Facade Facetius Facet
Facial expressions, like music, transcend the barriers of languages.
In biologic terms, the FACE is a relatively flat anterior (ventral) and inferior (cuadal) area of the skull (cranium). From the flat facial FACET protrude the NOSE and LIPS (more so in persons of some ethnic groups). In Medicine FACIES denotes "faces that talk or send a message" useful to accelerate a diagnosis. Diverse facial "expressions" are an integral part of every language and contrary to words which are peculiar to specific languages, facial expressions of joy and pain are universal. In fact, the public can recognize the "dull facies" of the mentally "retarded", including those with "Mongolism" (an increasingly offensive term). The alternative is to use the term Down syndrome. In short, the face reflects degrees of cerebral development through a link of emotions to facial skin musculature giving rise to facial gestures - for example, the "risorius" muscle gives rise to the "risa", or smile in Spanish. Primates have the most developed system of "facial expressions" which complement verbal communications.
The face is like a FACADE that displays or hides feelings. In FACT, the face is a FACTORY of signals that lend humans the FACULTY to show pain, pleasure, surprise, or be FACETIOUS. A grimace in some languages implies a "whim" and may be in tune with cultural FASHIONS or FACETS (the French often pucker their lips in contrast to Slavs). "Caras y Caretas" (faces and masks) was a perfect name for a once famous Spanish political journal. Perhaps all politicians should receive diplomas or practicing duplicity by hiding their FACIES with CARETAS.
It is of interest that with the advent of telecommunications and imaging technologies the value of "face to face" communications stands undiminished. An index of this fact is the travel schedule of Secretaries of State or those who pay vast sums to attend all sorts of "concerts in vivo".
Strictly speaking, the terms "face", "facies" and "physiognomy" are synonymous. Howerver, in medical terms, "looking at a face" implies "looking for a facies". For example, a Clinical Geneticists may find in a face signs peculiar to Achondroplasia. Such realization may accelerate the diagnosis and formulation of early, context specific health care interventions.
More that a century ago, interest in PHYSIOGNOMY (phyein for "to engender" and gnomo for "to judge") reached its peak. Enthusiasts then believed that the face was not only "a window to the soul", as asserted by many proverbs, but that it also was an indicator of health, disease and mental status. Physiognomy was linked with Phrenology. Early applications were oriented to better understand the human mind and not as today to understand physical prenatal development. Among early enthusiasts, many were tainted by dogmatic religious and political convictions. An emphasis on premature applications to detect socially undesirable individuals ultimately led to a loss of credibility and the demise of this approach until the advent of modern Dysmorphology. As mentioned above, Clinical Geneticists interested in Dysmorphology (study of altered shapes and proportions) have be ability to suspect many disorders from a peculiar facies as in the case of Achodroplasia or Down syndromes.