[livejournal.com profile] ozarque has been doing a series on sense-dominant language which I've been thinking about for the last couple of weeks. She's also (rightly) been pointing out that there is a lot less touch-dominant language than there is other language.

Sense dominant language is language that uses one specific sense to the exclusion of others (e.g. "I hear what you say" is auditry language, while "I see what you mean" is visual language).

My problem with this approach is that I am not aware that I am particularly sense-dominant for any of the three listed senses*. Instead, each sense has a different meaning and set of associations for me.

Sight is the sense of the predator. It is long ranged, detailed, and often has a narrow focus, removing the wider surroundings from understanding. It is also limited to line of sight.

Hearing is the sense of the prey. It is long ranged, can hear round corners, and is overall a much broader sense but less precise (or possibly what you hear is less static) than vision. It applies in any direction, warns me when people are approaching, but I can get much less specific information out of it. It is also a much more passive sense than sight - you move your eyes, but not your ears. (And I've been told about active listening, but not active seeing).

Touch is the intimate sense. I only want people touching me if they are already relatively close to me. It is probably more precise than vision, and is the most intense of the senses, but has no range to speak of (yes, I can feel something hot if it's not touching me - but by the standards of sight this range is negligable). Note that just because it is the intimate sense doesn't mean that it is pleasant or nice - the scalding hot drink isn't pleasant, and the feel of my enemy's skull as I crush it beneath my feet is hardly nice. (Although just how unpleasant depends which side you are on).

The three senses are therefore different, and I consequently use them for different purposes. When I use visual metaphors, it is to indicate clarity (or occasionally complete lack of clarity where it should exist), understanding (for the same reasons as clarity), and activity. Where I use auditory metaphors, it is to indicate broad perspectives, lack of detail, passivity, waiting, and something I can't quite reach. When I use tactile metaphors they are usually to indicate intimacy, passion, understanding, and intensity. I also find an overuse of tactile metaphors sometimes to be uncomfortable because it indicates a greater level of intimacy than I find appropriate. I believe that this is the reason that formal language has fewer tactile metaphors than colloquial language - the distance is greater.

* This does not quite correlate with learning styles - I'm a kinasthetic learner.



November 2012

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