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Verbal communication is made up of oral and written language. Verbal communication involves the words said while non-verbal communication consists of how the words are spoken. The facial expressions, tone of one’s voice, gestures and body language matter a lot. Written communication also has two sides to it that are Verbal and non-verbal. Language is a compilation of symbols, numbers, letters, or words with random meanings. They are ordered according to the rules forming a code. This is called language. It is used to make conversation with one another.
You need to grasp the context and understand the meaning of words to read or speak it correctly. Three rules that are followed while using words are:
- Syntactic rules: These rules control the order in which the words are in a sentence.
- Semantic rules: These rules control the words’ meaning and their interpretation. The meaning of words or what they are made to mean rather than their grammar, spelling, sound is considered.
- Contextual rules: These rules control the meaning and text combination concerning the social practices and contextual rules. Despite all these rules, a communication gap or miscommunication may happen as words are interpreted differently in different communities. But at times, they are restricted by certain factors that we cannot control. To make a universal vocabulary, the need to further explain the meaning of words is required.
Words do not carry any meaning with them. Humans add sense to them, and the definition itself changes from time to time. The letters, punctuation marks, and numbers are arbitrary symbols that attach concepts to the sentences according to our experience. The description of the word has to be discussed and defined (through images or dialogues) in order to comprehend with our listeners. Two types of meanings that words have are:
- Denotative meaning: This is the most common meaning that may be found in the dictionary.
- Connotative meaning: This meaning will not be found in the dictionary but may be derived from the words according to the communal norms.
Words may be associated with emotions (positive or negative) and might be a collective or personal, but not universal. When two speakers speak in the same language but across cultural boundaries, generations and styles, capturing the essence of the ideas becomes difficult as the complex structure of thoughts increases exponentially.
Words play a pivotal role in the environment and represent its spheres at the same time. Words may be used to describe an idea or a concept, but labeling and using a particular word to describe it, simplifies and changes the concept of the thing as well. It is easier to communicate when you can simplify concepts, but in the process, it makes us lose the precise meaning that we try to express through abstraction.
To create and convey a sense of order in the world, we use language. Based on concepts of physical closeness or the like, we choose a group of words that represent ideas.
Systems of classification are used to navigate around the world, but it becomes problematic when we use them to support deep-seated assumptions and biases that are irrelevant in today’s times.
Through our biases, we can assume that elements are related when they share no relationship between them. Consequently, our thinking is restricted and understanding of reality is impaired. These biases can be visible in others, but it becomes our responsibility as communicators to become wary of them in ourselves. Holding biases unconsciously will hinder our growth, limit our understanding and the ability to communicate efficiently.
Relative Biases Associated with Words
Individuals develop and express biases with regard to the words they use and they way that they use words. Some notable examples include:
Cliché – An apt word or a phrase that has lost its importance because of being overused is called a cliché.
Jargon – A language that is used specifically by people in a particular profession or field is called Jargon. Jargon does not entail formal education. It only focuses on the tongue that lets you communicate with one another.
Slang – Already existing or newly invented words that replace standard traditional words by adding humorous, non-standard, unusual, unruly and unconventional meaning are known as slangs. Slangs are different from jargon as they are used in informal gatherings and not by professionals in an institution.
Sexist and Racist Language – In this case, gender is used as a discriminating feature. This kind of language discriminates people from a specific ethnic group or race.
Euphemisms – When an acceptable word is replaced by an unpleasant, controversial or intolerable word that somehow conveys a similar meaning, it is called a euphemism. The objective in business is clarity. The goal of euphemism is to be unclear.
Doublespeak – The purposeful use of words to mask, obscure or alter meaning often noted in technical communication is called doublespeak. It is used to derogate someone in an organization. This type of language can be somewhat harmful when it is used purposely to tamper with the meaning, and the listener cannot render and foresee the consequences based on the ineffective exchange.