Transcription, Perception, and Meaning
Jonathan G. Secora Pearl
Linguistics Colloquium, May 18, 2006
University of California—Santa Barbara
Music and language are twin aspects of civilization, found in all known human cultures, across time and place, embracing us from our earliest days until the ends of our lives. Speaking and singing are found everywhere and everywhen. Wherein lies the distinction?
The greatest difficulty in answering this foundational question is that we are often deceived by written forms of music and language into believing our object dwells within them, rather than in the sounds that inspire them. On the page, these materials appear far more distinct than they do in sound. Text without context is a world without air; yet context alone remains the unanalyzable chaos of everyday experience. The trick is to find the balance between too much detail, and too little.