In a meeting the other day I heard a colleague say something that was either the first of these or the second:
A good test of whether a course is coherent in its content is whether we can give it an aim.
A good test of whether a course is coherent in its content is whether we can give it a name.
Either would make sense: it is surely reasonable to say that a course is coherent if and only if you can say what its goals are. To say that you want to give students an understanding of basic articulatory and acoustic phonetics seems like a goal, whereas to say you thought you might just expose them to a miscellaneous ragbag of bits and pieces about language, society, culture, and brain anatomy seems aimless. And it also seems reasonable to say that a course is coherent if and only if you can name it in a concise, appropriate, and memorable way: "Basic Phonetics" is a good name for a course, while "A miscellaneous ragbag of bits and pieces about language, society, culture, and brain anatomy" is surely not.
Phoneticians have long used the pronunciation contrast between an aim and a name to illustrate the puzzling phenomenon known as juncture. The sequence of segments involved in the two phrases would appear to be exactly the same: first the unstressed vowel known as schwa, then the alveolar nasal [n], then the diphthong heard in the word day, and finally the bilabial nasal [m]. So how come you can ever hear the difference (which it seems intuitively that you sometimes can)? Are word boundaries or syllable boundaries audible, in addition to segments? And if so, why is the difference fragile, so that in relaxed or rapid speech it can disappear? The puzzle is an interesting one, involving timing, and subtle matters of consonantal articulation and syllabification, and it has no clear and simple solution.
It was interesting, after encountering an aim and a name cited so often in elementary linguistics courses and texbooks, to be in a situation where an actual utterance demonstrated their near-homophony, and given the style of speech used, the nonlinguistic context did not suffice to resolve the ambiguity.
(It turned out that my colleague agreed that a course should have an aim, but had been intending to say that it should also be possible to give it a suitable name: it was a bad sign if given the content no suitable name suggested itself.)