Thursday, July 28, 2005

Ah-oo, werewolves of London

School's out for summer and I've got my ten year old niece staying for a few days. Last time she came we watched School of Rock, and now we're working our way through a special iPod playlist as we drive here and there in the karaoke car. I'm teaching her the lyrics of really daft songs, especially ones with lots of "oos" and "woos". We're Gladys Knight's Pips doing the train noises on Midnight Train to Georgia. We're doing lupine howls to Warren Zevon's Werewolves of London. And we were doing do-do-do-doos with Lou Reed on Walk on the Wild Side until I remembered what the bits in between the chorus actually say...

So imagine my delight to find discussion of exactly this in today's Guardian. The article gives a shedload of examples from a wide range of musical styles and genres, and gets all quite language focused in places. First there are the words used to describe 'nonsense' in music, the sounds made when wordless singing is occurring - scat, doowop and an interesting suggestion of a new term 'rockolalia' (check that suffix out...). Then the writer explores the huge range of meanings that can be conveyed by the single simple 'word' - la.

But oh no, what's this?! At the end of the article the writer describes the use of these lyrical noises as "childlike" and "capable of bridging gaps and warming hearts". You don't think we're into some weird territory here where even the hardest thrash guitar bands are just desperately trying to hark back in their language use to baby babbling?!...

See what you all started?!... Now I can't stop thinking about child language acquisition...

La-la land

Stages of language acquisition in children
(Check out 'canonical babbling' and compare with sounds made in song lyrics!)


At 5:16 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fantastic resource Julie. Thanks for doing this, you've just made my life a whole lot easier.


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