Thursday, August 30, 2007

Cleaning Up: Facial Expression and Gestures

I am in the process of cleaning my office from the spring and getting ready for the new fall semester. In doing so I have uncovered some gesture-related gems that could be of interest to visual anthropologist/sign language types.

(Image borrowed from The Daily Yomiuri, 8/16/07, p.3)

1. Hand signals used in on-floor trading at the Central Japan Trading Commodity Exchange Center in Osaka will be discontinued in favor of a new computer system. The gesture system, known as teburi, is 300 years old. Too bad... more visual culture disappearing. Read the whole story by clicking the link below.

Link to "Waving Goodbye to Hand Signal Trading"

The gestures representing numbers are similar to JSL (the gesture for 9 would be understood as 10 in JSL). The meaning of the gesture is different depending on whether the front or back of the hand is shown. Many examples of this can be found in JSL. JSL and teburi seem to be similar in that hand shape, orientation and movement determine meaning.

I am aware of other hand gesture systems in other types of trading. There is a secret gestural system for buying and selling fugu where bidders make a hand shape within a closed bag that needs to be felt by the auctioneer. Interesting stuff. If you know anything more about such hand gesture systems, please do share.

2. These are some interesting quotes from an exam by various students dealing with facial expression. In "The Body and Communication in Japan" class we discuss the importance of facial expression in daily conversation. We also study how to properly use facial expressions when doing Japanese Sign Language. In JSL, facial expressions not only convey emotion, but they can be seen as an important part of of the grammar.

Facial expressions [in Japan] are important because they are basically the irrasshaimase" of the human body.

Facial expressions are the welcome mat of a person.

A face is worth a thousand words.

Facial expression is like a lubricant of machines; if there is no facial expression, our conversation will be awkward because it really reflects our feelings in our minds.

OK. Back to work. Classes begin on September 3 ("panic" facial expression).

1 comment:

Nicole Resnick said...

Hey professor long time no talk...haha..i loved the new blog...i have a question you know the movie you should in class about the people being in cages and it was all an experimant? i was wondering if you could send me the title of it??