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Sappho’s missed communications

The premise of the study is that poets strive in their communications to convey meanings that are intensely personal to themselves, in language which is communal. The concept of love was chosen as exemplar as this is perhaps the most human of emotions, universal in experience and traditionally supposed therefore to be so in language. The study indicates the discontinuities that exist within cognition of the concept, however, synchronically and diachronically as demonstrated by the poetry of Sappho. Although theoretically a poet’s communication is accessible to readers through a shared language, authors’ and readers’ experiences of that language are embedded in phenomena which, at their most intensely personal level, are mutually irreconcilable.

KEYWORDS: Sappho, qualia, categorisation, metaphor, value orientations, communications, semantic framing, cognitive linguistics

Brian Bebbington. Director of Research and a member of the Board of the South African Institute of Management. Has published, consulted and lectured at MBA and post-graduate level in Business Management for over 40 years in South Africa and Nigeria. Currently Tutor in Business Strategy and International Management at the Netherlands Business School. Holds a BA in English Language and Literature, a BA Hons in Russian, a BA Hons in Linguistics, and a MA in Business Administration. Current interests include the western model of business, and the cognitive structure of concepts. Has published critical essays on English and Russian literature and analyses of English and African folk music. Currently completing a thesis on Sappho for the degree of Doctor of Literature and Philosophy with the University of South Africa.


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