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Defining The Term Human Communication English Language Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 2398 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The study of human communication might be very complicated but also be attractive. The process of human communication has been an interesting topic in many areas. Human communication may be difficult at times, because people need to communicate with others of various language skills. As Givens states “Our complexity is seen through our use of verbal and nonverbal communication on a daily as well as our ability to interact with fellow human beings on multiple levels, mentally and emotionally”(2008, ¶ 1). Humans are a social animal who has to belong in the community, which is why we cannot help talking with other people. There are several basic and essential pieces of information about human communication that is needed to understand this assignment. Above all, “Human communication is: the process of creating and sharing meaning through the use of symbols” (Givens, 2008, ¶ 1). Also, Verbal communication is defined as “the ways in which you use the words in a language to generate meaning.” Interestingly, verbal communication involves not only oral words but also literal words. This assignment will firstly consider the main reason why communication between humans does not work, which is because of using idiomatic language, and the reason why communication between humans does work, including gestures. Secondly, the two positive impacts of the electronic age on communication are the convenience of using technology whenever people want, and speed of access. Lastly, my opinion on what it is like to communicate full time in English as my second language, regarding difficulty with understanding idiomatic language.

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A reason for communication to fail is because of the use of idiomatic language. First of all, second language speakers are not familiar with the idioms, because the actual interpreted meaning is different from the literal meaning. “Idiomatic language refers to many words or phrases that are a familiar and everyday feature of our language … but to a foreigner, idioms are difficult to understand because their meaning is very different from the literal meaning of the words” (Campsall, 2010, ¶ ‘idiomatic language’). Especially, the idiom phrase that the young people often use is “no way, Sarah!” and “That’s real cool.” These two sentences are the example of idiomatic expression. Everyone could notice that idioms exist in transformed collocation which cannot make any sense if the order is mixed (Korepela, 2009). The difficulty in understating idiomatic language does not just apply to face to face conversations. The difficult idioms are also applied to reading books and journals, watching movies, and making phone calls; that is, all those cases are related to reading and listening. As mentioned previously, idiomatic language might be very difficult to understand especially in reading, because the reader may consider a different meaning from the actual interpretation. People read to understand meaning, so reading is similar to interpreting. It is sure that it is hard to grasp the meaning of idioms especially for foreigners, as those belongs to only first language speakers who have used that allusive expression for a long time (Bandura, 2001). Then, it cannot be easy to comprehend the meaning of specific idioms in listening; even it is a big problem in reading. If even really simple sentences are spoken quickly, second language speakers might not interpret the meaning; so idioms are difficult. Sometimes, implicative speech and a trial of a euphemism confuse international people. Therefore, it is indispensable to figure out the meaning of idioms in casual conversations, otherwise the probability of failing communication is high. As Vasiq mentioned “Students need to learn more idioms if they want to talk more naturally and to understand the ideas of whom they are talking to because, in everyday conversation native speakers often use them” (2008, ¶ 1). The learning of idioms is not limited, because there are so many, so the allusive and idiomatic language has a potential to be the reason of failing communication. To sum up, idiomatic expressions may cause a conversation to be unsuccessful.

A reason for successful dialogue is body language. The gestures used while talking, are also called non-verbal communication. As informed in the introduction, communication includes written words as well as oral words. Then, the meaning of non-verbal communication is opposite to verbal communication, which is the conversation without any kind of written words. According to Devito (2002, p.140), “you communicate nonverbally when you gesture, smile or frown, widen your eyes, move your chair close to someone, wear jewelry, touch someone, or raise your vocal volume – and when someone receives these signals.” Body language, in other words non-verbal communication, is a form of dialogue, which will be accomplished with interaction between more than two people. In speaking, a person asks when there are people who can answer, a person answers when there is a question; the same principle applies equally to gestures. It is an effective way of talking with eye-contact, smiling face, and adequate hand movements in relations to contents of the dialogue. Although people talk with international people, they can recognise what the second language speakers are trying to say in their face expressions and eyes; This situation only happens during face to face conversation in person. There are several kinds of non-verbal communication, but one of the most represented is eye-contact. As Devito (2002, p. 140) states:

Research on the messages communicated by the eyes (a study known technically as oculesis) shows that these messages vary depending on the duration, direction, and quality of the eye behavior. For example, in every culture there are strict, though unstated, rules for the proper duration for eye contact. In the U.S. culture the average length of gaze is 2.95 seconds. The average length of mutual gaze (two persons gazing at each other) is 1.18 seconds.

Interestingly, there are some functions about eye contact and eye-avoidance. The functions of eye-contact are to read the audience’s face, and to let people know the beginning and the end of speech. In contrast, the functions of eye-avoidance are to protect ones privacy, and is also a signal of disinterest. In brief, physical body movements lead to the communication being achieved.

The impact of electronics on communication enables people to communicate every minute of the day. As electronic devices have developed, our lives became more convenient, for example, hearing world news on television, holding a conversation via the internet online chatting, sharing documents by e-mail and giving opportunities to impaired people to study. Electronic communication is not only a new tool but also a new way of communication (Hiltz & Turoff, 1993). However, the basic reason of all these could be used more efficiently is because there are no time limits. People in the world can contact each other whenever and wherever they want. “With electronic communication, the recipient receives the message within a few seconds of the sender sending it” (Buzzel, 2009, ¶ 2) The recipient can read the message anytime, anywhere according to his convenience. Therefore, the easy access makes human communication more active. “Electronic communication tools like so many others are incredibly flexible. Email, discussion board postings, instant messages, and live chat can be conducted at any time during the day or night” (Humnet, 2002, ¶ 2). The ‘Moodle’ system which is employed in the University of Waikato also assists the communication between students and lecturers. The students in Waikato University do not have to meet the professor in person, because they can use on the Moodle site and ask lecturer about questions or problems of the course. In addition, that system is not only for between students and lecturers, but for between students and students to share ideas whenever they need. If the students post a draft of their essay, their colleagues read it through and give a feedback on how well it is written. All this work is done in the 24 hour-Moodle system, so students do not have to make an appointment to meet in a physical space, which might be wasting their time. Communication is not fulfilled by one person. Communication works when there is more than one person to exchange ideas and information (Adler & Rodman, 2008). In other words, the more people gather, the more lively their discussions will be. Actually, in considering communication with people who live in another country, we have to spend significant time and money in most cases. However, it is very economical to use the internet and cell phones which have not been really limited in space and time. In summary, availability of electronic communication whenever people want positively influences human communication.

Improved electronic tools, which have an effect on communication, give us fast connections with other people. The meaning of speed is not directly related to efficiency, but the speed helps work to be finished efficiently. Dealing with the work rapidly means saving time, so saving time is economical and efficient. Promptness of connection makes communication to be proficient. Let us assume that we are in case of contacting our neighbors. Making a call on cell phone, sending an e-mail, and online chatting would be faster than visiting their place. We can get in touch with people quickly; meaning we can contact more people in the same amount of time. “But for residents of low-income neighborhoods, high-speed Internet access means more than convenience: It could be … economic opportunity” (Varon, 2010, ¶ 1). It can be seen that if we try to contact friends who are in overseas, we can feel that this fast connection is really economical. Actually, it is difficult to get in touch with international friends without electronic tools. This speedy contact gives us benefits of not only saving time and money, but being very useful in urgent situation. We often get breaking news from television, and internet news about which person passed away, what kind of incidents occurred, and the global economic state. The faster the news is delivered, the quicker the solution is raised. Informing news is also one of the communicational activities (Moore, n.d.). Additionally, there is another positive impact of rapidity, which is sharing documents via the internet. Sharing files that can be useful to other people is another kind of communication like studying (Moore, n.d.). Therefore, rapidity affects the efficient communication in the developed electronic age.

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My opinion on speaking English, which is not my mother-tongue language, is mainly based on the difficulty of understanding informal idioms. I will talk about the experience in New Zealand with speaking English and this paragraph is related to body paragraph one. With English being the universal language, most countries adopt English and make it into a subject at school. Especially, Korea which is my country emphasises cramming system of education, so the school starts at 8a.m. and finishes at 11p.m. However, all we have learnt in English class in Korea is mostly reading involving vocabulary and grammar. We do not have chances to learn informal idioms at all, because we do not have to speak the language. As for me, the unanticipated opportunity to study broad was given, and it was also a chance to feel that learning idioms is necessary. As said before, the reason idioms are difficult is the meaning of an idiom is different from the actual meaning. One of the idiomatic expressions that I know is ‘I couldn’t help it’. One day, my Korean friend sent me a text to meet up in a cafe for lunch but I was really busy with preparing for a test and doing an assignment. Then, I replied “Sorry, I cannot help it” My intention was to tell her that I am not in a good situation to meet her right now. After that, she replied me again “help???? I have many friends to have lunch with me … Don’t think I’m alone.” She was little unpleasant that she did not want to be treated or helped just for having lunch. Finally, she figured out what I meant but it was a really embarrassing happening. Here is another example similar to mine. As Parkinson (1997, p.217) said:

There was a brief item a year of two ago in an English newspaper about a motorist giving a lift to a young Frenchman who was hitchhiking. When the grateful passenger got out at his destination and thanked his benefactor rather profusely, his thanks were acknowledged by a brief “Don’t mention it”. The Frenchman a little nonplussed but willing to co-operate, reply “I won’t tell anybody”.

Second language speakers have even more difficult with informal idioms than native speakers because second language speakers encounter idioms far less frequently in their lives (Beate, 2003). In short, in my opinion, informal idioms are difficult to speak in English which is not my native language.

In conclusion, this assignment has focused on the reason of why communication fails while people are talking, which is particularly due to second language speakers being not conversant with idioms. Contrastingly, the reason people can talk with international people is because of non-verbal language. Also, this essay has talked about two positive influences of electronic devices on human communication; which are having communication access and the ability to exchange information fast. Finally, I have given my opinion about using English as a second language, examples of the difficulty faces with understanding informal idioms. On the whole, human communication can be interesting if people try to make the conversation succeed. It may be achieved by learning more informal idiomatic expressions, using gestures while talking, and using electronics in a positive way. Then, human communication would be really interesting and helpful for studying in people’s lives.


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