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Introduction to Mass Communication – MCM 101 VU

LESSON 11
LANGUAGE IN COMMUNICATION

Previously we have discussed that non verbal communication outsmarts verbal communication by a
big margin but fact remains that the non verbal communication matters the most in real time when
you communicate, or you are communicated, through the human senses and body gestures and signs.

In time and space mostly it is the language comprising words which communicates to others. For
instance most historic records are available in the form of books written by scores of historians. The
religious teachings and the scientific and philosophical works are also going down to generations
through words.

It is the words, spoken or written, by prophets and other scholars on which scholars of the day try to
set explanations and seek guidance.

It is, however, a mystery to say whether the languages – over 4,000 in recognized form, are man
made or divine. Who invented them and at what stage their grammar rules and nouns were set up
still remains shrouded in obscurity.

Despite the fact that languages have been one of the strongest tools of communication, they also
have innate flaws which hamper communication. Here below we will see how languages behave in
communication.

Polarization
For almost every language it is a common practice to describe things in extreme position. At
times people are made to take an extreme position while the fact remains that they want to stay some
where in between.

For instance a person is said to be good or bad. You ask about a friend and reply may be; he is good,
or he is bad. The fact is that the person under question is bad in some respect and good in some
others. There may be a person who is said to be bad because he has committed a serious crime but
this may be a fact about him that he always speaks the truth which is good.

At the time of elections, you are asked to say yes or no. Yes means you fully endorse policies of a
person, and no will mean you fully reject the same for another. Fact is you do like some policies of a
person you are made to say no about and there may be some fault in the policies of a person (leader)
you are made to say yes.

You watch a movie and you observe it as good or bad and so you tell others about it. The fact is you
like the music and acting but not the direction and the script or story.

The use of polarized feeling does not allow you to communicate the very truth about something you
have a different feelings. The worst occurs when having said good, you cover an extra distance to
justify it if ever there is a debate on the matter although your first observation has been polarized due
to in-built inadequacy of language.

Labeling
A language help you label people of different categories and thereafter always keep an
impression about them as such. For instance Scots are labeled as stingy people. Every Scot is not but
whenever you are going to have a business with a Scot, a friend may tell you be careful while dealing
with a Scot.

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Introduction to Mass Communication – MCM 101 VU

People of some tribe and clan are labeled as quarrelsome. There may be some who are very peaceful
and reasonable but if you are in communication with them under the impression of label, no sooner
a point of dispute arises that you are prompted to observe that ‘ nothing wrong with you, you belong
to a tribe which is well known for such behavior.

It is common in the third world countries to see the United Nation with suspicion and regard it as an
extension of the developed world only to twist arms of poor nation when needed. This may be far
from truth in a given case but such labeling would go along the communication process and stand
firm in giving certain obsessed meanings on part of the sender if he belongs to other side of the
divide.

Static meanings
Sometimes some words are attached with a person and he/she continues to be known by the
meanings of those words. For instance there is your college fellow whom you regard as a nut who is
difficult to handle. Now the fellow has gone to US and married and has turned very reasonable – as
one can keep changing overtime. But whenever friends meet and talk about that fellow even years
after, they will refer him as nut.

You visit a foreign land only once in your life time and cheated by some natives. You will continue to
call people of that land as cheats whenever there will be any mention of that country though the
event took place decades ago. So harsh are the feelings and the words to give such meanings where
as the fact is that people, who might have cheated, are now changed.

At times some ruling tribes are described with static meanings in the book of history and their
generations are continued to be known with those characteristics once attached to their forefathers.

All this is because language does not offer any scientific approach to measures matters as done in
physics or chemistry or other natural sciences.

Indiscrimination
Another problem in the usage of languages is that it provides you common nouns and
suggests that people in this area are also similar in behavior. For instance people from the police
department, customs department are seen with preoccupies meaning. You use the word police and
immediately particular meanings would be drawn in your mind. If a group of students resort to some
hooliganism, people would quickly remark it as a common thing about students. Say she is a model
and immediately people would assume a particular meaning about her. So on and so forth. This
indiscrimination among individuals once they are grouped in a common noun is another skirting area
of language.

Purpose of debate
As we undertake the debate on language and communication, the purpose is not to prove
that languages are worthless, but only to highlight areas where languages fall short of meaning and
hence cause some problem – sometime very serious – in common communication.

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