The importance of non-verbal communication
It is quite usual to forget about many aspects of non-verbal communication when hearing this notion. In fact, what comes to mind immediately are body gestures or facial expressions. However, there are many more aspects. For this reason, chapter two begins with a definition of non-verbal communication and chapter three illustrates these definitions with examples. They also show the importance of non-verbal communication in daily life. In the following paper, the task of the interpreter is analysed in two steps: first, the transfer of a message from the speaker to the interpreter and secondly, the transfer of this message from the interpreter to the audience. The first step is discussed in chapter four, which deals with certain neuroscientific aspects of the process of interpreting non-verbal communication. It is also about the importance of face-to-face situations and shared culture with respect to interpreting non-verbal communication. Furthermore it is mentioned, which role emotional intelligence plays in the understanding process for non-verbal communication. Finally, chapter five talks, with reference to the examples in chapter three, about the difficulties of non-verbal communication for the interpreter. Chapter five describes what possibilities the interpreter is given to reproduce non-verbal communication.
Sign-language, one form of non-verbal communication, is not discussed in this essay. In fact, this is a language in itself. Even if body gestures and facial expressions are part of this language, which would correspond to the definition of non-verbal communication in chapter two, it cannot be regarded as non-verbal communication. Sign-language is a system closed in itself and needs special training as well as for any other natural language. Therefore, this aspect of interpretation was not taken into account for our essay. 2. Definition of non-verbal communication
There are scores of definitions that researchers and scholars use to define non-verbal communication. Among the definitions we have studied, we chose and developed the points that seemed essential to us with respect to the frame of interpretation that is given for this essay. Non-verbal communication consists of all the messages other than words that are used in communication. In oral communication, these symbolic messages are transferred by means of intonation, tone of voice, vocally produced noises, body posture, body gestures, facial expressions or pauses (see chapter 3. examples). When individuals speak, they normally do not confine themselves to the mere emission of words. A great deal of meaning is conveyed by non-verbal means which always accompany oral discourse – intended or not. In other words, a spoken message is always sent on two levels simultaneously, verbal and non-verbal. Non-verbal behaviour predates verbal communication because individuals, since birth, rely first on non-verbal means to express themselves. This innate character of non-verbal behaviour is important in communication. Even before a sentence is uttered, the hearer observes the body gestures and facial expressions of the speaker, trying to make sense of these symbolic messages. They seem to be trustable because they are mostly unconscious and part of every-day behaviour. People assume that non-verbal actions do not lie and therefore they tend to believe the non-verbal message when a verbal message contradicts it. This was proven in tests in which subjects were asked to react to sentences that appeared friendly and inviting when reading them but were spoken angrily. In short, people try to make sense of the non-verbal behaviour of others by attaching meaning to what they observe them doing. Consequently, these symbolic messages help the hearer to interpret the speaker’s intention and this indicates the importance of non-verbal communication in the field of interpretation. In daily conversations it often happens...
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