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<   No. 2284   2009-04-28   >

Comic #2284

1 {scene: the office of the Paradox Department}
1 Receptionist: {on phone} Yeah, so I said, "Look, the universe has been recreated. Our job's done."
2 Receptionist: {on phone} And he just looks at me with those cold eyes of his, and you know what he says?
3 Receptionist: {on phone} "Ribbit."
4 Receptionist: {on phone} Well no, I don't know either, but it sure sounded angry.

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It's amazing what you can do with intonation.


2022-04-09 Rerun commentary: I'm now imagining a spoken language where all of the phonemes are identical, and meaning is carried entirely on intonation. I suppose it might potentially be something like a whistling language.

As someone who can barely whistle at the best of times, I'm glad that whistled languages never became the mainstream method of human aural communication. I suppose if that had been the case, I'd be considered to have a severe speech impediment or handicap.

A brief Internet search fails to find any scholarly research on the fractions of people who can/cannot whistle, but there is an anecdotal citation in this article indicating that most people cannot whistle at all or well, and those who can are actually in the minority. This is backed up by an answer on Quora, stating that "not many people are able to whistle".

While this isn't particularly rigorous, I haven't found any claims that most people can whistle. Which is kind of what I'd always assumed - that nearly everyone can whistle and I was a bit unusual in not being able to whistle well.

It may be time for a new poll question...

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