Friday, December 24, 2004

Communicating emotion

There are many human sounds that work across language barriers. When someone screams, for example. Many sounds aren't universal, and I'd like to make a list that works in Russia.

What is this sub-field called? Many of these sounds are even made by animals, although in that case their meaning is unverifiable in the normal sense. Try just making these emotive sounds without a sentence. Use 'meow', for example.

straightforward query
tentative query
tentative assertiveness
blustery frustration
blustery elation
quiet resignation
assertive, independent resignation
cautious assertion
cautious question
sigh of physical exhaustion
hopeless sigh
frustrated sigh, still hopeful
frustrated sigh, verging on hopeless
tone of regathering energies in face of exhaustion
tickled laughter
appreciative laughter
disbelieving laughter

I could go on. My question is whether these all work equally well across languages. I know many do. While this many not seem a alinguistic subject ... how often would we better be able to communicate if we understood this landscape as well as grammar & vocabulary? While it may seem like the territory of the mimic or the actor, just look at the range of expressions ... these are quite another dimension from vocabulary, and possibly as numerous.


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