Sunday, January 29, 2012

The "Rhythm method": a piece of cake

One of my early heros was Louis Hjelmslev, originator of the linguistic theory or model called, Glossematics. It laid the foundation for structuralist work in semiotic network-based models, which have since morphed into contemporary frameworks of mind and brain. His book, Prolegomena to a Theory of Language (published the year I was born!), had--and still has--a major influence on how I look at language production from the perspective of the learner. Hjelmslev's central epistemological principle was that of the "glosseme," the minimal meaningful unit of analysis in describing a language system. In phonology, for example, it was the phoneme; in semantics, the 'cememe'; in grammar, the morpheme, etc.

In other words, within an experiential system, you focused initially on the "sign" (in the semiotic sense of an icon that has independent meaning and point back to something.) In another type of analysis, even on the same data, that might not be the place you begin your analysis, but it was acceptable from a functional perspective. (I am grossly oversimplifying this . . . but glossematically . . . that is probably ok?)

My point here? In HIPC/EHIEP work, the key organizing principle, as noted two post earlier, is grammar/rhythm grouping of the words that are being haptically anchored. The best analogy I have come up with, and I welcome your recommending a better one, is a piece (or slice) of cake. In this sense:
(a) We begin with defining the mood of the spoken discourse--what kind of cake is this?: What is the emotional felt sense of the speakers. If it is as simple classroom exercise, we might term it "business-like" or "boring to the extreme."
(b) We identify the prominent words or syllables--what will be it's visual features or distinct "flavors"
(c) We mix the ingredients and bake the cake: We read it over quickly to get the story or narrative.
(d) We cut out a piece of it, each piece containing one prominent syllable or more,
(e) We examine the prominent syllable more carefully and anchor it for vowel quality.
(f) We practice/anchor the piece, by itself, focusing on rhythm and the prominent syllable.
(g) We add on the analog "wave" contour (intonation contour) that is contained by the boundaries of the piece.
(h) We add on any necessary additional expressiveness--in the form of dynamic pitch changes.
(i) We go back to a rhythm focus, blending all the ingredients back together, still staying centered on the prominent syllable(s).
(j) Finally, we shrink-wrap the piece and all others in the sentence or conversational turn, haptically compressing all the syllables but the prominent one--into more natural, native-like pace or speed.

Like I said . . . it is just a piece of cake. 

1 comment:

Karen said...

The cake looks good and fits the bill (no pun intended) for the analogy...just wondering about it following the last posting of FATuous! Would various types of salads work...with lettuce or pasta or potatoes or beans or...being the anchor and the other ingredients adding flavor (the expressiveness)to each forkful (i.e. feta cheese, pecans, or whatever special item one gets in that bite)?

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