Education

Language Use of Skills in Communication

Language is a standard tool in everyday transactions and dealings with one another. The world will stand still if languages are taken away. As there are countries, regions, tribes, ethnic groups, etc. so there are languages in the world. 

The primary purpose of every language is to communicate. It is the foremost and most important tool in communication. At the root of every language whether simple or complex, written, oral or signal, or symbol, lies communication. Interestingly, language is a tool of communication that is equally available to everyone. 

Generally, although languages appear complex, they are the most comfortable to use in communication. Statistics show that there are about 6,500 languages in the world. In Nigeria, there are over 500 languages (Wikipedia).

In this discussion of language use of skills in communication, I will be presenting a bird‘s eye view of the principles of language. According to Devito (2013: 92), language is both denotative and connotative, varies in abstraction, varies in directness, is rule-based, and its meaning is best viewed in people rather than in words.

Characteristics of Language

Devito (2013: 92) outlines five principles of language as a tool of communication. These principles are discussed below:

Language is Both Denotative and Connotative

A language is a major tool of communication. And the use of your language can be connotative or denotative. Denotation is used to describe the literal or objective meaning of a term as provided in the dictionaries. 

It is the common meaning given to the word. Connotation, on the other hand, refers to the subjective, personal or emotional meaning given to a word by a specific group of say speakers or listeners. This is the associated meaning of a term. 

The use of words in a language can mean (denote) one thing to the sender and a completely different thing (connote) to the receiver. For instance, love‘ may mean (denote) affection, emotional attachment to a lady, and mean (connote) patriotism to the politician.

Language Varies in Abstraction

Your use of language determines how effective you communicate. This is because language varies in abstraction. You communicate more effectively when you use more specific terms i.e. you are less abstract in the choice of words. 

Devito (2013: 93) writes that effective verbal messages include words from a wide range of abstractions. In other words, in the use of language to communicate, you can use abstract or specific (less abstract) terms that best suit your needs to convey your messages

Language Varies in Directness

Language can be used to convey messages directly or indirectly. Although indirect messages can be sarcastic, they help to express views or ideas without insults; are milder, courteous, and allows you to interact politely. 

Direct messages are stronger, more forceful, and sometimes considered impolite and offensive. Gender and culture are major determinants of directness in messages. Some cultures regard indirectness as manipulative while others consider it courteous and polite. 

Most cultures see indirectness as associated with women expressing powerlessness and discomfort while directness with men who are most often judged as blunt, rude, and overbearing.

Language is Rule-Based

Effective use of language is based on a wide variety of rules. Language is guided by grammatical rules which combine words into sentences; semantic rules for using words meaningfully, and the rules that guide combining sounds. 

Language is therefore based on the rules of syntax, semantics, and phenology which you learned when you were growing up. You learned these rules in the language you were exposed to your local dialect; and learned the rules of English when you were exposed to it. 

The other aspect of the rule of language is cultural rules. Different cultures have different styles of communication or rules that govern communication, which members are expected to imbibe and follow.

Language Meanings are in People

Language, terms, and words create different meanings in people. You use words to mean what you want. And what it means to you may not be what it means to another. Meanings are in people and change as people change. 

The meanings of the messages you received have changed over a period. Have you noticed that the meanings you created for certain messages have changed even though the messages remain the same?

The romantic letter written to you several years ago from a girl you fell in love with remains the same letter but the meaning you created then has changed. 

The same girl has fallen in love with another man and years have passed. You have also fallen in love with another girl and years have passed. When you read the same romantic letter, you create a new meaning. A man met a beautiful girl years ago. They courted and married. 

He delighted in being called sweetheart, darling, and the like. Today, he has created a different meaning from being called darling by his wife. Now, darling is synonymous with making the request he must grant and has nothing to do with love or affection. 

Meanings are in people not in words. Therefore, the word darling‘ may mean love and affection to you and to another, a ploy to exhort money.

Finally, according to Devito (2013: 109), to develop communication skills and communicate effectively, think critically of the general principles of language: language symbolizes reality, but it is not the reality itself; language can express both facts and inferences, yet often obscures the important distinction between them; language is relatively static and unchanging, but the world and the people it describes are changing all the time; language can obscure important distinctions among people.

In studying and developing effective communication skills, it is important to understand how meaning is communicated from one person to another.

The diagram below illustrates how to deal with barriers in verbal communication.  

communication

 In summary, this article examined the communication process. It discussed the elements that control and regulate the communication process. The sender initiates and communicates the message through a format (encode) and sends it through the channel. 

The receiver interprets (decodes) and receives the message. The result of communication is referred to as feedback. Noise is interference in the communication process.

Communication breakdown is the bane of several organizations and relationships. Therefore, there is a need for effective communication. Your communication should be clear, concise, coherent, and courteous. There are several obstacles to effective communication which include physical barriers, perceptual barriers, linguistic barriers, emotional barriers, information overload, and language.

Language is a major tool of communication that can also cause impediments to communication. This is because language can be denotative and connotative; it varies in abstraction; it varies in directness; it is rule-based, and its meaning is best viewed in people rather than in words.

Effective communication is one of the most important skills that you require in life. It plays a very significant role in your personal, family, work, and social life. This places the onus on you to develop and cultivate the skills to enhance your worth.

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