The Concept of Paralanguage

Topics: Nonverbal communication, Body language, Communication Pages: 14 (4440 words) Published: May 9, 2012
Chapter I


The difference between how something is said and what is said is called paralanguage. Albert Mehrabian as cited by Allan Chapman (2009) attests that human communication consists of 93 percent body language and paralinguistic cues, while only 7% of communication consists of words themselves. His research has suggested that between 60 and 70 percent of all meanings is derived from nonverbal behavior. It is interesting to note that a vast majority of people communicate several messages without using speech quite often. A person nods one’s head to show approval or shake one’s heads to indicate disapproval? In school, when a student is asked to stand in front to share and explain answer, but that student doesn’t have anything in mind, one will not only say: “I’m sorry, I don’t know the answer”, but also shake one’s head and give the teacher a pity look. When some attempts to touch a person for a penny, one will indicate denial through words as well as shaking one’s palm. Ray Birdwhistell, as referred to by Ellen Harold and Susan Tobin (2011) argued that all movements of the body have meanings and they are not accidental. These non-verbal forms of language (or paralanguage) have a grammar that can be analyzed in similar terms to spoken communication. Paralinguistic cues are everywhere and a part of how we communicate. There are many varieties of paralanguage. One of which is the term kinemes (Ray Birdwhistell, 2011). It is a form of non-verbal communication, which consists of body posture, gestures, facial expressions, and eye movements. Humans send and interpret such signals subconsciously. Filipinos for instance are a group of people that rely most on nonverbal aspect of communication, Gochenour as cited by Don Herrington (2011). According to him, Filipinos have a highly developed sensitivity to the nonverbal aspects of communication and considerably less dependent on spoken words compared to Europeans and Americans. Filipinos watch their listener carefully and identify body language cues to assess what the person is feeling. As observed among Filipino people, pouting one’s lips is practiced when a person is trying to point out something or give direction. Raising of eyebrows is also visible among Filipinos, which means approval or if one meets someone familiar. In a classroom setting, communication plays a vital role in the teaching and learning process. The imparting of knowledge will not be possible without communication. It is typical in a classroom that the teacher is the speaker and the students are the listeners. The teacher is the one who imparts knowledge to the students. However, education is a two way process, (Jean Piaget, 1980). The teacher also needs to know what the students are thinking. Yes, teachers can always point each of the students to know what they think but it takes time. This is where kinesics will be most helpful. Body language or gestures consists of a group of movements which are not identical, but which may be used interchangeably without affecting social meaning, (Knapp, 1972). When the teacher has the knowledge about kinesics, she will be able to understand what the students are not saying. When student’s eyes say one thing, and the tongue another, a practice teacher relies on the language of the first, (Peter F, Drucker, 2005). Kinesics form a communication system which is the same as a spoken language Ralph Waldo Emerson (1882). The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said. The universal principle of etymology in all languages: words are carried over the bodies to express the things of the mind and spirit. The orders of ideas must follow the order of things, (Giambattista Vico, 2001). How can kinesics (study of kinemes) beneficial to education and to future teachers? In SLSU-TO, teaching is the flagship course. The school develops competent teachers, teachers that can hone an individual to become an asset to the...
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