Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The sound of a footfall

Imagine cows at night, getting up to stretch. If a strange footstep was heard they would all be on alert but the sound of each other's footfalls is normal and well known. I do not doubt that animals use the sound of their own footfalls to alert others. I bet they "scuff" on purpose. I believe this is still present in the slouching and casual step of a person in loafers. So also the click of more official heels.
This is certainly not verbal but does it partake of the "discrete"? I mean can the notion of a footfall communication be isolated from a continuum of sounds? You could ask the same about facial expressions: can they be isolated? Ask a cartoonist. I am guessing they can.
Also, the earlier examples of non-verbal sounds like sniffs and yawns.
The point is that language concepts exist outside of language. Whether they retain the kind of discreteness characteristic that one would expect of words or whether  they exists in a continuum is unclear.
Update: it is not necessarily the discreteness that is important. Ask: "does it partake of communication?". Then if there is an interplay between discreteness and communication: let that be determined.

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