The majority of contact studies would contend with problems of vocabulary and the application of their work. As a considerable portion of the classic approaches of communication science, the question of speech looms big on research methodology. From content analysis to interviews and questionnaires, not to mention the obvious examples of rhetorical analysis and discourse analysis, is focused on the linguistically embedded interpretations of naturally occurring or elicited verbal productions as evidence and relies on the subjects comprehension of constructed verbal stimuli (Apple et al., 2012). Among the reasons that sustain a differentiation between the study of language and that of language use is that, contrary to what is sometimes believed, linguistic messages are not transparent. In other words, it is not enough to know some code, here the semantic code, to understand a fully-fledged meaning.
Inference plays a very central role so that the study of the linguistic data has to be confronted with other, non-linguistic, data when studying verbal communication. At a theoretical, explanatory, level, it could also be argued that the use of language is also the most distinctive trait of the human interface as opposed to animal or, generally, non-human communication phenomena because it introduces the evolutionary perspective on language and human communication. Moving to the disciplinary camp of linguistics, the idea that the scientific study of literature has to do with explaining language as a tool for conveying meaning in verbal communication may seem almost a truism. In this perspective, linguistics from Louis de Saussure and Andrea Rocci (2008) are primarily concerned with explaining how a complex signal (acoustic or graphics) is mapped onto a content or meaning of language being the interface.
Verbal communication is arguably the most pervasive form of communication in human societies. At least it is so, if we look not only at the rare cases of purely verbal communication events and processes (if they exist at all), they also consider that the huge gamut of prevalently verbal forms of communication and the even greater range of communication phenomena is that, language can be shown to play a part either directly or indirectly. It is a commonality among linguists (being the science of language),that one should distinguish between language itself, which is a device of some sort, with its internal principles of organization (grammar, lexicon, semantics
) and language use which is the use of language in order to achieve goals, the most obvious of these being communication (Rocci & Louis, 2008). This essay will elaborate the mode of verbal communication.
Communication in an elaborated proper sense became a true concern for scholars in the language sciences only in the second half of the 20th century with the emergence of pragmatics. It turns out, in fact, that neither on the side of communication research nor the side of linguistics, things are so clear-cut, nor on neither side is the centrality of verbal communication for the respective scientific endeavors considered an undisputed truism (Freeman, 2014). This is somewhat surprising when keeping in mind that the usual purpose of language is to communicate and that communication among humans is typically achieved using language.
A volume on verbal communication within a Handbook of Communication Sciences could not be conceived without recognizing this counter-intuitive state of the art and without an ambition to contribute towards bridging some of the gaps left open by this intellectual background. More generally, it could not be designed without taking into account the complex disciplinary and interdisciplinary landscape that surrounds this much-disputed topic. The landscape in question is indeed particularly complex since language lies at the intersection of many disciplines including linguistics, communication sciences, philosophy, psychology, sociology, ethnology, and anthropology. They belong to various schools of thought that used to spread on both sides of the now fading dividing line between natural and social science (Freeman, 2014). Verbal communication within the discipline of communication introducing a chapter on the role of language in interpersonal communication, Scott Jacobs (2011) gives a rather pessimistic assessment of the state of the relationship between communication and linguistics as disciplines:
Almost all cases of communication that interest communication researchers involve talk or writing in some way. Still, the effort to ground notions of message meaning or symbolic action in a detailed account of the organization of linguistic forms and functions has always seemed to be so technical and tedious a task that it has been bypassed in the process of building communication theory. Likewise, students of language have often been reluctant to integrate their theories of language structure with what is manifestly the paradigm function of language, that of communication. (Jacobs 2011) Despite its pervasiveness and the role it plays in defining human communication as a whole, verbal communication does not currently define one cohesive and distinct subfield within the discipline of communication.
The focus of the Language and Social Interaction community, however, is apparently narrower than the full extent of verbal communication phenomena. As the ICA website explains, the primary focus of this community is in interpersonal and group settings, face-to-face or mediated by telephone and computer (Jacobs, 2011). Discussing discourse analysis in the communication discipline in America, Tracy (2015) observes that the use of discourse analytic methods began among interpersonal communication scholars and remains best established in that specific contextual area.
Historically, this speech tradition Tracy (2015), played a crucial role in the birth of the Communication discipline in the United States. While mass communication scholars often frame the birth of the field in the post-World War II era, communication turns to be a social science and the start of research institutes in several major universities (Tracy 2015), scholars in the speech tradition would instead trace back the field to earlier and somewhat humbler roots. In the early years of the 20th Century teachers of public speaking in American universities broke away from English departments and founded departments of Speech, later to become departments of Speech Communication. According to Craig (2012), these departments were often characterized by a tension between scholars of the Humanities rooted in the classical rhetorical traditions and those scholars who saw Speech as a behavioral, social discipline.
Verbal communication is also known as speech communication because of its broadened scope that is beyond its original concerns with public speaking pedagogy to encompass the full range of communication phenomena. The speech element was progressively dropped from the names of departments and scholarly associations. This trend of renaming from speech communication to communication is still ongoing as we write. The institutionalization of the communication field in Europe which takes place several decades later than in the USA presents, however, a somewhat different picture as regards the relationship of the new discipline with the study of language and discourse.
In contrast with the North American situation, in Europe rhetoric was, until recently, not perceived as a living scholarly and pedagogical discipline and the educational endeavor of public speaking instruction did not have the same importance. In some European countries, it is linguistics and semiotics, rather than rhetoric, which has had an impact on the development of the field, after they had become very strong disciplines under the influence of structuralism (Craig, 2012). What is then the place of verbal communication in European communication sciences?
There is a great deal of variation across countries and schools that we cannot hope to account for here, but a closer look to the French situation can help to highlight phenomena that are also found in other countries. The reviewing the situation of French Sciences de linformation et de la communication observes that semioticians like Roland Barthes, Julien Greimas, and linguists such as Oswald Ducrot played an active role in the institutionalization of communication studies in France. They also observe that communication textbooks routinely refer to linguists such as Ferdinand de Saussure and Roman Jakobson as founding figures of communication studies (Rocci & Louis, 2008).
These references are often formulaic one example for all the omnipresent reference to schema of language functions but the witness of a particular permeability of communication sciences to ideas originating in linguistics and in particular in structural linguistics. Saussure is seen as a significant figure also for the reason that he viewed language as ancillary to (social) psychology within semiology (his semiotic theory). For Saussure, language is an autonomous system (later to be called a structure) of signs which in some sense shape the representations and thoughts of speakers; this structuralist conception lies at the core of Roman Jakobsons and Emile Benvenistes developments toward theorizing linguistic communication (Saussure, 2011).
The current configuration of communication education in France, as KriegPlanque (2014) observes, features curricula that mix language sciences and communication sciences and includes a certain number of discourse-related or semiotics-related courses also in more standard communication curricula. The relationship of these courses with a broader, encompassing, approach to verbal communication is far from being straightforward, however. Krieg-Planque (2014), observes that discourse analysis is seen foremostly as a method for analyzing messages and identifying underlying social representations rather than as an investigation having discourse. Its also an object that sometimes loses its specific focus on linguistically informed meaning construction so that it can hardly be distinguished from classic mass communication research methods such as content analysis. Although the view of discourse analysis as the method is also typical of the American communication scene its confusion with quantitative means of mass communication research is impossible in an American context (Tracy 2015),.
While in North America, Communication is perceived as being one discipline and is usually not explicitly qualified as a science but rather listed among the arts. Despite its strong social sciences component, in continental Europe, the field is more often perceived as multi-disciplinary, and its component disciplines are usually qualified as sciences: hence Communication Sciences. Verbal communication has also established itself as a method in the interpersonal communication area where its focus on naturally occurring talk in interaction contrasts with the experimental methods and sophisticated statistical testing procedures (Tracy 2015) prevalent in that area. In contrast, French discourse analysis developed from the study of political discourse, newspaper discourse and media discourse in general and involved from the beginning computer-supported methods for the quantitative analysis of extensive corpora (Rocci & Louis, 2008).
Linguistics and verbal communication
Some of these researchers in communication, especially in the USA, have grouped language and social interaction under the same banner. Within the language sciences, there was a time in which linguistics, in close alliance with semiotics, enjoyed wide currency within communication sciences. At least as far as Europe is concerned, it was regarded as a model for theorizing about communication. The contribution of scientific ideas to the field of communication remained however largely programmatic.
The component in verbal communication has often been seen as the default form of human interaction. It is the one that is often implied when theorizing about human communication in general and with some triviality. As such, it has tended to be pushed in the background of communication scholars.Interests, as if a specific attention to its dynamics, it was not crucial, thus losing perspective on the unicity, species-specific endowment that the faculty of language represents and how its deeply affected because of the unique and fascinating efficacy of human communication as a whole. The question of the uniqueness of human verbal communication and of the role of language in what makes us humans requires us to take a closer look at the very emergence of language in light of Evolution. Jacobs chapter reviews the recent history of the research on this topic in light of multidisciplinary discoveries in the recent decades (Jacobs, 2011).
Tracy also provides a glimpse into the relationship between language and human communication and the ability to stress the importance while considering it in the light of the co-evolution of speech. Louis de Saussure and Andrea Rocci show the human capacity for meta-representation, which represents a crucial game changer as regards the general verbal and non-verbal communicative abilities of the human species (Rocci & Louis, 2008). On the other hand, when the attention is brought on means of human communication where the language faculty does not play a role (at least, not a directly observable one), the importance of these non-verbal means in our lives and their effectiveness for persuasion, for the maintenance of interpersonal relationships, or for other socially relevant purposes is emphasized at the expense of words, language or verbal communication.
Explicit and implicit verbal communication offers an overview of the various aspects of meaning that language carries. The array of messages passed by means of oral communication, i.e., through utterances and speech events, is layered in a number of types of meanings bearing various properties. Andrea Rocci and Louis chapter present an overview of the interaction between semantics, i.e., the study of language as a code paired with abstract meanings, and verbal communication as being the use of language as oriented towards meaningful and performative ends (Rocci & Louis, 2008)..
Since the famous work by Lakoff and Johnson (2009) is a well-known fact that if poetic effects are not the most common things in language use, some types of metaphor (conceptual metaphors) and non-literal meanings are indeed very common (even though it is not always very clear that metaphors have been lexicalized). According to Louis de Saussure and Andrea Rocci, they have integrated language in full, are still indeed metaphors in the full sense or not. Saussure lists the most common figures of speech in the sense of classical rhetoric and argues that the classical typologies remain helpful when considering the functions of these statistics in relation to persuasion (Saussure, 2011).
The chapter also provides a number of illustrations of why figurative language is rooted in figurative thinking (cognition) which enables us to make sense of the world around us and constitutes at the same time a powerful device in communication because it relies on known concepts to evoke new and unknown realities. This phenomenon is interesting because it manifests an underlying view of human communication where verbal and non-verbal semiotic modes are pitted against each other. No emphasis are put on the effects resulting from the integration of these different ways of communication, tackled by the burgeoning research on multimodality reported in section V of this handbook. The article is to show how the use of language is a conversational interaction as well as in written documents lives in a close complementary relation. Other semiotic modes are less directly shaped by the human language faculty (Saussure, 2011).
The section ends with a chapter that goes further on the topic of multimodality by dwelling into the embodied resources of human communication that accompany speech during face-to-face interactions, in particular gestures. Stacy details within an ethnomethodological perspective how the integration of gestures (typically pointing gestures, but others as well) participate to the making-up of a conversation as a complex architectured social elaboration following the tradition initiated by prior conversation analysts such as Schegloff. She pays particular attention to the management of spatiality but addresses a whole range of issues that show how bodily events surrounding verbal communication contribute not only to meaning but to the establishment of the specific social relations that occur and are constructed during conversations (Stacy, 2015).
The section dedicated to verbal communication across media and contexts is a continuation of what precedes and as it gathers chapters that deal with the issue of contexts, which vary and have various social and institutional aims. Lakoff and Johnson (2009) focus on news writing and starts with a case study before opening towards theoretical concerns regarding the cognition of media discourse and its social aspects, including language policing, audience design and a variety of features on which he sheds light using metadiscourse analysis. They advocate a type of approach which relies on specific tools depending on the level that is being tackled. Louis de Saussure & Andrea Rocci (2008) turn to language and interaction in new media environments. Such settings enable us to communicate electronically across time and space without co-presence or where co-presence is even impossible, although still in various ways this mode of communication mimics face-to-face interaction in some sense (Rocci & Louis, 2008).
Among the critical themes that a volume on language within communication sciences has to address, there are the few significant issues of what language is, how studying it contributes crucially to the understanding of human communication in general, and what it tells us at a more philosophical and anthropological level about human nature. It is also important to consider how language concerns intersect communication research at the level of methodology for the analysis of verbal data of different kinds. The fact that communication scholars are interested in the meanings or contents manifestly and latently associated with the oral data, they still manipulate it. As an example of this intersection linguistics and pragmatics have extensively studied this idea under different names with a detailed look at how the senses are constructed and communicated across a variety of contexts and media. As it appears, verbal communication research (pragmatics) is typically relevant to broader issues of communication sciences.
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