Because we are a race so divided, many things that for some cultures would mean one thing means a totally different thing for others. And it’s only natural, with all the cultures, nations, and even reclusive populations we have that populate our beloved blue space rock.
But some things are the same throughout pretty much all forms of human civilization on the planet, speaking of something much deeper than it appears initially. For example, according to a study from Ohio State University, the “not” face is common across all cultures. And this might very well have a deeper, evolution-based cause.
A combination of pressed lips, a furrowed brow, and a raised chin, the “not” face is generally an expression present when stating a negation. Saying that you don’t like something or that you don’t want to do something might very well bring out this apparently archaic facial expression for all to see.
According to the team of researchers, the expression is completely independent of language. Whether speaking English, French, Japanese, or even sign language, the expression in there while expressing a negation. Even more impressive, those speaking sign language would rather make the expression instead of saying the word “not”.
Because of how often it appears in conversation, the researchers consider the expression to be a sort of grammatical marker. And since it apparently is a universal grammatical marker, it might just so happen that the “not” face could finally solve the mysteries of the human language.
According to Ohio State University cognitive scientist Dr. Aleix Martinez, who also happens to be the study’s lead author,
Almost everything else we have can be traced back through evolution, except language. How’s that our closest living relatives do not have it? Do they have some components of it? Primates can communicate nonverbally, is that where language evolved from?
Our hypothesis is that facial expressions of emotion (which is a type of nonverbal communication) evolved into grammatical markers (i.e. language). This provides a viable evolutionary route for the development of human language.
Explained, the “not” face is a combination of three individual facial expressions – disgust, anger, and contempt. The three elements it takes from these three other expressions are the pressed lips from contempt, the furrowed brow from anger, and the raised chin from disgust.
And the evolutionary clues from all three expressions are right there in the way the face scrunches up for each of them – anger contracts the face, allowing for a smaller potential area of being hit, while disgust protects you from being poisoned by contracting the mouth, nose, and eyes.
So, with all these clues that facial expressions are the predecessors of actual language, researchers are now quite certain that the “not” face is common throughout all of Earth’s civilizations because it was a part of our evolution as a species.
Image source: Wikimedia