Kinds of attraction: an analogy from phonology

28 agosto 2015

Versión en español

This post is a translation of the relevant parts of Tipos de atracción una analogía desde la fonología (in Spanish).

This post continues the discussion and the terminology of Asocial: the final frontier?, which I now review. First, we have romantic attraction, understood as separate from sexual attraction. Second, we have platonic attraction, and then the social attraction. In that post we considered the question of whether there is attraction further than the social one. Today we shall discuss what there is in between.

With each of these kinds of attraction there is a corresponding kind of relationship. For platonic attraction, the community coined the terms squish for the instances and objects of the attraction and zucchini for the partner in this relationship, though many people deem the latter unnecessary, having friend with adjectives. The issue is that friendship includes both the platonic and the social meanings. This post will deal with the relation between the classic trichotomy partner-friend-acquaintance and the finer distinction romantic-platonic-social-acquaintance, using as a source of analogy the phonology of Spanish and Catalan (a language spoken in Eastern regions of Spain, in bilingualism with Spanish).

Stressed vowels of Spanish and Catalan

Stressed vowels of Spanish and Catalan

Catalan language has 7 stressed vowels (à, è, é, í, ò, ó, ú) compared to the 5 ones of Spanish language (A, E, I, O, U). While in Catalan there is semantic difference between è and é, to the Spanish ear both sound like E, resorting to adjective (like open and closed) in order to distinguish them. The same happens with ò and ó, which sound like O to the Spanish ear, though I will focus on the E. In the spectrum between the A and the I, Spanish language sets 3 vowels (A, E, I), while Catalan language sets 4 (à, è, é, í), with the consequent differences it has for classifying a vowel in this spectrum.

Well, I think the same happens with the difference between couple and friendship and between friendship and acquaintanceship. As far as I know, for the precise discussion it is more useful to set 4 points in this spectrum (à=romantic, è=platonic, é=social, í=acquaintance) instead of only 3 (A=couple, E=friend, I=acquaintance), though a person whose ear is used to the the concept of friendship (opposite to couple and to acquaintanceship) will find the same kind of problems as the Spanish speaker that hears in Catalan è and é. Especially, in case of need to distinguish two different concepts, they will use one of their native categories (like friendship) qualified by an adjective (like close).