function of music?”

I’m not asking about the cultural function of music. I’m asking about scientific research into brain function as it relates to music and language. I know what’s in my brain, I want to find out what those more knowledgeable have in theirs.

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Posted: 13 September 2013 06:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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happydog - 13 September 2013 06:14 AM

Best you think for yourself and ask yourself, “What is the Cultural function of music?”

I’m not asking about the cultural function of music. I’m asking about scientific research into brain function as it relates to music and language. I know what’s in my brain, I want to find out what those more knowledgeable have in theirs.

Don’t be mad, Happydog, I simply didn’t understand your request. I still don’t.
Are you suggesting that some folks think music is somehow processed differently by the human brain and you want to read some new material that says as much?

If so I am sure you can find easy congruity on the WWWeb if that’s all you want.
Best of luck.

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