Euterpe: A world of sign language

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Dezinaa
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Euterpe: A world of sign language

Post by Dezinaa » Sat 16 Dec 2017, 09:17

Euterpe

Image
Planet Euterpe, with its moon Musike in the distance

In a Nutshell:

Euterpe /juˈtɝpi/ is a conworld idea I've been working on for a while. The main purpose is to create an intelligent species that communicates primarily through sign languages. Disclaimer: I'm not there yet. I've mostly finished astronomical details, and I'm going to work on the evolutionary tree next. This is a "bottom up" project. I want to flesh out all the necessary background information before I start trying to describe specific cultures and their languages.

If you were to set foot on the surface of Euterpe, this is what you would immediately notice: You would feel slightly heavier, with 1.2 g pulling down on you. It's a balmy 30° C outside (86° F). You may find it hard to breathe (or, in fact, deadly) with the high amount of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide. Bring an air tank, because the air is around 31% oxygen. If you look up, you will see a white sky and a large, somewhat dim, orange sun. At sunset, the sky turns deep red. The atmosphere is thicker than Earth's, which is why it makes these colors. You are surrounded by dense plant life. The plants have large purple or black leaves, to absorb as much light as possible from the star. On the horizon, an enormous storm cloud is accumulating. The wind speeds are picking up, and you are almost knocked over. The tree-like plants are short with wide trunks to stay upright in the frequent storms.

The planet is somewhat uniform from the equator to the poles, compared to Earth. The thick atmosphere, extensive oceans, low axial tilt, and fast rotational period all help regulate the air temperature. The average surface temperature is 19°-25° C, depending on the planet's location around the star. The crust is thinner than Earth's, which causes more volcanic activity. The volcanoes dump more CO2 into the atmosphere, which creates the high greenhouse effect. According to Universe Sandbox (a space simulator I made the system in), the greenhouse effect heats up the planet by 88° C (compared to 33° for Earth). Cloud cover is dense, and rainstorms are common and short. Lightning strikes easily create wildfires, which burn easily in the high-oxygen air.

Star System Information

There are nine planets, named after the Nine Muses in Greek mythology: Calliope, Clio, Euterpe, Erato, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, and Urania. The star is, of course, named Mnemosyne, after the mother of the muses. Here's some basic info about each planet. I'm using numbers relative to familiar solar system objects to give you a basic idea of what they're like, without boring you with specific values.

Mnemosyne: A K1 main sequence star. It is smaller, less massive, and dimmer than the sun.
Calliope: A rocky planet about 2.1x the mass of Earth. It is the closest planet to the star, and it is tidally locked.
Clio: A rocky planet 3.7x the mass of Earth. It has a very high axial tilt. No atmosphere. It has a small moon, presumably a captured asteroid.
Euterpe: The Earth-like one. Roughly 1.8x Earth's mass. Large global ocean. Lots of volcanoes. 12.5° axial tilt. A Euterpic (?) day is 0.73x an Earth day. A year is equal to 303.3 Earth days. There are no permanent ice caps, and snow is rare.
Musike: Euterpe's moon. It is so named because Euterpe is the muse of music and lyric poetry. (Three other muses also seem to be credited with lyric poetry, though.) It is smaller than our own moon, with a radius of 1434 km. It is tidally locked to Euterpe.
Erato: A small planet, 6.9x the mass of the moon (1.7x the moon's radius).
Melpomene: A ball of ice. 0.8x Earth's mass. It has a thin atmosphere and three captured asteroid moons.
Polyhymnia: The first gas giant. It is 1.7x the mass of Jupiter. Brown in color.
Terpsichore: A gas giant 17x the mass of Earth (7.6x Earth's radius). Also brown.
Thalia: A small gas giant, 6.2x Earth's mass. Light blue.
Urania: Neptune-like. Has a mass 17x that of Earth.

Here are some images of the system, to scale:

Outer system, with gas giants:
Spoiler:
Image
Inner system, with terrestrial planets:
Spoiler:
Image
The Conpeople

I don't know exactly what they should look like yet, because I want to evolve them first. Like I said, this is a bottom-up project. I do have some preliminary ideas about how sign language will affect their culture as a whole. The following is copied and pasted (and modified) from the conculture ideas thread:

Vocalizations could be used for emphasis, onomatopoeia, and getting someone’s attention. Some simple messages could be conveyed vocally, like “Stop,” “Hello,” “Help me,” “Excuse me,” etc, and highly specialized trade-specific signals. The only communities to use spoken languages are blind people. Unfortunately for them, their vocal parts did not evolve for talking, so this is very difficult. Some blind communities opt for :wikip: tactile signing. Deaf individuals have almost no problem navigating daily life.

Communicating while using one's hands for something else would be akin to talking with your mouth full.

They would still have written language, but I imagine it would look something like :wikip: ASLwrite. Just as some human scripts leave out information (such as vowels for abjads), some Euterpic scripts leave out one or more of the following: hand shape, hand orientation, hand location, and/or hand movement. If a script is not logographic, hand shape is almost universally the first thing to be represented. Orientation, location, and movement are secondary, and often represented with diacritics.

Singing and dancing would be combined into "Signdancing". It would use rhythmic, exaggerated hand movements and body/foot movements. Instead of bands having a lead singer, they would have a lead "signer." (Something like :yout: this, minus the actual singing, of course.) The implications for poetry are pretty beautiful too, in my opinion. :yout: See here

Individuals that break/lose one or both of their arms (assuming this species has two arms) would have a difficult time communicating.

Props to you if you read all of this. It's a work in progress, but I have plenty of time over the holidays to continue working on it. Thanks for reading! Up next: Plate tectonics.
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Re: Euterpe: A world of sign language

Post by Kehgrehdid » Sat 16 Dec 2017, 21:31

I have a couple of thoughts as feedback.
First, communication will always tend toward the comparatively easiest way. I speak with my mouth because it's much easier to do that than drop or put down whatever I am doing in order to sign. I see that your people can't easily vocalize, so that is a start of a reason for them to use sign language instead. But it should be the way that requires the leaat effort, so if the very most effective communication is to stop carrying a burden in order to say something, then go with that. I wonder whether they should have a small set of appendages too weak to do much more than move, and those are used in sign language so that communication does not require the dedication of stronger parts of the body. Would you want to make them deaf altogether so that visual communication is required? The ability to only receive a message from someone in your line of sight is a big cost. Any ways, tldr: make sure somehow that sign language is the means of communication that takes the least effort, or else they will tend away from it.

Also, you say that 30 percent oxygen would require an air tank. But I think CO2 is only dangerous when it displaces oxygen to much below the 20 percent on earth.
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Re: Euterpe: A world of sign language

Post by Kehgrehdid » Sat 16 Dec 2017, 21:34

And would their signdancers be accompanied by audible music? If so, instrument based communication is another route to consider, like signal drums, that could get someone's attention even if they are looking away.
"Cry me a river, build me a bridge, and get over it."

I marvel that the hardest parts of my life (fear, mistakes, guilt, sin, doubt, failure) are of man, while what I crave most (rest, hope, love, peace, forgiveness) are of God.
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Re: Euterpe: A world of sign language

Post by Dezinaa » Sun 17 Dec 2017, 00:05

Kehgrehdid wrote:
Sat 16 Dec 2017, 21:31
I have a couple of thoughts as feedback.
First, communication will always tend toward the comparatively easiest way. I speak with my mouth because it's much easier to do that than drop or put down whatever I am doing in order to sign. I see that your people can't easily vocalize, so that is a start of a reason for them to use sign language instead. But it should be the way that requires the leaat effort, so if the very most effective communication is to stop carrying a burden in order to say something, then go with that.
My reasoning is that sign language is not as arbitrary as spoken language. It is easier to communicate the idea of a physical object by making a gesture than by making random sounds with my mouth. Some people say that human language started as gestures, supplemented with vocalizations. My conworld's species would just continue making hand signals.

As for holding something while trying to communicate, that shouldn't be too much of a problem. In human sign languages, most two-handed signs have a dominant hand and a non-dominant hand. Usually, the non-dominant hand is either stationary, or it mirrors the movements of the dominant hand. Based on context, it should be easy to understand someone if they are only signing with one hand. In most situations, I think the species would have at least one hand free, but if they don't, they can put the thing down.
I wonder whether they should have a small set of appendages too weak to do much more than move, and those are used in sign language so that communication does not require the dedication of stronger parts of the body. Would you want to make them deaf altogether so that visual communication is required? The ability to only receive a message from someone in your line of sight is a big cost. Any ways, tldr: make sure somehow that sign language is the means of communication that takes the least effort, or else they will tend away from it.
I still want them to have the ability to hear.

If they have something like a hyoid bone supporting their tongue, it would stay raised to prevent the tongue from touching the roof of the mouth.
Also, you say that 30 percent oxygen would require an air tank. But I think CO2 is only dangerous when it displaces oxygen to much below the 20 percent on earth.
Ok. I was imagining that oxygen and CO2 levels would both be higher than on Earth, and there would be less nitrogen. So it's not really that the CO2 is displacing oxygen, it's that the CO2 and oxygen together displace nitrogen.
Kehgrehdid wrote:
Sat 16 Dec 2017, 21:34
And would their signdancers be accompanied by audible music? If so, instrument based communication is another route to consider, like signal drums, that could get someone's attention even if they are looking away.
Good idea. That would be good for long-distance communication, but I don't think it would work for discussing politics or what's for dinner.
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Re: Euterpe: A world of sign language

Post by Axiem » Sun 17 Dec 2017, 04:44

Obligatory bikeshedding: what did you use for rendering the solar system images? I like them!
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Re: Euterpe: A world of sign language

Post by Dezinaa » Sun 17 Dec 2017, 05:29

Axiem wrote:
Sun 17 Dec 2017, 04:44
Obligatory bikeshedding: what did you use for rendering the solar system images? I like them!
Universe Sandbox 2. I highly recommend it.
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Re: Euterpe: A world of sign language

Post by Dezinaa » Tue 19 Dec 2017, 06:15

I've been working on plate tectonics today. I'm pretty happy with how they look. The one big difference between Euterpe's and Earth's plate tectonics systems is that Euterpe has many more plates.

Here is a map of the plate tectonics in equirectangular projection. The arrows represent movement. You may notice that some plates have arrows that go different directions, because I was taking into account relative motion. Brown shapes are continental plates, and blue plates are oceanic. The light blue areas are parts of continental plates that are under the surface of the ocean:
Spoiler:
Image
Map without plate tectonics:
Spoiler:
Image
Wagner VI projection to give you a better idea of what it looks like:
Spoiler:
Image
If there are any big problems, please let me know. I'm not an expert. One thing I'm worried about is whether landlocked continental plates are possible, or if they would just fuse with the surrounding plates.

Up next: An elevation map to show mountain ranges, then ocean currents and wind patterns.
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Re: Euterpe: A world of sign language

Post by DesEsseintes » Tue 19 Dec 2017, 07:34

Just popping in to say that I’m enjoying this. [:)]
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Re: Euterpe: A world of sign language

Post by Axiem » Tue 19 Dec 2017, 17:32

Dezinaa wrote:
Sun 17 Dec 2017, 05:29
Universe Sandbox 2. I highly recommend it.
Yeah, I already have it, and it's pretty cool, though I've found it difficult to use with my own values for things. Did you just painstakingly go edit all the things in the program?
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Re: Euterpe: A world of sign language

Post by Dezinaa » Tue 19 Dec 2017, 18:42

DesEsseintes wrote:
Tue 19 Dec 2017, 07:34
Just popping in to say that I’m enjoying this. [:)]
Good to hear!
Axiem wrote:
Tue 19 Dec 2017, 17:32
Dezinaa wrote:
Sun 17 Dec 2017, 05:29
Universe Sandbox 2. I highly recommend it.
Yeah, I already have it, and it's pretty cool, though I've found it difficult to use with my own values for things. Did you just painstakingly go edit all the things in the program?
Yes, but I found it easier to do while paused, or at 1sec/sec. That way things don't get too out of hand.
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Re: Euterpe: A world of sign language

Post by Keenir » Wed 20 Dec 2017, 20:01

Dezinaa wrote:
Sun 17 Dec 2017, 00:05
Kehgrehdid wrote:
Sat 16 Dec 2017, 21:31
I have a couple of thoughts as feedback.
First, communication will always tend toward the comparatively easiest way. I speak with my mouth because it's much easier to do that than drop or put down whatever I am doing in order to sign. I see that your people can't easily vocalize, so that is a start of a reason for them to use sign language instead. But it should be the way that requires the leaat effort, so if the very most effective communication is to stop carrying a burden in order to say something, then go with that.
My reasoning is that sign language is not as arbitrary as spoken language. It is easier to communicate the idea of a physical object by making a gesture than by making random sounds with my mouth.
not arbitrary? so, if I hold up two fingers, you can tell me what that means? :)
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Re: Euterpe: A world of sign language

Post by Salmoneus » Thu 21 Dec 2017, 19:48

Dezinaa wrote:
Sun 17 Dec 2017, 00:05
Kehgrehdid wrote:
Sat 16 Dec 2017, 21:31
I have a couple of thoughts as feedback.
First, communication will always tend toward the comparatively easiest way. I speak with my mouth because it's much easier to do that than drop or put down whatever I am doing in order to sign. I see that your people can't easily vocalize, so that is a start of a reason for them to use sign language instead. But it should be the way that requires the leaat effort, so if the very most effective communication is to stop carrying a burden in order to say something, then go with that.
My reasoning is that sign language is not as arbitrary as spoken language. It is easier to communicate the idea of a physical object by making a gesture than by making random sounds with my mouth. Some people say that human language started as gestures, supplemented with vocalizations. My conworld's species would just continue making hand signals.
Sign language is only very slightly less arbitrary than sound.
Note that even when onomatopoeias are possible, they're still not very useful, because they're inherently underspecified. Let's say the word in a sign language for 'bull' is a gesture of a pair of horns. OK. But you still have to learn that word. Otherwise... bull? ox? aurochs? stag? impala? eland? Pair of horns? Or was that a pair of pincers? Pincer? Crab? Lobster? Antennae? Hemipenis? The actual language-learning advantage of this sort of symbolism is very, very small (unless the gesture is so inanely detailed that there's a high cost in time and energy to producing it).
Also, you say that 30 percent oxygen would require an air tank. But I think CO2 is only dangerous when it displaces oxygen to much below the 20 percent on earth.
Ok. I was imagining that oxygen and CO2 levels would both be higher than on Earth, and there would be less nitrogen. So it's not really that the CO2 is displacing oxygen, it's that the CO2 and oxygen together displace nitrogen.
FWIW, CO2 is actually inherently toxic to earth lifeforms. However, the toxicity threshold is so high, and so much beyond the point where you'd usually die of lack of oxygen, that it's not really an issue. It does crop up occasionally, though. Sometimes (divers?) people have enough oxygen but struggle to breathe out all the CO2, at which point it can accumulate to toxic levels in the lungs even with enough oxygen supplied. And there have been a few natural disasters where toxic CO2 levels have been released from lakes or volcanos.
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Re: Euterpe: A world of sign language

Post by Dezinaa » Fri 29 Dec 2017, 06:06

Keenir wrote:
Wed 20 Dec 2017, 20:01
not arbitrary? so, if I hold up two fingers, you can tell me what that means? :)
Well, I guess cultural context plays a role in understanding a sign.
Salmoneus wrote:
Thu 21 Dec 2017, 19:48
Sign language is only very slightly less arbitrary than sound.
Note that even when onomatopoeias are possible, they're still not very useful, because they're inherently underspecified. Let's say the word in a sign language for 'bull' is a gesture of a pair of horns. OK. But you still have to learn that word. Otherwise... bull? ox? aurochs? stag? impala? eland? Pair of horns? Or was that a pair of pincers? Pincer? Crab? Lobster? Antennae? Hemipenis? The actual language-learning advantage of this sort of symbolism is very, very small (unless the gesture is so inanely detailed that there's a high cost in time and energy to producing it).
That's a good point.
Salmoneus wrote:
Thu 21 Dec 2017, 19:48
FWIW, CO2 is actually inherently toxic to earth lifeforms. However, the toxicity threshold is so high, and so much beyond the point where you'd usually die of lack of oxygen, that it's not really an issue. It does crop up occasionally, though. Sometimes (divers?) people have enough oxygen but struggle to breathe out all the CO2, at which point it can accumulate to toxic levels in the lungs even with enough oxygen supplied. And there have been a few natural disasters where toxic CO2 levels have been released from lakes or volcanos.
I think it would be possible for native life on that planet to adapt to breathe high levels of CO2. Or is CO2 inherently harmful for all possible lifeforms that breathe air?


I'm at a point where I'm fairly satisfied with my ocean currents. They're kind of complicated, due to all the close-together landmasses, but I hope they're right. I based them off of wind patterns, but I didn't take air pressure into account. Hopefully that doesn't change things. I'm assuming currents stay the same from summer to winter, but I'm not sure about that either.

Wind patterns, with "continents" labeled A - H:
Spoiler:
Image
Currents:
Spoiler:
Image
Here's a 3D globe you can compare these to: https://www.maptoglobe.com/SywsKBQmG

If you notice anything wrong (or not totally correct), please feel free to let me know.
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Re: Euterpe: A world of sign language

Post by Keenir » Sat 30 Dec 2017, 04:25

Dezinaa wrote:
Fri 29 Dec 2017, 06:06
I think it would be possible for native life on that planet to adapt to breathe high levels of CO2. Or is CO2 inherently harmful for all possible lifeforms that breathe air?
plants breathe it - i think fungi and molerats can too
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Re: Euterpe: A world of sign language

Post by eldin raigmore » Sun 31 Dec 2017, 11:29

Keenir wrote:
Sat 30 Dec 2017, 04:25
Dezinaa wrote:
Fri 29 Dec 2017, 06:06
I think it would be possible for native life on that planet to adapt to breathe high levels of CO2. Or is CO2 inherently harmful for all possible lifeforms that breathe air?
plants breathe it - i think fungi and molerats can too
Plants, definitely.
Fungi, mostly not.
Mole rats are mammals; definitely not.
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Re: Euterpe: A world of sign language

Post by Salmoneus » Sun 31 Dec 2017, 16:47

eldin raigmore wrote:
Sun 31 Dec 2017, 11:29
Mole rats are mammals; definitely not.
Mole rats are 'mammals' that have been secretly experimented on by aliens. They don't age, they're virtually immune to cancer, and they don't feel pain. They also, and this is probably what keenir's thinking of, don't need oxygen*.

However, while they can 'breathe' (i.e. not be killed by an atmosphere with high levels of) CO2, they don't actually use CO2. Instead, they avoid the need for oxygen apparently by having discovered some other chemical process that lets them utilise their energy stores without needing atmospheric oxygen to do so. [so far as we know, they are unique in this way - all other animals that survive long times without oxygen do so simply by holding their breath and making use of what little oxygen is already in their lungs as efficiently as possible. mole rats can survive with no oxygen in their lungs]


*they've been shown to survive without oxygen for at least 18 minutes. The maximum time, we don't know - researchers have been reluctant to anger the Mole Rat Old Gods by doing too much testing.
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