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Monday, July 31, 2017

Intent, Intonation & Intelligence

Peter Dinklage (the dwarf actor) as Tyrion Lannister
We were watching Peter Dinklage (the dwarf actor) in The Game of Thrones last night. He is one of my favorite characters mostly because he seems to be pretty sharp. Is he really sharp, or is his part just written that way? And if Peter is really a dullard, would we still believe that he is a smart person because he sounds like he is smart?

I got to thinking about this this afternoon and it occurred to me that intonation produced by a person speaking might be an indicator for intelligence. Or perhaps it just indicates that the portion of your brain where you emotions influence your intonation is especially well developed.

I imagine an actor trying out for this role and he is rejected. When he asks why, judge and jury plays a tape of another actor they are considering for this role. Then they play a tape of the session they just concluded. The judge asks our candidate if he hears the difference and his reply is "no". And the judge tells him that is why he was rejected, i.e. because he does not hear the difference in intonation. He does not hear it because he is not that smart.

I am not saying there is a connection between intonation / infection and intelligence, just that there might be one. It might not be there except in our minds, our subconscious collecting information about everyone we meet, information like the way they talk and therefor how smart they are. But we've got zillions of years of spoken communication under our belts. There is a heck of lot of information that gets communicated in a face to face meeting. A great deal of who we are is determined by our cultural conditioning, things of such a subtle level that we are not even aware of their existence. Until we go visit another culture and find out stuff you find ordinary other people find hilarious and thing you find hilarious they find insulting. So there might be a connection and we are probably using it, totally subconsciously.

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