[LMB] Elise's sister's talk on fannishness
jasinikc at gmail.com
Tue Mar 18 15:13:00 GMT 2008
I forwarded this to my husband yesterday. We're half wondering if this sort
of thing might be causing some weird miscommunications we've been having
lately (with "mundanes", not each other). We were called something like
"intellectually intimidating" by someone who is both smarter, and better
educated, than either of us. Weird.
I must say, reading that made me more interested in attending a conference
than I've ever been before.
Does whoever wrote this object if I put it on my blog, with some of my own
On Fri, Feb 22, 2008 at 11:07 AM, Elvi Dalgaard <elvi at vl.videotron.ca>
> Sorry for the top-post, but as this is a forward it seemed appropriate...
> Not a link, but the message that contains a summary of the talk.
> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject: Re: [LMB] Mundane/fen body language (long)
> Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2006 08:15:39 -0700
> From: PAT MATHEWS <mathews55 at msn.com>
> Reply-To: Discussion of the works of Lois McMaster Bujold.
> <lois-bujold at lists.herald.co.uk>
> To: lois-bujold at lists.herald.co.uk
> >>>>snip down to actual summary<<<<
> >Cally Soukup <soukup at pobox.com> wrote in message
> >news:<7f5o9g$ft2$1 at wheel.two14.lan>...
> >This is my best effort at a summary of Karyn Ashburn's talk. I promised
> >to show it to her before I posted so she could make corrections or
> >additions. Since I emailed it to her sister Elise 10 days ago, I
> >I've fulfilled that promise. I haven't heard back from her yet, but
> >should she reply, I'll be sure to post whatever she has to say.
> >Minicon Panel Report (VERY long)
> >The best piece of programming I attended at Minicon was a panel, or
> >rather a lecture, by Karyn Ashburn, Elise Mattheson's sister. She is
> >a speech therapist, with lots of initials after her name, who works
> >with adult populations, many of whom are nonverbal or barely verbal,
> >and she isn't a member of fandom. As the sister of a member of
> >fandom, however, she's had an opportunity to observe us in one of our
> >native habitats when meeting Elise at conventions. And as a non-fan
> >and a person passionately interested in speech production, she's
> >noticed some common features in the way fans verbally communicate.
> >We were lucky in that she hadn't shown up for her panel at 5:00 on
> >Saturday, which would have been in a smallish function room and
> >restricted to only an hour. Instead she was rescheduled for after
> >closing ceremonies in the ballroom, so a large fraction of the
> >convention members had a chance to hear her. Because we wouldn't let
> >her leave, her talk ended up being about 2 1/2 hours long, but she
> >still left us with a lot of questions. I recommend her as a speaker
> >to any convention. The bare gist of what she said follows.
> >On those occasions when she showed up at a con to meet Elise, she saw
> >lots of fans in groups talking. To her they seemed angry and rude.
> >To Elise they seemed nothing of the sort. Observing them more
> >closely, she realized that they were using different social cues,
> >different body language, different eye contact, and even different
> >ways of forming vowels than what she jokingly called "my people", or
> >what for convenience sake I'll call mundanes. She hastened to say
> >she doesn't have a theory, or even yet much of a hypothesis for why
> >this may be (or a large enough sample size across populations to
> >prove that this is so), but she does have a lot of questions.
> >She also seemed quite concerned that we would feel offended by what
> >she had to say, but what she told us was so interesting, and often so
> >recognizably true, that I don't think anyone was. Of course
> >everything that I'm about to say is an overgeneralization; different
> >fans possess these traits to greater or lesser degrees.
> >First, the mechanics of actual vocal production, especially vowels.
> >The phonemes in the words "him" and "meet" are produced with the
> >tounge in various positions, and the lips stretched back. The
> >phonemes "uh" and "oh" are produced with rounded lips. This, at any
> >rate, is the case in mundania. Fans, she has noticed, push the
> >vowels forward; rounding the lips somewhat even for "ee" and "ih".
> >We use our lips a lot, but at the same time, we use our cheeks and
> >our chins not as often as would be expected. We stabilize the cheeks
> >and the chin, and we "prolabialize". (When, while sitting at a table,
> >I leaned my chin on my hands while talking to her, she became
> >uncomfortable. She can't do that easily; her chin moves more when
> >she speaks.)
> >Second, fans articulate more than mundanes. She had various of us
> >stand up and say things, and then repeated them in "mundane". When I
> >said the phrase "talk to", she pointed out that I had pronounced the
> >"k" on the end of "talk". Mundanes, she said, wouldn't. We
> >pronounce more of the terminal consonents in a phrase than a typical
> >mundane does. We are more likely than mundanes to pronounce the "h"
> >in "where", and the "l" in "folk". (She seemed to think it was
> >rather charming; that we were preserving old pronounciations, or
> >reinventing them from the way words are spelled.)
> >We also speak in larger word groupings between breaths. This does
> >not necessarily mean that we speak faster; we just pause for a
> >shorter time between words -- except where there is punctuation. She
> >pointed out that when Teresa Nielsen Hayden said she came from Mesa,
> >Arizona, Teresa actually pronounced the comma by putting a slightly
> >longer pause there, while most mundanes would simply run the words
> >together. Mundanes slur a lot of consonents that we pronounce
> >individually. We use punctuation in our spoken utterances.
> >Sometimes we even footnote.
> >What we say in those large word groupings is also different. We tend
> >to use complete sentences, and complex sentence structure. When we
> >pause, or say "uh", it tends to be towards the beginning of a
> >statement, as we formulate the complete thought. The "idea" or
> >"information" portion of a statement is paramount; emotional
> >reassurance, the little social noises (mm-hmm) are reduced or
> >omitted. We get to the heart of what we want to say -- if someone
> >asks us how to do something we tell them, not leading up to it gently
> >with "have you tried doing it this way?"
> >This leads us to body language. Our body language is also different
> >from mundanes. We tend to not use eye contact nearly as often; when
> >we do, it often signifies that it's the other person's turn to speak
> >now. This is opposite of everyone else. In mundania, it's
> >*breaking* eye contact that signals turn-taking, not *making* eye
> >contact. She demonstrated this on DDB; breaking eye contact and
> >turning slightly away, and he felt insulted. On the other hand, his
> >sudden staring at her eyes made her feel like a professor had just
> >said "justify yourself NOW". Mutual "rudeness"; mixed signals.
> >We use our hands when we talk, but don't seem to know what to do with
> >our arms. When thinking how to put something we close our eyes or
> >look to the side and up, while making little "hang on just a second"
> >gestures to show that we're not finished talking. We interrupt each
> >other to finish sentences, and if the interrupter got it right, we
> >know we've communicated and let them speak; if they get it wrong we
> >talk right over them. This is not perceived as rude, or not very
> >We accept corrections on matters of fact and of pronunciation; when I
> >asked her about whether fanspeak might be related to Asperger's
> >Syndrome, and mispronounced "Asperger's", I was corrected in
> >mid-sentence by the man sitting next to me, corrected myself, thanked
> >him, and finished the sentence. One Doesn't Do That in Mundania.
> >Fans understand that mispronouncing words one has only read is very
> >common in fandom, and not mortally embarrassing.
> >When we make a joke, we don't do a little laugh in the middle of a
> >word to signal that it's funny; we inhale and exhale a very fast,
> >short breath at the end of the sentence, rather like a suppressed
> >beginning of a laugh, or a kind of a gasp.
> >She didn't get much into why this is all the case (I think she was
> >surprised at the laughter when she suggested diffidently that we
> >might be a bit under socialized. No, really?? <grin>), and turned
> >away questions about possible pathology. While more comfortable with
> >us now, I suspect she was probably still worried about offending us.
> >She did suggest that many of the common features of fanspeak seem to
> >be related to thinking in "written English".
> >The day before, while waiting for her sister to show up, Elise had
> >suggested that perhaps the overuse of the lips and underuse of cheeks
> >and chin had come from very small children wanting to communicate
> >complex ideas to grownups; the facial muscles still being
> >underdeveloped, the easiest way to articulate would be to concentrate
> >on the lips, holding the cheeks and chin still as a way to reduce the
> >complexity of word formation.
> >I hope others who were at the panel can expand upon what I've
> >reported, especially the parts I may have ommited. It truly was the
> >most interesting lecture or panel I've ever attended, and I can't
> >recommend her too highly if you can convince her to speak at a
> >convention you're involved with. It would both give her more test
> >subjects and us more cool information <grin>.
> Lois-Bujold mailing list
> Lois-Bujold at lists.herald.co.uk
Facts are stubborn things, but not nearly as stubborn as fallacies.
More information about the Lois-Bujold