|One of Humankind's greatest creations:
Language and Communication
(1) Peter and the Wolf Op. 67, a 'symphonic fairy tale for children', is a musical composition
written by Sergei Prokofiev in 1936. The narrator tells a children's story, while the orchestra
(2) TV series "Lie To Me"
Putting it all together.
Loudness often indicates powerful emotion (especially anger), but not always - some-
times it is just to overcome ambient sound - but it can easily confuse the listener,
especially when the person isn't well-known to them. Out of all the sound, movement,
expressions mixed together, we decode the message, and in return "send" ours. It is
hard work - which becomes even more difficult when the words and tone, do not
"match the body language, facial expressions and the eyes. Hence, trying to detect
"intention" also comes into play - for both parties.
In addition to what I've included so far, is another important component (or variable)
is culture - it plays a huge role - because it effects how we interpret what the other
person is saying (and vice versa). The better communicators we are, the better we
become at determining what these combinations mean: some of them are cultural,
and are somewhat specific to certain cultures - others are more universal. It takes
experience to really sort them out.
An example of how different "tones/sounds" convey different messages or moods is
demonstrated in the 1936 classical music symphony by Sergei Prokofiev, called "Peter
And The Wolf", where each instrument represents someone, or something, as well
different "moods". This is well-illustrated in the video narrated by David Bowie (1)
While he narrates it, the orchestra "illustrates" what he is telling you.
To get an idea of the interplay of the complex "mix" of it all, there is an old TV series
called "Lie To Me", that illustrates how it works, how difficult it is to decode, and the
various cues that are available to tell if someone is lying, or being misleading, or not (2).
This essay is a work in progress: it will be expanded organically.
|Dawn Cove Abbey
"Roadside Assistance" For Your Journey Through Life
- Dedicated to helping people return (and maintain)
sanity and decency to life -
From the eBook: "One! The Journey hOMe", by Klaas Tuinman M.A © 2007-2019
Questions and comments welcomed.
Language - especially verbal communication is one of the most profound creations of
humankind: simple yet deceptively pomplex.
We use speech to communicate every day, whether it be a friendly conversation,
a debate, an argument, a presentation, a discussion, pillow talk, giving someone
information or directions, conducting an interrogation- we communicate. And we
generally give that activity and process much thought - it is like reflex; not even
feeling the difference between talking, with, to, or at someone. Yet it is one of the
most complex of all our human activities: one that engages major portions of our
brain, as well as our mind (the two are not the same).
In fact, language, this most profound (and complex) creations of humankind began
early on in human history: initially it was quite simple, consisting of a small array of
word-sounds - the earliest were human grunts - but then new ones were added to,
many of them mimicked from sounds in nature - what we call onomatopoeia
(the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named (e.g. cuckoo,
chirp): onomatopoeia is in essence a rhetorical effect.
In early tribal and clan days, because of the collective communal sense of
awareness of each other, already, very little speech was needed - and what there
was, was effective and sufficient. As human life became more complex with an
expanding population - and tribes and clans splitting off and settling in different
areas, speech change for each of them, and they created words that addressed
their circumstances - so vocabularies not only expanded, but also differentiated.
And they became more complex and more and more "abstract". And over the
centuries as civilization occurred, people of many different socio-cultural
backgrounds mingled - with their various vocabularies, language "exploded"
into a vary complex means of communication - because now there were many
"levels", and components to it. We'll explore that below.
"About Language: Language and communication are perhaps the most complex
form of human inter-action we engage in, yet we use language and communication
every day. It is such a common, ubiquitous and almost reflex activity that we
virtually take for granted, to the point that we are unaware of the many different
components and levels that are activated in communication. And because we
virtually take it for granted, and seldom think about it, it is the major cause, or
reason, for so much mis-communication and misunderstanding. One of the
major reasons for so much miscommunication is that communication and
"language" go far beyond being just words and "sound".
Communication, of course, involves the use of words, but it also involves visual
cues such as body language, body language, gestures, facial expressions, and eye-
contact. Adding to that complexity is vocabulary, and the various components of
"sound" itself: Resonance, Pitch (low-high), Tone, Volume, and Clarity, etc. All of
these contribute to conveying "the message" - and all of it together creates a rich
mix of "overtones and varying degrees of "resonances". There are overtones in the
sound itself, of course, just as there are resonances in it, too. But in totality, they
create and present overtones and resonances between the sound, and the
physicality (body language, gestures, eyes, facial expressions, etc. Being able to
do it well, and to "understand" and "get it" well, is a learned skill - one we acquire
gradually from childhood up as we learn to interpret others, and in return improve
our ability through "mimicking" others - children love to play and practice with
sounds. The verbal language part is the easiest part to acquire - learning to interpret
body language, facial and eye expression is a more difficult skill. And them to top it
all off - there is the "chi" - the "gut feeling" we often get from others - that one that
feels good - and the one that feels uncomfortable (and it is one that
should not be ignored).
Acquiring the verbal communication medium of your culture