Posts tagged ‘Communication’

Nonverbal Communication in Writing

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Nonverbal communication is essential when speaking in person. Gestures, facial expression, body orientation, posture, and other physical indicators are crucial when it comes to getting one’s point across. Because few of us can speak with the same eloquence and clarity as scholars from centuries ago, we often rely on nonverbal cues to compensate.

Obviously, nonverbal cues in speech are important. But what about in writing? Is it possible that writers use a modified form of nonverbal cues?

The answer is yes. Few authors of the 21st century rely purely on language. Hundreds of years ago, only the wealthy and religious leaders were able to read. Now, most people in developed countries are able to read and many frequently do so for recreation. Because the general public is now involved in the literary world, writing styles have changed. Although writers did use nonverbal communication in their work, readers were less inclined to notice it. Now that people as a whole are brought together by writing (newspapers, ads, books, online materials, etc), readers are now better equipped to “read between the lines.”

Shakespeare, who frequently used sarcasm and irony in his work, is one of the best examples of early authors who utilized nonverbal communication. Although people enjoyed the fruits of his labor by watching it performed on a stage rather than reading it in a book, the effect was the same. The idea that one could communicate something without actually saying it outright was born.

Writers today frequently use nonverbal communication such as irony and sarcasm. Readers typically enjoy work that is full of meaning that they must interpret themselves rather than pages and pages of description that explains it all for them.

Imagery is another great great component of nonverbal communication in writing. When speaking with someone face to face, it is easy to interpret their attitude, mood, context, and latent meaning. In writing, one must actually describe such things if they are to be portrayed at all. For instance, instead of simply “she was sad,” one might say “she plopped into a chair and buried her face in her hands.”

Nonverbal communication is a bigger part of writing than one might think. A writer can drastically improve his or her work by taking its importance into greater consideration and realizing the effect it has on the reader. Writing is not just about what’s on the surface; it’s about what the reader can make of it.

The English Language

Of all the beautiful languages spoken on earth, English is perhaps one of the most complex and confusing. It may seem difficult to pinpoint exactly where the English language came from, but the answer is simple: everywhere. A friend of mine, Ian Hall (author of the Jamie Leith Chronicles), shared this entertaining video on twitter. This video is an excellent portrayal of where English originated and implications of how it will continue to evolve.

As we can see, the English language is clearly the melting pot of many other languages. This can sometimes make things like spelling very difficult to comprehend. The following image is a popular depiction of just how convoluted actual spelling versus phonetics can be.

Of course, the sounds that the letter combinations “gh” and “ti” create above typically only do so in the middle of words, not at the beginning or end. Perhaps a more accurate phonetic spelling of “fish” would be “phoche.”

Nevertheless, it is easy to see that the English language is one of the most interesting and flexible languages in the world. It certainly has both pros and cons, just like every other language out there. For instance, English words created from Greek or Latin stems are easy to understand, while Russian is known for its extensive and detailed vocabulary and German is built on cases that offer more syntax opportunities.

In short, knowing the limitations and strengths of a language is an invaluable skill for writers of any kind. Communication comes with responsibility; what you say can affect people’s feelings, thoughts, and beliefs. Learning how to effectively communicate is one of the most powerful things people of all races, genders, backgrounds, and fields of study can do.

What will you do with your language?