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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/494

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and such cases require separate discussion; but there are many known instances where greeting is and long has been expressed by gesture without words, and others in which the words used, conjointly or independently, are but derivations from the older, perhaps disused, gestures.

In this application of sign-language the characteristics of that mode of expression appear with distinctness, noticeable among which are the variety of shades of meaning conveyed by substantially the same gesture and the different modes of exhibiting the same substantive concept. Sign-language is more elastic as well as more comprehensive than oral language. Its abbreviation and symbolism are also so clear that linguistic lore and etymologic guess are not needed for their explanation.

The main divisions of the subject to be now considered are I. Salutations with contact; and, II. Salutations without contact. Under the first division it is convenient to notice successively those directly connected with the sense of—1, touch; 2, smell; 3, taste—although that is not the probable order of their evolution.

Touch.—Under the heading of touch come the personal palpations, such as patting, stroking, or rubbing the head, chest, or abdomen. These are very ancient and wide-spread, but have seldom special significance save as expressive of good-will by seeking to give a pleasurable sensation. Licking sensitive parts with the tongue is in the same category; and most actions of this class may be derived from, or at least explained by, those of subhuman animals.

The abdominal surface was most generally favored, its rubbing being practiced in both hemispheres, and ranging from the Arctic Ocean to Polynesia. Perhaps the notorious fact that eating was often continued to painful repletion, after which friction of the abdomen is a relief, may have some connection with the practice; but it is more probable that it arose from the moderate and agreeable warmth and titillation produced by manipulation of that region. The highest mark of respect in the Mariana Islands was to stroke with the hand the abdomen of the person saluted. The stroking of the exposed surface of that part of a friend's body was symbolized in 1823 by the Eskimos stroking down with their palms the front of their own fur jackets.

But other exposed surfaces received the same attention. When the Kaiowa Satana came back to his wives after a long absence, he said not a word, neither did they, but they stroked his face and shoulders gently with indistinct murmurs of endearment. Livingstone reported that the Zambesi patted the hands of the person saluted.

The Gond people pull the ears of their friends. That familiar