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Language and Music as Cognitive Systems$
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Patrick Rebuschat, Martin Rohmeier, John A. Hawkins, and Ian Cross

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199553426

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199553426.001.0001

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Comments and a conjecture inspired by Fabb and Halle

Comments and a conjecture inspired by Fabb and Halle

(p.51) Chapter 6 Comments and a conjecture inspired by Fabb and Halle
Language and Music as Cognitive Systems

Ian Roberts

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides more comments on the discussion in Chapter 2. It begins by pointing out some fairly obvious and mostly well-known similarities between music and language, and specifically how aspects of Fabb and Halle's proposals reflect these. Observing, then, that the similarities between language and music appear to run quite deep, it speculates on what the reason for this might be. This leads to a brief introduction to the detailed conception of the faculty of language put forward by Hauser, Chomsky, and Fitch (2002). In terms of their approach, the chapter suggests that language and music have in common the core computational system: in other words, at root, the relation between these two human cognitive capacities is not one of similarity or shared evolutionary origin, as has often been suggested, but rather identity. Language and music differ in that the single computational system common to both relates to distinct interfaces in each case: most importantly, language has a propositional or logical interface which music does not have. Both the richness of the natural-language lexicon and the duality of patterning characteristic of natural language may be indirect consequences of this; hence music has a relatively impoverished lexicon and does not appear in any obvious way to show duality of patterning. The tentative conclusion is thus: natural language and music share the same computational system.

Keywords:   music, language, computational system, natural language, lexicon

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