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William Cockin

(1736—1781) schoolmaster and writer


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William Cockin was born at Burton, near Kendal, Westmorland, and died in Kendal. A teacher and mathematician, he also wrote on religious issues and free will, and on language. The Art of Delivering Written Language (1775) is dedicated to David Garrick, suggesting that they were acquainted. In this work, Cockin examines both speech and written language as forms of expression. He classifies two kinds of speech: that which expresses sentiments original to the speaker; and that which repeats sentiments which have been expressed to the speaker. The two corresponding classes of speakers, ‘original speakers’ and ‘repeaters’, use language in different ways. The former draw more upon nature, and the latter from art: mimicry is the form which ‘repeaters’ use to make themselves sound more like ‘original speakers’. From this basis, Cockin goes on to discuss speech in drama and the theatre generally.

From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.


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