September 24, 2012

Locke and Sound

While the majority of Locke's essay deals with the problem of actually defining what constitutes words and language, I really would like to focus on something Locke mentions only briefly, sound. Sound is crucial to creating words, language, and ultimately communication. Although, it would be interesting to see what Locke would have to say about how sign language and body language permit communication. However, Locke says that "sounds have no natural connection with our ideas" (Locke 817). Yet, he also contradicts this when he says that sounds are usually learned first when learning to speak as a child. (Locke 819) Only when you first learn the pronunciation of words can you then begin to understand the complex ideas words stand for. So, are words just simply meanings of different sounds? How about adjusting sound or volume to create different tones and pitches. Would things like sarcasm even exist without tone? Or what about emotions? The volume and sound of one's voice and words certainly dictate someone's emotion and how they communicate with others.

1 comment:

Angela M said...

You bring up a good point of the volume and emotion behind someones voice. For example if a parent is angry with us we always know by the tone of voice they use or the volume. But then how could this be apply to someone who is deaf and unable to hear sound? They can't hear the tone of voice but the movement of hands becomes quicker and the facial expression is crucial for the emotion to be expressed.
What would Locke have thought of this? If sounds have no natural connection would he have seen this as a purer form of meaning? or of no meaning at all?

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