Sunday, December 2, 2012

A touch of gender in (haptically anchoring) English vowels

Image: Wikipedia
Image: Wikipedia
Grammatical gender is a prominent feature in many romance and germanic languages. In some cases there is a correlation between it and masculine or feminine attributes but it is as often as not just random. 2011 research by Slepian, Weisbuch of the University of Denver, Rule of the University of Toronto, and Ambady of Tufts University, summarized by Science Daily, ends in this "touching" conclusion: "We were really surprised . . . that the feeling of handling something hard or soft can influence how you visually perceive a face . . . that knowledge about social categories, such as gender, is like other kinds of knowledge -- it's partly carried in the body."

Ya think? Subjects basically held something tough or "tender" as they were asked to make judgements on the gender of people in pictures, and, not surprisingly the texture of the object affected their "gender detector," or something to that effect. As noted in earlier posts, in the EHIEP system, each vowel type as it is articulated is designed to be accompanied by a distinct sign-like touch that has very distinct texture. (See also earlier posts on the neurophysiological correlates of textural metaphors.) Turns out we may have unwittingly created masculine and feminine vowel anchors! No wonder they work so well!
  • When marking/anchoring stress in words or phrases, (a) use rough GUY-touch for lax vowels in isolation or before voiceless consonants, (b) use tender/static GIRL-touch for tense vowels in isolation or in secondary stressed positon in words or phrases, (c) use gouging/dynamic GUY-touch for diphthongs and tense vowels + off-glide, or (d) use tender/dynamic GIRL-touch for lax vowels in stressed syllables before voiced consonants.  
  • When marking/anchoring  the prominent syllable in a tone or intonation group, use smooth/gentle/flowing GIRL-touch!
  • When marking/anchoring syllables in groups, use gentle tapping GIRL-touch!

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