Archive for Nonverbal communication

Apparently this is not an April Fool's joke

Comments (37)

Dogfood semiotics

A couple of days ago, the package room in the Quad sent me a notice of a FedEx delivery. I figured it was the antique toilet flush valve that I'd ordered, but when I went to pick it up, I discovered that someone had sent me a large, heavy carton of canned dogfood, maybe 70 pounds worth.

I don't have a dog, and had never visited the web site of the company that sent the order. But the order had my full name, correctly spelled, and my correct street address and zip code. So it didn't seem likely that I had ordered this stuff by mistake, nor that it had been delivered in error. A quick phone call to the company — amazingly, a real person answered immediately — verified that someone other than me had placed the order, using an apparently valid credit card associated with an address in Pittsburgh.

Internet fraudsters can be ingenious, and so I briefly wondered whether some convoluted identity theft scheme might be in play, maybe somehow part of mark.liberman.121's machinations? And then I thought of the horse-head-in-the-bed scene from The Godfather — the head for that scene was supplied by a dogfood company — did someone think that a FedEx delivery of the finished product would serve as a euphemistic version of a similar message? Nah, way too subtle to be effective.

But still, I wondered, is there some message that a large carton of canned dogfood, delivered by FedEx, could plausibly convey? And is there someone who would want to convey that message to me? Reflection on the contextual pragmatics of canned dogfood left me no wiser.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (11)

Now it's cows that use names (sigh)

According to a sub-headline in Full-Time Whistle, new scientific research has shown that "Cows and their calves communicate using individualised calls equivalent to human names."

How interesting. Cows have enough linguistic sophistication to employ the high-level device of personal naming? Let us delve into the details just a little, without moving away from the article itself.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments off

Body language

One of the best empirical studies of body language that I've ever seen appeared a couple of days ago in, of all places, the Wall Street Journal — Geoff Foster, "Reading Tiger's Body Language", 8/6/2013.

Perhaps more than any other golfer, Woods makes his emotions transparent on the course. You can immediately tell by his swagger when he's stroked a drive down the fairway. If he flubs one into the trees, you will likely see (or hear) his disgust before the ball hits a branch.

This inspired The Count to conduct an audit of the top-ranked golfer's body language. The goal was to provide fans with a Rosetta Stone of Tiger reactions—a handbook allowing those watching the PGA to know exactly what Woods thinks of his shots before anyone else does.

We watched more than 220 of Woods's shots from six different tournaments this year—the Masters, the Players, the Memorial, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, the U.S. Open and the British Open—and logged his reaction after each swing. Only tee shots and approach shots were evaluated (on putts and chips, the cameras tend to show the ball, not the player). The shots were then classified as "Good" (down the fairway/near the pin), "OK" (in the first cut/on the green but not close to the hole) and "Bad" (in the trees, the bunkers, the deep rough, etc.).

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (7)

Wordless traffic signs in China

On the blog "Mama's Got Wanderlust", the following sign appears without adequate explanation:

Before turning to the next page, Language Log readers are encouraged to try their hand at an explanation. Write down on a piece of paper what you think the sign means BEFORE you turn the page. Scout's honor!

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (69)