Communication can be defined as the act of communicating and transmission, where there is the exchange of thoughts, messages, emotions and information, by speech, signals, writing, or behaviour (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language).
In other words, communication
is a two-way process; the process of sharing ideas, thoughts, emotions,
information, and messages with others in a particular time and place.
Communication includes writing and talking, as well as non-verbal
communication, such as facial expressions, body language or gestures,
visual communication (as in the use of images or pictures, such as
painting, photography, video, or film) and electronic communication
(that is the use of telephones, electronic mail, cable television, or
satellite broadcasts). Communication is an important part of personal
life and in business, education, and any other situations where people
encounter each other (Baskaran, 2004; Comrie, 2003).
1. Verbal Communication
have developed complex systems of language that are used as a tool to
ensure survival, to express ideas, thoughts and emotions, to tell
stories and recall the past, to negotiate and to communication with one
another. Language is the set of rules, shared by the individuals who are
communicating. In spoken language, the structure of a message cannot be
too complex because of the risk that the listener will misunderstand
the message. Since the communication is face-to-face, the speaker has
the opportunity to receive feedback from the listener and to clarify
what the listener does not understand, a characteristic unique to spoken
Spoken language is a feature of every human society or
culture. Anthropologists studying ancient cultures have several theories
on how human language began and developed. The earliest language
systems probably combined vocal sounds with hand or body signals to
express messages. Some words may be imitative of natural sounds, or also
called onomatopoeia. Others may have come from expressions of emotion,
such as laughter or crying. Language, some theorists believe, is an
outgrowth of group activities, such as working together and dancing
2. Non-verbal Communication
language is primarily oral, it can also be represented in other ways
when spoken language cannot be utilised, such as in writing, body
language or gestures, and sign language, among other media.
can be viewed as a permanent physical record of the spoken language.
However, written and spoken languages tend to be different from one
another, partly because of the difference in medium. Sentence structures
in written communication can be more complex because readers can return
to an earlier part of the text to clarify their understanding. However,
the writer usually does not have the opportunity to receive feedback
from the reader and to rework the text immediately as in spoken
language, so texts must be written with greater clarity. The written
language makes use of linking words that are normally left implicit in
spoken language, such as however and because (Comrie, 2003).
B. Body language or gestures
language refers to the conveying of messages through body movements
other than those movements that form a part of sign or spoken languages.
Some gestures can have quite specific meanings, such as those for
saying good-bye (waving hand in the air) or for asking someone to stop
(holding out palm towards that someone). Other gestures generally
accompany speech, such as those used to emphasize a particular point.
Body language can also tell others whether someone is bored, tired or
not interested, such as by the way he sits or using facial expressions.
Although there are cross-cultural similarities in body language,
differences also exist both in which body language is used and in the
interpretations given to it. For example, the head gestures for “yes”
and “no” used in the Balkans seem inverted to other Europeans, and the
physical distance kept between participants in a conversation varies
from culture to culture, such as a distance considered normal in one
culture can be considered as aggressively close in another culture
C. Sign language
languages, which are different from signed versions of spoken languages,
are the native languages of most members of deaf communities. Only
recently linguists have begun to appreciate the levels of complexity and
expressiveness found in sign languages. As in spoken languages, sign
languages are generally arbitrary in their use of signs. Sign languages
also exhibit dual patterning, where a small number of components combine
to produce a range of signs, similar to the way in which letters
combine to make words in English. In addition to that, sign languages
use complex syntax and can discuss the same wide range of topics
possible in spoken languages (Comrie, 2003; Yule, 1994).
Communication among Animals
are not the only creatures that communicate. Animals also exchange
signals and signs, and this interaction between animals in which
information is transmitted from one animal or group of animals affects
the behavior of other animals, most commonly of the same species.
Animals typically exchange information using a signal, such as facial
and body expression, sound, visual display, chemicals or touch.
Communication between animals helps them coordinate the important
functions of their survival, such as gathering food and hunting, staking
out territory, mating, caring for young, and defending themselves.
example, the apes transmit information by multiple signals, such as a
combination of gestures, facial expressions, and sounds. This use of
multiple signals makes possible a more extensive vocabulary for
communicating. Whales and dolphins make vocal clicks, squeals, or sing
songs to exchange information about feeding and migration, and to locate
each other. Honey bees dance in specific patterns that tell other
members of the hive precisely the distance to and location of the food.
Most reptiles have body parts that inflate, such as the flared neck skin
or hood of the cobra, or vibrate, as the tail of the rattlesnake to
show aggression. Primates, particularly baboons, gibbons, and
chimpanzees frequently embrace each other and also may lightly touch,
push, nibble, or kiss. Grooming is a more structured form of tactile
communication that helps primates establish social dominance and
strengthen emotional bonds. Many land mammals, such as wolves and cats,
use pheromones released by specialized glands to claim an area as their
own. Other uses of pheromone signals include trail marking by ants,
which enables other colony members to find food (Microsoft Encarta
Encyclopedia Deluxe, 2004).
---- (2003). Animal Communication. Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia Deluxe 2004. Microsoft Corporation.
Baskaran, L. (2004). Developmental Linguistics: Communication and infancy. Language and Linguistics Faculty, UM.
Comrie, B. (2003). Communication. Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia Deluxe 2004. Microsoft Corporation.
Jannedy, S., Poletto, R. Weldon, T. (Ed.). (1994). Language Files (6th Ed.): Materials for an Introduction to Language and Linguistics. Department of Linguistics: The Ohio State University.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th Ed.). (2000). Houghton Mifflin Company. Retrieved 7th January 2004 from http://www.dictionary.com
Yule, G. (1994). The Study of Language: An introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.