- Paperback: 140 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (July 8, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0943549523
- ISBN-13: 978-0943549521
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,346,299 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Gods of the Word: Archetypes in the Consonants
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About the Author
Margaret Magnus is a programmer and computational linguist with SDL International. She has written several commercial natural language software products, as well as some web sites about how the sound of a word affects its meaning.
Top customer reviews
Only negative: occasionally Margaret Magnus waxes mystical but the technical information and practical applications are still spot on.
I would also second another reviewer that it's unfortunate that references to mysticism are present. But having said all that, I would reiterate that the first sections of the book are at any rate worth reading. One might usefully supplement it by going to John Lawler's website at the University of Michigan, where seminal papers are available that come at the material from a different direction.
This small, lovely book is for people who love words, books, a turn of phrase; folks whose hearts can resonate with the throb of a well-crafted poem. Its design- look, feel, and sound- is elegance itself. If you are the sort of person who is happiest when submerged in words, this book is a salve to the heart, an inspiration to the mind, and a confirmation to the spirit, which always Knew there was something more to words than the dry bones they taught you about in school.
For they will have discovered the underlying phonosemantic structure of inherent meaning in the arbitrary connections between the signifiers and signifieds of their language.
In psychoanalysis and intellectual history, the selected fact is ignored until the anxiety it provokes can be tolerated, and insight (new paradigm) achieved. 2400 years ago, Socrates said in Cratylus that sounds and words are imitations of the essence of their referents. It seems no one got around to testing this theory until Margaret Magnus.
In this book you will learn that monomorphemic (single-syllable) words tend to reduce to a relatively small number of meaning groups (concepts), defined by their phonemes (sounds), and tend to cluster in related groups of meanings. Each phoneme has its own underlying related concepts (or pre-conceptions) which cluster and are different in meaning and direction from other phonemes. The inherent meanings of phonemes interact with the more arbitrary connections between words and what they mean (reference). Inherent phoneme meaning varies between languages but often points to the same underlying concepts.
These are the subterranean "Gods of the Word" that speak through us.
This book is both scientific and spiritual. It offers a testable hypothesis about material reality (provable at home in three hours or less) that calls into question basic assumptions about language, meaning and communication that have been scientific (academic) dogma since de Saussure and responsible for both the shaping and subject of much of twentieth century "discourse." It is spiritual because it points to a realm beyond the arbitrary connections of material reality, to an underlying world of inherent meaning, where sounds and letters and words have essential, formative and poetic capabilies.
The ultimate value of Gods of the Word lies in its capacity to link these two worlds and viewpoints by showing their intimate connections in language. It should open doors in a number of directions.