complexifying nonverbal language

recently i met Eva in a theatre in Berlin. amongst other things she learned sign language! since this is on my learn-someday-list (together with piano!) i asked into it and she told me about the existence of sign language choirs, which i am completely intrigued by :)

so here is how this looks like: (these are students from an american sign language choir college!) :


now what i find so fascinated by this is when seeing it from an angle of possible abilities/patterns to pull into the social space to build new evolutionary capacities, as i was pointing to in the last graphic of my previous post.

thinking about nonverbal conversations in sign language that turn into a dance! so well trained and often done that the bodies dance-impulses can find their way into expressions that are interpretable in sign language

language shapes so much our ability and horizon to think… what new horizons open if you learn to let the body speak… and not “just” (knowing that it already speaks so incredibly much on many levels) on the levels we do so far but ALSO on the very cognitive/intellectual/linguistic level!

what if you learn sign language so well that your body taps into these patterns in a mode of dancing? would it be possible to do a decision-making-dance in a group – completely nonverbal?

when you speak or write like i do here – i put all this little containers of meaning (=words) into playlists of sentences. i do this following rules of grammar. you understand me because we both learned these rules and all the meanings of this little meaning-containers. we are so well trained in this game that we’re just doing it – our thoughts have taken the shape of language… our intuitive impulses find expression in language because we internalized the rules and meaning-containers so much. and it seems to be the system that humanity evolved that allows most complexity to be expressed! how would i make a gesture that tells you about something i thought last month? you would not understand my gestures if we wouldn’t agree beforehand on at least some building-blocks of meaning-making. as you might know from being in countries where you don’t speak the main language we can get very good at making these gestures and also at reading the nonverbal space…

so if language mirrors our mental opportunities… what if that can include the body in a highly nuanced way of intellectual complexity?

… and also besides sign language – the inquiry here is to find ways to complexify any kind of agreements between sender and receiver to a level to process maximum complexity of information.


Published by

Benjamin Aaron Degenhart

Currently pursuing a Masters in Computational Science and Engineering at TU Munich.

2 thoughts on “complexifying nonverbal language”

  1. Dear Benjamin: Your inquiry into the complexities of subtle communication strikes a chord in me. A harmonic perhaps :) Have you checked out high-context and low-context cultures? As a cross-cultural consultant this was something we were always aware of – some cultures able to communicate with few words, honoring the silence and gaining a lot of wisdom from that (as in traditional Japanese culture). For example, mothers and businessmen and women communicate with many fewer words than do we in the West, relying on the ‘hara’ to inform. I offer this as another thread you might want to explore. Blessings on your continuing journey through life’s complexities and joys. Analesa BatShema (the artist formerly known as Lisa Abby Berg!)


    1. Thank you Analesa, very much appreciate your presence and response here! and wonderful to hear about the harmonic chord :)
      it’s a fabulous lead you’re offering, thanks! i’ll follow that thread! i’d be grateful for a good starting-point link or article…


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