ARBC 6627

Sound, Meaning, and Magic

Sound, Meaning, and Magic
This course will examine the relationship between the sounds of words and phrases and their meanings. Starting with an examination of Saussure’s claim that the relation between sound and meaning is “arbitrary” (one of the foundational principles of modern linguistics), the course will examine data which seem to contradict this claim, and will explore the implications of this for linguistics and language study, as well as its treatment in several different fields and theoretical frameworks including psychology, anthropology, and phenomenology. The course will include a summary overview of basic linguistic terminology in phonetics and phonology (both in English and in Arabic), and will be geared finally towards examining the cultural effects of this phenomenon, including the exploitation of sound-meaning correspondences in a wide variety of cultural activities: classical poetry (both English and Arabic), mysticism, magic, modern literary practice (both English language (Joyce, Manley-Hopkins) and popular Arabic songs and poetry), as well as other possible applications. The ultimate goal of the course is to give students a more nuanced view of sound-meaning correspondences, and to develop a sense of the power of sound in influencing the comprehension of meaning in a wide variety of contexts.
Language School
Requirements Fulfilled:

Sections in Summer 2021 Language Schools, LS 6 Week Session

Summer 2021 Language Schools, LS 6 Week Session

ARBC6627A-L21 Lecture (Eisele)