The Importance of Body Language in Cultures

Topics: Nonverbal communication, Communication, Culture Pages: 7 (1619 words) Published: November 9, 2011
Overseas English Overseas English

ISSN 1009-5039 2011 2 Tel:+86-551-5690811 5690812

The Importance of Body Language in Cultures

262700 )

Abstract:Communication is necessary to people's daily life. Although we may not realize it when we talk with others, we make ourselves understood not only by words. Body language sometimes helps make the communication easy and effective. Body language is treated as equivalent to nonverbal communication which sends 65 percent communication message. In order to improve the quality of our communication, we should pay more attention to nonverbal communication. In addition, culture influences communication. Different country has different culture. Every culture has its own body language. It is useful to learn more about such body language, especially the using of body language in different culture. Key words: communication; culture; body language; nonverbal communication :H319 :A :1009-5039(2011)02-0238-02

Body language is not language in the strict sense of the word language; it refers to, in fact, a broad term for forms of communication using body movements, gestures, facial expressions and eye behaviors in addition to sounds, verbal language, or other forms of communication. Some scholars treat body language as an equivalent to nonverbal communication. Although we may not realize it when we talk with others, we make ourselves understood not only by words. There are plenty of nonverbal communications around us everyday. In 1972, a research made by American linguists showed that only 35 percent communication message is sent by verbal communication, while 65 percent is sent by nonverbal communication. It is obvious that nonverbal communication plays an important role in our communication. We can understand it well by some functions and different cultural instances of body language.

1 Functions of Nonverbal Communication
Nonverbal communication can convey messages alone, and in many situations it is used in combination with verbal behaviors to convey meaning. It is useful, therefore, to examine the functions of nonverbal messages in relation to verbal messages in communication. The six functions of nonverbal messages to be presented in the following paragraphs are complementing, contradicting, repeating, regulating, accenting, and substituting. 1) Complementing: some nonverbal messages are consistent with accompanying verbal messages, but add to or strengthen or clarify the meaning of the verbal message. 2) Contradicting: some nonverbal messages may contradict the verbal ones. 3) Repeating: nonverbal messages which serve the function of repeating the verbal messages are ones that could stand alone, if the verbal messages were not present. 4) Regulating: communication involves more than one participant and nonverbal behaviors are often used to regulate the cooperative communication. 5) Accenting: nonverbal messages can be used to accent or emphasize distinct points in verbal messages. Pausing before saying something tends to make what will be said next, which appear more important to the other person. 6) Substituting: substitution occurs when nonverbal messages rather than verbal messages are sent.

different culture. So the way people in different countries communicate is different too. For example, Arab men often greet by kissing on both cheeks. In Japan men greet by bowing .In the Unite States, people shake hands to show "their greeting". And the gesture of putting a hand on a person' neck is different for Chinese and Americans. For Chinese, it is to say "someone will be killed". For Americans, it shows "I'm full".And in Thailand, if you want to signal a person to come near, you should move the fingers back and forth with palm down. But in the United States, you ask someone to come by holding the palm up and moving the fingers towards our body. And crossing one's legs in the United States is a sign of being...
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