Importance Of Paralanguage

2016 Words 9 Pages
Humans are social animals. We make spontaneous use of language by continuously interacting with each other. When we engage in a conversation, words enable us to reach out to other people, but they are not the only resource available. We say a lot with our face, gestures, intonation and many other types of meaningful behaviour known as paralanguage. The word paralanguage was first used by Trager (1958) and refers to ‘non-phonemic but vocal component of speech, such as tone of voice, tempo of speech, and sighing, by which communication is assisted’ (Oxford English Dictionary). The Greek prefix ‘para’ already hints that paralanguage is not separated from speech but, rather, something that goes alongside it. Words have meaning on their
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This view is limiting as ‘people in interaction draw on a multiplicity of communicative modes’ (Norris 2004: 2). In this paragraph, I will focus on proxemics and kinesics.
Proxemics considers our communicative use of space. It involves physical distance, body angle, forward leaning (Finnegan 2002). When we communicate visually, we use the whole of our body. Think, for instance, of foot tapping expressing impatience or irritability. Coordinated body movements help communicate a different degree of confidence, insecurity, intimacy and authority. Hall (1966) distinguishes four types of distance: intimate, personal, social and public distance. How far we stand from the person we are speaking to tells a lot about the social relationship between us.
Touching is another frequent way of communicating. People shake hands, kiss, embrace according to their age, sex and social status. Avoiding physical contact when it is expected communicates too. Imagine someone saying ‘Nice to meet you’ while looking at the ground and keeping their hands behind their back. The meaning of what we say can be also affected by physical appearance. Think of how much more seriously you are likely to take the words of someone wearing a military uniform or a white
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For instance, the poets Marinetti and Apollinaire created calligrams, that is, poems in which words are arranged in a way to produce a visual image that reflects the meaning of the poem itself (Cook 2001). The discussion can be deepened even further if we ask ourselves what makes a poem a poem. The most probable answer is, at least at first glance, its layout. When we see a text with frequent new lines and spacing, we are likely to regard it as complex and, therefore, we tend to read it more carefully, even if it was a cooking recipe written in a poem-like

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