I’ve been thinking about the different ways human beings tell stories. I started a list, basing it on our senses.
Visual – painting, drawing, fiber arts, signs, movies/videos, writing (nonfiction, fiction, poetry, etc.), digital (internet, mobile devices, etc.), smoke signals, flag signals, maps, doppler maps, theater, objects (exhibits), sign language, cards (tarot, playing cards, etc.), tattoos, hieroglyphics, petroglyphs, cuneiform, numbers, alphabets, text messaging
Auditory – speech, recordings (audiobooks, podcasts, albums, etc.), music/song, rhythm, Morse code, radar/echo-location, movies/videos
Kinesthetic/Touch – dance, body language (gestures), sign language, braille, sculpture, sex, khipu
Smell – scratch-n-sniff stickers (Can we tell stories through smell?)
Taste – Babies put things in their mouths.
By the time I got to the end, it had turned into a list of the different ways we communicate with each other. (Anyone got ideas about how we communicate via smell and taste?)
This list led to several questions:
1) If a person was alone, would there be any need to communicate? With one’s self, perhaps?
2) If a person never learned language, what sort of thoughts would form? Would they be structured in any way, or just a series of sense impressions?
3) Why is so much of communication visual? (I think I can surmise the answer to this question.)
Along with questions, the list led to some observations.
1) There are two parts (at least) to communication: the content that’s being communicated and the vehicle for communicating that content. (I guess it would also help if there was someone on the receiving end of the communication.)
2) We have highly visual languages built of characters/lines/drawings, etc. These visual languages tend to be complex.
3) When it comes to auditory and kinesthetic languages, they tend to be reduced, compacted into limited symbols that can be recombined in infinite ways.
These are the first things I thought about my list, but they are by no means definitive. I’ve got a lot more thinking to do about the subject. In the meantime, I’ve added several links to my sidebar that refer to some of the languages that most of us don’t typically use. Some of the links are for translators, so you can have fun seeing how our standard written language is transformed into Morse code or braille or semaphore.