Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Language Part 3

I know people who use language to mark their territory.

They make noise to claim space.

It can be very irritating. Since part of the space they are claiming seems to include me, and snippets of song and random comments and the periodic insistance that I stop what I'm doing and look at them even though what they've done is come into my office and sung, I dunno, part of the Green Acres theme song and then laugh because they think it's funny doesn't feel near as entertaining to me as it does to them. (That's a hypothetical, no one has ever actually come into my office and sang the theme song to Green Acres.)

But I think part of the point is that it is about them and not someone else.

It's communication at its most basic. 'I am in control of this space.' It's as fundamental as pheremones. One of the things that silentmeow's humming does, although I think unintentionally, is fill space.


Blogger David Moles said...

This is why I'm so glad my basically inoffensive officemate is in Munich this week and moving to another department next week.

February 07, 2007 5:43 AM  
Blogger Erin O'Brien said...

How about the theme song to "Petticoat Junction?" Is that better?

February 07, 2007 4:19 PM  
Blogger Karen Sandstrom said...

Such an interesting topic. I have never thought of vocalizations as a way of marking territory, but your post makes me think of the Office Whistler. We used to have two of them. One retired. It is impossible to ignore either one of them, and it's completely irritating. And you're right - it's like pissing on a tree. (You said it more elegantly, of course, which you always do.)

February 07, 2007 8:01 PM  
Blogger Maureen McHugh said...

tually, Karen, I kept wanting to saying pissing on a tree, but couldn't bring myself to do so.

This morning, Bob left for work without waking me. I was consternated when I woke a few minutes after he had left and went looking for him because I hadn't heard him. He said he was extra quiet because he had read my blog.

Except Bob isn't one of the people I was thinking about when I posted and now I want HIM to go back to making noise again.

Erin, Petticoat Junction is right out. But if someone could somehow do the theme song to Six Feet Under, that would be cool. I love that theme song.

February 07, 2007 8:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

..and six months from now, when every person that you meet that has read this blog whistles and hums the theme to Six Feet Under to please you, you might change your mind.

Arnold Ziffle

February 07, 2007 9:46 PM  
Blogger Maureen McHugh said...

Oh, God. Arnold, that is scary.

Of course, it is hard to whistle.

February 07, 2007 9:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arnold Ziffle was the pig on Green Acres. I was hoping that someone would pick up the reference.


February 08, 2007 9:55 AM  
Blogger gordsellar said...

Lucky for you I can't whistle.

There's another very interesting thing that I noticed when watching Silentmiaow's video... her vocalizations sound, as someone noted, "like Sigur Ros" for a reason.

Pulled out the flute and it turned out that the notes she was singing (B, C, B, A, G, F#, E, G, F#, but for a lot of it, just the first few notes) nearly all come from a B Phrygian mode, or maybe F# Locrian, depending on which one you choose as the focus. (There's no hard and fast rule, but a modern musician might opt for the B Phrygian, since F# is conveniently the fifth, and since the modes are the same. A medieval, I'm guessing, might choose the same since she *starts* up at B.)

Which makes me wonder about whether our predilection for modal structures (not diatonic music, just modes) might exist on such a deep level she shares it with us, even despite other cognitive differences. Hmmmm.

Thanks for posting on the subject... fascinating stuff.

February 10, 2007 2:32 PM  
Blogger mary grimm said...

I definitely picked up the the Arnold reference: love the Ziff.

February 11, 2007 6:07 PM  
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