Thursday, April 28, 2016

Language Blog

Language Blog: Part 1

    I found this experiment to be very difficult because it was hard to communicate without using my language and I do not know sign language. I am om vacation right now with my husband and two daughters and I was trying to communicate with my husband on what we were going to do for the day. I was trying to use hand gestures and facial expressions to describe that I wanted to go to the beach and other places. It was quite frustrating and that was only for fifteen minutes. 

My partner's impression was that he was confused and irritated because he did not know what I was trying to say. I noticed that my partner was also using a lot of hand gestures and facial expressions to try and use symbolic communication. I was trying to use wave hand gestures to symbolize the ocean, but he did not know if I meant the pool or the ocean. So my partner was also using hand gestures to symbolize the ocean. 

I believe the culture that does not speak can communicate better only because language can be foreign and therefore misunderstood. The culture that only uses hand gestures can be better understood because that culture can show objects with their hands, for example a bird or the ocean. Although, the culture that has a spoken language would have the advantage of complex ideas because those people are able to communicate better. Spoken language is more time saving, more powerful and more effective in getting someone's thoughts across.

Individuals in our culture that might have difficulty with spoken language might be people that are deaf and use sign language or people like Steven Hawking that have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. In other words, that some people with disabilities would be affected and can not speak.

Language Blog: Part 2

     I was able to last for the whole fifteen minutes by only using my speech for communication. It was very hard because I had to put my arms by my side, my face still and my speech mono tone.

My partners in this part of the experiment were affected because they were not able to stay focused to me when I was speaking. My communication limitations made my conversation with other people seem to be boring and hard to want to listen to me. It was also very difficult for my partners to know if I was mad, sad, or happy when I was talking. It was difficult for me to get my message across without any physical embellishments.

The experiment tells me that our use of signs in our language is extremely important. Communication has to involve both verbal and nonverbal ways to make sure our message is heard. When we communicate with other people without speech we have to use facial expressions which is part of the larger communication process. For example, a smile indicates our approval or happiness and a scowl shows people that we disagree or are angry.Facial expressions and physical embellishments with non-speech communication helps boost our understanding of speech and interactions with other people.

There are people who have a difficult time reading body language, for example people that are blind or have poor eyesight and/ or other cultures. Foreign cultures might have a hard time reading our body language because they have never seen it before. For instance, native tribes that live in isolated areas of the world would not understand most of our body language because they have never experienced our culture or people before. The adaptive benefit to possessing the ability to read body language is it helps to ensure our relationship with other people. It helps us to communicate with the outside world. I think reading body language is beneficial to everyone, but maybe in some environmental conditions it would not be beneficial. . For instance, if a person was preforming on a stage and noticed all of the audience looked bored and crossing their arms, that might distract the performer and make him/her not want to continue with the performance. Another situation that might not be beneficial to read body language is when someone has a physical disorder like Parkinson's disease. They have no control over their facial expressions and movements and if you were to read their body language it might be interpreted.

Language Blog: Part 3

  I do think that part one would have been a lot easier if I was permitted to write because writing is considered a type of symbolic language. Writing would have made it possible to convey complex ideas that can easily be communicated and comprehended with a system of symbols.

It  is very beneficial for other cultures to develop writing because once they have established a system of letters and words it is then easier for other cultures to communicate. Writing allows the preservation of ides, facts, and stories to become history. Later in the future people can learn about their ancestors and relate to their time and culture. 

The impact of written language on globalization is significant because it helps all societies to advance in many ways. Illiteracy is a disadvantage to many people because they stay in poverty and do not enroll in school. Now people depend on computers to email each other and cell phones to text one another. Globalization depends greatly on written language to spread ideas around the world.


  1. Hi Julianne,

    In terms of not using any body language or gestures during experiment two, it was also very difficult for me to get an emotional response from my partner. I find that using body language, hand gestures, and tones in my voice really brings out a person’s emotions and enthusiasm. It heightens our points and brings the listener into our conversation. It really shows our personality and passions with more clarity, therefore it is extremely important. I agree that spoken language does save time as well, since it is able to clearly state your thoughts. I enjoyed reading your blog post!


  2. Hello Julianne, I was very taken with your explanation of how the those who speak with just body language would be better off because in written language there are so many different ways to say just one thing but when showing with hand gestures or pointing it is universal what you do typically because it is more instinctive I would say and I thought that was a very good point of yours and enjoyed reading about it, Thank you

  3. Hi Julianne!

    Your description of the experiment was very clear - I felt like I was in the room with you, watching you try to communicate vacation plans to your husband! I think it's really interesting how people who don't understand the message you're trying to convey start to try communicating with you in the same manner that you're communicating with them. (I noticed it on my shift at work today, too - people who didn't speak English started using signs with me, and I would naturally attempt to give them signs as well with my hands, facial expressions, and tone of voice, because I couldn't speak their language...super interesting!)

    I think my favorite part of your post was from part 2 of the experiment, as you were discussing body language. Prior to this experiment, I never would have thought to consider body language in foreign countries as a disadvantage (and looking back on it, I can't believe I didn't pick up on it!). I appreciated that you mentioned it and expanded on it a bit. There are certain gestures in our country that would be interpreted in a completely different way in another country. Thanks for making me think a little deeper about how body language, though prevalent all around the world, and its interpretations are affected by our cultures!

  4. An initial clarification: 'Symbolic language' is a language which uses a system of a limited number of symbols ('letters') to create an essentially unlimited number of combinations of those symbols ('words') to produce a language. So an example of a symbolic language would be English, Spanish, German, Japanese, Manderin, but ASL (or "Sign language") would also qualify as the motions used by the hands are also symbols used in combination to produce a limitless language. In anthropology and linguistics, "Signs" are images or shapes or objects that mean something complete to us on their own and can't be converted into anything else. For example, a stop sign is one object that means one thing to us... "stop". Body language is also considered to be a language using signs. So for part 1, you could use only body language (or 'signs') but not spoken, written or ASL, which are all considered symbolic language.

    Otherwise, good description of your part 1 experiment, including how your partners responded.

    "I believe the culture that does not speak can communicate better only because language can be foreign and therefore misunderstood. "

    But that wasn't the question (though I do see you address this later). Which culture would have an easier time communicating 'complex ideas'. So could you explain Einstein's theory of relativity or Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection without symbolic language? I couldn't! In fact, I suggest that science itself would be impossible without symbolic language.

    I agree that those who are deaf are an accurate parallel to the experiment you conducted in part 1. Another example would be immigrant populations, who don't know the language of their new country. Think about how our immigrant population can be treated and the attitude toward those who don't speak the English language.

    Beyond emotion and message clarity, body language is also used by humans as a lie detector. If someone tells you something but their body language tells you something different, which do you believe, the words or the body language? We tend to not believe a person when their body belies their words, and think about how this helps people when interacting with others. This would help you figure out who to trust, who to work with, and who to avoid, very important pieces of information when living among others.

    Good discussion on situations where people might have difficulty reading body language. Those who are blind definitely have difficulty, but they still read vocal intonation. Another example would be individuals who are in the autism spectrum are unable to read body language, which creates many of the social complications they face. You raise the point regarding people from another culture, and this is very astute. It is true that all cultures use different systems of body language.

    But that makes me wonder why you didn't raise this point in the next section, identifying situations where it might be good to ignore body language because it is giving you false information? Just flip the situation around. Imagine that YOU are the immigrant in a new country, faced with a system of body language foreign to you. Might it be a good idea to ignore body language until you had learned how to interpret it?

    Very good final discussion on the issue of written language, particularly how you explored the issue of how recording history is of benefit to human populations. Well done.