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Idioglossia

GUEST,CS 06 Apr 10 - 04:53 AM
maeve 06 Apr 10 - 05:52 AM
Jack Campin 06 Apr 10 - 07:24 AM
bubblyrat 06 Apr 10 - 07:53 AM
olddude 06 Apr 10 - 08:26 AM
Jack Campin 06 Apr 10 - 08:43 AM
Jeri 06 Apr 10 - 08:45 AM
DonMeixner 06 Apr 10 - 09:30 AM
Jack Campin 06 Apr 10 - 11:33 AM
Artful Codger 06 Apr 10 - 02:34 PM
GUEST,CS 06 Apr 10 - 02:41 PM
Jack Campin 06 Apr 10 - 02:57 PM
Jack Campin 06 Apr 10 - 03:16 PM
Stringsinger 06 Apr 10 - 04:11 PM
Jack Campin 06 Apr 10 - 04:18 PM
PoppaGator 06 Apr 10 - 04:22 PM
Jack Campin 06 Apr 10 - 05:13 PM
Seamus Kennedy 06 Apr 10 - 05:36 PM
Artful Codger 07 Apr 10 - 01:06 AM
Seamus Kennedy 07 Apr 10 - 02:01 PM
Artful Codger 07 Apr 10 - 11:30 PM
Stower 08 Apr 10 - 04:03 AM
GUEST,CS 08 Apr 10 - 04:10 AM
Jack Campin 08 Apr 10 - 12:31 PM
open mike 08 Apr 10 - 02:22 PM
GUEST,Songbob 08 Apr 10 - 02:34 PM
Jack Campin 08 Apr 10 - 04:15 PM
Artful Codger 08 Apr 10 - 07:21 PM
Jack Campin 08 Apr 10 - 08:14 PM
Artful Codger 08 Apr 10 - 10:33 PM
mousethief 08 Apr 10 - 11:02 PM
open mike 09 Apr 10 - 03:29 AM
GUEST,Songbob 09 Apr 10 - 03:28 PM
GUEST,Bob L 09 Apr 10 - 04:14 PM
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Subject: Idioglossia
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 04:53 AM

Idioglossia

"Idioglossia refers to an idiosyncratic language, one invented and spoken by only one or a very few people. Most often, idioglossia refers to the "private languages" of young children,"

Listening to Lisa Gerrard (used to be in Dead Can Dance) and wondering yet again "What's that language she sings in?" so I looked it up, and so sez Wiki: "Gerrard sings many of her songs, such as Now We Are Free and Sanvean in a language of her own invention that she has developed since the age of twelve."

An example here: The Host of Seraphim


The only other band I can think of that does something similar is Cocteau Twins.

Any more?


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: maeve
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 05:52 AM

Many of Gordon Bok's songs and narrations use a private language. "Another Land Made of Water" contains many examples.

maeve


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 07:24 AM

Meredith Monk sometimes writes in gibberish.

I recently came by two CDs of music from the Damanhur neo-pagan religion, which is ritual and mythological texts in a language they made up. They're at http://www.damanhur.info or http://www.damanhur.org, but no samples of the music that I can see - it's okay but not all that distinctive.

Ted Hughes's "Orghast" was probably the highest-profile effort along these lines, funded by the Shah of Iran for a performance intended to attract an international jet-set audience. I now wish I'd bought the book when I had the chance, it's probably a collector's piece now.


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: bubblyrat
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 07:53 AM

"Adiemus" was all sung in Gobbledegook / Gibberish,as far as I know,and some "Deep Forest" offerings sounded a bit suspicious,too.
Of course,some of Cyril Tawney's works can be a bit baffling if one is not 'au fait' with Nautical Parlance.


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: olddude
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 08:26 AM

Malvina Reynolds "little boxes" gave us ticky tacky


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 08:43 AM

Another one:

Ligeti: Aventures (both that and its sequel "Nouvelles Aventures" are on YouTube, though I prefer the first-recorded performance on LP).

And the original:

Kurt Schwitters Dada poetry


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: Jeri
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 08:45 AM

Here is Sanvean (YouTube) sung by Lisa Gerrard, with a little bit on the creation of language.

I swear, this is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I know of, and it's all the more mysterious because of the language. English translation is on the CD.) I heard it on an episode of the West Wing, and it haunted me enough so I bought the CD.

Gordon Bok's language shares that same quality of feeling ancient rather than new.


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: DonMeixner
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 09:30 AM

Cirque de Soliel (sp) singers often use languages invented by the composers for theme of the show.

D


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 11:33 AM

Meredith Monk: Waa-hoos (Dolmen Music)

Better performed by her own group, though.


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: Artful Codger
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 02:34 PM

Not quite idioglossia, but one practice in liturgical music was to sing the texts using only the vowel sounds, not the consonants. I'm sure Jack can provide fuller information on the when and why.


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 02:41 PM

JackC: Hells, how difficult is that!? Crumbs...


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 02:57 PM

I hadn't heard of exactly that, but in the shape-note hymn singing tradition of the US it was considered sacrilege to use sacred texts in choir practice - you were only supposed to sing them for real. So they developed "fasola", singing all the hymns in sol-fa when they weren't actually in a church service.

I think. There are people here who know far more about that kind of music than I do.

The New Grove article "Notation" includes a sample of sol-fa notation for a hymn from the Church of the Lord Aladura, a Nigerian syncretistic Christian sect. They write their hymns out in a sort of code, with special pronunciations. It doesn't look like any human language but it comes out sounding like one. "Bow down before the King of Glory" is written "BIEURRAR", and a verse of the hymn goes:

LWWOJJTTAT GORRALLAL ABBULLAL
SAFFURRA AWWOJLLAL BLLULLAL
OSSAJJTTAT ALLOLLOL RABBLLAL
ALLOLLOTTAJJ WOJJTTAT BULLAL
                BURRAR.


(Text underlay for this, using ABC and representing both the words and the sol-fa, is something of a challenge, which is why I was interested in it).


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 03:16 PM

Crow Sister, was it the Ligeti you meant was difficult?

The baritone on the original LP was William Pearson, who also recorded Peter Maxwell Davies's "Eight Songs for a Mad King". He had studied with Roy Hart, who you can find on Wikipedia and at http://www.roy-hart.com/ . Pearson's voice had about the same range as a piano, or to be more precise, the range from the death agony of a brontosaur to a bat being castrated.

But the Wikipedia article doesn't come anywhere near telling the whole story, and neither does the official website. I once found a copy of the Roy Hart in-house fanzine. It seemed the only way you could really learn the Roy Hart approach was by moving into Roy's commune and having sex with Roy and everybody else in the house regardless of gender. I seem to have lost the fanzine at some point in the last 20 years and I kinda doubt if even the British Library has one. The only comparable organization I can think of was Otto Muehl's AA Model.


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: Stringsinger
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 04:11 PM

I hypothesize that many of the nonsense syllables in early American folk songs came from a bowdlerization of Gaelic. These were transferred into the early minstrel shows and wound up in Appalachia. Since these ringle-dingle-tang-king-kong-kitchey-ki-mee-o's had no real meaning, they may have been a form of idioglossia although I doubt whether they were used as a language for communication.


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 04:18 PM

There are a heck of a lot of rinky-doodle-toodee-oodum-dees in English folksongs from places where nobody has ever spoken Gaelic. I really doubt if there are more than one or two that started out that way.

I've never met with a folksong idiom that has more nonsense vocables than Kurdish. It has a quite unbelievable number of alternate ways to say "hey nonny no". But there seems to be no nearby culture they could have got that from.


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: PoppaGator
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 04:22 PM

One thing about idioglossia ~ nobody can criticize your diction!


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Subject: Idioglossia
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 05:13 PM

I dunno. 'On your CD you sang "mwalahee yabdallagoondoh" but just now you sang "mwalahee yabdallageendub" - which is right?'.

Decoupling the part of your speaking apparatus that makes noises from the part of your brain that makes sense puts you into an interesting state of consciousness. It's like there's some never-discussed taboo you're breaking. It's easy to see how doing it as a group ceremony (as holy rollers do when speaking in tongues) would be a bonding experience.


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 05:36 PM

Would the scat-singing of Ella Fitzgerald, or the lilting of some traditional Irish singers fall into the same category?


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: Artful Codger
Date: 07 Apr 10 - 01:06 AM

I was going to mention scat, but there is no secret language involved (in the sense of having grammar and systematic idea-utterance mappings), only use of syllables to create an articulated sound or to imitate other instruments.

Looking at my notes, I find that the consonant-less singing was part of a practice called "jubilus singing", a form of ecstatic singing in the Christian patristic period, where singers would improvise using words from sacred texts. "It is a certain sound of joy without words...it is the expression of a mind poured forth in joy..." (St. Augustine) I first learned about this from a recording of David Hykes, who combined it with overtone singing. There are quite a few samples of Hykes and his Harmonic Choir on YouTube. For instance, Brotherhood.


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 07 Apr 10 - 02:01 PM

Yodelling is scatting in falsetto, so that wouldn't count either?


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: Artful Codger
Date: 07 Apr 10 - 11:30 PM

Nope, unless it's a secret language for communicating with horses. ;-}


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: Stower
Date: 08 Apr 10 - 04:03 AM

Idioglossia is known among a very small number of identical twins, most infamous in a handful of cases where they use this to cut themselves off from the rest of the world, retreating into a kind of self-imposed linguistic prison - keeping others out, locking themselves in - which can then be used, in extreme cases, to commit crime.

I'm a little skeptical of some of the things on this page: (as it's sensationalist, to sell a crime book), but ... "Identical twins Jeff and Greg Henry were close as brothers could be, inventing their own language and often exchanging identities." There was another case (which I can't find on the web) of British identicial twin girls who invented a private language, refused to speak to even their own parents, murdered someone, and refused to communicate with any representatives of the law in their defence (I think I remember that accurately). A TV programme was made about them some years ago.

This page, on the case of identical twins Poto and Cabengo, has their father forbidding them to use their private language, as he wants them to become a part of society, not self-excluded from it. (Their language turns out not to be thoroughly original, though, but a mixture of mashed-up English and German - their parents were American and German.)

Which raises a related point. If one person creates a syntax, grammar, etc. for a language, and only that one person speaks it, is it really a language at all? Ludwig Wittgenstein thought not, and I'm inclined to agree. Words reach their meaning through the context in which they are used, and a sound only becomes meaningful by being used in community, by commuunicating something meaningful. If I say to you, "Wera con bogora sgog, puta monh jhytrew", have I communicated anything? Is there a community of people who have collectively and over time understood what these words should sound like when spoken and what they mean? No, of course not, I just made it all up, so it cannot be a language, since nothing is communicated, even if I privately decide what it means myself and develop it over a number of years.

Two people might just about be said to have a private language, if two people can be privately understood by each other. But one?


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 08 Apr 10 - 04:10 AM

"for a language, and only that one person speaks it, is it really a language at all? Ludwig Wittgenstein thought not, and I'm inclined to agree. Words reach their meaning through the context in which they are used,"

Hmm, did W refer to words developing meaning in context of a language, or language developing meaning in the context of the groups using that language? I thought it was the former, but maybe he discussed the latter too?


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 Apr 10 - 12:31 PM

What Wittgenstein was attacking was the idea of the mind as being full of unvocalized language, your thought processes being a continuous monologue in a sort of internal language which would occasionally get translated into outward utterances. The Private Language Argument was only one of several different approaches he took to showing that that theory didn't make a lot of sense.

His starting point (insofar as his later work has one) was the way language arises as a means of structuring more complex social interactions than a group of people could achieve without it - cooperating on a building job, in the first example in the Philosophical Investigations.

Idioglossic languages are different from the private languages envisaged by epistemologists, since they're often in principle teachable and hence only "private" in a very weak sense. (There is a deeply unpleasant example in Flora Rheta Schreiber's book "The Shoemaker", in which a paranoid schizophrenic killer forced his whole family to chant his own verbigerations derived from Latin Catholic ritual before going off to torture and murder a family chosen at random).


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: open mike
Date: 08 Apr 10 - 02:22 PM

have yu ever heard a song sung in pig latin...(ig-pay atin-lay)?

Steve Goodman did a song talking backwards....


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: GUEST,Songbob
Date: 08 Apr 10 - 02:34 PM

I'm sure I've read somewhere about various songs being translated into -- and performed in -- Klingon.

Am I wrong?

Bob


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 Apr 10 - 04:15 PM

Scots Songs in Klingon


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: Artful Codger
Date: 08 Apr 10 - 07:21 PM

Would Wittgenstein reconsider if the person had multiple personalities, some of which used the private language to facilitate communication?

Not just Klingon, also Esperanto (right, Haruo?)


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 Apr 10 - 08:14 PM

Wittgenstein was pretty sceptical of the idea that anybody had even *one* personality, let alone multiple personalities.

The cases of MPD I've read about, the personalities don't really communicate with each other. One just displaces another.

It just occurred to me that there *must* be video on the web of glossolalia - a YouTube search for that or "speaking in tongues" or terms relating to Pentecostalism ought to produce something. (Right now I'm on a computer that can't do YouTube). The only Pentecostalist I've heard doing it was also schizophrenic, and what he came out with wasn't a very convincing imitation of a human language. (Linguistic studies of "speaking in tongues" show that the speech produced uses a much more limited and stereotyped range of sounds than any real language).


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: Artful Codger
Date: 08 Apr 10 - 10:33 PM

I seem to recall from The Three Faces of Eve (?--the autobiography upon which the movie Sybil was based) that a number of her personalities were both cognizant of each other and interacted, though likely through a more internal/direct method of communication than internal or vocal speech. Other personalities were more isolated. This accords with other reading I've done on MPD and on brain function in general. We all have multiple personalities, to an extent, which kick in according to context and circumstances, though the barriers between them are generally weak enough that we mostly perceive ourselves as having only one. Short of spirit possession.

Didn't Bill Maher's film Religulous include a clip of some religious leader "speaking in tongues"? It was also unconvincing, but given the venue, what else would one expect?


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: mousethief
Date: 08 Apr 10 - 11:02 PM

I can speak in tongues -- an ability picked up back in my charismatic/pentacostal days (long since left behind). I left that religious milieu but the ability stayed on. So I can give a first-hand account, from the inside and from the outside, as it were.

From the inside: there is nothing 'ecstatic' about doing it -- no emotional change, no feeling of anything different. In that respect it's like scratching somebody else's itch -- I don't even feel it. But it's definitely not something that I am consciously doing, other than deciding when to stop and start. I'm not making any decisions about what noises come out; they seem to come of their own accord without any "help" from me. I've tried to "steer" the output toward different patterns, etc., but with marginal success. The flow of sounds appears to have a mind of its own. (I hope not literally!)

From the outside, so to speak, it sounds a lot like gibberish, with a lot fewer vowel and consonant sounds than English. There are patterns that repeat but I doubt that means anything. I certainly can't map any part of it onto any meanings -- it's all equally meaningless. I doubt the phenomenon means anything at all -- some bizarre pattern of random noise in the speech centers of the brain, perhaps left over from some unknown and unknowable use in our far-distant ancestors. Maybe it's something that some people can do and some can't, like rolling your tongue. It's certainly not a language and it makes no sense, at least to me, to conflate it with idioglossia.

I've heard that there are people outside the Christian religion who do what appears to be identical to "speaking in tongues" -- that's why I think it's a latent ability in the speech centers of the brain, that gets tapped into somehow by people in certain states of mind or such.


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: open mike
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 03:29 AM

on prairie home companion the sound effects guy often speaks as if he is speaking french or swedish, but it is just gibberish with an accent.


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: GUEST,Songbob
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 03:28 PM

The Swedish Chef on the Muppets show is an example of a language that isn't a language. I saw an improv troup once do a "foreign films without subtitles" where all the dialogue was invented using phonemes from the language in question, even English. That is, when they switched languages according to cues from the audience, English was as non-understandable as their French, German, Russian, or Urdu. They just used the phonemes, the syllable sounds, of the language in question, and it worked. They also used their acting ability to capture typical body languages and film styles within the made-up story (for example, the French part became a farce, the English a drawing-room murder mystery, the Russian piece very Chekovian, etc.).

My limited understanding of glossalalia is that people who 'speak in tongues' tend to do the same -- use the phonemes of their own language to speak gibberish. A German Pentecostal speaker would use the parts of his/her own language, rather than 'the tongues of men and angels,' which is what's mentioned in the Bible.

But this isn't idioglossia, is it? Gibberish and a private language are two different things.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Idioglossia
From: GUEST,Bob L
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 04:14 PM

Does an fictitious language, created for theatrical purposes, count? I'm thinking of the chorus of demons in Berlioz's "Damnation of Faust", or the Nubian slaves in his "Trojans". Or, come to that, Karl Jenkins' "Songs of Sanctuary", referred to earlier.

From a performance point of view, imaginary languages can give rise to interpretation problems: the demons are, simply, demonic and the (female) Nubians alluring, but have you ever tried singing Jenkins' piece as though the words meant anything?


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