Oral Utterances as Nonverbal Behaviour
Both in traditional Indian grammars and in modern studies of nonverbal behaviour,
certain types of oral utterance are considered to be nonverbal behaviour. These
are utterances may be linguistic utterances in the sense that, like other utterances
in a language, these utterances could also be divided into words, phonemes, etc.,
and these utterances are, thus, linguistically structured. Other oral utterances,
which cannot be analyzed into recurring linguistic units and patterns and which
are generally treated as matters outside the purview of linguistic utterances,
are another category which falls within nonverbal utterances. While, thus, nonverbal
behaviour is considered, both in modern times and in traditional ancient grammars
as anything other than speech (in traditional grammar anything of communicative
act that manifests itself in bodily actions other than speech), there has always
been a recognition that certain oral utterances are also to be treated as nonverbal
behaviour. In Tolkappiyam, a Tamil grammatical treatise of pre-Christian era,
there appears to be a distinction made between oral utterances that are the conveyors
of information based on internal deliberations and oral utterances that convey
internal emotions. An utterance that reveals the internal emotions, utterances
that are 'emotional outbursts of inner commotion and feelings' is considered an
utterance of meyppau (communication via bodily manifestations). This category
could include utterances which in modern category could include utterances which
in modern linguistics are generally considered paralinguistic as well as regular
linguistic utterances, which are analyzable into and made of phonemes, words,
sentences, etc., the building blocks, structures and patterns of regular linguistic
utterances. Such a position is found attestabel in the Sanskritic tradition as
well. Bharata considered that regular speech utterances could also be one of the
abhinayas. This abhinaya he called as vachika abhinaya. The ancient s arrived
at this very significant conclusion because of their analysis of Rasa and Dhvani
concepts. As pointed out in the first chapter, both these concepts have ready
relevance to the foundations of research on nonverbal behaviour even today. In
fact the concerns of the theories of Rasa and Dhavani are very much the basic
tenets of modern studies of nonverbal behaviour, although not recognized so in
the discipline. Abhinavagupta, that great master who among all others must be
considered the innovations of Indian studies and whose studies could easily be
ranked with those of Aristotle, seems to have realized that no system of poetics,
like no system of Dramaturgy, can ever completely ignore the feelings, moods and
sentiments and must find an important place for Rasa, the manifestation of which
is as much the business of poetry as of drama. He elaborated the theory of Rasa
in such a way as to remove the deficiencies of earlier theories by supplying additional
features and also fitted it well into the dhvani-theory. The dhvani school, in
its analysis of the essentials of poetry, found that the contents of a good poem
may be generally distinguished into two parts. The first part is that which is
expressed and which includes what is given in so many words; in the other part,
content is not expressed, but must be added to the poem by the imagination of
the reader or the listener. The unexpressed or the suggested part, which is distinctly
linked up with the expressed and which is developed by a peculiar process of suggestion
(vyanjana), is taken to be the 'soul' or essence of poetry. To the grammarians
and learned writers, it seemed paradoxical to state that the very essence of a
poem is that which is not even expressed. On the other hand, some form of symbolical
speech in which wisdom demands that one should express one self more in hints
and suggestions than in actual words was always in vogue, and the poets had been
more or less partial to the method of speaking in metaphor or wrapping up their
ideas in transparent allegories. But the suggestive poetry is something different
from the merely metaphorical. The metaphorical or the allegoric, however veiled
it may be, is still in a sense expressed and must be taken as such, but the suggestive
(vyangya) is always unexpressed and is therefore a source of greater charm through
its capacity of concealment; for this concealment, in which consists the essence
of art, is in reality no concealment at all. Thus, what we notice in these discussions
is, first of all, the dichotomy between behaviour communicated via linguistic
utterances and nonlinguistic conduct. Secondly, the linguistic behaviour is divided
into those expressed explicitly through words and those expressed/suggested without
words. The latter is viewed, among others, merging with the nonlinguistic conduct.
The nonlinguistic conduct, at any rate, becomes one of the major carriers of this
suggestive role of linguistic utterances left unexpressed manifestly. Thirdly,
this suggestive power, and through it the nonlinguistic conduct, is assumed to
be the soul of the entire communication episode. In other words, while the nonlinguistic,
the nonverbal expression, is basic and fundamental in the unfolding of communicative
processes and intent, it also becomes the most important process for relish.
In modern researches on nonverbal behaviour also, a dichotomy
between linguistic/verbal utterances and nonverbal conduct is made. Further there
is also a distinction between utterances that are linguistic proper and that are
linguistically organized in terms of explicitly analyzable linguistic units, such
as phonemes, words and sentences on the one hand and utterances that are mainly
emotional but more importantly do not lend themselves to analysis through linguistics
units. There is also another category, very much similar to the ones intended
in traditional Indian grammars, which, though consisting of linguistic utterances
and thus should be considered verbal, derive their communicative nature mainly
be virtue of their suggestive power. This power, in its turn, is derived not from
linguistic structures and units present but from what is absent in such linguistic
structures and units. Of the three categories which are based on verbal utterance,
the latter two are considered as falling within the nonverbal category. Note that
this approach is similar to the one we find in the Dhvani school. While it may
not be categorically said that all those working on the nonverbal behaviour consider
nonverbal as more basic than verbal language and reflecting the original bases
of communication such an attitude is easily recognized in modern studies of nonverbal
behaviour as well.
We have already pointed
out (in Chapter 1) that the boundary between verbal and nonverbal behaviour is
always blurred. Above we have indicated that certain aspects of speech also are
considered falling within the domains of nonverbal behaviour. The reasons for
this inclusion of aspects of speech as well within the domains of nonverbal behaviour
are as follows: (i) These aspects, which are variously called paralinguistic or
nonlinguistic or vocal phenomena, are subtle aspects of speech, not explicit,
but fully comprehended by many. (ii) These aspects are not easily amenable for
description. In other words, the elements which constitute these aspects are not
easily identifiable. They seem to be unified as entities, not amenable for structural
decomposition, (iii) What is communicated by these utterances is not due to the
words and sentences that constitute the utterances, but because of their absence.
Concealment communicates. The suggestive power of the utterances lies in what
they have concealed. Since communication, is real sense, is not carried on, in
theses circumstances, via linguistic structures/ utterances manifestly, one tends
to take such communications as falling within nonverbal communication processes.
(iv) These oral utterances work as cohesive single units independent of language
as well, in addition to their being able to cut across languages and cultures
in several instances, even though these utterances are made orally. (v) Yet another
aspect of the problem is the difficulty in separating the verbal from the nonverbal
in a total communicative context. Both are engaged semblance of communication.
(vi) Another criterion is that those which involve emotions and feelings and those
utterances which are made instantaneously are considered nonverbal. This is stated
on the basis of the assumption that there are more deliberations in the verbal
conduct than in the nonverbal act, (vii) There is also the difficulty in comprehenances.
These characteristic have forced the investigators to consider some types of manifestly
oral utterances also as nonverbal. In addition, since nonverbal behaviour is considered
as distinct from speech, it includes silence also. Fundamental frequency range,
intensity range, speech errors, pauses, speech rate and speech duration also are
considered features of nonverbal behaviour. These features are of a nature that
somewhat eludes explicit description when used in communicative contexts. In other
words, these features are employed for implied meanings and are not explicitly
describable and stated as linguistic units. Also included in discussion of nonverbal
behaviour are other communication phenomena, such as sarcasm where inconsistent
combination of verbal and nonverbal behaviour takes on special significance in
subtly conveying meanings.
4.2. Nonverbal Communication Via Linguistic
Structure : Implied Meanings
which we consider here as conveying nonverbal communicative information, namely,
implied meanings, are also dealt with in linguistics and philosophy under the
terms presuppositions, implications, implicature, etc. In philosophy and linguistics,
every linguistic utterance may be conceived as an utterance of presupposition/implicature.
In the study of nonverbal communication via language, however, only those linguistic
utterances which leaves out linguistic items (at the segmental level ) explicitly
and yet are understood in the sense conveyed by those items left out are considered
having presuppositions, implication, etc. Also items that have a direct bearing
on emotional states, preferences, status and other factors of conduct in the external
world receive a pointed attentions. For example, the sentence Please open the
door, when uttered, may be analysed in term of certain presuppositions, in linguistics.
These presuppositions are (Fillmore, 1969): The target addressed is in a position
to know what door has been mentioned, and also only if that door is not open at
the time of the utterance. Specifically, there are presuppositions having to do
with the fact that the target addressed must understand English, be totally paralyzed,
etc., which have to do with questions of good faith in speech communication. There
are also presuppositions about the existence and specificity of the definite article.
There are presuppositions about the closed state of the door which must be treated
as properties of the verb open.
none of the above generally qualifies to be considered as an implication of nonverbal
import in the study of nonverbal communication. The implied meanings taken into
account as falling within the study of nonverbal communication are of a different
sort. Consider another example: the word bachelor, when used as a predicate means
only the property of having never been married and uses of this word presuppose
that the entities being described are human, male and adult. This sort of presupposition,
unless they are brought to the foreground for a deliberate purpose of communication,
is not viewed as one of implication falling within nonverbal communicative act.
Thus, there are differences in the coverage of implied meanings in the fields
of study of nonverbal communication on the one hand and philosophy and linguistics
on the other. While all these three fields touch upon implied meanings, their
scope of coverage and the aim of study of implied meanings are different. In linguistics,
the coverage of implied meanings as part of linguistic description, and as an
integral part of bases of languages as well as of performance of language, in
recent times, is a consequence of developments in linguistic theory. Study of
selectional restriction, in linguistics, led to a focus on the study of presuppositions
exploited in the structural organization of language. Selectional restrictions
determine which verbs can go with which nouns in a sentence. In normal language
use, the nouns and verbs in a sentence must match in terms of their features.
The rules that relate to the features of words are called selectional restrictions.
For example, the verb laugh requires a human subject to produce a grammatically
acceptable sentence. In a sentence, such as The dog laughed, there is a matching
of a non-human but animate subject with a verb distinctly marked human. This matching
results in a deviant sentence, which will be acceptable only if one assumes that
the animal subject has or is ascribed human qualities. Originally the selectional
violation of this sort was considered a syntactical error by various transformational-generative
grammarians. Since this conception was seen as not fully accounting for known
facts of language structure and use, several grammarians (Fillmore 1965, 1968
and 1969) began discussing the errors of this sort as those caused by failures
in presuppositions. Problems with sentences, such as My toothbrush admires sincerity
were considered not as syntactical ones but as those which involves presupposition
failure. From this the studies started covering also other aspects of implied
meanings and how implied meanings are carried on and expressed by linguistic structures.
Linguistic investigations revealed that presuppositions of utterances can be linked
with linguistic structures and many linguistic structures are governed/used for
expressing implied meanings and that there are, indeed, various types of implied
Keenan (1971) identifies items of grammatical structure
(in English) that lend themselves for the expression of implied meanings. These
are as follows:
1) Factive Predicates:
That Fred left surprised (didn't surprise) Mary. The presupposition of this sentence
is Fred left..
2) "Definite" Names: John called (didn't
call). The presupposition is that John exists.
Sentences: It was (wasn't) John who caught the thief. The presupposition is that
someone caught the thief.
4) Selectional Restrictions: That
arithmetic is incomplete surprised (didn't surprise) Magrid. The presupposition
here is that Magrid is animate and intelligent.
Subordinate Clauses: John left (didn't leave) when/before/after Mary called. The
presupposition is that Mary called.
6) Nonrestrictive Relatives:
The Tiv, who respected Bohannon, are (are not) a generous people. That the Tiv
respected Bohannon is the presupposition here.
7) Certain Aspectuals:
Fred quit (didn't quit) speaking. Fred was speaking is the presupposition.
8) Iteratives: Fred ate (didn't eat) another turnip. The presupposition here is
that Fred ate at least one turnip.
9) Presuppositional Quantifiers:
(Not) only Fred shot himself. The presupposition is that Fred shot himself.
Note that the analyses given above, in fact, most linguistic
analyses of presuppositions, focus upon sentences and their parts. Note that in
no case does the cited presupposition for sentences listed exhaust all the possible
presuppositions. In other words, the presuppositions for a sentence can be numerous
and can be visualized as a bottomless pit. Moreover, even if we are able to demarcate
clearly as to which of the implied meanings from the possible implied meanings
identified/dentifiable in logic and linguistics for a linguistic utterance, are
directly relevant and falling within the scope of nonverbal communication, the
demarcation would be a fuzzy one only, because of numerous overlappings and uncertainties.
The state is caused by the nature of implication itself. However studies of presupposition
in linguistics and logic have certainly hit upon an area of linguistic competence
as well as of performance that requires insightful analysis. For instance, consider
the following example (Cole, 1975): Pamela being asked (a), might reply (b),
(a) How are you doing in your new position at San Andreas
(b) Well, I haven't been fired yet.
The question put to Pamela seeks information as to how she
is getting along in here new post whereas the reply given to this questions, instead
of answering the question directly, reports roughly that Pamela has not yet lost
her job. This reply, however, implies more than what is literally said in the
answer. Pamela is suggesting, either seriously or jokingly, that being fired is
a distinct possibility for her. 'When an answer, like this one is not directly
relevant, the person to whom the answer is directed asks himself what conditions
must obtain for the answer to be relevant. By hypothesizing what these conditions
might be, he may deduce what the answer intended to communicate by means of his
answer' (Cole, 1975). The deduction is based on the literal meaning of the answer
and on the hypothesized state of affairs that would make the answer relevant to
the question. How is this linkage between the literal meaning and implied meaning
established on the one hand and how is the relation between the conversational
point raised originally by one and the answer provided (literal answer) established
are questions that agitate the philosophers. In the case of linguistics, as already
pointed out, the focus is on the implied meanings conveyed by a sentence and/or
its parts. The focus, here, is not generally upon the implied meanings of the
discourse. In the case of philosophy it is the discourse-based implied meanings
that are focused upon. Conversational implicature or indirect speech acts that
give the implied meanings of a conversations are focused upon in the philosophical
investigations of presuppositions.
H.P.Grice (1975) makes a
distinction between natural meaning and non-natural meaning of sentences/acts
produced. The utterances of the non-natural meaning category do not directly give
the addressee the message the speaker wishes to convey; rather the addressee must
do a certain amount of inference. This is revealed in examples, such as
1) A asks B how C is getting on in his job and B replies, Oh quite sell, I think;
he likes his colleagues, and he hasn't been to prison yet.
2) A: Simth doesn't seem to have a girl friend these days.
B: He has been paying a lot of visits to New York lately.
The conveyance of "massage" in each instance of non-natural meaning
is a function of the speaker's intention, addressee recognition of the speaker's
intentions, and addressee response on the basis of that recognition of intention.
The cases of natural meaning, on the other hand, are those in which direct telling
is involved; these cases tell the addressee exactly what he is to know, "just
as surely as smoke tells us there is fire". The non-natural meaning is the
conversational implicature. Basically there are two types of implicature. The
conventional implicature (similar to what linguists have dealt with under presupposition,
listed earlier in this section) appear to be determined by the conventional meaning
of the words, besides helping to determine what is said: 'He is an English; he
is, therefore, brave'. The conversational implicatures are connected with certain
general features of discourse. 'Conversational implicature is basically the notion
that an utterance may mean one thing as uttered while implying (or meaning) quite
another thing as understood. In cases of conversational implicature, what is meant
is not what is said' (Grice, 1975).
Grice (1975) points out
that our talk exchanges do not normally consist of a succession of disconnected
remarks; they are characteristically, to some degree at least, cooperative efforts.
Participants observe a rule, namely: 'Make conversational contribution such as
is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction
of the talk exchange in which you are engaged'. This is called the cooperative
principle. There are four categories with same specific and submaxims governed
under the Cooperative principle. The four categories are Quantity, Quality, Relation
and Manner. The category of quantity relates to the quantity of information to
be provided, with the following maxims: (i) Make your contribution as informative
as is required (for the current purposes of the exchange). (ii) Do not make your
contribution more informative than is required. Under the category of Quality
falls a supermaxim - Try to make your contribution one that is true - and, two
more specific maxims: (a) Do not say what you believe to be false, (b) Do not
say a thing for which you lack adequate evidence. Under the category of Relation,
there is a single maxim: Be relevant. Under the category of Manner - the supermaxim
Be perspicuous operates. Others are
Avoid obscurity of expression.
2) Avoid ambiguity.
3) Be brief (avoid unnecessary proclivity).
4) Be orderly.
Normal conversation between individuals is carried out in
this fashion. Implied meanings are created in discourses by flouting the cooperative
principle in conversations in several ways. To work out that a particular conversational
implicature is present, the hearer will rely on the following data :
1) The conversational meaning of the words used, together with the identity of
any references that may be involved;
2) The cooperative principle
and its maxims;
3) The context, linguistic or otherwise, of
4) Other items of background knowledge; and
5) The fact (or supposed fact) that all relevant items falling under the previous
headings are available to both participants, and both participants know or assume
this to be the case.
Grice takes the above as the basis of
conversational interaction between individuals and implicitly proposes that the
implied meanings are caused by some "violation" or other to these basic
principles underlying conversational structure. Thus, the implied meanings are
found under four categories, namely,
(a) Flouting of Quantity,
(b) Flouting of Quality.
(c) Flouting of
(d) Flouting of Manner.
Flouting of Quantity:
A is writing a testimonial about a pupil
who is a candidate for a philosophy job, and his letter reads as follows: Dear
sir, Mr. X's command of English is excellent, and his attendance at tutorials
has been regular.
(b) Flouting of Quality:
1) Irony: X, with whom A has been on close terms until now, has betrayed a secret
of A's to a business rival. A and his audience both know this. A says "X
is a fine friend".
2) Metaphor: You are my cream in my
coffee. The speaker is attributing to his audience some feature of features in
respect of which the audience resembles (more or less fancifully) the mentioned
3) It is possible to combine metaphor and irony
by imposing on the hearer two stages of interpretation. You are the cream in my
coffee (You are my pride and joy), and then the irony interpretant, your are my
4) Melosis: Of a man known to have broken up all the
furniture, one says He was a little intoxicated.
Every nice girl loves a sailor.
(c) Flouting of Relation:
At a genteel tea party A says Mrs.X is an old bag. There is a moment of appalled
silence, and the B says The weather has bee quite delightful this summer, hasn't
it? B has blatantly refused to make what HE says relevant to A's preceding remark.
He thereby implicates that A's remarks should not be discussed and, perhaps more
specifically, the A has committed a social gaffe.
Ambiguity (deliberate and intended to be recognized
Failure to be brief
or succinct: Miss X produced a series of sounds that corresponded closely with
the score of Home sweet home.
The implied meanings which are
studied in linguistics, and philosophy, and in the field of nonverbal communication
are dealt with differently in these fields. While in linguistics the implied meanings
are studied in relation to their expression via individual sentences and parts
of sentences and words, the study of implied meanings in philosophy focuses on
the occurrence of implied meanings in discourse as conversational implications
and also on how comprehension of implied meanings takes place. From the sentential
focus in linguistics we go over to focus on discourse of implied meanings are
comprehended, offering an analysis of the processes and categories involved. The
study of implied meanings in the field of nonverbal communication focuses more
on the effects of implied meanings than on the linguistic structure or on the
comprehension processes. What external factors, such as status, proxemics, etc.,
influence or cause the expression of implied meanings and how these implied meanings
are exploited to reveal the factors/elements of nonverbal communicative behaviour
become the focus of attention.
The nonverbal communication
via language takes several forms - there is manipulation of structures on the
one hand and there is also the manipulation of words on the other in sentences.
By these manoeuvres the speaker communicates attitudes, likes, distances and feelings/emotions
even as the constituents of sentences do not contain in themselves the same content
in any literal manner. These changes, it may be noted, do occur within speech
itself and may or may not have (mostly the latter) nonverbal physical manifestations.
They are part of speech, but physically "found" rather in their absence
in sentences. They are found in the process of manipulation, the process of implication.
Nonverbal communication via language focuses upon the communicator's particular
experience of an event , his relationship to the addressee and his relationship
to the message. Verbal communications seems to focus ordinarily on objective world.
The individual's experiences, emotions, evaluation, preference, etc., although
revealed via language units of words and sentences in an explicit manner, social
constraints, emotional status of individuals, personality factors of individuals
engaged in interaction, constraints of media employed, the need for secrecy and
so on force individuals to resort to a type of "round about" language
use with implied meanings. Individuals feel relieved and sure that they have communicated
what they wanted to in an adequate manner by this process which for them avoids
embarrassing or insecure moments. There is a continuous process, some prescribed
and taught by socialization processes, and some innovated by individuals but within
the limits of comprehension, by which the society evolves a close conjunction
between verbal and nonverbal communication.
in linguistics, aspects of language use and manipulation of linguistic structures
for nonverbal communication do not receive any pointed attention except in some
schools or rather subschools of linguistics. However, a closer look into the operation
of linguistic structures, especially from the point of view of assumptions we
have already listed (4.2), reveal clearly that nonverbal communication via language
has certain specified corners in linguistic structure. Keenan's identification
of these corners has been already presented above. Use of pronouns, tense, adjectivals
and adverbials, and specialized words acting as symbols for a series of layers
of meanings abet nonverbal communication via language. In other words, information
(rather absence or distortion of information) on dramatic personae, location,
time and symbols combining these three become carriers of nonverbal communication.
The speaker's role vis-a-vis the above completes the cycle of nonverbal communication
- speaker's attitudes, likes judgements, involvement, etc., become the focus in
the entire episode and the distortion of information is pursued to highlight the
Investigation of the characteristics
of language use in nonverbal communication that communicate various cues of interpersonal
relationships have not been investigated in any detailed manner in linguistics
(except as listed earlier). Information on this subject matter is scattered in
various articles of both psychological and anthropological interests as well as
in various forms of tests prepared for psychological experiments. The nonverbal
communicative dimensions of these aspects were originally emphasized in recent
times in the work of Wiener and Mehrabian (1968). Wiener and Mehrabian focus on
the implied relationship and meanings between the speaker, the objects and events,
and the message implied. They identify the relationships under various heads,
namely, spatio-temporal indicators of implied meanings, denotative specificity
leading on to implied meanings, selective emphasis of occurrence in an utterance
which brings out the implication, Implied meanings based on agent-action-object
relationships, use of modifiers to linguistic items that give implied meanings,
and other processes.
Let us consider some
1) The husband and wife living under the same
roof may choose to address one another through letters, or an intermediary person,
signifying the "distance" between them in their relations at that moment,
to signify their anger towards one another, etc. One may choose to reply in writing
to signify the distance between him and the individual he addresses, even when
the person addressed is physically present face to face. The switch-over from
one usual form of communication to another here signifies the changed relationship
2) Like wise one may switch from an informal
form of language use to the use of formal language; one may switch from the use
of the colloquial to the written form of language signifying the change in content
and/or interpersonal relationship.
3) To signify the "distance"
between individuals who have had close relations until then, one may refuse to
use the address terms, nicknames, pet names, and so on, to address each other.
4) To signify the " distance" between individuals, and may not use or,
if one has used it till then, may stop using the first name, and address one another
in formal terms.
5) To signify the close relationships between
individuals, one may start using first names, pet names, etc. One may also start
using terms of endearments.
6) To signify the growing "distance"
between individuals, their dislikes, etc., one may use the correct form of address
demanded only on formal occasions, at all the occasions.
The reference to individuals not present also can be so modulated as to reveal
the king of relationship, distances, likes and dislikes, etc., the speaker has
for the person referred to.
8) Spontaneity or otherwise of
an acknowledgment, in words, of help rendered/received can carry implied meanings,
acting as nonverbal communication.
9) Spontaneity or otherwise
of an acknowledgment, in words, of some deeds, possessions, characteristics of
an individual, etc., can carry implied meanings, acting as nonverbal communication.
10) To refer to a person in neuter or in masculine or faminine
singular, in most Indian languages, communicates the low estimation the speaker
has for the one who is addressed or referred to, especially when address and/or
reference to that individual is normally in respectful terms (in plural).
11) A speaker can imply his exclusion or inclusion in a group (Mehrabian, 1972):
I think we enjoyed ourselves/I think they enjoyed themselves.
12) A speaker can imply that one particular object and not the other is involved:
I think they enjoyed the party.
13) A speaker can imply differences
in his relationship to the objects in the statement : I think I enjoyed their
14) A speaker can vary the tense in the utterance
to imply that a particular event is relevant or not relevant now: I think they
were enjoying themselves.
15) A speaker can choose modifiers
to focus on the relationship between him and the object: They acted as if they
enjoyed themselves. This ascribes ambiguity/uncertainty. I am sure they enjoyed
themselves. This ascribes certainty.
16) A speaker can choose
modifiers to emphasize his particular interpretation of the event: I am sure that
they enjoyed the party.
A speaker can separate himself from
the object of his message, from his addressee or from the message itself. This
is clearly revealed in the use of linguistic structures. This speech non-immediacy
involves locative adverbs, tense and pronouns. Consider the following examples:
17) One separates himself from others who are also physically present in the same
place by saying 'I do not understand those people'. The words this, that, these,
those, here, there, near, now, far away and long ago all can be used to imply
distance and separation between those engaged in an interaction.
Another means to imply non-immediacy is the use to tense. In response to the question
"Are you a member of the Staff Society?" if the answer given in "I
have been a member", this answer implies the non-immediacy between the answerer
and the object. Note that in Tamil and several other Indian languages, the equational
sentence pattern (with both subject and predicate as nouns and without any verb
- itu viiu "This house" meaning "This is a house") is used
for "I am a member" construction and that once the remoteness in time
is to be expressed, conversion from the equational to the verbal structure is
demanded [nan urppinan "I member" ("I am a member")] is changed
to nan uruppinanay irunten ("I have been a member"). Thus, this conversion
process itself may indicate the non-immediacy between the speaker and the object.
Note further that both spatial and temporal non-immediacy indicates, generally
speaking, negative attitudes and preferences (Mehrabian, 1972). The choice of
linguistic structures, here, is not simply a matter of style. The choice has certain
functions. To that extent, language fulfils and retains the nonverbal bases of
Denotative specificity or lack of it is another language characteristic that is
exploited to imply meanings, relating to preferences, likes, etc. Consider the
example given by Mehrabian (1972): Our daughter to be, our son's fiancee, his
fiancee, his lady friend, his friend, she, the person, or that thing. One notices
decreasing degrees of denotative specificity in the above utterances linked with
the expression of decreasing degrees of liking.
this example: I like the wrapper of this book. Here the reference is overspecific
or over-exclusive. This also shows the distance and dislike.
21) By manipulating personal pronouns to denote some one or some objects, we may
reveal non-immediacy. Use of I is more specific than we which is more specific
than "people" which in its turn is more specific than the use of "one"
in a sentence giving some generalized information. Quantum of specificity here
is linked with the quantum of immediacy professed by the subject towards an object.
22) Another linguistic structure that is often exploited to indicate non-immediacy,
non-involvement and lack of preference is the use of negation. The answer 'It
wasn't bad' is a good example of this phenomenon.
23) The order
in which objects are presented in a conversation, etc., also indicates nonverbally
the focus of importance bestowed upon persons, objects and events. The order in
which persons, objects or events are presented highlights the immediacy in some
sense. Note that the order of narration could be influenced by other reasons such
as the emotional states of narrators. Status and importance assigned are, however,
clearly implied by the order of presentation on most occasions.
24) Consider the following sets of sentences :
(a) They are
She was fighting with him.
was fighting with her.
Each one of these sentences presents
the objective event of fighting, with some implied meaning focusing on the agent/agents.
The choice of the word to denote the agent implies the view of the speaker.
(b) I want to school with my mother.
I was taken to school
by my mother.
sentences imply volition or otherwise of the act.
(c) I should
go, I have to go,
I am compelled to go.
in contrast to
I want to go, I would like to go or
I will go.
The sentences of the former set imply compulsion.
(d) pena tolaintuviatu
in contrast to
in Tamil. The first sentence literally means that
the pen got itself lost whereas the second sentence means that "I have lost
the pen". The first sentence implies several possibilities/modes that have
led to the loss of the pen, ascribing no particular agent or reason. The second
sentence specifies the agent. Thus, the distinction between the weak (former)
form and strong form (the latter) of verb, revolving around intransitive and transitive
distinctions of verb communicates the extent of involvement and assumption of
responsibility for the loss of pen.
25) Uses of modifiers to
statements, such as I think, I believe, I feel implies that what the speaker experiences
may not be experienced the same way by the listener.
of modifiers to statements, such as It is obvious, It is evident, It is simply
true separates the speaker from the objects in his message. Modifiers generally
have the function of indicating 'the speaker's less positive attitude toward the
event described, or his reluctance to relay this information to that particular
addressee' (Mehrabian 1972). The modifiers also decrease immediacy.
27) Consider the following sentences:
I just borrowed it for
a moment or two.
It is only a minor change.
It is really unimportant.
It is simply unnecessary.
Through the use of words like just, only, simply, you know, etc., the speaker
whishes to communicate his involuntary or minimal association. The use indicates
negative attitudes towards the object in the message or the reporting of the events
to the addressee.
28) Phrases, such as you know?, Right?, that
is, well, uh indicate false starts and imply ambivalence.
Choice of terms of endearments also implies the likes and dislikes on the one
hand and the immediacy or non-immediacy between the speaker and the addressee.
There is a strange contradictory posture in the use of endearment terms derived
from sexual organs and sexual relations. At times the use of such endearment terms
is considered revealing the positive relationship between the speaker and the
addressee. At other times, when the situation is tense with anger and growing
misunderstanding, the use of same terms comes to imply the dislike and growing
30) The same situation is found in the use of
kinship terms as terms of address and reference.
process which implies immediacy as well as non-immediacy is the process of 'naming'.
To imply the liking and the close relationship between individuals one may resort
to calling the other in first person, pet name, nickname, etc. The process may
be exploited also for implying the growing distance between the speaker and the
addressee under conditions wherein the closeness of relations has been implied
by means other than the use of first name.
There are several other linguistic mechanisms that lend themselves for implicit,
nonverbal communication via language. These linguistic structures are generally
covered in grammars as formal units (based on the order of occurrence and distribution
of forms), but not usually looked at from the point of view of implicit nonverbal
communication. We give below a few additional processes noticed in an Indian language,
Tamil. Each of the following is a structural process and as such the units are
describable formally. But their function is found not in their formal composition/constitution
but what they imply when they are used.
1) Use of neuter affixes
in finite verb constructions in the place of affixes that indicate a human is
the subject of the main verb in the sentence. In Raman ---------- 'Raman - he
goes, (Raman goes)' an at the end indicates that the subject of the sentence is
a human. The same sentence can be made to end in neuter suffix to imply, among
other things, a negative attitude to the subject: Raman ----------- 'Raman - it
goes (Raman goes)'.
2) One may address an individual either
in a main verb ending sentence type or in a modal verb ending sentence type, for
giving directives, etc. Addressing on individual in main verb ending sentences
(-------------------------'you this that like do', You do that like this) immediately
places the addressee in honorific - non-honorific scale. Addressing an individual
in a modal verb ending sentence type (----------------------------------'this
that may do' (You) may do this like that) even with a non-honorific second person
pronoun in the subject position makes one feel that the speaker wants to be either
respectful to some extent or wants to be non-committal. Modal verb ending sentences
in Tamil and many Indian language carry in them an implication of non-involvement/non-committal
on the part of the speaker and provide options to the addressee.
3) There are many linguistic factors found in language performance which also
give out several implied meanings. For example, knowledge of other languages,
in particular knowledge of English as revealed through an interspersing of loan
words, phrases, idioms and sentences in the speech of the speaker imply his status
and could elicit either negative or positive effects in the addressee. However,
note an interesting facet. A qualitative distinction between the affects caused
by the use of a borrowed word with the same pronunciation of the word as found
in the donor language as opposed to use of the borrowed word with the "corrupt"
pronunciation as found in the recipient language is made. Utterance of a borrowed
word with its original pronunciation as found in the donor language implies a
higher social and educational status for the speaker whereas ceases to evoke any
particular respect from other individuals in the interaction. Use of phrases is,
however, generally done only by the educated and as such use of a phrase borrowed
from another language, in particular English, implies that the speaker is educated,
when he uses it. Code-switching in the sense of switching over from an Indian
language to English also implies a higher social and educational status.
4) We have referred to the process of neuterization which is used to imply negative
effect [see(1) above]. The same neuterization process can be used also to imply
a superior status of the person addressed. The shopkeeper tends to address and/or
refer to the woman customer in third person singular neuter as a mark of respect.
This device is resorted to by the servants. The masters also resort to this process
when referring to servants to whom, for various reasons, such as age, blood relationship,
etc., such deference is due. As opposed to this there is another behaviour in
which elevation as a process of downgrading is resorted to. In the latter context,
the speaker, by the norms, is expected only to use the second person singular
pronoun form to address the addressee or use the third person human singular pronoun
form to indicate the person referred to, since only such address and reference
are appropriate to the address the addressee or use the third person referred
to. But, in order to imply displeasure and/or disrespect, the speaker would use
the second person plural pronoun form which is normally used to show respect and
the corresponding plural ending (respectful form) in the verb to indicate the
person referred to. Another process is the process of downgrading when the addressee
is absent. Face to face, an individual is addressed with second person plural
pronoun form and with plural ending in the verb, and other deferential gestures,
etc., but when the addressee is absent, the reference is mad to him with third
person human singular pronoun form with singular ending in verb, to imply disrespect.
At times, respect to others is to be implied by no addressing them directly using
second person pronouns. Even in face to face interaction they are to be "
addressed" not in second person, but in third person. Use of pronoun forms
for face to face address implies showing disrespect, thus, in certain contexts.
The use of other types of address forms than pronouns is to be generally avoided.
This is very clearly demonstrated in master-servant relationship between Gurus
and disciples in several Hindu sects and abbeys.
Implication via language can, indeed, take on many forms - every linguistic item
can lend itself to this process, once the conversation ambit is well established
between two individuals engaged in interaction. This ambit is dependent on limits
of comprehension imposed on individuals by the linguistic structures and social
contexts. However, the individuals can construct their own ambit which mostly
falls within the socially accepted comprehension procedures but at times takes
on idiosyncratic propositions. The implications are found placed in linguistic
structures of individual sentences, parts of sentences and individual words. Implications
are also found across sentences within the utterances of a speaker and/or in utterances
jointly engaged in by the speaker and the addressee. These implications carry
nonverbally, or act as means for the expression of positive or negative affects,
proxemic variables involving both individual and social factors, and could also
be used to reveal the status and interpersonal relations of individuals engaged
in interaction. The study of nonverbal communication focuses itself on the role
of the implications not in terms of the linguistic or conversational structures
but on the effects to which the implications are used.
4.3. Oral Nonverbal Communication
Inconsistent communication is one form of oral communication that has nonverbal
denotations. There are two types of inconsistency - one inconsistency is found
in the linguistic utterance itself and another inconsistency is between linguistic
utterances and nonverbal behaviour. The first type of inconsistency comes from
the fact that while the utterance has the structure of a positive statement, its
import is taken to be negative. This is achieved in several ways. With certain
emphasis markers uttered in a tone of disbelief, the intended effect is brought
out. For example, consider this Tamil sentence:
Oh! he? He will certainly come.
The utterance with the emphasis marker (boldface) uttered in a tone of disbelief
gives the meaning that he will not come. Also, be repetition to the word or phrase
which stands for the content focused, in a tone of disbelief, the intended effect
may be brought out. Thirdly, by relevant and slow or non-utterance of the word
focusing on the content, the intended effect may be brought out. By an abrupt
stoppage of an utterance omitting the word or phrase that should have been uttered,
one could bring out the intended effect. There may be an intelligent, confidence
sharing and seeking look, treating the other as a confederate, which also can
bring out the intended effect. Note that the effect of inconsistency in all these
efforts is one of negation of what is literally meant in the utterance.
The inconsistency between linguistic behaviour and nonverbal behaviour also communicates
attitudes and positions one takes, and the feelings of the communicator. Among
other things, this inconsistency between linguistic behaviour and nonverbal behaviour
is used for assertion of one's own position. Inconsistency between linguistic
utterance and nonverbal behaviour is a special characteristic of one who is in
love. This feature has been greatly exploited in literature. While in the moral
and religious planes the inconsistency between linguistic utterance and nonverbal
behaviour in the sense of conduct in the world is frowned upon, the consistency
in one form or another is anticipated, sought for and carefully cultivated and
analyzed in areas such as diplomacy and political and economic transactions and
bargains. In all these spheres, all the spheres including assertion of one's position
and love, there is always a link between the linguistic utterance and the nonverbal
behaviour with which it is at variance.
Just as the inconsistency between literal meaning of an utterance and overall
intended meaning, caused by the coupling of literal meaning with a tone of disbelief,
etc., there could be inconsistency between a linguistic utterance and the facial
expression with which the utterance is made. On occasions, it is the facial expression
that either supports or negatives what is stated orally. When there is inconsistency
between the oral statement and the facial expression, and the facial expression
is considered negativing the statement made, the facial expression decides the
import of the content of the message orally communicated. On the other hand, if
the facial expressions kept, in some sense, neutral in relation to the content
of the oral statement, the oral statement decides the import of the message conveyed.
While the facial expression remains neutral or even appropriate to the literal
meaning of the oral statement, the oral statement itself may have certain modulations
in its delivery speed, loudness, intonation, and accent. Or it may be made in
a repetitive manner. These modulations, and not the facial expression, either
support or negative the underlying statement. Also one may put on facial expressions
diametrically opposite to what one says orally and may expect the addressee to
understand the statement in its literal sense (which is sought to be negative
by the facial expression). For this exchange to be successful there should be
some prior understanding between the speaker and the addressee and also compelling
contexts. Thus, note that normally the facial expressions the one that contributes
a lot for correct interpretation of the communicative intent of the message. At
the same time, the modulations made in the oral utterance also have an important
role in the correct comprehension of the message, at times over-riding the contributions
made by facial expressions. Finally, on certain occasions, the facial expressions
are employed as a cover to communicate orally messages diametrically opposite
to the ones communicated by facial expressions. In other words, it appears to
us that, in the study of inter-relationship between facial expressions and oral
communication, the dynamic processes of the situation, facial expressions and
oral modulations need to be focused upon, and not merely the facial expressions
facial expressions and oral statements involves ambiguity and inaccuracy and,
as such, in spite of overall comprehension of the communicative intent on most
occasions, there will be occasions in which correct interpretation becomes difficult.
This difficulty may be caused by the inadequate sharing of each other's sociocultural
background; it would be caused by differences in individual speech styles as well
as by educational levels. Also suddenness in the occurrence of such divergences
in expression may cause the difficulty. Excessive reliance on idiomatic expressions
and on certain models is another factor in the regard.
Why does one resort to the mechanism of inconsistent messages? Is it merely for
the effects? On many occasions we find that the choice is spontaneous and natural,
influenced by the prevalent emotional states of the individual. Such spontaneous
use of inconsistent messages as we find in sarcasm is caused by the prevalent
emotional state of the individual. Saying this, however, does not explain why
in the first place one should resort to the mechanism of inconsistency when one's
language provides a mechanism to state straight what one wants to communicate.
Inconsistency in messages is resorted to for positive as well as negative affects.
(One verbally insults another while smiling. A girl says I don't like you much
to her boy friend with a smile and loving vocalization; one could produce an irritated
facial expression accompanied by positive verbal and vocal expression.) The mechanism
of inconsistent messages is infrequently used, although it is used for conveying
a variety of information. The use of the mechanism of inconsistent messages is
also made only by individuals placed in certain types of situations. There is
also a social compulsion that for certain situations one should use only the mechanism
of inconsistent messages. Socialization processes in every society inculcate in
individuals the knowledge of such situations that demand taking recourse to the
mechanism of inconsistent messages purely in self-defence, for self-preservation
in situations that he considers inimical to his well being. In other words, although
the mechanism of inconsistent messages is part of language use, it also appears
to have its independent existence outside language; it uses language structure,
but is linked with nonlinguistic media. It is a language use, but depends also
on, or rather has roots also in , nonlinguistic media. It appears to be a part
of the general communication system and not an exclusively used linguistic mechanism.
Of the several characteristics that distinguish human communication
from animal communication systems, the facility to prevaricate s an important
one. The mechanism of inconsistent messages must be seen as an outgrowth of this
facility to prevaricate. This facility takes on several forms and the inconsistency
between message and facial expression is one such form. The various forms of prevarication
have all been made an integral part of social behaviour with social meanings.
Prevarication retains its species preservation function at the social level. Exploiting
this facility at the social level in the form it is currently prevalent as a mismatch
between facial expression and oral expression, the individual subject himself
to the social conduct while, at the same time, preserving his emotional states.
Additionally, he finds that the mechanism furthers his interest in the form of
greater effects in the communication process.
4.4. Concealment Via Language
Use of implied meanings and inconsistent messages is one form of concealment via
language, but in actually, it is intended to reveal. There could be attempts at
total concealment and these attempts may have certain linguistic and/or other
behavioural consequences. All societies distinguish between these tow forms of
concealment via language and have been teaching their members how to go about
recognizing the various forms of concealment. In the earlier sections we presented
a few behavioural manifestations in both linguistic structures and nonverbal processes
as regards the recognition of concealment in the former category. We shall presently
see and presently see and recognize behaviour that aims at 'revealing' the attempts
at total concealment via language. Note that efforts at total concealment also
derive their facility from the characteristic of prevarication inherent in human
The lower speed
with which one speaks, in suspicious circumstances, is considered revealing that
the speaker is laying. One refuses to talk, or talks less with more speech errors
under such circumstance. At the same time, if one also speaks, in some sense,
in an abnormally speedier rate, goes on repeating rapidly what he has stated,
under circumstances of suspicion, the speaker is considered to be lying. That
is, lower speed at one end and an abnormally higher speech rate on the other end,
within circumstances of suspicion, coupled with faltering at one end and rapid
repetition at another, characterized in both the ends with speech errors, mark
that the individual is concealing something.
Speech styles are specifically cultivated which first of all aim at the creation
of speaker credibility in the listeners. Once the credibility is established (in
the establishment of credibility also language use plays a crucial part), a speaker
can manipulate the delivery of speech in several ways: He could tell the truth
convincing the hearer that the hearer is hearing the truth. He can tell the truth
the hearer is hearing a lie. He can tell a lie convincing the hearer that he is
hearing a truth. He can tell a lie convincing a hearer that he is hearing a lie.
The deliberations in thsi area have been a much talked about topic all through
the ages. One tries to conceal something with a convincing reason, as most humans
aim at, and on also does it without a convincing reason if they are believed to
be divine or super-human in some sense. In the latter, even though concealment
is not really achieved, it is accepted divine person wants that the matter be
treated as concealed. Rhetoric and psychology of persuasion discuss various factors
that go into the alchemy of truth and lie. Within the study of nonverbal communication
processes we find that nodding, gesturing, leg and foot movements, immediacy,
speed and frequency and talk, quantum of talk, quantum of errors and facial expressions
such as smile are differentially exploited for the purposes of concealment vial
language. The truth value of a statement made via linguistic utterances, under
circumstances of suspicion, is found related to the above variables. A deceitful
speaker, generally speaking, nods and gestures less, avoids eye contact, exhibits
less frequent leg and foot movements, does not get closer to the other, keep himself
at a distance from the addressee, talks less and slower, with more speech errors.
He also smiles more and inappropriately. There is something in his total face
which reveals his complicity, his attempt at concealment while he makes a linguistic
statement to the contrary. And yet a major problem is to decide with any certainty
as to weather these features are directly related to his present misdemeanour
or are derived from his remote past. Some do have personality problems and personal
appearances which lead to the above listed features even in their normal communication.
Through caste and other social institutions we cultivate certain stereotype notions
against some social groups and these notions also come to "guide" us
in our recognition and interpretation of the concealment behaviour of individuals
belonging to various social groups. On the other hand, the individuals who are
suspected of concealing information begin to see themselves in the same way the
others see them or expect to see them. Concealment via language, thus, is to be
seen as a very complex phenomenon. Even the simple markers of concealment which
we have listed as accompanying a linguistic statement and as revealing the deceitful
nature of the communication made require careful and restrictive handling.
Nonverbal Communication Via Paralanguage
Paralinguistic characteristics are of two types. Features, such as junctures,
stress and pitch are an integral part of a linguistic utterance and are sequentially
linked with the linguistic utterance. That is , they occur with linguistic units,
such as words and phrases; junctures distinguish clauses; stress and pitch occur
within a clause, on words and phrases. Stress is the increase and/or decrease
in loudness, and pitch is the rise and fall of fundamental frequency within a
clause. These are all identifiable segments and spread over specific segments,
such as words in a linguistic utterance. They are not dependent on any particular
content; they are content-free. Another set of paralinguistic features are generally
not segmentable and they stand on their own to signify individual contents. They
are content-signifying paralinguistic features, include the organismic characteristics
of the speaker, such as age, sex, state of health, fatigue, status in a group
and/or in a social organization. Paralinguistic features also include laughing,
giggling, snickering, whimpering, sobbing and crying, yelling, muttering, muffled
sounds, and paralinguistic features are viewed by the speakers of a language as
revealing personality traits, personal qualities and emotional states. Of these,
personality traits and personal qualities are ascribed by prevalent social values
and the emotional states are dependent both on individual psychological states
and social perscriptions. Both content-free an content-signifying paralinguistic
features are exploited to reveal attitudes also. There is yet another category
of features which accompany speech performance. These are disturbances in speech
as well as supportive vocalizations of speech performance. These include sentence
correction noises, sentence incompletion noises, stuttering noises, interspersing
of incoherent sounds, slips of the tongue, neologisms, transposition of words,
substitutions of words, omission of words, addition of syllables, inadequate pauses,
repetition, too many and not so appropriate interjections, abrupt insertion of
and/or switch over to other codes and so on. These paralinguistic features are
taken from both content-free and content-signifying elements on the one hand and
from language units proper, on the other hand. Uses of these generally signify
the conflict in the speaker. While use of paralinguistic features is essential
for a normal use of language (their absence will take the communication either
excessively formal or abnormal) their excessive use indicates the collapse or
impending collapse of language use in the speaker. The content-free paralinguistic
features find some place in the orthographic systems of languages, whereas, of
the content-signifying paralinguistic features, only a few are accommodated by
way of punctuation marks in the written forms of communication. Some of the content-signifying
paralinguistic features are of a universal type, whereas several others are culture-bound.
The content-free and content-signifying paralinguistic features may be viewed
as bases of human language communication.
4.6. Silence as Nonverbal
Silence is viewed different
schools of thought. For example, the emergence of human language from the animal
communication systems is viewed as breaking silence; this breaking silence, in
this view, becomes a characteristic of humans, (Steiner, 1969): 'Possessed of
speech, possessed by it, the word having chosen the grossness and infirmity of
man's condition for its own compelling life, the human person has broken free
from the great silence of matter'. Since all the values have been exhausted and
since there is nothing new to be said or worth saying, silence is created/adopted
(Steiner, 1969). Another view is to look at silence as a negative correlate of
speech: if there is silence, there is no speech and if there is speech, there
is no silence. Silence, in this view, is considered antithetical to speech; speech
signifies expression and silence signifies lack or negation of information. In
another view silence becomes an integral part of speech, since without interspersing
it in speech, the speech becomes meaningless, incoherent, monotonous and unanalyzable.
Silence then becomes a tool in the hands of speech, it is a handmaid of speech,
without whose help speech itself cannot progress. In some other view, silence
is information, and speech only a reflection of it. Speech is devalued since it
is resorted to scandalously frequent and thus loses its information, whereas silence
becomes the information; untouched and unprobed yet, silence becomes the refuge,
for all information. In the beginning was word and man returns to word through
silence, either by death or by tapas/meditation. In this view, then, one attains
speech via silence. Silence is the basis of speech; silence is broken to create
speech and silence is created to close speech - and eternal cyclic process, symbolized
and exploited in most theological and mythical approaches to language. These assumptions
have a sound basis in the patterns of human communication as well. Apart from
this mutual dependence between silence and speech there are also communicative
functions assigned to silence in nonverbal communication. These functions are
operational both in the interpersonal transactions between individuals as individuals
and in the interaction between individuals as members of social groups.
Silence includes hesitations and pauses as well as failure to produce speech.
Silence may operate independently or it may operate in conjunction with other
nonverbal means, such as eye and face. It may closely precede or follow an utterance
by the speaker. Or silence could also be created several other ways in the hearers,
and the silence thus created may communicate nonverbally many things.
The role of silence in communication could be viewed from
the point of view of its functions relating to performance of speech, as well
as from the functions of silence independent of speech. Speech is one of silence
followed by utterance followed by silence. Within an utterance also, silence between
breath groups, juncture and pause between sentences, apart form fulfilling the
functions of units in a linguistic utterance, can be so modulated as to imply
more. In any case, speech becomes comprehensible only if an adequate amount and
frequency of silence is interspersed in the utterances made. Note that, just as
several other features (prevarication and discreteness, etc.), silence is also
brought into linguistic utterances to play crucial roles in the production, maintenance
and comprehension of linguistic structures.
Hesitation phenomenon, which is considered by us as part of silence, consists
of a variety of pauses and serves several functions. Hesitation normally indicates
the individual's state of mind and emotion as regards the content of message he
is about to speak. The indecision as regards the manner in which the message is
to be delivered also is revealed in the hesitation phenomena. Sometimes, for certain
messages, hesitation phenomenon is chosen deliberately, as hesitation, then from
the point of view of the speaker, is seen as the most appropriate form to convey
the message. Reluctance, fear, speaker's own disbelief of the message he is to
speak out, fear of consequences all influence hesitation. Hesitation is also socially
warranted as a mode of showing respect to the content of the message and/or addressee.
Along with hesitation, a speaker may also utter interjections
and make other noises which do not have the structure of linguistic utterances,
although they have a phonetic manifestation. These utterances, such as im, hum,
ah, er, mm and their repetitions signify the ongoing hesitation, silence. They
also communicate the anxiety level of the speaker. Excessive resort to such utterances
reduces the comprehensibility of linguistic utterances. Their occurrence and repetition
reveal some speech disturbance. At the same time these pausal utterance are exploited
by the speakers also to encode what they want to communicate in appropriate grammatical
structures and words. Hesitations of these sorts enable the speaker to process
his mental thought into proper words and grammatical structure, while impeding
comprehension at the hearer's level.
an interaction, conversation is carried on with comprehension, only if the individuals
engaged in conversations take turns appropriately. In other words, if one is speaking,
the other should remain silent at least partly. This situation is not that simple
a context as it appears to be. The conversation is carried on with speaking and
silence, based on decisions as to who will speak and who will remain silent. This
decision signifies status of individuals and importance of content, among other
things. There are well laid criteria in many context within a language community
as regards who would initiate the conversation by breaking the silence, who would
maintain it, who would speak more and who would end the conversation. In some
contexts, the person with inferior status breaks the silence and, in some others,
the person with superior status does the same. A person in greater need always
takes the initiative to break the silence. On occasions it becomes a sign of deference
to remain or become silent because of the emotional situation in which the individuals
are placed. Deep emotions are expressed by silence. Embarrassment is also expressed
by silence. Silence becomes an effective mode to maintain secrets; silence, then,
is considered secretive. Silence is used also to maintain distance between individuals.
All these factors are nonverbal factors and these communicate the social status,
and emotional status of individuals. Also note that apart form the silences that
are demanded so as to carry out the conversation in a comprehensible manner, there
are other types of silences, short, lengthy, frequent, abrupt and/or slowly progressing
silences. A lengthy silence on the part of one engaged in conversation with another
may signify that one is cautious and/or careful; a close emotional relationship
between the two could also be signified. It could also mean snubbing the other.
Between those who are in love, silence comes as a prelude to something more intimate,
physical and/or mental. Glances with affection and changes in facial expressions
precede or follow this silence, whereas stare precedes or follows the silence
when two are about to quarrel. Silence can also be used to hedge and to avoid
confrontation. Noninvolvement and noncommittal position is yet another meaning
communicated by silence. Anger is also communicated nonverbally by silence.
Silence can be used as a form of social control also. A person
who has violated a social norm is treated or welcomed with silence. While "talking
back", "report" and "rebuttal" are considered showing
disrespect and/or disobedience in many Indian communities, even reply in certain
contexts which involve matters on interpersonal relations between members of different
sexes, interpersonal relationships between family members and on matters generally
expected to be handled by the male spouse, even when a reply is by the speaker
superior to the addressee, is considered as showing disrespect. While some of
the latter contexts may be due to the separation of functions between members
of a family, the addressee simply does not reply, even in areas generally approved
as the rightful domain of the addressee, as silence is treated as concurrence/agreement
and which, when broken through utterances, is treated as disrespect to the other.
Thus, at one level, silence, when addressed, is considered as showing respect
and response, and, at another level, is considered as showing disrespect. Silence
is viewed a virtue in many Indian communities. Ultimate realization of God and
supreme knowledge is by dhyan of which silence is an important vehicle, in religious
practices. Thus, in more ways than one, silence receives importance as a means