Monday, July 10, 2006

Feelings! Doo-bee-doo-bee, FEEL-ings!

For some time, Mrs. Jana has been urging me to buy a Czech-English dictionary. “There’s a very good one with pictures,” she has said several times, with a meaningful look. To force the issue, this weekend she gave me a long list of incomprehensible verbs to match to an equally long list of incomprehensible professions (two have no perceptible vowels). No quick trip to the supermarket à la "fruit" listings solution was going to resolve this conundrum, so off I went on Sunday to remedy the gaping Czech-English-dictionary-shaped hole in my life.

Of course, communication isn’t just about language. Subtle things like tone of voice, context, gesture and facial expression are critical to human interaction. It’s vitally important to be sensitive to these little details and gestures as they can make such a critical difference to meaning. Blank, staring DeSalvo may be DeSirable on a romance novel cover but in real life it’s essential to understand the visual clues that indicate what’s going on inside a person’s mind.

Luckily the creators of Kapesní Slovník s vý slovností are not ones to shirk their duty, however tricky. They've included in their fine dictionary a handy one-page guide to the specific nuances of facial expression. Since I've found them very useful already this morning (especially scared/frightened/fearful) I’ve reproduced the images below. Much as the delicate twitch of an eyelash in a "Noh" drama can convey so much, the following masterful depictions of human emotion demonstrate the importance of the smallest detail when it comes to the portrayal of mood.







Edited to mess about with photo sizes and layout and so on. This blog design stuff is all a bit beyond my ken. Or even my barbie. Sorry as always if it causes hassle, but wouldn't you rather have the enhanced viewing experience?

5 comments:

fiveandfour said...

Is it just me, or does the expression for "joyful" bear some resemblance to that of Daffy Duck? I'm thinking more of the cartoon where Daffy rubs his hands (wings?) together in greedy glee and exclaims "I'm a happy miser!" in the Ali Baba spoof, but I couldn't find that particular expression to link to.

And "scared" and "surprised" bear a striking resemblance to any Dracula from any black & white movie from the early days of Hollywood. Which is kinda' appropriate, I suppose, now I think on it ;-).

Suisan said...

Attentive's eyes are about to pop out of his head! Why isn't that "Alarmed" or "Struck Dumb"?

EvilAuntiePeril said...

I've been alternating "Attentive" and "Joyful" all morning. For some reason, doing this seems to make people stutter. And many thanks for the hat-tip/link thing, Suisan. Much appreciated.

Fiveandfour, (hello btw) you may be onto something with the Daffy Duck thing - the resemblence is striking. And the more I look, the more I suspect his "surprised/scared" is strongly influenced by Bela Lugosi. Amazing the difference a simple hand movement makes...

RPC said...

... on a design note: bravo. You claim ignorance/innocence in this field, yet this post is a marvel on that level (the literary goes without saying, imho).

EvilAuntiePeril said...

Thank you for the compliment and reassurance, rpc. It took forever to fiddle with those stupid little .jpegs until the layout wasn't a complete hash. *breathes deep sigh of relief*