Kochetkova U.E. Influence of Philosophical and Aesthetic Concepts on the Description of the Acoustic Characteristics of Vowels (Late 17th – Early 20th Centuries)

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu2.2020.3.13

Uliana E. Kochetkova

Candidate of Sciences (Philology), Senior Lecturer, Department of Phonetics and Methods of Teaching of Foreign Languages, Saint Petersburg State University

Universitetskaya Emb., 11, 199034 Saint Petersburg, Russia

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https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1792-6064


Abstract. The article deals with the potential explicit or implicit impact of the cultural and scientific tradition on the way of thinking of the researchers in different epochs. The hypothesis is that aesthetic and philosophical thoughts may influence in some way the results of the scientific experiments. The paper follows the order of the research. It starts from the results of vowel acoustics measurements in 19th century and ends by finding their conceptual basis in works of the 17th century. Measuring vowel acoustic characteristics, researchers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in most of cases used various sets of tuning forks. The brightest, i.e. characteristic tone of a vowel was defined by ear. The results of such experiments showed that there were intervals of one or more octaves between characteristic tones of various vowels. Among different factors that may lead to such results, beside the circumstances of the experiment itself, we suppose cultural, scientific and philosophical tradition. The analysis of the works of the authors who first explored acoustic characteristics of vowels, showed that the philosophy and aesthetics of the 17th century may have influenced directly or indirectly the descriptions of vowels during the following centuries. The idea of the main vowels of the Adam Alphabet may have had an impact on the acoustic instruments, while the idea of harmony and proportion, essential in time of the Scientific Revolution, may be found in vowel system descriptions up to the beginning of the 20th century.

Key words: history of phonetics, vowel acoustics, characteristic tone, alphabet of Adam, tuning forks, philosophical concepts, scientific revolution, music notation.

Citation. Kochetkova U.E. Influence of Philosophical and Aesthetic Concepts on the Description of the Acoustic Characteristics of Vowels (Late 17th – Early 20th Centuries). Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 2. Yazykoznanie [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. Linguistics], 2020, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 144-154. (in Russian). DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu2.2020.3.13

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