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 Mermaid song (and other undersea communication methods)

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rcs619
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PostSubject: Mermaid song (and other undersea communication methods)   Mon Jul 05, 2010 12:01 pm

This came up in another thread, but it seems an interesting topic to discuss. Basically, it started with someone raising the question. "How do mermaids talk while underwater?" Since spoken words, like we use, transfer poorly in a liquid environment.

That raises a broader question in general of how sentient undersea creatures communicate, but for now, let's just stick to mermaids. My first idea was for a type of sign language or body language. I imagine other creatures have their own variants of sign language as well (Chleana flashing their bodies different colors, for example). My other idea for mermaids, was for them to communicate through a type of singing, similar to whale song.

Whale song

Anime-Junkie expanded on this idea with another post
Quote :
Well, I see it like this. Underwater mermaids "sing" their messages in a special language that was meant to be sung underwater. The pitches and tones used aren't distorted by water and so they can communicate. It would sound a bit like whale song but more modulated and possibly a higher pitch, although it would depend on the individual mermaid.
Of course, sung above water this wouldn't work and would sound different.

This also explains why mermaids are reputed to have such good singing voices, it's their method of communication.

I think its a pretty interestng idea, and could help explain how mermaids communicate underwater. For story purposes, the author could just show them talking normally of course, imposing a translation on the song. But I think mentioning the song, even if you auto-translate it could help add some more depth to mermaids in Felarya stories.

So now to the point of this thread. I'd like some feedback on this idea, as well as some ideas about how other undersea races communicate.

The only other one I've thought about were the Chlaenas, which could likely use their color-changing ability to flash their bodies in specific ways to relay messages. Kind of like sign-language, but with colors.

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Shady Knight
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PostSubject: Re: Mermaid song (and other undersea communication methods)   Mon Jul 05, 2010 12:06 pm

I like that idea. I also wonder if such excellent singing voices would apply well to spells such as magic songs and if their great voices makes said type of spell more powerful than the norm.
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PostSubject: Re: Mermaid song (and other undersea communication methods)   Mon Jul 05, 2010 12:21 pm

rcs619 wrote:
This came up in another thread, but it seems an interesting topic to discuss. Basically, it started with someone raising the question. "How do mermaids talk while underwater?" Since spoken words, like we use, transfer poorly in a liquid environment.

That raises a broader question in general of how sentient undersea creatures communicate, but for now, let's just stick to mermaids. My first idea was for a type of sign language or body language. I imagine other creatures have their own variants of sign language as well (Chleana flashing their bodies different colors, for example). My other idea for mermaids, was for them to communicate through a type of singing, similar to whale song.

Whale song

Anime-Junkie expanded on this idea with another post
Quote :
Well, I see it like this. Underwater mermaids "sing" their messages in a special language that was meant to be sung underwater. The pitches and tones used aren't distorted by water and so they can communicate. It would sound a bit like whale song but more modulated and possibly a higher pitch, although it would depend on the individual mermaid.
Of course, sung above water this wouldn't work and would sound different.

This also explains why mermaids are reputed to have such good singing voices, it's their method of communication.
I believe it originally went like this:
MSN chatlog:
 

rcs619 wrote:
I think its a pretty interestng idea, and could help explain how mermaids communicate underwater. For story purposes, the author could just show them talking normally of course, imposing a translation on the song. But I think mentioning the song, even if you auto-translate it could help add some more depth to mermaids in Felarya stories.

So now to the point of this thread. I'd like some feedback on this idea, as well as some ideas about how other undersea races communicate.

The only other one I've thought about were the Chlaenas, which could likely use their color-changing ability to flash their bodies in specific ways to relay messages. Kind of like sign-language, but with colors.

That might be a problem in darker waters, the colours wouldn't be visible. Maybe pheromone encoded ink for dark waters?


Last edited by Anime-Junkie on Wed Jan 25, 2012 2:44 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : original -> originally)
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PostSubject: Re: Mermaid song (and other undersea communication methods)   Mon Jul 05, 2010 12:24 pm

Don't Chlaneas flash, indicating that they are producing light like angler fishes?
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PostSubject: Re: Mermaid song (and other undersea communication methods)   Mon Jul 05, 2010 12:35 pm

Sean Okotami wrote:
Don't Chlaneas flash, indicating that they are producing light like angler fishes?
When cliff said "flash" he was referring to a quick change of colour, not actual light production.
Confirmed in the wiki:
"Due to millions of specialized cells in their skin called chromatophores, chlaenas are able to rapidly change the color of their entire body, or select parts of it."
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Shady Knight
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PostSubject: Re: Mermaid song (and other undersea communication methods)   Mon Jul 05, 2010 12:39 pm

Oh, that works. But we're digressing here.
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Karbo
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PostSubject: Re: Mermaid song (and other undersea communication methods)   Mon Jul 05, 2010 5:54 pm

It's definitely a cool explanation and one that makes sense Razz
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PostSubject: Re: Mermaid song (and other undersea communication methods)   Mon Jul 05, 2010 6:13 pm

I would still like to know if Mermaids can use magic songs similar to bards and if their magnificent voice make the song spells more effective and/or powerful.
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PostSubject: Re: Mermaid song (and other undersea communication methods)   Mon Jul 05, 2010 6:27 pm

The problem with songs is that you can only convey so much a message at once. "Avoid this area, dangerous." "Prey, lots of it." "Friends, let's play." You can't do very specific stuff with it. So long as that's remembered, it's good. Of course, this is Felarya: Make sure the rough limits are known ahead of time. We don't need exact limits, but it's pretty much proven that if you give someone an inch ("Giant Predators are tough for their size," "Prey Mages can get powerful") they'll take a mile ("Giant Predators are only stung by a spam of a couple dozen missiles," "My Neko Mage can waste city blocks per spell").

Of course, I'm working off real physics in anime-physics (look at some characters and say they're low fantasy lol! ) universe. Even LotR allows things that normally convey minimal content (Bird chirps) to be entire comprehensive languages. It's just a personal preference of mine that it's limited in scope, in part biased by how the songs work IRL. If the idea is to make it full on language, well, it's your idea and Karbo's realm after all. Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Mermaid song (and other undersea communication methods)   Mon Jul 05, 2010 6:33 pm

Didn't Cliff said it was a language that can be used underwater? Surely they can use normal speech through it. I mean, there's no human language on Earth that can only be sung.
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PostSubject: Re: Mermaid song (and other undersea communication methods)   Mon Jul 05, 2010 6:38 pm

Sean Okotami wrote:
Didn't Cliff said it was a language that can be used underwater? Surely they can use normal speech through it. I mean, there's no human language on Earth that can only be sung.
Was just referring to it being exactly like a whale song. With that, you're predominantly using notes. You might be able to work out tunes amongst friends with more exact meanings (similar to how you can remind someone of the lyrics of a specific song they heard with just the music), but without actual words it'd be difficult to convey very complex messages.
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PostSubject: Re: Mermaid song (and other undersea communication methods)   Mon Jul 05, 2010 6:44 pm

But isn't it completely translated? In multiple stories, mermaids have been able to use fairly complex and intricate sentences that were translated in human language. So by that logic, they can speak very similarly to humans among themselves, just in a different meaning of conveying words.
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PostSubject: Re: Mermaid song (and other undersea communication methods)   Mon Jul 05, 2010 6:47 pm

Sean Okotami wrote:
But isn't it completely translated? In multiple stories, mermaids have been able to use fairly complex and intricate sentences that were translated in human language. So by that logic, they can speak very similarly to humans among themselves, just in a different meaning of conveying words.
The difference was more akin to Humming and Singing-Singing. Whale "Songs" are more akin to "Humming" Songs. For example, "Hm hm, hmmmmmm, hm-hm-hmhm". You probably have no idea what I hummed / song. Now, "It's the, Beaaaar, ne-ce-sities."
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PostSubject: Re: Mermaid song (and other undersea communication methods)   Mon Jul 05, 2010 7:25 pm

In theory, a song could be just as complicated as a "real" language. Differences in pitch, tone, tempo, structure...it can all help to convey different, more intricate meanings. This would mean that mermaids would need extremely precise hearing, and be very skilled at controlling the sounds they produce (mermaids ARE known for being good singers, afterall) though.

Combine the song with different types of gestures and body language, and you have the potential for a very complex and potentially intricate language.
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PostSubject: Re: Mermaid song (and other undersea communication methods)   Mon Jul 05, 2010 7:32 pm

rcs619 wrote:
Combine the song with different types of gestures and body language, and you have the potential for a very complex and potentially intricate language.
If we're combining with gestures and body language, I assume these songs are occurring at much closer ranges than what I was imagining (which was a few miles out)?
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