Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Love is Universal, It's Sound is NOT

Makin' it is pretty universal. Universal to humans, anyway - who know what's going on out there in space beyond our view, but we humans have evolved complementary happy parts that are common to pretty much all of us, and we all pretty much use them in the same way, no matter where we're from, be it Peru or Pyongyang.

internationally celebrated

What is not universal, though, is how we vocalize gettin' some. It totally changes from country to country! This answers an age-old question for me, namely why dubbed porn is so bad (the link is in German and fully clothed, but is also from porn, so I'm going to label it NSFW just in case!). This information was brought to us thanks to research out of University College London.

A psychologist named Paul Ekman is credited with determining that humans express six basic emotions - anger, fear, sadness, happiness, disgust and surprise - with facial expressions that are recognizable to any other human. UCL was looking to find if vocal expressions of some of these, as well as some other, basic emotions are also universally understood.

he'll show you surprise...

Researchers recorded British subjects making the sounds of achievement, amusement, anger, disgust, fear, relief, sadness, sexual pleasure and surprise. They then played the recordings to members of the Himba tribe in northern Namibia, and asked them to identify what the noises were expressing. The Himba were also recorded and played for British subjects.

Many of the sounds were understood (especially laughter, which totally gives me warm and fuzzies), but the sound of sexual pleasure was the hardest to identify for both groups (you can hear examples of the recordings here). For something we all do, we apparently let each other know about it in very different ways.

these subjects apparently speak Himba and got the message loud and clear

I am more than willing to bet that one major difference in the expression of sexy feelings can be attributed to the fact that in England, most kids sleep separately from their parents, leaving mom and dad free to get as vocal as they want. In Namibia, though, along with most of the world, children and adults often share sleeping quarters, which means the 'rents need to be a bit more discreet when doin' it. This also negates the idea that incidentally witnessing sex scars children for life, but that's a different post.

I would love to hear from anyone who has experienced culture shock when having sex with someone from a land not their own. Spill it, travelers!!

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