[Humanist] 23.83 on language

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Jun 17 10:24:11 CEST 2009

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 83.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Wed, 17 Jun 2009 09:23:13 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: language

The following for your florilegium. It is from the meditations of 
Kilgore Trout, one of the two main characters in Kurt Vonnegut's 
Breakfast of Champions (1973), after a long conversation with a truck 
driver with whom he had hitched a ride:

> Trout sat back and thought about the conversation. He shaped it into
> a story, which he never got around to writing until he was an old,
> old man. It was about a planet where the language kept turning into
> pure music, because the creatures there were so enchanted by sounds.
> Words became musical notes. Sentences became melodies. They were
> useless as conveyors of information, because nobody knew or cared
> what the meanings of words were anymore.
> So leaders in govemment and commerce, in order to function, had to
> invent new and much uglier vocabularies and sentence structures all
> the time, which would resist being transmuted to music.
(Vintage, 2000, p. 110)


Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing,
King's College London, staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/;
Editor, Humanist, www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist;
Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org.

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