ITU SUNY NEW PALTZ
UNDERGRADUATE JOINT BUSINESS DEGREE PROGRAM
BUSINESS COMMUNICATION BUS 206
SYMBOLS IN COMMUNICATION
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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