Leoni, Celso et al,
I agree with the exciting topic of prosodic elements used in code alternation and would like to share an anecdote. I wish I had had the foresight to record my babies when they were in the babbling stage. Since their father was an English speaker and I spoke Spanish to them, both girls would "sing" their different languages--in--formation, depending on who their audience was. If they were addressing their father, their babbling would be slower and their tone and pitch would be a lower key. When addressing me or my mother, also a Spanish native speaker, the girls would speed up and elevate their tone. So in a sense, the babies were
"singing" a nascent English or Spanish.
The prosodic elements are a frustrating element for second-language learners and some heritage speakers of Spanish who can't 'hear' the correct pronunciation, they say. In fact, it is what celso is referring to, I believe, that frustrates the non-native speaker of a language.
Thank you for an interesting dialogue.
--Maria Eugenia Trillo,
From: Celso Alvarez Cáccamo <lxalvarz@...
Sent: Sun, February 28, 2010 8:59:48 AM
Subject: Re: [code-switching] Re: Codeswitching in music
Well, good luck with your Master and your research, I'm glad this thread is being encouraging to you.
As for research in the area (language alternation and music), to be honest I don't know much about it. It is my impression that much remains to be said yet, but I am not up to developments in the field or specific bibliography. It is well known that languages present typical prosodic patterns in terms of accent patterns and length of intonational phrases. For example, apparently in Spanish eight-syllable phrases in daily speech are very common, and this would explain why also the octosyllable verse is typical of traditional, popular poetry. And let's remember that the first manifestations of poetry in many cultures are actually SONGS (work-related songs, while sawing or harvesting the fields, for example). So, there you have a relation between speech and music (see Jakobson's work).
A second factor to examine, perhaps, is Gumperz's important observation (I don't remember exactly where in Discourse Strategies), which I believe hasn't received enough attention in terms of its implications for language alternation, is that while grammar and lexicon can be taught and learned formally, through second-language instruction, intonation and prosody in general are SUBconscious, as they are acquired as part of the socialization process, and you can't just "teach" or talk about a prosodic pattern without a lexical-grammatical basis (you can't "repeat" an intonational curve except by singing it). So, while it is well known that this subconscious nature of prosody plays a major role in misunderstandings in a SECOND language (Gumperz's own work), I believe that often it has been understood that in language alternation phenomena all that happens is that people combine LEXICAL items and GRAMMATICAL structures as pieces that could fit, like a puzzle.
But, obviously, pieces don't fit in a vacuum, but they have to fit over a given underlying prosodic pattern which also carries interactional (pragmatic) meaning(s) among a wide range: matter-of-factness, irony, humor, disbelief, challenge, compliance, formality, informality, interest, cooperation, surprise, etc. etc. And all of this (forms and meanings) is acquired since very early in life (babies only a few months old are able to distinguish between "boring" and interesting conversations between adults, even if they don't understand anything; and mother-talk, precisely, hypercharacterizes prosodic patterns to make them more enjoyable to babies).
Finally, there are recent discoveries in the origins of language that relate language ability more and more to musical abilities. It is not coincidental that the only two human species that had/have musical abilities, Homo Sapiens Neanderthalensis and Homo Sapiens Sapiens (us) also had/have the cognitive abilities and anatomical apparatus prepared for language (brain areas, central nervous system, the hyoid bone, etc., though it is not proven that Neanderthals had articulated language as we know it).
So, you have an interesting topic there (language alternation and musical patterns) which, in my opinion, would require to look a little into questions such as the ones above.
As for language alternation in today's music (Kelvin and others), my contribution is Manu Chao, a hip-hopish singer from Galizan origin based in France. Look him up, he's very good.
Celso Alvarez Cáccamo
A 2010/02/27, às 07:39, Leoni Kotze escreveu:
> Dear All
> Celco, what you are saying is just sooooo interesting. I am sitting here
> behind my computer and there are electrical impulses running up and down my
> spine. How wonderful to discover areas of under-researched (for lack of a
> better word at the moment) areas! I am inspired! Again. But let me not sit
> here and make idle talk, let me complete my current Master's so that I can
> go full force into the interface (can I call it 'interface'? ) between
> language and music.
> Keep those comments rolling, everybody! Isn't is just wonderful to glean
> insights from so many people across the globe?
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]