Chapter 15, Language and Communication

Lecture 3
Language and
Chapter Outline
What is language?
 How is language related to culture?
 How did language begin?
What Is Language?
A system for the communication, in
symbols, of any kind of information.
 Through language, people share their
experiences, concerns, and beliefs and
communicate these to the next
The Nature of Language
There are approximately 6,000
 All languages are organized in the same
basic way.
 Spoken languages use sounds and rules
for putting the sounds together.
 Sign languages use gestures rather
than sounds.
Linguistics is the study of all aspects of
– Phonetics
– Phonology
– Morphology
– Syntax
– Grammar
Studying a Language
Isolate the phonemes, or the smallest
classes of sound that make a
difference in meaning.
2. Determine all groups or combinations
of sounds that seem to have meaning.
3. See how morphemes are put together
to form phrases or sentences.
The Biology of Human
The Sapir-Whorf
A language is not simply an encoding
process but is rather a shaping force.
 Language guides thinking and behavior
by predisposing people to see the world
in a certain way.
 There has been a recent renewal of
interest in this hypothesis.
Indo-European languages
Origin of Language: One
Early hominines, began using gestures to
communicate intentions within a social setting.
When Homo erectus moved out of the tropics,
they needed to plan and communicate to
survive seasons of cold temperatures.
By the time archaic Homo sapiens appeared,
finely controlled movements of the mouth and
throat had given rise to spoken language.
Gesture-Call System
Inherited from our primate ancestors.
 Gesture component consists of body
motions used to convey messages.
 Call component consists of
extralinguistic noises involving various
voice qualities and vocalizations.
Hidden Aspects of
What do you think this couple
is communicating non-verbally?
Look at them carefully.
Test your knowledge of North American/European
body language. Look at the couple walking
together. What does it mean to be so close
with their arms around each other this way?
Could they be strangers?
very close (3-6")
soft whisper
top secret or sensual
close (8-12")
audible whisper
very confidential
neutral (20-36")
soft voice, low volume
neutral (4.5-5')
full voice
non-personal information
across the room (8-20')
loud voice
talking to a group
stretching the limits
(20-24' indoors and
up to 100' outdoors)
loud hailing voice
personal subject matter
departures and arrivals
Derived from The Silent Language by Edward Hall (1959)
Japanese avoiding eye contact in a crowd
What do the clothing, hair style, makeup,
and body language of the young woman
in the photo communicate to you?
Now think of a middle-aged businessman
with the same clothing, hair style, makeup,
and body language.
Would she fit in the office environment?
Communicating with Clothes
Papua New Guinean man
wearing a penis sheath
English "punkers"
in their "uniforms"
Lecture 3
Language and Communication
Test your cross-cultural gesture literacy:
Read article: „Dying Languages”
Read article: „Accents speak louder than words”:
Read article: „Nature v nurture? Please don't ask”:
Note: I would like to remind you that all assignments (including assigned readings) are
compulsary and will be included in your June examination!