Aspects of language performance

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"...four aspects of LP are considered: syntactic, semantic, sonic, and pragmatic. These names are drawn from semiotic and linguistic theory, but they are used in a special sense here. Each aspect is associated with a multitude of possible variables, of which relatively few were selected for use in this study...

Syntactic. The syntactic aspect of LP is defined to comprise all that depends only on the text as a “black box” outside any particular performance context, a sequence of signifiers without considering the particular meanings they encode. (However, meaning in a general sense is relevant to the syntactic aspect because it serves to define different syntactic segments, just as the semantic notion of noun or verb is relevant to the syntax of a sentence). Thus syntactic variables include the following: the syntax of LP genres, the relative prominence of categories of LP, textual rate, and language level [e.g. high classical vs. vernacular].

Semantic. The semantic aspect of LP is defined to comprise the linguistic meanings of the texts which underlie LP, without regard for the particular signifiers used to generate that meaning, or the specific performance context in which they occur. Under this heading I place variables which analyze themes, metaphors, and symbols. I also examine how texts reference spiritual and human entities, how texts are related to other texts (intertextuality), and the authority which empowers the text.

Sonic. The sonic aspect of LP is defined to comprise LP as a total acoustic phenomenon, without regard for either signifiers, or signifieds, or for the particular social processes which serve to generate that phenomenon. The sonic aspect of LP is the “carrier”, not itself language, but without which verbal language cannot exist. Under the heading of this aspect are placed all those variables which examine the carrier itself, rather than the verbal signs carried. In linguistics the sonic aspect might be termed phonology or phonetics, but musical variables go far beyond the interests of most linguists. Yet not all sonic features should be considered music, which implies a certain aesthetic attitude, especially in a culture which severely restricts the meaning of its cognate word (musiqa) so as to scarcely apply it to any sound produced within any Islamic context. Therefore the word sonic–neutral and broad–is applied.

Pragmatic. The pragmatic aspect of LP is here defined to comprise the social and contextual aspects of LP. Here, several of the concepts and metaphors of sociolinguistics (see Hymes 1974), including communities and networks of senders and receivers, communicative contexts and channels, feedback, and control can be applied, as well as concepts such as proxemics (Hall 1974), kinesics (Birdwhistell 1972), and behavior generally. Under the pragmatic heading I place variables which examine who is engaged in LP and how, where they are spatially, and how they interact, without regard for form (syntax), textual meaning (semantics), or sonic substrate of the LP produced. Such variables will all be descriptive."

(from an unpublished paper by Michael Frishkopf) --mf 10:05, 7 February 2006 (MST)