Symbols in Communication

Topics: Communication, Semiotics, Language Pages: 9 (1484 words) Published: December 16, 2009

BY MERT YAZGAN 070050484


Symbols can represent communication and as such are a form of language.Are humans

truly the only primates that can understand language ? Can other species talk? Chimpanzees

are competent in learning a basic form of language and can constructively express their ideas.

Some scientists believe that one day these primates will be able to communicate masterfully

through the use of signs and symbols. In our awareness of the chimpanzee’s inability to speak

vocally, should we also exclude the from independent symbol creation? (Human Societies:

An Introduction to Macrosociology. 9th ed. Nolan, Lenski, p. 15)

To begin examining the origin of the use of symbols as a form of communication, one must

look back in history almost 6000 years. Limestone tablets dated back to 3500 B.C. were found

to bear some of the oldest known writing. On each tablet are symbols for head, hand, foot,

threshing sledge, and several numerals. (Human Societies: An Introduction to

Macrosociology. 9th ed. Patrick Nolan, Gerhard Lenski, p. 34) Although humans began

writing structured messages as early as 6000 B.C., the actual use of symbols dates back

almost 40,000 years ago.But what is language and what is communication and how does it

works ? Verbal communication is far from the only form.

First of all, a sign is something we directly encounter, yet at the same time it refers to

something else. Thunder is a sign of rain. A punch in the nose is a sign of anger. An arrow is a

sign of whatever it points toward.On the other hand, words are also signs, but of a special

kind. In some way, they are symbols too. Unlike the example cited above, most symbols have

no natural connection with the things they describe. There’s nothing in the sound of the word

kiss or anything visual in the letters h-u-g that signifies an embrace. One could just as easily

coin the term snarf or clag to symbolize a close encounter of the romantic kind.

In our current world over 6500 various languages exist however when one smiles, the

meaning is universal. Symbols hold incredible importance in global communication.

So as coming for symbols, they are representations of an event, action, object, person, or

place that can be used to communicate about the event, action, object, person, or place.

Language is a code and every decoding is another encoding.In most essential way, symbols

are something stand for something other than what it actually is.Symbols are more complex in

their meaning and complex in what they evoke.Complex symbols corporate a mass of values,

emotions, judgements and can be particularly powerful and explosive such as a flag or

religious item.In some countries you can punished hard for burning a flag.Another example, if

we burn a quran in Tibet, it means nothing however, if we burn it in Middle East, it will be

quite explosive and serious.So symbols also actually depends where they are and for what

they stand. Symbols can be used for both receptive and expressive communication. Objects,

parts of objects, pictures, print, actions, gestures, signs, and speech can all be symbols.

Symbols may start as cues and signals. If a child recognizes a cue out of context, that cue may

be acting as a symbol. If a child uses a signal or an object cue to communicate about an event,

action, object, person or place out of context, the child may be using that signal or cue as a

symbol, as talking for humans.Maybe the most important thing thing about the symbols is ‘’

The more a symbol resembles what it represents, the more concrete that symbol is. The less a

symbol resembles what it represents, the more abstract that symbol is.’’

Symbols in communication is important because not only human use it but...

Bibliography: -The Lectures of Harvard, Yale, and Cambridge Universities
Symbols, Language and Communication
-Chimp vs. Human DNA: what 's in the 1% difference? Cornell University School Service. Andrew G. Clark (2003)
-Communication, Symbols and Meaning by John A. Cagle
-Mad Men Season 1 Episode 8 – The Hobo Code (for the video)
from (23:56 and 26:59) to (34:59 and 37:27) minutes
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