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Discussion Details

Title: Verbal / Non-Verba Phenomena
Submitter: Eduard C. Hanganu
Description: Dear Dr. Rossini:

My comment below refers to the first hypothesis in your research on the
“study the phenomena involved in both communication and interaction between
organisms by different perspectives,'' which hypothesis is that “being
communication what MacKay (1999:3) defines as - simply communicatio (from
Latin communication, communicati onis: to share with someone the act of
communication or distributing), no theoretical distinction is needed
between the act itself of communication and the act itself of interacting.”

Akmajian states in his book, ''An Introduction to Language and
Communication''(1995:5), that “the field of linguistics, the
scientific study of human natural language” is “fundamentally
concerned with the nature of language and communication.” I assume
therefore that he might incline to agree with you that “no theoretical
distinction is needed between the act itself of communication and the act
itself of interacting.”

Brown and Yule, though, distinguish between two language
functions,''communication'' and ''interaction,'' when they affirm in the
book ''Discourse Analysis'' that “whereas linguists, philosophers of
language and psycholinguists have, in general, paid particular attention to
the use of language for the transmission of ‘factual or prepositional
information’ sociologists and sociolinguists have been particularly
concerned with the use of language to establish and maintain social
relationships” (1993:2-3). They also define the two functions,
“communication,” and “interaction,” in the following paragraph:

It would be unlikely that, on any occasion, a natural language utterance
would be used to fulfill only one function, to the total exclusion of the
other. That function which language serves in the expression of ‘content’
we will describe as transactional, and that function involved in expressing
social relationships and personal attitudes we will describe as
interactional. (Brown and Yule 1993:1)

Saville-Troike refers to a “correlation between the form and content of a
language and the beliefs, values and needs present in the culture of its
speakers” in her book ''The Ethnography of Communication: An
Introduction''(1989:32), while Freeman and McElhinny affirm the multiple
functions of language in human interaction in the words “language use
shapes our understanding of the social world, our relationships with each
other, and our social identities” (2002:219). Finally, Fasold, in his book
''The Sociolinguistics of Language'' (1993:1) expands the thought into a
full statement concerning the manner in which language defines and delimits
our social context:

When people use language, they do more than just try to get another person
to understand the speaker’s thoughts and feelings. At the same time, both
people are using language in subtle ways to define their relationship to
each other, to identify themselves as part of a social group, and to
establish the kind of speech event they are in.

So, while communication appears to be “what MacKay (1999:3) defines as -
simply communicatio (from Latin communication, communicationis: to share
with someone the act of communication or distributing),” speaking a human
language does not seem to be limited or constrained to “communicatio,” that
is, communication or dissemination of information, or sharing of
''propositional content,'' a task defined as “transactional,” but also
appears to include the performance of a social function, described as
“interactional,” which is more than “sharing,” or “giving,” but also
“receiving,” or “accepting.”

This clearly implies more than a unidirectional transmission of
transactional code or ''propositional information,'' but also a
bidirectional or multidirectional exchange of transactional and also
interactional, explicit and implicit, elements of human communication and
social interaction.

The distinction between these two functions of human
language, ''communicatio'', which is ''transaction,''
and ''interractio'', or ''interraction,'' appears therefore to be natural
and necessary.


Eduard C. Hanganu
Ivy Tech Community College
English Department
Evansville, Indiana, USA


Akmajian, Adrian, Demers, Richard A., Farmer, Ann K. and Harnish, Robert M.
(1995) Linguistics: An Introduction to Language and Communication, fourth
edition. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Brown, Gillian and Yule, George (1993) Discourse Analysis. New York:
Cambridge University Press.

Fasold, Ralph W. (1993) The Sociolinguistics of Language. Cambridge, MA:
Blackwell Publishers.

Freeman, Rebecca and McElhinny, Bonnie (2002). Language and Gender. In
Sociolinguistics and Language Teaching. Edited by Sandra Lee McKay and
Nancy H. Hornberger. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Saville -Troike, Muriel (1989) The Ethnography of Communication: An
Introduction, second edition. New York: Oxford University Press. In
Sociolinguistics and Language Teaching. Edited by Sandra Lee McKay and
Nancy H. Hornberger. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Date Posted: 27-Oct-2005
Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics
LL Issue: 16.3098
Posted: 27-Oct-2005

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