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Sound and Noise in Sonic Environmental Studies: Comparing Word Meaning in Discourses of Community Noise and Soundscape Research

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Since R. Murray Schafer's musical concept of soundscape started influencing scientific communities of acousticians in the 1970s, part of the Community Noise research has shifted its focus from noise pollution and annoyance to a more holistic perspective on sonic environments, including their positive aspects. To investigate if and how this evolution is represented in the literature of the field, the discourses of two scientific fields in acoustics are compared: the older Community Noise and the more recent Soundscape field. Specifically, the differential use of two key words (Noise and Sound) is analyzed based on the hypothesis that their meanings, which are constructed in discourse, reflect the conceptual grounding of both fields. An algorithm from computational linguistics is applied to calculate the similarity of words according to their use in a local syntactic context. It is shown that Noise and Sound are differently distributed within the discourses of both fields, thereby making explicit the semantic and conceptual differences between a noise pollution approach and a soundscape approach, which includes a more holistic concern about the quality of sonic environments and acoustic design.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2013

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  • Acta Acustica united with Acustica, published together with the European Acoustics Association (EAA), is an international, peer-reviewed journal on acoustics. It publishes original articles on all subjects in the field of acoustics, such as general linear acoustics, nonlinear acoustics, macrosonics, flow acoustics, atmospheric sound, underwater sound, ultrasonics, physical acoustics, structural acoustics, noise control, active control, environmental noise, building acoustics, room acoustics, acoustic materials, acoustic signal processing, computational and numerical acoustics, hearing, audiology and psychoacoustics, speech, musical acoustics, electroacoustics, auditory quality of systems. It reports on original scientific research in acoustics and on engineering applications. The journal considers scientific papers, technical and applied papers, book reviews, short communications, doctoral thesis abstracts, etc. In irregular intervals also special issues and review articles are published.
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