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19 October, 2006

Expressing familiarity

There's quite a strong facial resemblance between my sister and father.  That's simple genetics.
Rather more surprisingly, they have very similar mannerisms, though my father was working in Norway within months of K. being born and moved there permanently when she was three.

Logically, it seems improbable that K. acquired those expressions and behaviour patterns by observation, as she simply had few opportunities. I'd rationalised it as her having been disproportionately influenced in the brief periods that they were together (probably totalling a fortnight per year until she was about twenty), and that the father-daughter link was more intense than she'd ever admit. I know I've occasionally picked up influences from a similar level of 'exposure', though I suspect I've assimilated them and they're less recognisable.

To an extent, I think I'm right, as there can't be a genetic basis for specific word usage (K. definitely acquired "fair dos" from our father). However, research reported by the Guardian suggests that facial expressions may be physically inherited. Children born blind, who therefore can't mimic observed expressions, do display 'the family frown' (negative reactions are particularly apparent, for reasons explained in the article).
I'd considered that counter-intuitive, though it could be (and has been) argued that expression of certain emotions could be critical for survival, so has been 'preloaded' into newborns by evolution.

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