Just like many buildings both today and in the golden age of architecture, acoustics are an integral part of the construction of a building. The word acoustic itself comes from the Greek word “akoustikos.” Early examples of acoustically designed architecture date back to the Greek and Roman empires. The Romans would build their amphitheaters with acoustics in mind, so that everyone could hear the plays being performed.
It wasn’t until the 19th century that acoustics would be studied in depth with a great deal of vigor, however. The great German mathematician Hermann von Helmholtz consolidated the field of study for acoustics, which was later expanded upon by English thinkers.
Now what does all of this have to do with words? Well, just like the acoustics of architecture, words themselves are often created with certain sounds in mind. Yes, even words can be constructed in such a way so as to elicit certain reactions from readers, listeners etc. For example, consider the German and French language. German is often thought to be an “angry” language, while French is a “language of love.” How can people think this? Languages are all used to do the same thing: communicate. So how can it be that two languages are viewed so differently from one another?
There are entire disciplines of linguistics that are dedicated to the study of these questions, but the short answer is acoustics. In the study of aesthetics, some sounds are associated with different feelings than others. Just as words like were and was meanings are different to those who read them, different sounds have different meanings when you hear them.
One need not even get abstract or theoretical about the concept of acoustics in language. Consider the art of singing. You may have never notice this when listening to your favorite singer, but while singing, you do not sing consonants. This is because the human vocal cords cannot reverberate the sound of a consonant.
Another classic example of the value of acoustics in language is the study of poetry. Many different poetic styles rely exclusively on the idea that certain words and phrases can produce different effects on the reader. The meter at which words are spoken, where, when, and how often to rhyme words, this all factors in to the conversation of linguistic acoustics. Understanding the confusion between were and where might be irrelevant when you are simple looking for the sound that is produced by saying these words.
All of this is to show you that the concepts behind a sound architectural design are not limited specifically to the study of architecture. Acoustics, while being essential to the construction of any building are not limited to that only; they can be found all across academic disciplines, from physics to literature. Each and every word has a specific reason for why it has come to be, and how words function grammatically oftentimes has to do with an an architectural influence. The arm of architectural reach is long reaching and bridges divides all across modern and classical academia.