Take the 2-minute tour ×
Biology Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for biology researchers, academics, and students. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In a cold climate, do people often blow out the air from their lungs a lot when living in the cold condition to keep their lungs warm?

I asked this question because it could connect to how people in different area construct the sound.

Example, the Germanic type of Language (German, English,...) uses a lot of air from Lung to construct the sound?

Is that because the European living in cold climate that they often blow off a lot of air from the lung out to keep warm & gradually they construct the sound via that way.

For people living in warm climate ex(Sino-Tibetan language like Chinese, Thai), we mostly use tongue to construct the sound, we use very little air from lung to make sound.

I posted this question to some forums & some people said it’s baloney. But there one thing for sure, the environment shape how local people construct the sound. People construct the sound like that cos it is constrained by something. 1 thing can not stand alone, it must be the karma or outcome of something else.

share|improve this question

migrated from academia.stackexchange.com Nov 23 '13 at 6:51

This question came from our site for academics and those enrolled in higher education.

add comment

2 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Heat loss hypothesis:

I would rather think that blowing while speaking means that one has to inspire often and therefore he would lose much heat by convection. According this hypothesis, I would rather expect to see southern people blowing lots while speaking.

Metabolism hypothesis:

We might say that at low temperature the metabolism increases and therefore the consumption of oxygen should increase. As shown here for example. This would make blowing much air more profitable for people living in cold environments.

Articulation hypothesis:

One might as well hypothesize that the cold would tend to make articulation more complex and using much air would help to be well understood.

Note: It would be interesting to look at many local scales if it is indeed true that the colder the more air people use. At global scale, I am afraid that the observations are quite dependent and statistically speaking, there is not much evidence that cold environment correlates with blowing much air while speaking

share|improve this answer
    
But in warm, particularly in tropic climates, you don't loose as much heat by breathing as with cold (and therefore also dry) air: the incoming air is warm and moist already. And I suspect that loud and clear pronounciation of Germanic does not need more breath, but rather better resonance and other techniques that probably do not lead to more breathing (otherwise, how could one survive a long monologue on a theatre stage without hyperventilation) –  cbeleites Nov 24 '13 at 15:42
1  
@cbeleites Well, in my answer I assumed (as did the OP) that germanic languages need more breath. But I have no idea if this is true. In your answer you criticize this assumption and I agree with you. –  Remi.b Nov 24 '13 at 15:57
    
I guess the main point is that 'blowing out air' doesn't help to 'keep the[ir] lungs warm' anyways as you explain in your 1st paragraph. I just added "experimental" hints that the things one does do to save heat in cold air anyways do not include speaking... –  cbeleites Nov 24 '13 at 16:09
add comment

In a cold climate, do people often blow out the air from their lungs a lot when living in the cold condition to keep their lungs warm?

No, and it wouldn't make any sense: breathing more means inhaling more cold air that needs to be warmed up, so the result is a heat loss. The more so, as cold air (< 0°C) has a low water vapor pressure, while the lung likes to have the air at body temperature and well moistened. Which means that you also loose the vaporization heat of the water.

The function of moistening and heating the cold and dry air as well as recollecting some of the heat and water when breathing out is done by the nose. So the sensible (and done) thing in cold weather is to avoid breathing by mouth and instead keep your mouth shut and breathe by nose.
Nevertheless, neither German nor English, nor any of the Scandinavian Germanic languages is spoken through the nose.

My experience is that cold air (personal minimum: -40 °C) in the mouth is very unpleasant, and makes me cough as it is still cold when it arrives in the throat, but of course breathing out by mouth is less of a problem. But breathing out by mouth and in by nose means that the nose cannot recollect the heat and moisture from the outgoing air.

In any case, the amount of breathing is linked rather to oxygen demand and $CO_2$ to be gotten rid of), and even the fastest speaking people I know do not get close to hyperventilation by speaking, not even speaking German or English. Which means that speaking Germanic languages needs less breath to produce the sounds than what you need to breathe for physilogical reasons even at not much above base rate metabolism (sitting while talking) anyways. Which would imply that the breathing difference between Germanic and Sino-Tibetan languages would not cause an important driving force in language evolution.

A side point is that I don't agree with your concept of cold climate. Both Germany and England are counted as temperate climate. Actually, Frankfurt has higher minimum temperature all year round than Lhasa (as you mentioned Tibetan in your language family). Also note that the Indo-Germanic language family covers a range of climates from tropic to polar just as the Sino-Tibetan covers some cold regions as well), so maybe language families that are spoken only in polar regions vs. such that are spoken only in tropic regions would be better to look at (see e.g. the Wikipedia language family map).

However, there are probably some confounding influences that need to be taken into account. In cold weather, you do not sit or stand around chatting with people as much. And in the polar climates, historically farming has hardly been possible. So you have populations where hunting has been very important for survival, and regions with very low population density. Both mean that on average, you'll be silent instead of talking. As for having a chat with someone, you'd ask them in - or the length of the chat is limited by temperature.
Which means that if cold is a driving force for the type of pronouciation that evolves, it would be a rather weak link. And in any case, speaking less will overcompensate all these breathing differences.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.