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Nonverbal Communication

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Nonverbal communication is the process of communication through sending and receiving wordless messages. It can be communicated through gestures and touch, by body language or posture, by facial expression and eye contact. Like humans, most (if not all) other primates engage in nonverbal communication to relay messages, emotions, warnings, and ideas to each other. Primates, by nature, are a very social species and tend to live together in communities. By interacting with the same species so often, it is no wonder that primates have developed a more complex way of communicating than most other animals. For example, a study of rhesus monkeys showed that a community had distinct hierarchy among them and it was clear which monkeys outranked others. The question that was posed was how could such a detailed living environment be created if these monkeys did not have a complex communication system? People have compared primates and their communication abilities to humans as more studies continue, which have tended to bring up controversial ideas, such as common ancestry.

The fact that primates and humans share some of the same nonverbal communications, such as holding hands and kissing, supports the idea that they share common ancestry. Call Systems Non-human primates like these have between fifteen and forty different calls in their call system depending on the species. A call system is a type of limited vocal communication system. Animals such as monkeys and apes use call systems. According to anthropologist Terrence Deacon , humans still posses six call systems, including: Laughing Sobbing Groaning Screaming with fright Sighing Crying with pain These six calls appear to have co-evolved alongside symbolic language, which may be why humans integrate calls and symbolic language into their speech. While human beings still possess six calls, non-human primates have a system ranging from 15-40 calls, depending on the species.

Non-human primates use these call systems when they are in the presence of food or danger, when they desire company, or when the animal desires to mark its location or to signal pain, sexual interest, or the need for maternal care. The call system of non-human primates is “closed” because it affords the ability to discuss neither absent or nonexistent objects nor past or future events, which is called displacement. Closed call systems also have the absence of any link between sound and meaning in language, which is called arbitrariness. These six calls, paired with gestures and changes in rhythm, volume, and tonality (something which linguists call speech prosody) appear to have coevolved with the development of symbolic language. This may be the reason they amalgamate so well. This being said, Deacon pointed out that these call systems are controlled by different parts of the ape brain.

1. Woshoe, Koko, and Lucy
2. The Origin of Language Nonverbal Communication

Two sign language interpreters working as a team for a school. Nonverbal Communication is defined as the act of communicating with another via body language or other symbolism to convey meanings,or “nonverbal communication involves those nonverbal stimuli in a communication setting that are generated by both the source and his or her use of the environment and that have potential message value for the source or receiver . Basically it is sending and receiving messages in a variety of ways without the use of verbal codes (words). It is both intentional and unintentional. Not only does it use body language, but also eye contact, gestures, posture, and facial expressions.

Another somewhat obvious form of nonverbal communication is that which is written. Handwriting styles and emoticons can be included within this category, exemplifying different forms of human personal expression. Emoticons, which are used often in emails and text messaging, serve to more clearly express a point or add context to what is being communicated since your tone of voice and facial expressions cannot be seen at the time of viewing. The majority of nonverbal communication studies first researched by Ray Birdwhistell focus on face-to-face encounters between two or more people. The physical actions of the communicator and the way in which the listener responds are all key aspects of discovering the subtle implications of nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication can include slight gestures or very bold moves.

Kinesics is also another form of nonverbal communication. Kinesics is the systematic study of body language, such as gestures, body movements, body postures, and facial expressions. Nonverbal communication also follows certain rules according to culture. For example in the United States we have unspoken rules for communicating. A great example of this is flirting. Someone can show interest in you without even being near you. A smile or quick eye contact can show attraction. A slight change in expression though can mean anger or jealousy. Nonverbal communication is often considered include sign language however, linguists generally consider sign language to be verbal communication, despite the lack of sound. It has been shown that even in infancy, babies sign to their mothers to indicate hunger, showing a naturally development of signing for basic needs.

Sign language maintains all the functions of a oral language that differentiate them from non-verbal communication. Like most other languages, sign language has a variety of different forms, each with a different meaning in different parts of the world. Clothing as well can be a form of nonverbal communication. From modern cultures to ancient tribes clothing has always been a subtle yet obvious way of creating a statement about ones self. Oftentimes the chief of a tribe would wear something a bit more extravagant, like a feathered head dress, than the other members of a tribe. Great hunters would wear animal skins to show off a kill. Another example would be during the Reformation period of 1496- 1558, when men would wear a “bombaster”, which is a cotton patted pouch, in order to make their stomachs look bigger to make them appear more wealthy.

If someone were to be seen with a larger stomach it would be assumed that that person was wealthy because only the wealthy were able to eat as much as they wanted. Women with small waists during the Reformation period used corsets and “bum rolls” on their hips to make their hips look bigger to appear more feminine. The idea of a perfect woman was small waist and larger hips so this image became the fashion of that era which is a form of non verbal communication. What a person wears, how a person walks, and the faces a person makes can be more expressive than words. In present day, clothing still says a lot about a person no matter what culture you find yourself in. Women and men are often expected to dress a certain way depending on the situation, such as job requirements and their status in their society. Charles Darwin Nonverbal communication has been present since the dawn of human interaction.

In 1872, Charles Darwin published the book, The Expressions of the Emotions in Man and Animals, which argues that both humans and animals communicate with their faces. Although non verbal communication does not involve the use of words it is still an incredibly effective way of sending and receiving messages from person to person. It is unavoidable to not communicate. When you visit a foreign country and do not understand the native language or the language spoken in that area there are still several ways to communicate messages. For example you can communicate hunger through making a gesture pointing to your stomach which is a form of body language which is non verbal. Another common way of communicating is by eye contact. Instinctively humans much like other primates are able to find prey and hunt it down.

To do so you must use your vision and make eye contact towards your target. Even if a student stands up and leaves a lecture hall in the middle of a speech by the professor, he or she is still sending a message. Although there was no use of words there is a clear message being sent to the receiver that is non verbal. One of the most common non verbal communication is facial expressions. In Sweden when giving a speech at a table it is expected that when toasting you must look straight into the eye of the person you toast, opposite to Japan where eye contact is not a social norm in society, especially in public areas. sources: Theatre Arts 216 Gregory Pulver, lecture Big Costume Design & Technology the History Proxemics Two people not affecting each other’s personal space. Reaction of two people whose personal space are in conflict.

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