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aesthetics & subjectivity (was: RE: [CONLANG] Fave Conlangs

From:Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Wednesday, March 27, 2002, 20:37
At 3:20 am +0000 27/3/02, And Rosta wrote:
>Ray: >> Surely the point is that all this stuff on this thread and the >> 'beautifullest phonology' one is a bit pointless in that whether individual >> sounds are 'beautiful', 'aesthetic' or whatever *is* purely subjective. > >Yes and no. As I've said before, our aesthetic responses to pretty >much anything show a great deal of intersubjective agreement (e.g. >get people to list favourite songs, films, novels, poems, or whatever, >and the results are highly correlated).
Are they, in fact? Has this been done? I get the impression you'd get very different results if you took specific age groups and/or social groups.
>Even where people's *favourites* >can't be predicted -- as with, say, favourite colours -- people still >agree in their aesthetic responses to colours (how cool, warm, soothing, >exciting, etc. they are).
True - and advertizers make use of this. But how much of this is conditioned by our western cultural milieu? Do certain colors always tend to produce the same feelings in all cultural groups in all periods of history? Indeed, isn't "intersubjectivity" in fact a sort of spurious objectivity conditioned by one's cultural milieu? [snip]
> >> In any case, we don't speak in a sequence of discrete sounds; it's the >> overall effect that makes one language sound more or less melifluous than >> another. And that has as much to do with intonation and other >> suprasegmental features as it does with the mere phonemes. > >Definitely true. I love Vietnamese on the page, but find it ghastly >in actuality on the ears. And the exquisite pleasure of French is >entirely in the prosody.
Indeed, even the same language can provoke different responses according to the way it is spoken. When we here English spoken by, say, an Australian, a Texan, an 'Ulster Scot', a Yorkshire farmer or a someone from Dudley, we don't react the same way; we will probably react positively to some and negatively to others. Ray. ========================================= A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language. [J.G. Hamann 1760] =========================================