Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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HTML Gesticulation

A <b></b> new direction.
  [vote for,

Research indicates that at least 55% or more of speech communication is non-verbal body language.

Obviously, 100% of written communication is non-verbal (non-vocal). You lose the singaling of body language, but you can <i>sort of</i> make up for it with formatting, punctuation, etc.

Those of us who do a lot of writing on-line have come to appreciate the ways in which HTML tags permit us greater freedom in expressing ourselves. Of course, not <b>all</b> sites allow us to implement the tags directly, but the naked HTML tags can nevertheless express the intended meaning to people familiar with them -- and there are more of such people all the time.

What I propose is a convention for non-verbal gesturing of HTML tags (or pehaps even punctuation marks? emoticons? etc.) to perform a similar function in spoken communication. It seems probable that these could be utilized for emphatic or ironic effect, much the way in the way "air quotes" have, with similar success.

nihilo, Jun 23 2006

Air Quotes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_quotes
[nihilo, Jun 23 2006]

other air punctuation Air_20Parentheses
along the same lines [nihilo, Jun 23 2006]

On non-verbal communication http://nonverbal.ucsc.edu/
[nihilo, Jun 23 2006]

Scare Quotes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scare_quotes
Something frightful in the air. [nihilo, Jun 23 2006]

Baby signs. http://www.handspea...p?kids=signbabysign
[nihilo, Jun 23 2006]


       There are ways to count in binary with your fingers, so we probably could make up ways to signal HTML with our hands. Or make up new gestures. Or just stick with the old ones. 100.
baconbrain, Jun 23 2006

       I think that those html coders that go along with the notion of separating content and presentation will go spare at this idea.   

       I'm not going to bone this idea, but to be honest I feel that the choice of language and punctuation should be used to convey the emotion of which you refer. I tend to think that more gesture functionality is just extra rope for the vocabulary-deficient to hang themselves with.
Jinbish, Jun 23 2006

       I am not too keen on emoticons for this reason, and they seem lazy. On occasion they can be employed when brevity is the only option.   

       However, text formatting serves a legitimate purpose in writing. If your audience is illiterate, text formatting does you little good. Likewise, it can be and has been argued that a robust vocabulary is wasted on the lexicographically-deficient. Orwell might disagree. I might concur with him.   

       But since most meaning (statistically) is conveyed non-verbally anyway, then enriching the palette of communication skills at your disposal could certainly be used to one's benefit. More people are likely to understand some sort of gesticular convention for "<b>" than know the meaning of the word "temerarious" (for example). In some ways, then, the former would be more powerful, by being more useful, and hence, valuable.
nihilo, Jun 23 2006

       // since most meaning (statistically) is conveyed non-verbally anyway// ... I'm just gonna give you a meaningful look.
moomintroll, Jun 23 2006

       Aren't emoticons just smiley faces in real life? An analogy got extended a little too far here, I'm sure... I know people who say "Lawl" instead of laughing. Some who say "da-da-da" for an ellipsis instead of just pausing. Some who punctuate their questions with "huh" (or "eh" for those Canadians among us), and even people who punctuate their exclamations with buzzwords like "Pow!". Most of the boldfaced, italicised, underlined, and otherwise embiggened text is simply referred to in vocal speech through the method of pitch, inflection, intonation, and emphasis of volume. I think we've simply invented html tags and other internet memes (such as the emoticon) to convey these emphatic gestures in "one-dimensional space". <i>Baked.</i> ;D
Ayelis, Jun 23 2006

       I would point out that I think [snarfyguy]'s Air Parentheses is meant to be an irony; and I thought that air quotes were used mockingly these days, as a parody of people that one imagines using air quotes...   

       On saying that, I understand where you're coming from [nihilo], and I'm all for expressive mechanisms. I wouldn't argue about the percentage of content of messages expressed in body language and other non-verbal methods - in fact, I thought it was greater (+80%).   

       I just happen to dislike myriad of graphical methods for expression on the web. Although I must admit that I, somewhat hypocritically, use the odd emoticon in instant messenger.
Jinbish, Jun 23 2006

       While <i>some</i> people may use air quotes to express irony, most people I have known to be its greatest proponents wouldn't know what irony was if it hit them over the air head. Most often they seem employed to express the same function as "scare quotes".   

       Personally, as a linguaphile, the more ways I have at my disposal to make my point, the better I like it. For this reason I enjoy reading and writing, as deeply and widely as possible. For this reason I visit <u>this</u> website (and others). For this reason I read the dictionary. For this reason I study foreign languages. For this reason I think it would be valuable to know sign language -- not for the frequency (or lack thereof) with which it would be useful, but for the insight I could gain into how the brain processes meaning, sociocultural communication issues, etc.   

       Now, if everyone learned rudimentary sign language -- in addition to their parent language -- as a child (as many educators suggest they ought to), think of the impact this would have on day-to-day communication. Would it stifle expressiveness, or enhance it? Would we be hindered by being able to express a greater degree and variance of meaning simultaneously? I don't think so at all. The astute reader will detect irony in a writer's words, just as the astute listener will in a speaker's speech. But imagine if a speaker could (as usual) express one meaning (or several) with his words (verbal language), another with his facial expressions (non-verbal), and yet <i>another</i> with a common convention of social gesticulation/ sign language simultaneously. Some might scoff that few people can have so much to say at once. I think the idea and the possibility is thrilling.   

       The suggestion of HTML gesticulation is just one tiny step in this general direction. Would it always be utilized to its fullest potential in the pursuit of human linguistic endeavor? Perhaps not -- the average English writer doesn't even know how to properly wield a semicolon. But I cannot imagine how it could prove ultimately useless. HTML is merely suggested as a vehicle because so many people are becoming independently familiar with (the rudiments of) it.
nihilo, Jun 23 2006


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