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Re: OT: Asking for help (was Re: OT: "Science is interesting; if you don't agree, you can fuck off.")

From:Sai Emrys <sai@...>
Date:Saturday, November 17, 2007, 3:01
On Nov 16, 2007 6:46 PM, Herman Miller <hmiller@...> wrote:
> Another aspect of having big eyes is that facial expressions might end > up being easier to read (one reason for the Wind Waker style of Zelda, > as in the recent Phantom Hourglass game). On the other hand, big eyes > leave less room for muscles to move the eyes, and you could end up with > an unreadable owl-like expression. > > It's possible that their ears are more mobile than humans', which could > add to their facial expressiveness. Pheromones might also be involved.
FWIW, eyes as such are only? a minor aspect of human "facial expression"; it's more accurate to say that big eyes are one of the features of babies, and by extension they make things look cute. They convey two things: pupil dilation (roughly, more dilation = more interest) and fixation (what you're looking at tends to be what you care about). More important in humans - here I'm citing the work of Paul Ekman, which I strongly recommend reading if you're at all interested in this - are the muscles around the eyes that make "crows' feet", cheek muscles, eyebrow and forehead muscles, and various muscles to shape the mouth. The latter however aren't all that good for empathy, 'cause people are very good at faking smiles with their mouths - so it'll tell you what their affect is, but not necessarily their emotion. Of course, if you've got your own species, then this may not necessarily hold. Our ears are not significantly mobile so don't carry much info; our hair / fur isn't very obvious; and TTBOMK pheromones have yet to be proven to actually be perceptible. (Pheromone-based communication would also have some "interesting" features, given that it's gradual, spherical, not usually personally marked, not marked for recipient, suffusive, long-lasting [vs. speech and sign at least!], etc...)
> Hmm... Tone and duration are phonemic in at least some Zireen langs (but > that's no different from Human languages). Maybe there are Zireen langs > with even more distinctions than what human languages commonly use.
Well, think about the ways in which we can convey emotion (and the various hypothetical "free variation"s) other than through sheer pragmatics. Suppose all that was actually grammatical? What might it carry?
> Caves are also full of tight places to hide in, and there are dragons > adapted to many different environments besides caves. There are dragon > equivalents of pretty much the whole order Carnivora, plus small > bat-like dragons and aquatic crocodile-like dragons. > > Even though caves are where their distant ancestors sheltered and made > their homes, they'd probably spend more time outside gathering food, so > they still would have relied primarily on vocal communication.
*nod* Take a serious look at signing too. Maybe even a cross-modal signing+speaking (i.e. both required at once) language? David Peterson and Donald Boozer come to mind offhand as people who've done signed conlangs. - Sai


Herman Miller <hmiller@...>Asking for help