Use Of Paralanguage And Kinesics In Everyday Life

Use of Paralanguage and Kinesics in Everyday Life
The use of kinesics and paralanguage in everyday life is the most
prominent use of persuasion we use subconsciously. They are used subconsciously
because you may not know what they mean. Which can cause cultural tension if
you do something that may seem harmless to you but may be a great insult to
another culture. Paralanguage has many forms such as whistling which can be
used by many people as a means of entertaining by whistling a song or even in
American culture used to hound women on the streets because they appear to be
attractive. These two uses of persuasion I will discuss about in my paper. I
will discuss the history of both and also how they are used today in everyday

To start of with I will define kinesics. Kinesics is articulation of
the body, or movement resulting from muscular and skeletal shift. This includes
all actions, physical or physiological, automatic reflexes, posture, facial
expressions, gestures, and other body movements. Body language, body idiom,
gesture language, organ language and kinesic acts are just some terms used to
depict kinesics. In ways that body language works in nonverbal acts, body
language parallels paralanguage. Kinesic acts may substitute for language,
accompany it, or modify it. Kinesic acts may be lexical or informative and
directive in nature, or they may be emotive or empathic movements. Posture is
one of the components of kinesics. Posture is broken down into three basic
positions: bent knees, lying down, and standing. Artists and mimes have always
been aware of the range of communication possible through body stance. But
there are some cultural differences in posture positions. Most people use the
bent knee position to eat, but while the Romans used to eat lying down. Prince
Peter of Greece and Denmark described the sleeping posture of the Tibetans
before World War II. He said that the local men slept outside at night huddled
around the fire, hunched over on their knees with their faces resting in their

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In 1932, William James did a study of expression of bodily posture. He
recognized the relationship of facial expression, gesture, and posture. He
declared that studying each one independently was justified for the purpose of
analysis, but they should be recognized as a whole unit that function as an
expression. He devised four basic kinds from 347 different postures in his
experiment. The four basic kinds are: approach, withdrawal, expansion, and
contraction. Approach referred to such things as attention, interest, scrutiny,
and curiosity. Withdrawal involved drawing back or turning away, refusal,
repulsion, and disgust. Expansion referred to the expanded chest, erect trunk
and head, and raised shoulders, which conveyed pride, conceit, arrogance,
disdain, mastery, and self-esteem. Contraction was characterized by forward
trunk, bowed head, drooping shoulders, and sunken chest. Studies have
identified postural behavior with personality types and ways of life, for
example relaxation, assertiveness, and restraint; and have noted the correlation
of certain kinds of movement in sleeping and waking acts. Posture is a
substantial marker of feminine and masculine behavior. The relationship of
posture to sex gestures is obvious in the stereotypes in U.S. advertising.

Posture is an indicator of status and rank and is also a marker of etiquette.

In a study of Roman sculpture and coinage, Brilliant demonstrates that posture
identifies the noble and the peasant. In Western culture one was taught to
stand when an elderly person enters the room.

The face seems to be the most obvious component of body language, but it
is certainly the most confusing and difficult to understand. Modern studies of
facial expressions dates back to the nineteenth century, starting with Charles
Bell, who in 1806, published Essays on the Anatomy and Philosophy of Expression:
As Connected with the Fine Arts. Charles Darwin’s, The Expressions of Emotions
in Man and Animals, in 1872, was apparently influenced by Bell’s earlier work.

Facial expressions are like sentences in human language, they are infinite in
variety. The relationship of facial expression to other components of body
language and to language itself, is sparsely examined and such observations as
have been made are recent. It does not take very extensive scientific study to
observe that a smiling face makes a sentence sound different from a sentence
articulated by a sorrowful, droopy physiognomy. There are five basic physical
descriptions of facial expressions: neutral, relaxed, tense, uplifted, and
droopy. The neutral could result in various expressions such as pleasure, mask,
respect, thoughtful, and quiet attention. The relaxed could result in love,
pleasure and submission. The tense results in fear, surprise, determination,
contempt, and extreme interest. The uplifted could result in happiness, anxiety,
rage, religious love, astonishment, attention. Finally the droopy, in distress,
suffering, grief, dismay, and shock. Facial expression may portray the actual
emotion felt and accurately accompany the speech. On the other hand, facial
expression, as with other body language and nonverbal components, may
contradict the verbal expression, thus giving the real message. One’s facial
expression may be practiced and may thus be made convincingly to lie, along with
the speech act, about one’s real feelings. Artists and clowns have effectively
exploited facial expressions and gestures as social weapons and entertainment.

The eyes and mouth, it is generally agreed, carry the heaviest load of
communicative and expressive manifestations. When the eyes of two persons meet
there is a special kind of communication. This special kind of communication is
not always desirable. In some cultures the Evil Eye , the direct stare, is one
of the worst possible social and/or supernatural offenses. The term eye contact
is used to identify this special relationship. Eye contact is one of the
closest possible relationships. It can be used as a “regulator” in
conversations in an informal kind of way, and it can be used in a more precise
signal, for example, between the chairman of a meeting and a member who is
asking for the floor. At the end of a social evening, couples may signal “Let’s
go!” only by eye contact. Deaf persons are insistent on eye contact in
teractions; they depend heavily on kinesic movement to supplement the
“conversation.” The avoidance of eye contact also signals something meaningful.

Looking away contributes to maintaining psychological distance. Other eye
behaviors are symptoms of abnormalities in human beings, such as excessive
blinking, depressed look, dramatic gaze, guarded gaze, and absent gaze. The
blink frequency can be a measure of tension, or even of sobriety as some
researchers have concluded.

The mouth is a remarkable communicator, both on the obvious and subtle
levels. In fact, most mouth movement is not associated with sound at all. If
the eyes are the “windows of the soul,” certainly the mouth is the very door.

The grimace, in contrast to the movement made by a tic, is voluntary and within
the control of the person who does it. Pouting is a well-known kinesic act of
children. Sticking out the tongue among the children of Western cultures is a
widely-known expression of insult. Protruding the tongue, however, has other
meanings. It is a component of a negative response among the aborigines in
Queensland and Gipp’s land where a negative is expressed by throwing the head of
a little backwards and putting out the tongue. Tongue movements may take place
naturally when one is thinking deeply or preoccupied with writing or silent
reading – such behavior when one is alone is known as “autistic behavior.” Jaw
movement also occurs in moments of concentration, and in addition when the
person is carrying on some activity with an opening and closing motion. The
hands, of course, are of paramount interest here with a seemly endless array of
possibilities which different cultures utilize in various ways. In some
cultures specific hand gestures number in the hundreds. Movement of the head
conveys various meanings depending upon the tilt, uprightness, thrust from the
body, and side movement.

Paralanguage is some kind of articulation of the vocal apparatus, or
significant lack of it, for example, hesitation between segments of vocal
articulation. This includes all noises and sounds which are extra-speech sounds,
such as hissing, shushing, whistling, and imitation sounds, as well as a large
variety of speech modifications, such as quality of voice (sepulchral, whiny,
giggling), extra high-pitched utterances, or hesitations and speed in talking.

People from all different walks of life recognize that the human voice
communicates something beyond language. These effects are referred to by
impressionistic descriptions such as “tone of voice,” “voice quality,” “manner
of speaking,” or “the way he said it.” There are modifying features which can
occur independently, such as crying and laughing, groaning, and whining. These
are “vocal characterizes” which one “talks through” when they accompany language.

The sounds used in language are referred to as segmental sounds or phonemes.

They are produced by the articulatory organs of speech and each has a particular
articulatory phonetic description. Fricative sounds occur frequently in
paralanguage, perhaps because of the air expired air movement is of much
importance in paralinguistic. A surprising amount of paralanguage makes use of
sounds which might be considered more dramatic and exotic than the language
sounds. These sounds are trills and clicks and sounds modified in exotic ways,
which without the modification might be considered ordinary. Trills are a kind
of iterative articulation; that is, repetitions of a flap articulation by the
movable parts of the speech mechanism. Any part of the speech apparatus which
can move may be involved in a trill, whether it be the lips, tongue, cheek,
uvula, velic, or vocal cords.

The click sounds are made by causing a suction of air in the mouth
cavity. These percussive-like sounds are well documented as speech sounds in
several languages, but, like the kiwi bird in New Zealand, they occur in only
one geographical area of the world. The type of modification when the lips are
involved, or puckered, is called labialization, and in speech sounds is used in
French, German, Scandinavian, and many other languages. In English this type of
rounded lip modification is known as “baby talk.” Palatalization is a kind of
modification made by the blade of the tongue in contact with the palate. It
occurs very commonly in Slavic languages. Nasalization is a kind of
modification which permits air to escape through the nose while pronouncing an
oral sound. Nasalized vowels occur in the language structure of French, but in
English occur only in paralanguage. Nasalization also occurs in strong emotions
of love and hatred due to the swelling and shrinking of the nasal membranes in
these circumstances. Pharyngealization is another modification and is produced
in the back of the throat. It results from opening up the area of the pharynx
by tongue movement. This occurrence is noted in the Arabic language. Muscle
constriction is a tightening of the vocal apparatus which produces sounds known
as “fortis” in language systems, in contrast to sounds made in relaxed manner,
which are known as “lenis.” Constriction of the vocal cords is said to occur in
a special kind of speech among the Amahuacas of Peru.

There are extra-speech sounds used for communication which are treated
here, never occur, as far as has been recorded, in any language system of the
world. This group, non-language sounds, includes such “noises” as the whistle,
the kiss, the yell, the groan, clapping of the tongue, various percussive
sounding noises made with mouth air articulated by the lips and tongue, but not
to be confused with mouth clicks, and a variety of imitative noises, such as the
bilabial “pop” when the champagne cork is released. Whistling as a
communication device is world-wide, from spontaneous, expressive whistling for
joy, or “whistling in the dark,” to simple signals across distances, such as
among mountain climbers in the Alps who call for help by whistling. The kiss is
a bilabial voiceless click which is articulated in the manner of the other
clicks actually used in languages which were described previously under specific
language sounds. Kempelen classified kisses into three types, according to
their sounds: the kiss proper, a clear-ringing kiss, coming from the heart; the
weaker kiss, from an acoustic point of view; and a loathsome smack. The kiss is
used in greetings and in affectionate display, but also has other functions with
communicative value. The yell, and variations of it as expressed by the scream,
shout, roar, howl, bellow, squeal, holler, shriek, or screech, are effective
non-speech communications, difficult to describe technically, and almost
impossible to duplicate the effect of in other kinds of communication media.

The Confederate Yell, during the Civil War, was a ulant yell that was the signal
for the Confederate troops to charge at the enemies.

The use of paralanguage in today’s society is very prominent. We use
paralanguage with children when we tell them to be quiet by saying “shush.” If
we see something disgusting we can make a gagging sound which shows disapproval.

We also use kinesics today a lot too. We use the “O.K.” sign to signal that
everything is fine. We even have body language for vulgar words that many
people today seem to use a lot. The study of these two topics can help a lot in
understanding what people are really saying in today’s society. Without the
understanding of kinesics or paralanguage we would not be able to help bridge
the gap between certain cultures or even each other. We need these two non-
-verbal communication techniques to survive.


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