Paralinguistic signs characteristics and examples

What is paralinguistics

The idea of ​​paralinguistics refers to the part of human communication that transcends the use of verbal language. Paralinguistics is given by clues, signs and aspects that serve to contextualize or suggest interpretations of information . In this article we will elaborate you about paralinguistics signs.

The tone of voice, pauses in speech and the way to control breathing, for example, are paralinguistic elements. From these questions, the message acquires different characteristics, in addition to the words used specifically for its production.

Paralinguistic allows you to give different nuances to the meaning of the verbal. Specialists recognize in this set the phonic modifiers, silences, pauses, quasi-lexical elements and sound indicators that reflect an emotional or physiological reaction.

See the case of voice. Tone, intensity and timbre, to name a few physical characteristics of the sound, can reveal the speaker‘s mood. Choosing certain paralinguistic elements of this type can allow a person to express surprise or happiness.

The laugh or sigh, however, also affects the message. In some cases, these signals are emitted unconsciously, although they may be used on purpose by the individual.
Moans, snores and other sounds enter the field of paralinguistics. In a lecture, an individual may express “Mmm” to convey a doubt or agreement, depending on how he makes that noise.
In addition to the noises and sounds mentioned in the previous paragraph, paralinguistics recognizes the following: crying, screaming, coughing, yawning, wheezing and throat clearing. On the other hand, the way the individual controls his breathing and the articulation of his sounds also influences the information that the receiver can extract from his message.

This data that comes from the other side of the communication process refers to different aspects of his person, such as his mood and certain cultural traits that the interlocutor can analyze to learn more about him without having to ask direct questions.
It is important to note that certain components of paralinguistics are common to many cultures, but others are specific to certain groups. Therefore, in some communication contexts, they may not be useful.

Voice volume is one of the most important factors in communication. It should be noted that the most appropriate term to describe this property of sound is actually intensity , since volume is the magnitude of the surface it manages to occupy when projected, the natural size that is attached to the organ or instrument that produces it, and it has no direct connection with the “force”. Anyway, most people outside of the music business use them interchangeably.

Paralinguistics tells us that we cannot use the same volume in any conversation, but that we must adapt it to prevent our message from being impregnated with involuntary information. For example, when speaking at a high volume, we can indicate to the interlocutor the desire to dominate him, to place ourselves above him in the hierarchy of the relationship; If we don’t want that, we should try to keep it on the same level as the other.
On the contrary, it occurs when using a low volume: this is very common among people with self-esteem problems, which indicates the absence or the intention that they do not believe that they do not have anything interesting to decide. The way in which we use the voice can also have an impact on the respect that we show our receiver, whether we use a high volume or a low volume, a better reason to take care of this aspect of communication.

Paralinguistic signs

The paralinguistic signs are those that complement communication and are often used in interpersonal communication. Among the paralinguistic signs, corporal expression, and affective and emotional states stand out.

These signs are accompanying messages of a verbal type. Paralinguistic signs include laughter, crying, sighing, screaming, yawning, and panting, among others.

Silence, the sound of air and water, and music, among other elements that can complement a message, are also elements of paralinguistic signs.

There are elements that influence the differentiation of paralinguistic signs; some of these are intensity, volume or tone of voice, and fluency.

Examples of paralinguistic signs

Example No. 1

The Coca-Cola Company usually shows a person drinking a soft drink in its television commercials. When it goes for the last sip, it produces a sound that denotes satisfaction and smiles.

The paralinguistic sign used in this advertisement is the sound and the smile, since it conveys satisfaction and taste for the soft drink, making the recipient of the advertisement also have a desire to ingest the drink.

Example No. 2

When a person turns pale, whoever is seeing them deduces that this person is sick. In this example, the paralinguistic sign is displayed in the person who is turning pale.

Loss of color is an indication that the person’s health is not well and speaks volumes on its own.

Example No. 3

If a person frowns it gives the impression that they are upset. Frowning is the paralinguistic sign that characterizes an angry person. Therefore, even if the person does not express their annoyance, the gesture on their face reveals their feelings.

Example No. 4

Crying is one of the most recognized elements of paralinguistic communication since when a person cries it can be concluded that his emotional state is sad.

Example No. 5

Laughter is another notorious element in paralinguistic communication, along with crying. This is because they are globally recognized and often express specific feelings in people.

Laughter is synonymous with joy. When people smile or laugh, they express that they are happy.

Example No. 6

Facial expression by nature shows how people feel about something.

For example, raising an eyebrow gives the impression of wanting to delve deeper into the subject of what is being heard or read; in general, it is a sign of interest.

Example No. 7

The tone of voice or volume is a paralinguistic sign that is capable of expressing various feelings.

For example, if a person communicates with a loud and strong tone of voice, the recipient of the message may sense that the person is upset.

Example No. 8

Fluency makes the message understood. Poor fluency in speaking can cause the recipient to show nervousness or limited knowledge about the subject.

Example No. 9

An interviewer asks his interviewee a question. However, the interviewee does not give an answer that satisfies the interviewer’s question, since it is concise or has not been entirely clear. Therefore, the interviewer maintains silence, generating the other person the need to continue speaking.

Example No. 10

Two girls are chatting quietly and, at that moment, a third girl appears in front of them in a very ugly outfit. The two girls, in silence, exchange a series of glances with which they communicate their assessment of the other girl’s clothes.

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