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COMMUNICATION

STUDIES
FOR CAPE® EXAMINATIONS

VERONICA SIMON

SANDRA OSBORNE

CAPE® is a registered trade mark of the Caribbean


Examinations Council (CXC). COMMUNICATION
STUDIES for CAPE® EXAMINATIONS 2nd Edition is an
independent publication and has not been authorised,
sponsored, or otherwise approved by CXC.
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iii

CONTENTS
Unit / Chapter Page CAPE syllabus section Specific objectives
Preface vii

Unit 1 Describing Communication


Chapter 1 The Communication Process 3

Introduction 3 The skills you learn in this 2 Describe process of


1.1 What is communication? 3 chapter pertain to Module 3: communication
1.2 Elements of the communication process 4 Speaking and Writing 11 Describe uses of communication
1.3 How the process works 5 technologies in the learning
• Encoding 5 process
• Selecting medium/channel 6
• Decoding and interpretation 6
• Feedback 7
• Communication barriers and facilitators 9
Conclusion 9
Evaluation and extension 10

Chapter 2 Forms of Communication 11

Introduction 11 The skills you learn in this 3 Apply communication concepts


2.1 Verbal communication 11 chapter pertain to Module 3: 4 Apply specific features of verbal
2.2 Non-verbal communication 13 Speaking and Writing and non-verbal communications
• Body language 15 and contexts of use
• Proxemics 16
• Kinesics 17
• Chronemics 18
• Dress 18
• Graphics and symbols 21
• Paralanguage 22
Conclusion 23
Evaluation and extension 24

Chapter 3 Contexts of Communication 25

Introduction 25 The skills you learn in this 3 Apply communication concepts


3.1 Intrapersonal context 25 chapter pertain to Module 3: 4 Apply specific features of verbal
3.2 Interpersonal context 26 Speaking and Writing and non-verbal communications
3.3 Small group context 29 and contexts of use
• The discussion board 29
3.4 Organisational context 30
3.5 Academic context 32
3.6 Intercultural context 32
Conclusion 33
Evaluation and extension 34
End of unit test 1 35

Unit 2 Understanding Communication in Society


Chapter 4 Defining Language 39

Introduction 39 The skills you learn in this 2 Discuss concept of language


4.1 Characteristics of language 40 chapter pertain to Module 2: 3 Identify features of a Creole
4.2 Purposes of language 44 Language and Community vernacular
• Expressive purposes 44 4 Explain challenges faced by Creole
• Informative purposes 45 speaker in learning Caribbean
• Cognitive purposes 45 Standard English
• Poetic purposes 46 8 Assess use of registers, dialects,
• Phatic purposes 46 formality in interactive settings
• Metalinguistic purposes 47
iv CONTENTS

Unit / Chapter Page CAPE syllabus section Specific objectives


4.3 Language variation 48
• Syntax 50
• Vocabulary 50
4.4 Creole 51
• Some characteristics of Caribbean Creole 52
Conclusion 55
Evaluation and extension 56

Chapter 5 Language in Society 57

Introduction 57 The skills you learn in this 5 Evaluate role of language in


5.1 The modern language situation 58 chapter pertain to Module 2: Caribbean identity
5.2 Factors influencing language 59 Language and Community 6 Analyse roles of language in
• Historical factors 59 human societies
• Social factors 60 7 Describe a territory in terms of
• Cultural factors 60 range of languages, historical
• Political factors 61 factors and attitudes to language
5.3 Language situation in the Caribbean 61 8 Assess use of registers, dialects,
5.4 Attitudes to language 64 formality in interactive settings
5.5 Choice of language 70 10 Examine how communication is
Conclusion 72 affected and effected by the use of
Evaluation and extension 73 technology

Chapter 6 Technology, Culture and 76


Communication

Introduction 76 The skills you learn in this 5 Evaluate role of language in


6.1 Culture and communication 77 chapter pertain to Module 2: Caribbean identity
6.2 Technology and communication 81 Language and Community 7 Describe a territory in terms of
6.3 Technology and culture 83 range of languages, historical
Conclusion 90 factors and attitudes to language
Evaluation and extension 91 8 Assess use of registers, dialects,
End of unit test 2 92 formality in interactive settings
9 Identify technologies that have
impacted on communications
10 Examine how communication is
affected and effected by the use of
technology

Unit 3 Interpreting Communication


Chapter 7 Comprehending Information 97

Introduction 97 The skills you learn in this 1 Speak and write using grammar,
7.1 Process of comprehension 97 chapter pertain to Module vocabulary, mechanics and
• Pre-reading/listening 98 1: Gathering and Processing conventions of Caribbean Standard
• During reading/listening 98 Information English
• Post-reading/listening 98 2 Identify formats, features and
7.2 Levels of comprehension 99 expressions of different genres and
• Literal level 100 types of writing and speech
• Interpretive level 100 4 Apply comprehension to spoken
• Applied level 100 and written material
7.3 Listening 101
• The listening process 101
• Purposes of listening 101
7.4 Reading 102
7.5 Applying the levels of comprehension 103
• Responding to argumentative writing 115
• Responding to persuasive writing 118
7.6 Understanding word meaning 120
Conclusion 123
Evaluation and extension 124
v

Unit / Chapter Page CAPE syllabus section Specific objectives


Chapter 8 Summarising Information 126

Introduction 126 The skills you learn in this 1 Speak and write using grammar,
8.1 Distinguishing main and subsidiary ideas 127 chapter pertain to Module vocabulary, mechanics and
8.2 Note-making 130 1: Gathering and Processing conventions of Caribbean Standard
• Linear outlines 132 Information English
• Graphic organisers 133 2 Identify formats, features and
Conclusion 135 expressions of different genres and
Evaluation and extension 136 types of writing and speech
5 Write continuous prose and note-
form summaries

Chapter 9 Researching Information 139

Introduction 139 The skills you learn in this 3 Assess appropriateness of data
9.1 Types of research 140 chapter pertain to Module collection methods, including use
• Types of primary research 140 1: Gathering and Processing of the Internet
9.2 Data/information 141 Information 6 Evaluate primary and secondary
9.3 Instruments 142 sources
9.4 Population 142 7 Gather information about current
9.5 Reliability and validity 144 issues
• Reliability 144 8 Evaluate information about
• Validity 145 current issues
9.6 Evaluating sources 145 9 Present evaluation of 8 in oral or
9.7 Acknowledging sources 149 written form
• Direct quotation 149
• Paraphrasing 149
• Précis 149
• Summary 149
• Plagiarism 150
9.8 References and bibliographies 150
• Citing sources from the Internet 153
Conclusion 153
Evaluation and extension 154
End of unit test 3 155

Unit 4 Structuring Communication


Chapter 10 Speaking 161

Introduction 161 The skills you learn in this 1 Speak and write using grammar,
10.1 Basic speech skills 162 chapter pertain to Module 3: vocabulary, mechanics and
• Articulation 162 Speaking and Writing conventions of Caribbean Standard
• Enunciation 162 English
• Voice control 163 4 Apply specific features of verbal
• Usage 163 and non-verbal communications
• Word choice 164 and contexts of use
• Audience–speaker rapport 164 5 Describe mental and social
• Dress 164 processes of speech and writing
10.2 Preparing speeches 164 6 Use appropriately non-verbal
10.3 Components of the speech 165 elements and modes of speech and
• Introduction 165 writing
• The body 166 8 Speak in Caribbean Standard
• Conclusion 167 English
10.4 Types of speech 167 9 Use appropriate organising and
• Informative 167 formatting strategies
• Persuasive 167 10 Evaluate own communication
• Debates 170
10.5 Delivering your speech 171
Conclusion 175
Evaluation and extension 176
vi CONTENTS

Unit / Chapter Page CAPE syllabus section Specific objectives


Chapter 11 Writing 177

Introduction 177 The skills you learn in this 3 Apply communication concepts
11.1 The writing process 178 chapter pertain to Module 3: 4 Apply specific features of verbal
• Pre-writing 179 Speaking and Writing and non-verbal communications
• Drafting 184 and contexts of use
• Revising 185
5 Describe mental and social
• Editing and proofreading 188
processes of speech and writing
11.2 Types of writing 189
• Literary writing
10 Evaluate own communication
189
• Reflective writing 190
• Expository writing 191
• Persuasive/argumentative writing 199
11.3 Writing with style 200
• Style problems 201
11.4 Examination tips 205
Conclusion 205
Evaluation and extension 206

Chapter 12 Organising Skills 209

Introduction 209 The skills you learn in this 9 Use appropriate organising and
12.1 Components of academic writing 210 chapter pertain to Module 3: formatting strategies
• The introduction 210 Speaking and Writing
• The body 211
• The conclusion 212
• Linkages 213
• Internal cohesion 214
12.2 Formatting business communication 215
• Memos 215
• The letter 217
• The résumé 221
• The curriculum vitae 222
• Writing reports 224
Conclusion 226
Evaluation and extension 227

Chapter 13 Applying the Rules 228

Introduction 228 The skills you learn in this 1 Speak and write using grammar,
13.1 Sentence structure 229 chapter pertain to Modules 1, 2 vocabulary, mechanics and
13.2 Fragments 230 and 3 conventions of Caribbean Standard
13.3 Run-on sentences 231 English
13.4 Dangling or misplaced modifiers 231
13.5 Verbs 233
• Subject/verb agreement 233
• Tense 235
• Active and passive voice 239
13.6 Pronouns 241
• Pronoun shifts 242
13.7 Possessives 243
13.8 Commonly misused words 244
13.9 Spelling 246
13.10 Punctuation 247
Conclusion 250
Evaluation and extension 251
End of unit test 4 252

Practice examination papers 254


Index 262
vii

Preface
Communication Studies aims at creating an awareness
of the complexity of the process of human
communication. It is written for the post secondary
and tertiary student who must develop a thorough
understanding of how language, the central aspect
of communication, can be managed and manipulated
for personal and national development.

Content
Unit 1 – Describing Communication: explains the communication process and the number of impediments
to the process that can result in ineffective communication. The use of various forms of communication,
verbal and non-verbal, is explored. Students are also able to understand how the different contexts within
which communication takes place affect and determine the nature of communication.

Unit 2 – Understanding Communication in Society: explores the nature of language and how it functions in
various contexts. The factors influencing language in Caribbean society are also examined. Students are able
to appreciate the relationship of language to cultural identity and to understand the impact of technology on
aspects of communication.

Unit 3 – Interpreting Communication: focuses on gathering and processing information and the development
of receptive skills. Students learn how to apply the process of comprehension to listening and reading and
how to organise information coherently for ease of review and study. The key concepts of research are
introduced so that students are able to carry out simple research and present reports.

Unit 4 – Structuring Communication: emphasises the importance of effective speaking and writing.
Awareness of audience and context underlies the processes of speech and writing. Students understand
how to structure communication logically by applying a variety of organising skills. The unit also focuses on
applying the rules of English by creating an awareness of the typical errors made by students at that level.

Approaches
The text employs a learner-centred communicative style that encourages students to stop and think as they read.
Students are encouraged to examine their own practices, thoughts and attitudes as well as those of the society in
which they live. The following features facilitate accessibility:
Preface
viii

Activities
l. Exploration and consolidation activities appear throughout the text after concepts have been introduced. Many of
them are designed to help students arrive at their own understanding of a concept. Activities require a student to
carry out the range of communicative behaviours, like group work, research, talking to people in the community,
observing and creating graphic material.

2. Evaluation and extension activities occur at the end of each chapter so that students may review the main aspects
of the chapter and also use their acquired knowledge in applied tasks. The extension activities ensure that the
students are actively engaged in communication.

3. End of unit tests provide the opportunity for evaluation and offer opportunities for practising CAPE examination-
type questions. A complete CAPE examination-type practice paper is also provided for time practice.

4. Resources and additional readings are indicated at the end of each unit. In addition, there is a website that
provides both student and teacher resources including passages for language analysis, sample questions and
model answers for all sections of CAPE Communication Studies examinations and links to other useful websites:
www.macmillan-caribbean.com.

Text boxes
These generally contain examples of what is being taught or passages from a variety of sources that exemplify the
array of purposes of language. Extracts are expected to stimulate discussion and the desire for further reading.

Did you know?


These are useful bits of trivia related to language and communication used through the text to stimulate thought,
interest and discussion. They can also be used to further general research activities.

Layout
The use of strategically placed graphics and the use of colour exemplify the importance of non-verbal aspects of
communication. They also encourage ease of interaction with the text.

New terms are introduced in bold and the definition given at the same time. Key definitions are featured in the
left-hand margin.

Note to the student


Effective communication depends not only on understanding the skills you need but also on practising them regularly
so that you are eventually able to use them automatically or proficiently. Therefore, you should try to complete all the
activities and exercises in this text. They are designed to help you to develop the type of thinking and approaches that
characterise an effective communicator. Readers learn to read by reading and writers learn to write by writing. These
skills cannot be learnt in theory; therefore it is important to read and write often on your own without depending only
on assignments from your teacher. No matter what you read or write, practise applying the strategies that you learn in
this text. Eventually, you will do this automatically, without needing to refer to the text.

A major focus of this book is developing your awareness of language around you. Use the listening skills that you learn
in every listening situation. Pay close attention to how people use words to influence opinions and evoke a desired
response. You also need to pay attention to your own oral communication skills and practise speaking clearly and
confidently.

No single textbook has all the information that you need to know. Additional reading and reference material is provided at
the end of each unit so that you can increase your knowledge on the topics taught and deepen your understanding of issues.
ix

Note to the teacher


Communication is a wide area of interrelated topics. Therefore this text is not designed to be used in a strictly
chronological fashion. The division into units is simply to ensure that all communication skills are addressed; however,
you may find it useful to direct students to make correlations between the expressive and receptive skills. For example,
when they critically evaluate through reading what and how writers write in Unit Three, they must be able to transfer this
skill to the writing that they produce in Unit Four. The relationship between writer and reader and speaker and listener
should be emphasised by making references back and forth between sections of the text.

In addition, students should recognise that the processes of speaking and writing are linked as are those of listening and
reading. They should be encouraged to compare these processes as part of developing awareness and critical thinking.

You will notice that communication is not treated as a subject, but as an ongoing activity. Students are expected to
engage in reflecting, interpreting, questioning, talking, observing, creating and presenting in each chapter. This is
communication at work. There are a number of group activities that enable students to make use of the unarticulated
communication skills such as collaborating and negotiating. You should use as many opportunities as possible to allow
students to discuss and present in groups while ensuring that students assume various roles in their groups. At this level,
students are expected to be very independent learners and they should be allocated specific responsibilities in finding
out information and disseminating to their peers. The book addresses the student directly, in keeping with the student-
centred approach to learning, where the teacher operates as facilitator and guide.

For those of you teaching CAPE Communication Studies you will note that at the beginning of each chapter, the relevant
specific syllabus objectives are identified. This allows greater ease of linkage to the syllabus document.
1 Describing
Communication
Humans cannot help but communicate. According to
some experts, communication begins from the womb
as the baby responds to different stimuli. After birth,
human beings learn that crying gains the attention of
the nurturer and laughter encourages a shared happiness.
As we continue to grow we acquire language skills or
signing skills that allow us to communicate in more
complex ways. This unit explores the different ways and
means that human beings use to communicate. It also
looks at how communication is affected and shaped
by the tools employed to facilitate it as well as by the
contexts in which it occurs.

Expected Learning Outcomes


On completing this unit, you should be able to:
1 distinguish among the major forms of communication and assess the
appropriateness of their use in specific communication situations
2 select different forms, media, channels and technologies of
communication to effect communication in specific contexts
3 evaluate examples of written and spoken communication, taking into
consideration the form and content of the communication and the
context in which it is presented or constructed.
2 UNIT 1: DESCRIBING COMMUNICATION
CHAPTER 1: THE COMMUNICATION PROCESS 3

1 The Communication
Process
In any discussion of communication we must first have a clear understanding
of what communication is. Second, we must recognise that the act of
communication is actually an entire process. There is also a need to clarify
the difference between the elements or components of the communication
process and the process itself.
In this chapter we will explore the communication process by examining the
elements of the process and how the process works.

The skills you learn in this chapter pertain to Module 3 and Specific Objectives 2 and 11.

Expected Learning Outcomes


On completing this chapter, you should be able to:
1 discuss the concept of communication
2 identify the elements of the communication process
3 describe the process of communication
4 explain the barriers to the communication process
5 explain how technology is used with the communication process.

Introduction
Definition
According to the
Think of your daily life and make a mental list of all the things you do. How often do you
Oxford Dictionary, ask for information, give information, change your facial expressions, read the expressions
communication is of others, telephone your cousin, lean forward to listen, shake your head in disbelief or
the act of imparting,
especially news. The wave to a friend? Have you ever given these daily activities a second thought? Now
Collins Dictionary defines imagine that you were not able to do any of those things; what would your life be like?
it as the transfer of
information as facts,
A large percentage of our lives is spent communicating formally or informally; but we
wishes or emotions, from are not normally aware of it. However, in order to communicate effectively, we must be
a source to a receiver. aware of how we communicate and the specific skills that we use to do so.

1.1 What is communication?


Both these definitions capture the essence of what communication is. Communication
involves the transfer of information, whether it be facts, wishes, emotions or news, from a
source to a receiver.
Most animals communicate in some way, either through noises or movement. Have
you noticed that dogs have different sounding barks depending on whether they are
welcoming, alerting you to the presence of a visitor, threatening to attack or wanting to
play? Similarly, they wag their tails rapidly when happy or excited but either keep them
still or wave them very slowly when angry. Anger is also accompanied by rising hackles.
4 UNIT 1: DESCRIBING COMMUNICATION

The fact that we are able to assign meaning to these movements means that some form of
communication is taking place. If the threatening message is directed at another animal,
it may respond by running away, while a welcoming bark on the arrival of an owner may
result in a pat on the head. As you read on, you will realise that, while some of the basic
aspects of communication can be ascribed to animal behaviour, the linguistic or language
aspect is peculiar to humans.
Linguistic researchers agree that we spend approximately 70 per cent of our time awake
engaged in some form of communication and, of that time, roughly 40 per cent is spent
listening, 30 per cent speaking, 15 per cent reading and 10 per cent writing. No matter
what type of communication we are engaged in, human communication occurs through a
process and it is important to understand how the elements of the process work together.

1.2 Elements of the communication process

Sender Receiver
CHANNEL
(encoding) (decoding)
Message

Feedback

Fig. 1.1 Model of communication Alisa Shubb

The diagram above illustrates the five basic elements in the communication process.
The first of these is the sender or source. This is the person or entity from which the
message or information flows. Of course the message conveyed is the second element
in the process. The sender must establish or use
ACTIVITY 1.1 some means of communicating the message
and this is the channel or medium. There must
1 Observe the animals around
you. Note the ways in which they
be a target for that message and that person or
communicate with each other and entity is considered a receiver who, as the name
with humans. suggests, receives the message. Finally, feedback
2 Discuss how babies and young or response is given. Let us use an example to
children communicate. illustrate the elements of the communication
3 How do you think children learn process.You are away at university and your
language? Discuss this with your parent wants to inform you that you have
classmates. received a scholarship for which you had applied.
4 How do you think that someone The sender is your parent; the message is ‘You’ve
who grows up without human got the scholarship!!!!’; the channel is the
contact would communicate?
means your parent uses (for example telephone,
CHAPTER 1: THE COMMUNICATION PROCESS 5

Internet); you are the receiver and your response is the feedback (for
example ‘Awesome!!!!’).
Note that the communication process is cyclical and it is quite
possible for communication on any topic to continue indefinitely as
sender and receiver reverse roles.

1.3 How the process works

Encoding
The process of communication
begins with an idea that someone Did you
wants to convey.
This is the conceptualisation phase. know?
However, it would be difficult to From 200 to 100 BC,
Fig. 1.2 Feedback takes many forms convey an idea without putting it human messengers on
into a form that can be understood foot or horseback were
by someone else. Therefore, the idea a common means of
must be encoded or given a format in communication in Egypt
and China. Messenger
words, pictures or actions. Encoding
relay stations were used
simply means representing the idea in
to switch messengers and
a way that enables it to be conveyed.
horses as they became
It is important that ideas or tired.
information be appropriately encoded
in order to be conveyed effectively.
Therefore, the purpose of your
communication would largely determine how you encode it. For
example, if you wanted to describe the colour of your new shirt
to your friend, you would probably not think of doing so through
actions. However, either a colour picture or a description in words
would be effective.
Obviously, the tools selected to encode the message are key to
its success. If you were to use a picture or drawing of your shirt to
illustrate its colourful characteristics, there would be no point in using
a black and white picture. In the same way, if you were to describe it
orally, you would most likely use specific words that denote colour.
The way in which you encode your message also depends on the
audience (receiver) for whom it is intended. For instance, if your
friend is visually impaired, you would use an oral description or
a Braille message rather than a picture. If you are communicating
with your friend by email, you may want to send a digital colour
photograph. In this case, the circumstances or the context within
which the communication takes place would influence how you
decide to encode your message and the medium or means of
Fig. 1.3 Ideas must be encoded
encoding that you use. When you describe the shirt orally, you are
using speech as a medium but if you send a photo, you are using film
or digital technology as a medium.
6 UNIT 1: DESCRIBING COMMUNICATION

Selecting medium/channel
Once you have encoded your message you should ensure that the medium or channel
chosen enhances the opportunity for the receiver to receive accurately what you actually
sent. The decision as to the medium used depends on many things, including the nature of
the message, that is, whether it is private or public, whether the audience or receiver is an
individual or large group and whether or not the feedback is required instantly. Once the
context of the situation has been established then a decision must be made on the type of
medium selected to send the message. In the scenario described above where the intention
is to send a description of a shirt, the sender would most probably see this as private and
the message might be sent to one or two friends. Because of this, the sender may choose
to select the telephone or the Internet as a medium through which to communicate the
information about the shirt. The selection of medium/channel is thus dependent on:
■ The type of message
■ The number of receivers
■ The immediacy of the anticipated response.
In every communication process, decisions must be made on the best medium to
ensure effective communication. More often than not this entails using technology.
Technology plays a big part in modern communication. In the past, the choice of channels
and media was quite limited but now every day new technology provides us with greater
options. Technology in communication is discussed further in Chapter 6.
Decoding and interpretation
In the communication process, the Huh?
decoding of the message is as important But nothing here
as conceptualising. Decoding requires the to swipe it with?
receiver to ask him- or herself, ‘What does
the message mean? How am I expected to
respond?’ The receiver is the decoder and
the receiver will use past experience, the
language, perceptions, opinions and any
other clues to decipher the message sent and
interpret the meaning. At some point in your
childhood you may have played the game
‘Pass the message’. In this game a message is
given to the person next to you and so on
until the message comes back to the initiator.
More often than not the message that comes Fig. 1.4 Decoding the message
back varies tremendously from the original.
When we are at the decoding stage of the communication process, we must interpret
the meaning we receive. Thus we hope that the message was clear and that the channel
was well chosen, allowing us to receive clearly. One truth that must be acknowledged
is that what can be misinterpreted will be misinterpreted. If we as receivers recognise
this phenomenon, then we are more likely to seek clarification by giving feedback. If a
message is sent in person there are several layers to the message sent. The verbal message
may be accompanied by non-verbal clues (see Chapter 2) that may or may not conflict
with the spoken word.
CHAPTER 1: THE COMMUNICATION PROCESS 7

Feedback
Communication is not linear by nature. From the diagram of the communication process
(on page 4) we can observe the way that feedback fits into and drives the process. When
the receiver processes the information or decodes, he/she gives some feedback or response
to the sender. ‘What if I choose not to reply?’ is a question you might ask. Well the lack of
response, in itself, is feedback.Your lack of response may signify lack of interest in the
message, that you never received the message, that you do not like the message/messenger
and several other options. What you convey in feedback is just as important as the original
message, for that feedback determines if there will be further communication.
Imagine this situation.You have some interest in someone in your study group and you
slip a note into his/her textbook during a study group meeting. The receiver does not
respond. What is your interpretation of the receiver’s response?
■ Lack of interest
■ Embarrassment
■ The note somehow got lost
■ Indecision about how to act.
These are all valid interpretations of the lack of feedback. Now the ball is in your court.
Do you try to approach the other party using another medium, or do you give up? Any
action on your part continues the communication cycle and so we begin again with the
conceptualising and encoding and so on.
Note that feedback is not always
spoken or written. Sometimes,
physical reactions and responses are
the only feedback necessary. For
example, if you are speaking to a
group and notice that several people
are yawning or appear restless, you
have received feedback that your
listeners are bored or uninterested.
This in turn should provoke a change
in how you present your message or
in what you say so as to retain the
interest of the audience and stimulate
more positive responses.

Fig. 1.5 Unspoken feedback

ACTIVITY 1.2
1 Make a list of all modern communication technologies that
you know.
Did you know?
2 Say how you would use two of these to communicate your Samuel Morse invented Morse code
absence from work to your employer. as a form of communication in 1835
3 Draw a communication diagram that represents some message and the first long-distance electric
of your own choosing being processed. telegraph line in 1843.
8 UNIT 1: DESCRIBING COMMUNICATION

ACTIVITY 1.3
Read the following passage and discuss what barriers to communication are evident here.

Dawn. Man is getting dressed. Woman enters with food.

Woman: Good morning. Woman: No; they’ve all been brought in. They were
brought in by visitors. Such as yourself. They were left
Man: Good morning, Yokiko.
here. In my custody.
Woman: You weren’t planning to leave?
Man: But – they look so fresh, so alive.
Man: I have quite a distance to travel today.
Woman: I take care of them. They remind me of the
Woman: Please. (She offers him food.) people and places outside this house.

Man: Thank you. Man: May I touch them?

Woman: May I ask where you’re travelling to? Woman: Certainly.

Man: It’s far. Man: These have just blossomed.

Woman: I know this region well. Woman: No; they were in bloom yesterday. If you’d
noticed them before, you would know that.
Man: Oh? Do you leave the house often?
Man: You must have received these very recently. I
Woman: I used to. I used to travel a great deal.
would guess – within five days.
I know the region from those days.
Woman: I don’t know. But I wouldn’t trust your
Man: You probably wouldn’t know the place
estimate. It’s all in the amount of care you show to
I’m headed.
them. I create a world which is outside the realm of
Woman: Why not? what you know.

Man: It’s new. A new village. It didn’t exist in Man: What do you do?
‘those days’. (Pause)
Woman: I can’t explain. Words are too inefficient.
Woman: I thought you said you wouldn’t deceive me. It takes hundreds of acts, words become irrelevant.
(Pause.) But perhaps you can stay.
Man: I didn’t. You don’t believe me, do you?
Man: How long?
Woman: No.
Woman: As long as you’d like.
Man: Then I didn’t deceive you. I’m travelling. That
much is true. Man: Why?

Woman: Are you in such a hurry? Woman: To see how I care for them.

Man: Travelling is a matter of timing. Catching the Man: I am tired.


light. (Woman exits; Man finishes eating, puts down
Woman: Rest
his bowl. Woman re-enters with the vase of flowers.)
Where did you find those? They don’t grow native Man: The light?
around these parts, do they?
Woman: It will return.
X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioa
CHAPTER 1: THE COMMUNICATION PROCESS 9

Communication barriers and facilitators


Whatever affects the understanding of the message is known as a barrier to
communication. Barriers to decoding are otherwise known as noise. Noise is anything
that detracts from the message sent and prevents effective communication. In terms of
the sender, noise may refer to the sender’s attitudes, prejudices, frame of reference and
language used. The receiver’s attitudes, background and the experiences that affect the
decoding process are also examples of noise. In terms of the channel, the noise may be
literal as in traffic noise or static but it may also be a person’s speech impediment or lack
of clarity in writing or speaking. Barriers can also be created by the type of language used,
the medium used to convey the information or ambiguities in the message.
In the same way that there are barriers to communication there are also facilitators
of communication. These aid the passing of information and therefore facilitate a mutual
understanding. For example, if you are writing an examination, clear, legible handwriting
would be a facilitator. Using the appropriate language, using an effective medium,
selecting an appropriate channel and using additional prompts such as visuals are all
facilitators of effective communication.
The receivers ultimately perceive something from the message, but their concept
of the message or their reality may not be what the sender intended. In successful
communication the perceived communication will approximate to the intended message,
but this situation cannot be taken for granted. Therefore one can say that there is:
■ Effective communication
■ Ineffective communication.
In effective communication the sender and receiver both understand the message in
the same way. In ineffective communication the sender’s intention may not be what the
receiver understands. This is due to misunderstanding caused by emotional and social
sources of noise. These include: preoccupation, not listening because of desire to speak,
anticipating the sender’s message. Thus, in order to get the communication process to be
successful, you must pay attention to what you communicate, how you communicate and
the feedback you receive.

Conclusion
It would be difficult to exist in a community without the ability
to communicate. Most of us spend the greater part of our lives
involved in communication of some kind. The ability to send and
receive messages efficiently and accurately is an essential life
skill and understanding the process by which it happens is a key to
mastering this skill. There are a number of ways in which we express
ideas and thoughts to others and these are explored in Chapter 2.
10 UNIT 1: DESCRIBING COMMUNICATION

Evaluation Lewis Carroll

and extension ‘I don’t know what you mean by ”glory”,’ Alice


said. Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously.
‘Of course you don’t – till I tell you. I meant
1 Explain the difference between the elements ”there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!”’
of the communication process and the ‘But ”glory” doesn’t mean ”a nice knock-down
communication process. argument”,’Alice objected.
‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in
2 What are three concerns we must bear in mind rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I
when encoding a message? choose it to mean – neither more nor less.’
3 State three methods you would use to inform the ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you CAN
public of an end-of-school party. make words mean so many different things.’
‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which
4 State three barriers and three facilitators to is to be master – that’s all.’
communication. Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so
5 Name three modern technological devices that after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again.
aid effective communication. ‘They’ve a temper, some of them – particularly
verbs, they’re the proudest – adjectives you can
6 How is the passage on the right an example of do anything with, but not verbs – however, I can
ineffective communication? manage the whole of them! Impenetrability!
That’s what I say!’
‘Would you tell me, please,’ said Alice ‘what that
means?’
‘Now you talk like a reasonable child,’ said
Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased.
‘I meant by ”impenetrability” that we’ve had
enough of that subject, and it would be just
as well if you’d mention what you mean to do
next, as I suppose you don’t mean to stop here
all the rest of your life.’
Lewis Carroll

References
Carroll, L. (1993).Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. The
Complete Stories of Lewis Carroll. London: Magpie Books, pp. 126–128, 174.
Collins. (2003). English Dictionary, 6th edn. revised.
Kennedy, X.J. and Gioa, Dana (2010). The Sound of a Voice. Literature: An
Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing, 11th edn. Longman. pp.
1754–1755.
Shubb, A. (1999). Model of Communication. The Communication Pages,
accessed at http://amshubb.tripod.com/modelof.htm. Accessed 15 May 2013.
Soanes, C. & Stevenson, A. (2005). Oxford Dictionary of English, revised edn.
Oxford: OUP.
CHAPTER 2: FORMS OF COMMUNICATION 11

2 Forms of
Communication
In Chapter 1 we looked at the meaning of communication, the elements of the
communication process and how that process works. We looked at channels
of communication (the way we send messages and feedback) and how people
respond to the message. In this chapter we focus on forms of communication
from which the channel can be selected and the forms that people may use to
illustrate their responses. This chapter discusses verbal / non-verbal, and other
special forms of communication. There are definitions and examples given as
well as various interactive exercises.

The skills you learn in this chapter pertain to Module 3 and Specific Objectives 3 and 4.

Expected Learning Outcomes


On completing this chapter, you should be able to:
1 distinguish between verbal and non-verbal communication
2 give examples of both verbal and non-verbal communication
3 explain what is paralanguage and give examples
4 define the following terms: body language; proxemics; kinesics;
chronemics; dress; graphics
5 discuss the importance of the above in communication.

Introduction
In our day-to-day lives we use different forms of communication to pass on or communicate
our ideas and/or feelings. Some information is passed on consciously and some unconsciously.
Some information is written, spoken, acted out or transferred in symbolic format. These
various ways of expressing ourselves constitute the forms of communication. In brief,
there are two distinct forms of communication: verbal and non-verbal.

2.1 Verbal communication


cation I think it has to
do with words.
What do we mean by the
term verbal communication?
What do you think?
Who is right? I think it means
Both Keneisha and Jamal talking.
are correct.

Fig. 2.1 Communicating verbally


12 UNIT 1: DESCRIBING COMMUNICATION

Verbal communication is that type of communication that is spoken (speech) and /


or written. When we speak to each other face to face, on the telephone, via Magic Jack,
Face Time or Skype we are engaged in spoken communication. The pastor, priest or
other religious leader who shares the message with those assembled is also using speech
to communicate. We use spoken communication in every aspect of our lives. Most people
do not recognise singing as verbally communicating but if we look at the definition we
note that the singer is using words and sound to communicate ideas. Therefore spoken
communication includes singing.
Written communication is the other form of verbal communication. The average
student uses several forms of written communication in one day of his/her life. Students
write notes, essays and research papers. Of course they also have access to other written
communication media: emails, texts, Facebook, BBM, Twitter and WhatsApp are just a few
of the current means by which written communication takes place.
Here are some examples:

Fig. 2.2 Verbal communication

ACTIVITY 2.1
Find as many examples as you can of verbal communication. Discuss your findings with a classmate.
Identify what type of verbal communication is taking place in the situations below:

Fig. 2.3 Types of verbal communication


CHAPTER 2: FORMS OF COMMUNICATION 13

2.2 Non-verbal communication


What then is non-verbal communication?
But how can
we communicate
without words?
Hmm...

Fig. 2.4 Non-verbal communication

Non-verbal communication refers to information sent not using words. Physical


gestures, art forms and symbols fall into this category.
Here are some examples:

Fig. 2.5 Examples of non-verbal communication


14 UNIT 1: DESCRIBING COMMUNICATION

Figure 2.5 illustrates several examples of non-verbal communication. The child’s smile
is communicating happiness or pleasure and the Police Officer’s hand is raised in a
universal sign to indicate go. The costumed dancer demonstrates two means of non-
verbal communication as her costume colour may communicate a theme, for example
fertility or nature or sugar cane. The dance itself then communicates the culture of a
country. The final picture illustrates mourning through the use of the flag at half-mast.

ACTIVITY 2.2
1 Find as many examples as you can of non-verbal communication.
Share your findings with your classmates.
2 Discuss what is being communicated by the types of non-verbal
communication in Figure 2.6?

Non-verbal communication can be further subdivided into:


(i) Body language
(ii) Proxemics
(iii) Kinesics
(iv) Chronemics
(v) Dress
(vi) Graphics and symbols
(vii) Paralanguage

Fig. 2.6 Communicating non-verbally


CHAPTER 2: FORMS OF COMMUNICATION 15

Body language
Human beings communicate a great deal by mere use of our bodies. The way we look
at someone or something, the way we stand or sit all communicate something of what
we are feeling.

ACTIVITY 2.3
1 What do you think the individuals in the following scenarios want to communicate?
(a) David’s mother is about to leave home and reminds him to take out the garbage.
He throws his hands into the air and wears a frown. What is he communicating?
(b) Maya and Zoe are sitting on a bench talking about their coming weekend
activities. Kemi sits next to Zoe and says hi to both girls. Zoe and Maya slide further
along the bench away from Kemi. What are they communicating?
(c) Vishnu sits slumped in his chair at his desk in the classroom during
Communication Studies class. What might the teacher infer that Vishnu is
communicating?
2 The photograph below illustrates a form of communication. What do you think the
individual is communicating? Compare your answer with those of your classmates.

We often communicate our inner responses to situations through body


language; therefore it is important not only to listen to what is being said by a
person but also to note the body language that goes along with what is said.
We often say yes verbally but our body language suggests a lack of interest or
the complete opposite of what we say.
Have you ever got into trouble
for rolling your eyes, sucking
your teeth (steupsing) or even
throwing your hands on your hips
or flouncing off (walking away
flinging your hands)? Each of
these examples of body language
demonstrates a level of disgust.
Certainly, when directed at adults,
Fig. 2.7 Non-verbal young people often find themselves
communication having to apologise or listening to
a comment on how rude they are.
Body language is not only used by young
people but it is also evident in the workplace.
For example, at a staff meeting the different
levels of interest are often communicated Fig. 2.8 Body language speaks louder
by body language. The employee who sits than words
upright with eyes focused on the person
chairing the meeting is probably more interested than the individual whose eyes are half-
closed and whose body is turned away from the speaker. However, body language can also
be misread. The boy slumped in the chair in Communication Studies class may be the
most interested student and the employee sitting upright with eyes focused on the speaker
may well be planning Saturday night’s dominoes party.
16 UNIT 1: DESCRIBING COMMUNICATION

We must be aware of the importance of how


we use our bodies to communicate. We may not Did you know?
always send the right signals and we should be
In Ghana young children are taught
wary of having our signals misunderstood. not to look adults in the eye as this
is considered disrespectful.
Proxemics
In Argentina standing with the
Have you ever come across this word before? hands on the hips suggests anger or
There has been much research done on this aspect a challenge.
of non-verbal communication, especially within Slouching in some cultures is
the workplace. But what does proxemics mean? considered disrespectful.
The word ’proxemics’ was first associated with
researcher E.T. Hall in 1963. He was particularly
interested in how human beings use personal space. His research points to the fact that
differences in use of space can lead to anxiety or relaxation. Although we often disregard
proxemics as a form of communication, it plays an important role in business and personal
interaction.
People who are skilled in communication know how to use space to their advantage
and they influence the behaviour of others as well as effectively reading the messages sent
through proxemics.

Interpersonal space can be divided


into several categories:
■ Intimate distance: 15–45 cm,
for embracing, touching and
whispering
■ Personal distance: 45–120 cm, for
interactions among good friends
■ Social distance: 1.2–3.5 m, for
interactions among acquaintances
■ Public distance: over 3.5 m, for
public speaking.
A. Esposito et al.

Of course, the distances described


above are culturally based. Those
distances described above refer to
the American culture but it has been
found that in Latin cultures the
distances are smaller, while in Nordic
Fig. 2.9 The use of space can lead to anxiety countries the opposite obtains.
Knowing about these differences in
what is socially acceptable distance allows for better cross-cultural communication. This is
of vital importance to those Caribbean countries highly dependent on tourism.
Have you a special desk that you sit at in your classroom? Do you feel annoyed or even
angry when someone sits in that space? Then you are seeing proxemics at work in the
school environment. Imagine that you work in a company where seats are assigned and
CHAPTER 2: FORMS OF COMMUNICATION 17

you see someone at your desk.Your reaction may be one of fear that you have lost your
space, perhaps even your job, or maybe anger that your space has been invaded. Proxemics
plays an important part in schools, the world of work and even in our social gatherings.
When someone leans close to you in a social gathering you may feel several different
emotions depending on how you perceive this change in social distance.You may be
happy if you are interested in deepening the social relationship or you may pull away,
signalling displeasure at the person’s proximity. Therefore moving closer or away from a
person is a way of giving feedback on our interest or lack of interest in someone.

ACTIVITY 2.4
1 Observe students as they interact in the cafeteria/canteen or around the school during
lunch break. Note body language and use of space and discuss with your classmates
what you observed.
2 Measure the distance at which your classmates feel comfortable when conversing
with different people. What do those varying distances tell us?
3 Decide with your group or class on a movie that you will all watch on television or
at the cinema. Make individual notes on how people use proxemics and how it varies
depending on the situation or the relationship between people. In class, compare notes
and discuss your observations.

Kinesics
Definition The term ‘kinesics’ was coined in 1952 by Ray Birdwhistell, a ballet dancer who later
According to the became an anthropologist.
Merriam Webster online
dictionary, kinesics
refers to the relationship
between non-linguistic
body motions and
communication.

Fig. 2.10 The movement of the body conveys specific meanings


18 UNIT 1: DESCRIBING COMMUNICATION

Birdwhistell studied how people communicate


ACTIVITY 2.5
through posture, gesture, stance and movement. He
1 Observe your teachers for one day. Note the concluded that only 30 to 35 per cent of the social
differences in the body movements of each teacher. meaning of conversation or an interaction is carried
What do you learn from observing? Can you match
body language with personality?
by words! This means that non-verbal communication
carries 65 to 70 per cent of the meaning of
2 Compare the body language of people at a
religious ceremony, at the market, at a sports communication.
event, in a doctor’s office and waiting for the bus. Like proxemics, kinesics is generally believed to be
How does it differ from one situation to the next? culture bound. The movement of the body, or separate
parts, conveys many specific meanings and they carry
a risk of being misinterpreted.

Chronemics ACTIVITY 2.6


Definition When you listen to politicians 1 In what other instances would you find
Chronemics refers to speak, there are often instances chronemics at work?
the use of time, waiting 2 Who do you think would use it the most?
or pausing.
where they pause for greater
effect. This is of course a way of 3 Compare your teachers’ use of chronemics.
getting the attention of the listener
and is often used to signal some
important piece of information
that the politician wants us to have.
In our day-to-day lives we often
use timing in telling jokes or juicy
pieces of gossip. We are in fact using
chronemics to create effect and
communicate our amusement or
suggest the importance of a specific
piece of information.

Dress
How many of us realise that dress is
a way of communicating? In all
cultures we are concerned with
how we look and we make
judgements based on looks and
dress. Dress can communicate social
standing, especially in those cultures
where specific clothes are worn
only by specific individuals. An
example of this is in Ghana where
kente cloth is worn only by certain
members of society, signalling their
social position and wealth.

Fig. 2.11 Women in positions of power


often wear red.
CHAPTER 2: FORMS OF COMMUNICATION 19

However, in western society, how and what does


dress communicate? Colour of clothing is used
symbolically to suggest several things. Have you ever
noticed that women in positions of power often wear
red? Red is thought to be symbolic of power and
therefore signals to the world that this is a woman who
is going places. Black and other dark colours are
traditionally associated with mourning and so, when
we see individuals wearing black, we often associate
this with communicating their grief; but black is also
associated with ‘Goths’ and so when young people
wear all black along with black make-up, and skulls
and crossbones decorate their dress, they have
communicated that they belong to a particular group.

Fig. 2.12 Dress can communicate culture or religion

There are other ways in which


dress communicates a person’s
group or job. For example, the
robes of a Catholic or Anglican
priest all have symbolic value.
They may suggest their position,
for example cardinal, bishop, or
link to the particular season, such
as Christmas or Easter. Hair may
also communicate belonging to
a particular group; for instance Fig. 2.13 Dress communicates a person’s group
the wearing of locs is associated
with Rastafarianism whereas a
cleanly shaved head may be associated with ‘skinheads’, a European racist group. Can you
think of any other group that can be recognised by the way its members wear their hair
or garments?
School uniforms are also a form of communication as they point to belonging to a
particular group. Of course the way a uniform is worn by a student also communicates
something about that student’s attitude towards the school as well as his/her attitude to
cleanliness and neatness.
20 UNIT 1: DESCRIBING COMMUNICATION

ACTIVITY 2.7
Read the following article and answer the questions that follow.

Clothes Wars
My son Karl is 14 and a very bright boy – he’s currently kind and intelligent: but you wouldn’t think so to look at him.
studying hard for his GCSE exams. We are very proud of his
This clothing choice favoured by Karl and some of his
academic success. He has a close group of friends, his grades
generation worries me. Although he is currently experiencing a
are very good and he’s an active member of the school’s
fairly normal childhood, I worry that this influence may lead him
basketball and football teams. Still, school days are a daily sore
into more dangerous territories. Certainly the desire to get parts
point for us parents, because of what he wears.
of his body pierced concerns me for this reason, as well as for
His attire can be described as ‘loose-fitting grunge’. All he his health, and even for his future employment prospects.
ever chooses to wear is the same pair of baggy, ripped, low-
I have spoken to my son many times about this matter, trying
slung jeans (slung so low that everyone can see his branded
to understand why he wants to walk around looking like he
underwear). He’s never out of a hoodie (again, branded) and one
does. He sighs and shrugs and tells me that I ‘just don’t get
of an absurdly large collection of lurid flat caps is permanently
it’. He repudiates all my opinions on his ‘look’: he doesn’t see
attached to his head – you’ve guessed it, branded again. He
it as threatening or violent or unintelligent. Instead he says
always looks scruffy and unclean, and refuses new clothing.
that he feels confident in his clothes and happy to be part of
His mother has told me that it is surely just a phase that we a group that includes and respects him. He says his clothes
have to go through with him, reminding me that our parents are comfortable and represent who he is. He claims to feel
didn’t necessarily approve of what we wore in the seventies. ‘himself’ when he’s with his other flat-cap-wearing fellows
It’s getting worse though – Karl has started to wear what and feels very uncomfortable in suits or normal trousers and
look like bike chains attached to his jeans, and the other day shirts. He points out that he gets good grades and has an
declared over dinner he was going to get his eyebrow pierced. active sports life, and suggests that we shouldn’t focus on
Even my ultra-tolerant wife was at the end of her tether and a his clothes. I just say that this is easier said than done when
shouting match ensued well into the night. you are worried that his fashion may portray a sinister and
threatening young man to other people. Our friends are
Worse still, Karl’s clothing is causing a few issues outside the starting to comment: ‘Where has that nice Karl gone to?’ they
home. Despite the school’s broad-minded approach, a few ask us. He’s still there, but you wouldn’t know at a glance.
teachers have requested he remove his flat cap during class
as they find it harder to engage with him and dislike the lack We were accepting of this trend when it consisted of a hoodie
of eye contact caused by the wide brim. Karl’s sports science here, a cap there, but now it is a constant annoyance and
teacher has complained about his footwear during practical we are worried it is encroaching on his academic life and
classes, but he refuses to let us buy him a decent pair of his future employment prospects. After Karl has finished
trainers, preferring instead to wear his dirty ‘high tops’. his GCSEs he will go on to Sixth Form to study for A levels.
Karl wants to keep up sports science, but also take English
Karl is adamant that he will not change his clothing, despite literature, maths and economics, with a view to applying for
my pleas. Whenever I see him looking clean and sharp in a PPE at a good university. Although it is his choice, we are
suit (for example, at his sister’s wedding) it amazes me that he keeping our fingers tightly crossed that he chooses to go to
wants to walk around looking like a young thug. Karl and his a sixth form that advocates business wear. Hopefully this will
(similarly dressed) friends appear, to the unknowing eye, like a make him feel more comfortable in cleaner-cut clothes. After
gang of hooligans. The wide-brimmed caps covering their eyes all, a career in politics, philosophy or economics will probably
give them a shifty look, the low jeans and high tops facilitate require a suit and not a flat cap!
a slow, blasé walk which, frankly, looks threatening. My son is

1 What aspects of the boy’s clothes does the father dislike?


2 Discuss what the father thinks the son might be communicating through his clothes.
3 What do you consider the boy to be communicating?
4 What aspects of your clothing does your parent/guardian object to? What do you think
you are communicating by wearing the clothing to which they object?
5 Is your Sixth Form expected to wear a uniform? What do uniforms communicate?
List the pros and cons of school uniforms.
CHAPTER 2: FORMS OF COMMUNICATION 21

In most countries in the Caribbean


there is a form of carnival or street parade
with the attendant costumes. Costumes are
created to communicate a concept or idea
coming out of a theme. They are expected
to depict some aspect of nature or some
historical or social event although some
people perceive them as a means of putting
bodies on display. Colour is of vital
importance as well as the standards and
headpieces worn. These all aid in
communicating the value or importance of
some aspect of the society.Your CAPE
Caribbean Studies textbook gives you
further information on carnival and its role
in our society.
ACTIVITY 2.8
There are differing cultural standards
associated with dress. Think of the
different cultural groups in your territory
and discuss their standards.

Graphics and symbols


Most of us would have studied chemistry,
geography and mathematics at some point
in our school career. Each of these subjects
has its own symbolic forms. In chemistry,
there is the periodic table that symbolically
represents the various elements. In
mathematics, data is presented graphically
Fig. 2.14 Carnival dress for ease of interpretation, for example in
the form of bar charts and pie charts. This
is also done in many of the social sciences like sociology, psychology and statistics.
Braille is another symbolic way of communicating ideas graphically, as the dots and
position of dots represent words. Braille is
a special form of communication developed
for the blind by Louis Braille. It comprises
raised script in the form of dots that enable
a blind person to feel the arrangement of
the dots and understand their meaning. There
is also a special form of communication for
the deaf that involves manipulation of the
hand and fingers, commonly known as sign
language. In your territory is the news
done in sign language to accommodate
deaf people? Fig. 2.15 Braille
22 UNIT 1: DESCRIBING COMMUNICATION

Flags are also a symbolic means of


communication used. Semaphore is a way of
passing information through the use of flags. This
means of communication has been around for
centuries and has been primarily used by naval
personnel or in situations where verbal
communication is not possible. The positioning
of the flags symbolised letters of the alphabet or,
more recently, entire words or phrases. It is
sometimes referred to as optical telegraphy.

ACTIVITY 2.9
What do the following symbols mean?

Fig. 2.16 Semaphore

Paralanguage
The elements of paralanguage may be consciously or unconsciously expressed. Whenever
we speak we reveal our emotions and attitudes. Stress, intonation and the speed of our
voice all reveal certain feelings. For example, you are more likely to speak loudly and
quickly when you are angry.
Definition Paralanguage is also revealed in text communication via the Internet. The emoticons
The Oxford Dictionary allow the writer to express emotions in an exciting way. Additionally, the colour that we
defines paralanguage
as ‘the non-lexical
choose as our background or for the actual text, the use of lower case or capitals and the use
component of of characters all aid in expressing our ideas. An example is the use of ‘LOL’ as opposed to
communication by ‘lol’. Both refer to ‘laugh out loud’ but the capitals suggest a louder, more full-bodied laugh.
speech, for example
intonation, pitch and However, paralanguage is far more evident in face to face dialogue. Shouting or
speed of speaking, speaking softly each changes the way that a message might be interpreted.
hesitation noises,
gesture, and facial
Another aspect of paralanguage is associated with sounds other than words. Our
expression’. laughs and cries and moans all have meaning and communicate some feeling or emotion.
These are called vocal characterisers and often have different meanings across cultures.
Vocal qualifiers like volume, pitch, rhythm and tempo are also means of communicating
something about ourselves and our culture. In some societies speaking softly is a sign of
strength while in others it is a sign of impoliteness. Vocal segregates like ‘ooh’, ‘eh’,
‘mmmh’ and ‘hummm’ may appear incomprehensible but each has some special meaning
whether it is acceptance, agreement or uncertainty. Paralanguage is as important as words
spoken and it is important to be aware of these forms of communication.
By now you should see a pattern in identifying verbal and non-verbal communication.
Verbal communication relies on speech or writing to communicate information while
non-verbal uses elements other than speech and writing. Both types of communication
are equally important and this can be seen when we record a day in our lives.
CHAPTER 2: FORMS OF COMMUNICATION 23

Example Keneisha leaves home with her mom. They are going in two different
directions so they embrace (non-verbal) and Mrs Bispham tells her
daughter ‘Be safe today’(verbal). Keneisha wants to take the No. 20
bus so she raises her hand as it approaches (non-verbal). As she enters
the bus she sees Jamal and shouts ‘Yo Jamal, how yu goin?’ (verbal).
They converse (verbal) until the bus comes to a halt by the school.
As they leave the bus, the school bell rings (non-verbal) signalling
the beginning of school.
They scamper into the classroom and Mr Carter frowns at them
(non-verbal).

ACTIVITY
2.10
Create a similar
record of a
part of your
day and note
the types of
communication
that are being
used at each
stage. Fig. 2.17 Using verbal and non-verbal communication

The short scenario above highlights the way that verbal and non-verbal
communication play an integral role in our day-to-day lives. Although we may not be
conscious of it, we continually use both forms of communication in everyday interaction.

Conclusion
This chapter showed how human beings use a variety of ways
in which to convey information. Most times these forms of
communication are used simultaneously and it is the specific
mixture that conveys the true meaning of the communication.
Sometimes the forms used together convey conflicting messages. It
is important to ensure that the form of communication you choose
is suitable or appropriate to the message you would like to convey
as well as to the environment or context in which it is conveyed.
Chapter 3 looks at the various contexts of communication and how
they impact on the ways we choose to communicate.
24 UNIT 1: DESCRIBING COMMUNICATION

Evaluation 2 Divide the following into examples of verbal and


non-verbal communication.

and extension –


An emancipation statue
A sermon
Dance
– Nods
– A letter of apology
– A graduation address
– A raised fist
– Swaying of hips
– A sign marked ’Enter’

3 What are some aspects of non-verbal


behaviour of which we ought to be aware when
communicating with people from other cultures?

4 What different meanings might the following


non-verbal behaviours communicate?
– Lack of eye contact
– Swinging of legs
– Slouching
– Winking of eye

5 When you listen to someone speaking, what


are some of the ways in which the speaker’s
emotions may be betrayed?

Fig. 2.18 First impressions 6 How is paralanguage displayed in text-only


communication?

1 Which individual do you think would make the


better impression? Why? References
The Body Language of Proxemics. http://www.haverford.edu/fren/dkight/
Fr105Spr08/weekFour/proxemics.pdf. Accessed 15 May 2013.
Darn, S. (2005). Aspects of Nonverbal Communication in the Internet TESL
Journal, Vol. XI, No.2, February 2005. Retrieved 28 December 2006 from
iteslj.org/Articles/Darn-Nonverbal.
Esposito, A., Bratani, M., Keller E. and Marinaro M. (2007). Fundamentals of
Verbal and Nonverbal Communication and the Biometric Issue – Volume 18
NATO Security through Science Series: Human and Societal. Series E: Human
and Societal Dynamics. 15 May, p. 87.
Updike, D. (1999). I Don’t Like What You’re Wearing. Newsweek, 24 May
sourced from Lannon, J. (2007). The Writing Process, 9th edn. Pearson
Longman, pp. 256–257.
CHAPTER 3: CONTEXTS OF COMMUNICATION 25

3 Contexts of
Communication
In the previous chapter we looked at the forms of communication, both verbal
and non-verbal. You would have recognised the importance of both these
forms in communicating our ideas and feelings both intra-culturally and extra-
culturally. However, much of communication is shaped by the circumstances
and the environment in which it occurs. This chapter looks at the contexts of
communication and relates the forms and process to the actual contexts in
which the communication takes place.

The skills you learn in this chapter pertain to Module 3 and Specific Objectives 3 and 4.

Expected Learning Outcomes


On completing this chapter, you should be able to:
1 differentiate between intrapersonal and interpersonal
communication and give examples of each
2 discuss and give examples of contexts of communication
including organisational, academic and intercultural
Definition 3 recognise the relationship between forms and contexts of
According to the Encarta communication.
Dictionary intrapersonal
refers to what happens
in the mind and
relates to the internal
aspects of a person, Introduction
especially emotions.
Therefore intrapersonal
communication involves
Whether we are aware of it or not, we are constantly communicating, with ourselves and
the inner thoughts of with others. There is no set time or place at which communication occurs and, as we
an individual and can learnt in the last chapter, we are sometimes communicating even when we do not intend
be defined as the use
of language or thought to. We refer to the circumstances within which communication takes place as the context
within a single person. of communication. Context affects the nature and style of communication.

3.1 Intrapersonal context


Intrapersonal communication is the active internal involvement of the individual in
symbolic processing of messages. The individual becomes his/her own sender and receiver,
providing feedback to him- or herself in an ongoing internal process.
According to Harriet B. Braiker (1989) ‘talking to yourself in public isn’t a sign of
questionable mental health, but holding an internal dialogue is quite normal and very
useful’. Perhaps this is so because intrapersonal communication is the processing of stimuli
that may come from internal or external forces. We react to these stimuli and often the
initial reaction takes place in our minds. We must remember, retrieve information from
memory, and create messages. Sometimes we find it easier to do this when we think
aloud or talk to ourselves.
26 UNIT 1: DESCRIBING COMMUNICATION

There are several forms of intrapersonal communication:


■ Internal discourse, for example thinking, analysis, daydreaming, nocturnal dreaming,
contemplation, meditation
■ Solo vocalising, for example speaking aloud to oneself
■ Solo writing, for example unpublished writing like diary entries or notes to self.

3.2 Interpersonal context


There are four principles of interpersonal communication. It is inescapable, it is
irreversible, it is complicated and it is contextual.
Definition Interpersonal communication is considered inescapable because we as human beings
Interpersonal must communicate. Even when we ignore someone we are communicating something.
communication refers
to communication that
At some point in your life you must have heard the expression ‘you can’t call back
takes place between those words’. That is precisely what is meant by the fact that interpersonal communication
two or more persons is irreversible: one cannot rewind and delete the words spoken or the gestures made.
and usually face to face
or in close proximity. According to a Russian proverb: ‘Once a word goes out of your mouth, you can never
swallow it again’.
Interpersonal communication is complicated. It is inevitable that, if there are two or
more personalities involved, there will be misunderstanding and misinterpretation. If
we really think about it, we know that we are not always clear in what we say, therefore
the other party’s understanding is based on what he/she has heard and internalised.
Osmo Wiio suggests some maxims about communication that help us to understand the
complexity of interpersonal communication. Do you agree with him?
■ If communication can fail, it will.
■ If a message can be understood in different ways, it will be understood in just
that way which does the most harm.
■ There is always somebody who knows better than you what you meant by
your message.
■ The more communication there is, the more difficult it is for communication
to succeed.
Osmo Wiio

While much of our interpersonal communication is done


through speech and writing, a large amount of information is
ACTIVITY 3.1
transferred consciously and unconsciously among humans by
way of body language, attitudes and behaviour. List as many situations
Having good interpersonal communication skills is as you can think
of where good
important in both one’s private life and career. Each day we interpersonal skills
engage in a number of interpersonal interactions both at would be important.
school/work and socially. Good interpersonal communication
skills help in many personal areas like parenting and intimate
relationships as well as in professional and public life.
Interpersonal communication can be affected by many things such as shyness, mental
incapacity, sensory deprivation, arrogance or even a communication disorder such as
stuttering. However, it is most often our style of communicating that determines how
successful our interaction happens to be. Interpersonal communication can be broken
CHAPTER 3: CONTEXTS OF COMMUNICATION 27

down into various styles. According to Bateman and Zeithaml (1990) there are six styles
of interpersonal communication in the workplace. These include:
■ Controlling
■ Egalitarian
■ Structuring
■ Dynamic The foreman looked menacingly at
him. ‘I know you,’ he said. ‘I know
■ Relinquishing
this is the kind of thing you are
■ Withdrawal
capable of, you clever rat. I am going
The controlling style is a one-way type to cancel all that you have done and
of communication where directives are you are going to start all over again
given, If you think of a work environment, – all three of you. And as for you in
this style of communicating is one where particular – you potheaded ant – if
I catch you doing this kind of thing
you do not want feedback but you want the
again I will throw you out of this
compliance of the receiver. This style is often
work and you won’t receive a single
seen in parent/child relationships as well. The
penny. Do you hear that? Now take
controlling style is of benefit in certain back those pebbles and start fetching
situations like times of crisis and also useful all over again.’
in schools or other institutions where a
Isidore Okpewho
leader must control large groups. Used in the
wrong circumstances, this style may lead to
poor interpersonal relations.

Fig. 3.1 The egalitarian style

The egalitarian style is quite the opposite of the controlling style as it encourages
receivers to feed back their ideas thereby coming to some mutual understanding. This
style is seen as more effective, especially in the work environment, where cooperation is
imperative. Generally, people who use this style do so to encourage cooperation and to
give others the feeling that their ideas are valued.
28 UNIT 1: DESCRIBING COMMUNICATION

The structuring style of interpersonal communication is also one associated with


business and perhaps school situations. This style is characterised by references to rules and
regulations and is used to establish or impose schedules. Decisions and instructions are
usually based on set guidelines and there is little room for deviation from norms.
The dynamic style is associated with energy and enthusiasm. In this case the sender
uses pleas to motivate the receiver. The use of persuasive techniques is characteristic of this
type of communicator. This style can be counterproductive if the receivers do not have
enough knowledge to take the action needed. In addition, receivers may feel overwhelmed
and confused.
The relinquishing style as the name suggests gives over to the other party.
ACTIVITY 3.2 This style allows the receiver to take control of the decision-making process.
Discuss the In the workplace the manager may well allow his/her staff to come up with a
interpersonal solution to a problem rather than impose a directive on them. In the classroom,
communication style the teacher may lay out the objectives of the lesson and let the students determine
used by: the activities they would like to pursue in order to achieve the lesson goals. This
• Your parent style assumes a certain level of competence in the receivers.
• A teacher The withdrawing style is one where there is little effort made by the
• The president of a participants. In the workplace the manager may avoid making decisions and give
group to which you the impression of a lack of interest in the organisation and the decisions that must
belong be made. Organisations where this is the preferred managerial style are often
• A friend. referred to as being on ’autopilot’. There is usually a sense of absence of leadership.
Whatever.
Anything you Should we
Huh?
say. advertise the play?

Me nah
know nuh.

Fig. 3.2 The withdrawing style

The style of communication used can lead to either a poor or enriching


personal relationship.
In Chapter 1 we looked at the process of communication, which includes a sender and
a receiver. In interpersonal communication the receiver must be a good listener as this
helps in the interpretation of the message. According to the Encyclopaedia of Small Business,
there are several techniques that encourage good listening.
CHAPTER 3: CONTEXTS OF COMMUNICATION 29

These are:
■ Reflection or attempting to repeat and clarify the other person’s message
■ Keeping an open mind
■ Seeing relevance to your life
■ Resisting distractions
■ Being prepared for the encounter
■ Taking notes.
It is important to have strong interpersonal communication skills in order to succeed
in life, since most of our daily activities involve some type of interaction with other
communicators.

3.3 Small group context


Small group communication takes place almost every day in our lives in many different
contexts, for example:
Definition
Small group ■ Group discussion in the classroom
communication ■ A particular group of students sitting together at lunch break
refers to the type of
communication that
■ A chat room, blog or Facebook page online
occurs in groups of ■ Audio or video conferencing
between two and ■ Discussion boards and list servers.
twelve individuals.
Small group communication often takes places in situations other than face to face –
whenever you sit at your computer and use instant messenger you are communicating
with someone but you also have the option of adding a third party in the conversation.
This is one context of small group communication. Also when you enter a chat room you
are involved in small group communication.
Definition Video conferencing is another means of small group communication. In this situation
Chat rooms are defined a closed circuit television may be used so that you can see the participants in the group
by the American Heritage
Dictionary of the English
with whom you are conferencing.You may also use applications like Skype, Facetime or
Language as sites on a ooVoo for this purpose. Audio conferencing, as the name suggests, depends on listening
computer network where and talking – there is no visual contact with the speaker. Another context of small group
online conversations are
held in real time by a discussion is the list server. This is a mailing list that automatically sends mail to everyone
number of users. on a specific list. The message is available only to those persons on the list and the group
can discuss the issue via email.

The discussion board


In recent years the meaning of small group communication has changed to accommodate
the use of technology. The effectiveness of small group communication could previously
be analysed by looking at the cultural make-up of the group. It was generally believed
that similar cultural identity led to less conflict in the small group’s ability to function but
now the small group can comprise individuals from anywhere in the world. Geographical
boundaries no longer exist where communication is concerned and thus it is critical that
communicators be aware of the differences in values, beliefs and ways of viewing the
world. For instance, all cultures do not share the same attitudes to leadership styles, rules
governing conversation or ways of reasoning. There must be some recognition of these
things in order for effective communication to take place.
30 UNIT 1: DESCRIBING COMMUNICATION

ACTIVITY 3.3
1 Have you experienced difficulty communicating in a group? What were some of the difficulties encountered?
2 Read the extract below and answer the question that follows:

Unfortunately, while cultural diversity within small groups allows members to pool information and ideas from
a wide range of sources, fundamental differences can also lead to destructive conflict. Different communication
styles, beliefs, and values can cause conflict in small groups. For example, group members from more individualist
cultures tend to have a direct verbal interaction style that is ’l’ or ’me’ oriented. Such communicators are talkative
and freely promote their needs, ideas, and accomplishments. Group members from more collectivist cultures
use an indirect interaction style that is more ’we’ and ’us’ oriented. Such communicators are less talkative, feel
comfortable with silence, attend to status differences in the group, and downplay their own contributions and
accomplishments. Failing to recognise or acknowledge these differences in communication styles can result in
misunderstandings and miscommunication.
www.mhhe.com/socscience/comm/group/students/diversity.htm

Would you describe your culture as individualist or collectivist? Why?

3.4 Organisational context


Organisational communication is that which takes place within an organisational
context. When we think of organisational communication we are reminded of various
work environments. The school or college you
attend is an example of an organisation but
we also can refer to banks, the post office, the Did you know?
supermarket, the electric company, the water
There is etiquette for
company and so on as organisations.
communicating on the Internet.
Organisational communication is
lt is called netiquette and it offers
a relatively new area of study but is of guidelines on how to conduct
paramount importance as it contributes to the oneself online. Some netiquette sites
effectiveness of an organisation. Organisational offer lists of chat abbreviations.
communication is said to be:
■ Central: that is, of great importance to the
running of the company
■ Pervasive: meaning there is a significant amount of communication taking place
■ Complex: there are several patterns of communication all taking place at the same time.
It also has specific patterns:
■ Downward
■ Upward
■ Horizontal
■ Grapevine.
CHAPTER 3: CONTEXTS OF COMMUNICATION 31

Downward communication, as the name implies, refers to directives or other


information coming from management to employees. Upward would describe
information that is passed up the management chain. Horizontal communication is the
sharing of information across the levels of the organisation/institution and the ‘grapevine’
is the informal passage of information in the office or organisation. The grapevine is
sometimes deliberately used in order to pass new information.
Of course there are formal and informal means of communicating in the organisation.
Both these types of communication are appropriate in certain circumstances. Every
communication in the workplace does not have to be documented and sometimes oral
means are used to share information.
However, in some cases staff need to be formally given notice of information. A change
in company policy or action to be taken in light of an impending hurricane are situations
where staff may need to revert to the written document. For these purposes more formal
means of communication may be used. Some companies make use of the worldwide web
to pass on messages using the employee’s choice of email address, but other companies
create an intranet that services their company. The employees automatically have an
email address with their name and the company’s name making up their email address.
An address may appear as JaneDoe@biscuits.com. (Jane Doe works at a company called
Biscuits.) This allows messages to be passed within the organisation.
Some formal means of communicating in organisational contexts include:
■ Email (Internet and intranet)
■ Memos
■ Newsletters
ACTIVITY 3.4 ■ Policy documents
1 List other ways by which ■ Job descriptions.
information can be communicated
in the workplace.
2 You are the manager of a
small company and some of your
employees are always late. What
means would you use to inform
them that this tardiness must stop
as it is affecting the efficiency of
the company?
3 What do you think is the
difference between Internet and
intranet?

Fig. 3.3 Informal communication

Some informal methods would include:


■ Face to face
■ Grapevine
■ Telephone.
32 UNIT 1: DESCRIBING COMMUNICATION

Notice that written correspondence is more often considered formal communication


while spoken is often considered informal.
Communication may be directed at an individual, a small group or all employees.
Therefore the appropriate channels must be used. Information can be
communicated through:
■ Briefings
■ Staff meetings
■ Project meetings.

3.5 Academic context


Academic communication comes in various forms with which you should be quite
familiar at this level. Aural, oral and written communication are all part of the genre of
academic communication. Student academic communication includes:
■ Attentive listening
■ Effectual group work
■ Comprehensive oral/written reporting (for example labs or projects)
■ Effective note-taking
■ Persuasive proposal writing/presentations
■ Constructive questioning
■ Succinct writing (for example essays, examination question responses)
■ Coherent summarising
When one goes to college or university one becomes very aware of the type of
writing and research skills that must be evidenced in the papers submitted. Academic
communication is typically not emotive but expository in nature and this is a distinction
often ignored by students. (Chapter 12 gives you more information on the characteristics
of academic writing.)
Academic communication is used not only by students but by lecturers as well.
Lecturer academic communication includes:
■ Lecturer notes
■ Lectures (with or without the use of media such as PowerPoint™)
■ Course outlines
■ Academic research papers
■ Books
■ Professional/scholarly journals.
Within the world of academia, communication is vitally important as it is the means by
which we pass on and receive knowledge.

3.6 Intercultural context


In order to communicate with others of a different cultural background, it is important to
be aware of and analyse the differing cultural patterns of the world. One must be capable
of accepting that there are different ways of communicating both verbally and non-
verbally and different things are communicated by certain behaviours.
CHAPTER 3: CONTEXTS OF COMMUNICATION 33

Definition Acknowledging and remembering these differences is not always easy as by nature
The World Bank human beings tend to be culturally biased, refusing to be anything but ethnocentric.
defines intercultural
communication (also
Within communities that are ethnically and culturally diverse, the recognition of
known as cross-cultural differences and sameness is more acute than in a mono-cultural situation.
communication), as In this highly technological world, which is often described as a ‘global village’,
interaction between
persons of different effective communication requires greater acknowledgement of cultural diversity and
cultural communities. greater attention paid to the social skills that could reduce cultural misunderstandings.
Note that cities, universities and other communities worldwide are becoming increasingly
multicultural. Knowing symbols and their cross-cultural
meanings can protect the communicator from committing a
cross-cultural faux pas. In Chapter 2 you learnt of some ACTIVITY 3.5
different non-verbal clues that are exhibited by other
cultures, and their meanings. Think of the importance of Think of different
situations, other
knowing issues such as eye contact, dress, voice levels and than business, where
handshaking versus embracing as you go into business it would be useful
partnership with someone from Ghana or Singapore or Italy to have good cross-
or Japan! Being able to communicate without being cultural skills.
offensive is extremely important to a productive relationship.

Conclusion
You have seen how communication takes place in various contexts
and how the context determines the type of communication
engaged in as well as the form that the communication takes.
The nature of the context, the culture of the society in which
the communication takes place and the social orientation of the
individuals all play a part in determining how people relate to
each other. It is also clear that the majority of our communication
takes place through language. Chapter 4 looks at what we mean by
language and how it can be defined.
34 UNIT 1: DESCRIBING COMMUNICATION

Evaluation References
Bateman, T. and Zeithaml, C. (1990). Management: Function and Strategy.

and extension Irwin. Accessed 31 January 2007 at www.answers.com/topic/interpersonal-


communication.
Braiker, H. B. (1989).The Power of Self Talk. Psychology Today, 23 (12), p. 23.
A Communication Model. Retrieved 6 March 2007 from www.jerf.org/
1 Discuss the difference between interpersonal writings/communicationEthics.
The Encyclopedia of Small Business Interpersonal Communication. Retrieved 31
and intrapersonal communication. January 2007 from www.answers.com/topic/interpersonal-communication.

2 What types of academic communication have


Interpersonal Communication, from The Encyclopedia of Small Business
website: www.referenceforbusiness.com/small/Inc-Mail/Interpersonal-
you been exposed to so far? Communication. Accessed 10 December 2007.
Communication for Governance and Accountability Programme, Intercultural
3 A school/college is an organisation. What formal Communication. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTGOVACC/Resources/
InterculturalCommweb.pdf. Accessed 04 November 2012.
methods of communication are used in your King, D. (2000). Four Principles of Interpersonal Communication. Retrieved 31
institution to pass information? January 2007 from www.pstcc.edu/facstaff/dking/interpr.htm.
McGraw Hill References: Small Group Communications, Culture and Small
4 You are in a face to face meeting with Groups. Retrieved 19 February 2007 from www.mhhe.com/socscience/comm/
group/students/diversity.htm.
individuals from the United States and China.
Okpewho I. (1970). The Victims. Longman.
All participants speak English. What are some of Pickett, J. et al. (eds) (2000). American Heritage Dictionary of the English
the issues you would need to be aware of before Language, 4th edn. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

joining the meeting that would aid in effective Victor, D. The Factors Affecting Cross-Cultural Business Communication.
Accessed on 15 May 2013 at http://www.enotes.com/cross-cultural-
small group communication? international-communication-reference/cross-cultural-international-
communication
5 You have been awarded an undergraduate Wiio, O. (1978). Wiio’s Laws and Some Others. (Espoo, Finland: Welin-Goos),
quoted in Four Principles of Interpersonal Communication (2000). Donnell King.
scholarship to Taiwan. You will be there for four
Website: www.pstcc.edu/facstaff/dking/interpr.htm. Accessed 15 May 2013.
years living in a Taiwanese household. What
aspects of the culture do you think you should
investigate so as to avoid offending your hosts?
35

End of Unit
(b) You have been asked to do a presentation on the
topic ‘Making the right choices – Family Planning’.
Explain what form your presentation would take,

Test 1 the language style and register you would use and
any technological aids you would use. (12 marks)
(c) What TWO non-verbal clues might you receive
1 Read the advertisement below and then answer the during your presentation that would tell you that
questions that follow: you have captured your audience’s attention?
(2 marks)
(d) The members of the club want to reach all
members of the community – including people
with visual and hearing impairment. How might
they achieve this? (4 marks)

3 (a) Find examples to illustrate the following types


of communication:
• Academic
• Cross-cultural
• Intrapersonal
• Interpersonal. (4 marks)
(b) Divide the examples listed below into verbal and
nonverbal forms of communication: semaphore,
music symbols, yawning, singing, preaching,
Fig. 3.4Advertisement tapping one’s foot, flouncing, reciting, poetry,
slouching, sucking of teeth, winking the eye.
(a) What form of communication is being
(12 marks)
used here? (1 mark)
(c) State FOUR ways using the computer in which you
(b) What is the message being communicated?
could communicate with a friend. (4 marks)
(1 mark)
(c) Who is the (a) sender and (b) receiver in
this communication process? (2 marks)
(d) What THREE communication techniques does References: Unit 1 Additional reading
the advertisement utilise to gain the reader’s Agar, M. (1994). Language Shock: Understanding the Culture of
attention? Explain how each technique works Conversation. New York: William Morrow and Company.
Argle, M. (1990). Bodily Communication, 2nd edn. New York: International
as an attention getter. (6 marks)
Universities Press.
(e) In what TWO communication settings would it Dodd, C. (1998). Dynamics of Intercultural Communication, 5th edn. New
be appropriate to use this advertisement? (2 marks) York: McGraw-Hill.
(f) Do you consider this to be an effective Lewis, R. (2000). When Cultures Collide. Naperville, Illinois: Nicholas Brealey.

advertisement? Explain. (2 marks) Lull, J. (1995). Media, Communication, Culture: A global approach. New
York: Columbia University Press.
(g) Describe how you could retain this concept but use
Scott, C.R. (1999). Communication Technology and Group Communication.
the television as the medium to send the message. In Frey, L., Gouran, D. & Poole, M. (eds), The Handbook of Group
(6 marks) Communication and Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, pp. 432–472.
A communication model: http://www.worldtrans.org/TP/TP1/TP1-17.HTML.
2 The youth group to which you belong is hosting a Accessed 15 May 2013.
Intercultural Communication Institute: www.intercultural.org offers
week of activities under the heading: ‘Making the Right instruction and resources related to intercultural communication issues.
Choices’. Theories of small group communication: mhhe.com/socscience/comm/group/
(a) What TWO methods might your members use students/theory.htm. Accessed 19 February 2007.

to communicate the information about the


activities to the rest of the community? (2 marks)

9780230431584_text.indd 35 24/02/2014 09:30


2 Understanding
Communication
in Society
Although we sometimes communicate with ourselves,
much of everyday communication takes place in a social
context. Language is the main tool used by humans
to maintain relationships and sustain human progress.
It is important to understand the role of language in
society and how it can be manipulated for effective
communication. Success or failure and even life or death
are often determined by our understanding of language
and its social uses. The modern world is difficult to
navigate without a sense of how technology impacts
on communication or without the ability to harness
technology to enhance or maximise the effectiveness
with which we interact in communicative situations.

Expected Learning Outcomes


On completing this unit, you should be able to:
1 appreciate the nature, characteristics and roles of language in society
and, in particular, Caribbean society
2 evaluate examples of written or spoken communication, taking into
consideration their form, content and the contexts of presentation
3 develop an awareness of the main features of the interactive relationship
among communication technologies, language and society
4 appreciate the significance of communication technologies in cultural
interaction.
38 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY
CHAPTER 4: DEFINING LANGUAGE 39

4 Defining Language
Before we can examine how language works as the major communication
tool of our society, we must determine what we mean by language, how
we characterise it and what are its purposes. It is also important to define
language in terms of its cultural significance. Therefore, the terms used to
describe types and aspects of language as used in the Caribbean must be
clearly understood. This chapter explains the basic concepts of language.

The skills you learn in this chapter pertain to Module 2 and Specific Objectives 2, 3, 4
and 8.

Expected Learning Outcomes


On completing this chapter, you should be able to
1 discuss the concept of language
2 identify some features of English Creole that make it different
from standard English
3 explain some of the challenges faced by the Creole speaker in
learning English
4 define some key terms that relate to language variation.

Definition Introduction
The following are
dictionary definitions Except for definition (e), the definitions of language given here are universally accepted.
of language:
The general view of language is that it is what separates the human species from others.
(a) system of
communication between In Unit 1, you explored what it means to communicate.You also discussed various
humans, through written forms of communication.You would have recognised that it is possible to communicate
and vocal symbols
without the use of words, and that many living creatures
(b) speech peculiar to
an ethnic, national, or
other than humans have some system of communicating
cultural group
(c) words, especially
with each other.You would also have concluded that
the ability to communicate verbally, or to use language,
Did you
employed in any art,
branch of knowledge,
allows for unlimited depth and complication in the know?
or profession messages that we convey. Language combines a wide All children learn
(d) a person’s variety of features and is the most precise and complex language in exactly the
characteristic mode means of communication that exists. This is what
of speech same way, no matter
(e) by extension, the
separates language from other forms of communication what culture they belong
articulate or inarticulate and labels it as characteristically human. Therefore, the to or what language is
expression of thought extended definition (e) is widely regarded as a far stretch spoken in their society.
and feeling by living
creatures. of the concept of language and is sometimes a source of
controversy among linguists.
40 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

I’m flying off to Guyana


4.1 Characteristics of language to check out the latest
range of nest twigs
ACTIVITY 4.1
The words in the box below all belong to modern Huh?
languages. Say them aloud. Which ones do you
recognise?

slegt dziekuje csaj nzuri gracias


pocatkujacych briskve froid merci
dysguryn giovedi cinquo bello
podrecznik bellisima gauche
Fig. 4.1 Language is uniquely human

We have already established that one of the main characteristics of language is that it
is uniquely human. While parrots and parakeets can be taught to reproduce sound
sequences, they cannot be taught to formulate sentences on their own or to respond
sensibly to a verbal message. In the same way, a bird might indicate through a series of
movements that it is ready to mate, but would be unable to convey how it feels about the
shortage of nesting materials or how it plans to procure what it needs to build the nest.
The possession of language as a communication tool has been the main catalyst in our
development as the most creative species on Earth.
Another important characteristic of language is that it is systematic. Unlike other
forms of communication, language makes use of a number of different systems. One such
system is sound. Each language has its accepted sound patterns that are easily recognisable
to its speakers.
You can see that there are certain combinations of letter sounds that appear in other
languages that are not acceptable in English even though these languages all use the
same orthography or writing system. Have you noticed that many who learn English as
a second language often have difficulty pronouncing words with the ‘th’ sound? That is
because this particular combination letter sound does not occur in their own languages.
Sounds take on meaning in a language only when they are combined in certain ways that
are recognisable to its speakers. Try doing Activity 4.1 and note which letter combinations
you found difficult to pronounce.
In sign language, the patterns of sound are replaced by patterns of finger, hand and arm
movements. These patterns are systematic and consistent.
Another important system of language is grammar. The grammar of a language is a set
of rules that govern how the words of the language are put together to make meaning.
Obviously, the words:

Often to goes he the market

would not qualify as an English sentence until they are placed in the accepted order:

He often goes to the market.


CHAPTER 4: DEFINING LANGUAGE 41

Word order is critical to meaning. Consider the way in


which a simple sentence can acquire different meanings
depending on the word order:

You are there. There you are! Are you there?

Apart from the rules related to the standard order of the


words, there are rules relating to which type of word can
be used in a given sentence to convey meaning.
In Activity 4.2 it is obvious that the sentence would
require the same type of word, in this case a verb.
However, grammatical rules are even more specific than
Fig. 4.2 Word order is critical to meaning this and the space could not be filled by just any verb.

ACTIVITY 4.2
Which of the words below could logically be used in place of the word ’goes’ in the
sentence above them?

He often goes to the market.

car of runs circular bright pencils there but rides

ACTIVITY 4.3
Which of the following verbs would fit the sentence?

He often ___________ to the market.

shuffles kisses jumps dances sits cries eats sleeps sings


swaggers flies hears

Notice that in Activity 4.3 some of the verbs that cannot logically fit in the sentence
would fit perfectly if you changed the preposition ‘to’ to ‘at’. Activities 4.2 and 4.3 illustrate
how language is tightly structured and governed by rules in a systematic manner. Each
language has its own set of rules, which must be employed for the effective transfer of meaning.
Another characteristic of language is that it is symbolic. This means that it uses words
as representations or symbols of ideas. Each word represents some idea or thing that has
a meaning. Words need definitions because they are symbols of something else. In order
for a language to make sense, or be mutually intelligible among its speakers, there must be
commonly understood or accepted meanings attributed to its symbols.
Consider the following words. What do they symbolise? Do you think all English
speakers mean the same thing when they use those words?

sorrow anger disgust strength fortitude pride excitement embarrassment love


42 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

Although the above words on page 41 refer to intangible


ideas, you immediately understand what they mean even Did you
though they may be difficult to explain in other words.
Symbolism in language ensures that ideas are easily shared know?
among speakers of the same language. The average university
Dictionaries are actually records of the symbolic graduate is believed to
meaning of the words in a language. They ensure that the know 20,000 to 30,000
symbolism remains consistent despite the advent of new words, which is still less
generations and new speakers. than 2 per cent of all
However, despite the fact that the major core of words English words.
generally remains constant in meaning, there is
development and change in aspects of all languages.
Another feature of language as a whole is that it is evolutionary, or changes over time.
One manifestation of language change is the invention of new words. As humans invent
or discover new things and new ideas enter the world, new symbols have to be created to
represent them. There will be many new words in the next century that do not exist now.

ACTIVITY 4.4
Try to find out when the
following words became
part of the English
language:

computer
nuclear
aeroplane
television
atom
genetics

Fig. 4.3 The sign language alphabet

Generally, words are created to suit the particular needs of the culture of a specific group
of people. Bryson (1990) gives examples of this in the following excerpt on page 43.
CHAPTER 4: DEFINING LANGUAGE 43

ACTIVITY 4.5
Of course, every language has areas in which it needs, for practical
Discuss with your classmates
purposes, to be more expressive than others. The Eskimos, as is well
some words that you
known, have 50 words for types of snow – though curiously no word think are in the process
for just plain snow. To them there is crunchy snow, soft snow, fresh of evolution or which
snow, and old snow, but no word that just means snow. The Italians, as have recently acquired
we might expect, have over 500 names for different types of macaroni. new meanings. What may
Some of these, when translated, begin to sound distinctly unappetising, account for these changes?
like strozzapreti, which means ’strangled priests’. Vermicelli means ’little
worms’ and even spaghetti means ’little strings’. When you learn that
muscatel in Italian means ’wine with flies in it’, you may conclude that the
Italians are gastronomically out to lunch, so to speak, but really their names
for foodstuffs are no more disgusting than our hot dogs or those old
English favourites, toad-in-the-hole, spotted dick, and faggots in gravy. Changes in meaning are
The residents of the Trobriand Islands of Papua New Guinea have a another way in which language
hundred words for yams, while the Maoris of New Zealand have 35 evolves. Generally, these changes
words for dung (don’t ask me why). Meanwhile, the Arabs are said (a occur when a significant
little unbelievably, perhaps) to have 6,000 words for camels and camel group of persons persistently
equipment. The aborigines of Tasmania have a word for every type of tree, uses a word (symbol) to mean
but no word that just means ’tree’, while the Araucanian Indians of Chile something other than its
rather more poignantly have a variety of words to distinguish between traditionally accepted definition
different degrees of hunger.
(more will be said on this later
Even among speakers of the same language, regional and national on in the chapter, when we
differences abound. A Londoner has a less comprehensive view of extremes look at language and culture).
of weather than someone from the Middle West of America. What a Briton A very obvious example is the
calls a blizzard would, in Illinois or Nebraska, be a flurry, and a British heat word ‘gay’, which, until the mid-
wave is often a thing of merriment to much of the rest of the world. (I still twentieth century, did not mean
treasure a London newspaper with the banner headline: BRITAIN SIZZLES IN ‘homosexual’.
THE SEVENTIES!)
Look at the following
Bill Bryson chart (Table 4.1). Notice how
drastically some words have
changed meanings.

Word Older meaning Modern meaning


gay carefree, happy homosexual
nice stupid, foolish pleasant, agreeable
girl any young person female young person
manufacture make by hand produce artificially by hand or machinery
tell count say, inform
Table 4.1 Changes
in meaning meat any food food from animal flesh
44 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

4.2 Purposes of language


Chapter 2 made it clear that very basic levels of communication can be carried out without
the use of language. However, this type of communication is very limited and often
cumbersome. Language affords human beings the ability to communicate anything they
can imagine. As a tool, language is infinitely flexible and can be put to multiple purposes.

Expressive purposes
Language can be used simply to express one’s feelings, ideas or attitudes, without
necessarily taking a reader or listener into consideration. When language is used in this
way, the speaker/writer is not trying to effect change in an audience or elicit response.
He/she is merely giving vent to emotions or needs. Diaries and journals are obvious
examples of language used for expressive purposes.
Example I’m afraid that people who know me as I usually am will discover I have
another side a better and finer side. I’m afraid they’ll mock me, think I’m
ridiculous and sentimental and not take me seriously. I’m used to not
being taken seriously, but only the ‘lighthearted’ Anne is used to it and can
put up with it; the ‘deeper’ Anne is too weak. If I force the good Anne into
the spotlight for even fifteen minutes, she shuts up like a clam the moment
she’s called upon to speak, and lets Anne number one do the talking.
Before I realise it, she’s disappeared.
So the nice Anne is never seen in company. She’s never made a
single appearance, though she almost always takes the stage when I’m
alone. I know exactly how I’d like to be, how I am ... on the inside. But
unfortunately I’m only like that with myself. And perhaps that’s why – no,
I’m sure that’s the reason why – I think of myself as happy on the inside
and other people think I’m happy on the outside. I’m guided by the pure
Anne within, but on the outside I’m nothing but a frolicsome little goat
tugging at its tether.
As I’ve told you, what I say is not what I feel, which is why I have a
reputation for being a boy-chaser, a flirt, a smart aleck and a reader of
romances. The happy-go-lucky Anne laughs, gives a flippant reply, shrugs
her shoulders and pretends she couldn’t care less. The quiet Anne reacts in
just the opposite way. If I’m being completely honest, I’ll have to admit
that it does matter to me, that I’m trying very hard to change myself, but
that I’m always up against a more powerful enemy.
Anne Frank
CHAPTER 4: DEFINING LANGUAGE 45

Informative purposes
In this case, language is employed with the intention of conveying information to others.
Therefore, a news broadcast, a bulletin board at your school, this textbook or a television
guide are all examples of language being used for this purpose.
Example This dependency of Grenada has a very strong culture. It also has one of
the highest per capita incomes in the Eastern Caribbean.
About 900 people live on the island, which covers 486 acres (194
hectares) and is 3 miles (5 km) east of the northern half of Carriacou. The
island can be reached only by boat. The island is really one large hill. The
eastern shore is rocky but there are some fine beaches on the western,
leeward side.
Like Carriacou, Petite Martinique was first settled by the French and
many islanders have names of French origin.
Fishing and boatbuilding are still the main occupations. Some corn and
peas are grown and sheep and goats graze freely over the hills. Everything
else has to be imported.
Although the island has electricity and telephones, the lack of rivers
has made water a valuable resource, and all homes have a storage tank to
collect rainwater running off the roof.
There is a small medical centre, visited by a government doctor from
Carriacou once a week, post office, school and a Catholic Church. Other
denominations hold outdoor services. The island has its own Carnival,
which is held the two days before Lent, and at Whitsuntide a two-day
regatta is hosted.
Grenada Board of Tourism

Cognitive purposes
When language is used cognitively, it is with the intention of affecting the audience in
some way in order to evoke some type of response. Therefore, when one uses language to
persuade, entertain, stir to anger or arouse sympathy, one is using language for cognitive
purposes. Jokes, political speeches and horror stories are different examples of ways in
which language can be used cognitively.
Example A descendant of Eric the Red, named Rudolph the Red, was arguing with
his wife about the weather. His wife thought it was going to be a nice day,
and he thought it was going to rain. Finally she asked him how he was so
sure. He smiled at her, and calmly said, ‘Because Rudolph the Red knows
rain, dear’.
46 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

Poetic purposes
Language used in literary, stylistic or imaginative ways is poetic. The user focuses on the
structure and pattern of the language and places emphasis on the manner in which the
language is manipulated. Language used for poetic purposes is not necessarily done in verse.
It is the way in which the language is used, and not its form, that indicates its poetic purpose.
Example From the tram, visitors have an amazing bird’s eye view of a truly mature
Caribbean oceanic rainforest. Nurtured by warm, gentle rains and rich
volcanic soils, the forests have achieved a state of ancient majesty. Gondolas
safely glide through and over the tree tops, where knotted and twisting
woody vines wind to the tops of old growth rainforest trees. Dense
thickets of surreal vegetation merge with cascades of flowers. Lavender
stars, orange bursts, yellow berries and white lace thrive on the branches of
fragrant flowering trees. Giant Chatannier trees tower over the landscape
and provide food and shelter for the island’s endemic and endangered
parrots. Here, the flowers bloom with shameless abundance.
LIAT Islander

Phatic purposes
Sometimes language is used simply to establish or maintain contact among people. This
use of language is most obvious in spoken communication. Language used for phatic
purposes does not necessarily seek to generate a meaningful response. For example,
when we greet each other by saying ‘hello’ or ‘good morning’ we are using language to
maintain social customs. We say ‘good morning’ automatically as a greeting even though
a thunderstorm is raging or we are on the way to chemotherapy. In the same way, you
would not expect your cheerful ‘how you doing?’ to be responded to with a litany of all
the things that are going wrong in your friend’s life.
Example
What’s up,
Marlon?
I’m cool man,
what about you?

Fig. 4.4 Language used for phatic purposes does not seek a meaningful response
CHAPTER 4: DEFINING LANGUAGE 47

Although the phatic purpose of language does not often apply to written
communication, in the case of letter writing, the greeting and closure are phatic. Informal
or friendly letters and email may also use expressions like ‘How are you’ or ‘Hi there’
merely for phatic purposes.

Metalinguistic purposes
Simply put, this is the use of the language to comment on, refer to or discuss language
itself. A critique of your friend’s essay or speech is metalinguistic, so is the blurb on the back
of a novel. When you use language to consider language your purpose is metalinguistic.
Example In a tersely sardonic meta-dub poem, ‘Dubbed Out’, Jean Binta Breeze
distinguishes her work from the rub-a-dub-a-dub monotony of facile
performance poetry in which meaning is rubbed out in the dub:
I
Search for words

Moving
In their music

Not

Broken
By
The
Beat

The spacing of the lines jerking to a halt enacts the beating-down of sense
and lyricism; the double-entendre, ‘moving’, extends the conventional
conceit of poetry as music – emotive sound – to include the fluidity of
the word released from the mechanical rigidity of the beat, and from the
fix of the page. Poetry becomes verbal dance, transmitted word-of-muscle.
This reading of ‘Dubbed Out’ not only evokes the embodied word in
performance, but also requires a distinction between the poet as a maker
and as a performer. For not only are the words in motion, unbroken by the
beat, but the poet/performer, uncontained by the boundaries of the book,
speaks face to face with an immediate audience. In an act of performative
transference the speaker gets across the closure of the printed page.
Carolyn Cooper

The multiple purposes to which language can be put make it the most valuable tool
of communication at our disposal. In order to master the art of communication it is
important to master the use of language for all its purposes.
48 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

4.3 Language variation


It is obvious that there are many varieties or types of language. If you look up a list of
the major languages in the world, you will realise that different languages are spoken in
different geographical locations. Sometimes the same language is spoken in countries that
are far away from each other. For example, people in Spain, Cuba,Venezuela, and Mexico
all speak Spanish. However, although speakers from these countries can communicate with
each other, the Spanish spoken in each country is somewhat different from that spoken in
each of the others. Therefore, we can distinguish between varieties of the same language.
This is known as internal variation. No language is spoken in exactly the same way
wherever it is used. For example, while people in England, America, Grenada and Australia
all speak English, you can tell that a person is from one of those countries by the variety
of English that he/she speaks. It can be said that these persons are speaking a particular
dialect of English. The term dialect refers to any variety of a language spoken by a
group of people.
Sometimes, as a language evolves, one particular dialect becomes dominant. This is
usually due to the fact that it is the dialect spoken by the people with the economic
power or greatest social influence in that society. In this case, their dialect becomes
accepted as the standard variety of that language. Therefore, the standard variety
becomes the one used for writing and other formal purposes and is often given prestige
over the other varieties. Since that language variety is associated with influence and
‘correctness’, it becomes the one that is aspired to, often to the exclusion of other varieties.
You may be surprised to know that, on a global scale, there is no one specific standard
variety of a language. Rather there is a range of varieties that are considered to be
standard. The standard French used in Paris, France, is not identical to the standard French
used in Quebec, Canada.You are probably also aware of the differences between British
Standard English (BSE) and American Standard English (ASE). In the English-speaking
Caribbean, Standard English is also used, but linguists refer to this variety as Caribbean
Standard English (CSE). Note that these standard forms all share the same structures
and are considered to be internationally acceptable; that is, they are understood by other
speakers of English around the world. Their differences lie primarily in the areas of
vocabulary, pronunciation and spelling (in the case of ASE) as seen in the following table.
BSE ASE
flat apartment
tyre tire
ACTIVITY 4.6
centre center
Try to find other
autumn fall examples of variations
holidays vacation between American
and British Standard
labour labor English. Make a chart
biscuit cookie for your classroom.
Which versions do you
number plate license
Table 4.2 BSE and use?
ASE variations
full stop period
CHAPTER 4: DEFINING LANGUAGE 49

Definition It is important to understand that no one


A useful definition of variety of a language is superior to another Just put your
the term dialect is: a
and that every language is really a collection suitcase in
particular variety of a the boot.
language spoken by one of dialects. A group of people who speak the
group of persons, that same dialect is known as a speech community.
differs noticeably from
the variety or varieties Sometimes, although two persons are
of the same language speaking the same dialect, their accents may
spoken by another
group or other groups
make it difficult for them to understand each
of people. other. Be careful not to confuse a dialect with
an accent. An accent is simply a variation
in pronunciation. There is no such thing
as a person who speaks without an accent.
However, because your accent is so much a
part of who you are, it is often difficult for
you to identify your own. For example, a St Fig. 4.5 Language variety
Lucian may identify persons from Jamaica,
Trinidad, or Belize as having an accent but would not normally refer to him- or herself
as having one. That same St Lucian may also identify the accent of someone from another
geographical area within his/her country as being different. In the same way, people from
the northern United States sound different from those in the southern states. So a person’s
accent is the way he/she sounds.
Apart from variation in the same language from country to country, there are
noticeable differences among speech communities within a country or region. Differences
in dialects are most apparent in terms of vocabulary and idiomatic expressions. The chart
below indicates examples of the way in which there is vocabulary variation within the
English-speaking Caribbean community.
Barbados Guyana Trinidad and St Lucia Jamaica Standard
Tobago
Table 4.3
Vocabulary ackee ginep chenet ackee ginep quenepa (Spanish)
variations in the gossip talkname commes ro-ro cass-cass gossip (English)
English-speaking likrish likrish likrish vowas (Fr. Creole) craven greedy (English)
Caribbean
firefly candlefly candlefly firefly peenie-walli firefly (English)
community

No matter what dialect is spoken by a speech community, each user is capable


ACTIVITY 4.7 of manipulating that dialect in relation to the context of communication.
Work in groups to add Depending on whom you are speaking or writing to, you instinctively vary the
more examples to the way in which you express yourself. This type of language variation is called code
chart in Table 4.3. You switching. Think about how you would describe a fight in the schoolyard to (a)
may need to consult
with friends or relatives
your Principal, (b) your friend and (c) your parent. Although you may be using
from other countries or the same variety of language, you would most likely use different vocabulary,
talk to older persons in language structures and even tones of voice in each case; therefore, your audience
your community. determines your code. However, you may also choose to use an entirely different
variety or dialect of a language from one situation to the next. The variety of
language that you use at any given time is your register. Choice of register also
generally reflects the speaker’s/writer’s relationship with his/her audience. If you
50 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

observe people around you, you will notice that,


ACTIVITY 4.8
on formal occasions, the language variety
considered by the society to be the more formal is Consider the following versions of
the one used. The ability to change your register in the same communication. Discuss
the different contexts within which
this way is an important life skill, as few people each may have been used:
speak or write their dialect in the same way no
All rise for the final hymn.
matter what the context. (See Chapter 5.) As the
Please stand for the final hymn.
context of the communication changes, this
Stand for the last hymn.
variation in code or speech style involves changes
in syntax and vocabulary. Get up! It’s the last hymn.

Syntax
In casual or informal speech, we use many contractions and drop word endings.You are
likely to say to your partner, ‘Don’t you love me?’ or ‘You don’t love me?’ instead of ‘Do
you not love me?’ From Activity 4.8, you would have concluded that the level of formality
of the occasion and the speaker’s relationship with his/her audience varied significantly.

Vocabulary
Your choice of vocabulary is a major determinant of your register. There are words (for
example, the obscene words of your language) that are not acceptable in most contexts.
Then there are words that we use if we are trying to impress. Think about the difference
in impact of ‘There has been much investment in this venture’ as opposed to, ‘There has
been substantial investment in this venture.’ In most cases the less commonly used word
tends to make a greater impression.Vocabulary can also be specific to a particular group.
Therefore a lawyer would use a certain register when discussing points of law with peers,
but would hardly be understood by others unless he adjusted his style of speech. The
register used by a group of persons in the same technical or professional field is known
as jargon. Sometimes, people use a particular register or style of speech to fit in with a
group. For example, what is known in the Caribbean as Rastafarian speech was associated
with the Rastafarians in Jamaica and, as that movement spread, many people who
embraced that religion and way of life adopted that style of language.
In most societies, groups of young people often use vocabulary in a way that is
unique to them and sometime baffling to the mainstream adult population. This type of
vocabulary usage is referred to as slang. Most slang terms have a short life span. However,
sometimes slang terms remain around long enough to become accepted as part of the
standard use of the language and are used by the general population. For example, the
word ‘cram’, as a slang term, is used to mean last-minute, intensive study, which is different
from its standard meaning as forcing physical items into a space.
ACTIVITY 4.9 Notice that, while some slang terms do remain in general usage, they are
Make a list of some of
normally restricted to informal language and not used in formal expression. They
the slang terms you can be used in what is referred to as colloquial language. The word colloquial
and your peers use. means ‘relating to conversation’. Therefore, colloquial terms are used in general
Make another list of informal conversation but are not acceptable formally. If they are used in formal
slang terms that your writing, they are normally placed in inverted commas to indicate that they are
parents or teachers colloquial.
may have used. Are any
of them the same?
Are these familiar?
rip-off hassle scam homeboy
CHAPTER 4: DEFINING LANGUAGE 51

ACTIVITY 4.10
Identify the groups that would most likely be associated with the following examples of jargon:

Example 1 It is down to the final over. Eight runs needed and the field is spread. There are two
slips, point, a sweeper on the boundary and mid-off. On the leg side is a mid-on,
midwicket, square leg and long leg, so Rashim has to keep the ball straight and on the
stumps. He comes in to Maxwell who lofts it over mid-on for four. Rashim comes in to
Maxwell again and this time Maxwell seals it with a pull behind square for four more.

Example 2 A 30-year-old male presents with a two-day history of central chest pain. There
were no associated symptoms and he had no significant past medical history
(PMH). Examination was unremarkable with vesicular breath sounds and resonant
percussion throughout both lung fields and heart sounds 1+2+0. Chest X-ray and
electrocardiogram (ECG) were NAD (nothing abnormal detected). Initially thought to
be musculoskeletal chest pain. However, unexpectedly the troponin I was greater than
30000ng/l (normal range <40ng/l).

Example 3 To ask, demand, recover and receive of and from all and every person or persons whom
the name doth shall or may concern all and every such sum or sums of money, debts,
rents, goods and chattels, dues, duties, claims and demands whatsoever as now are or
hereafter shall become due, owing, belonging or payable to me and the said person or
persons to call to account and bring to a reckoning and adjust all accounts with them
and leave the same to arbitration or compound the same, or accept a part of the whole
upon such terms as to THE ADMINISTRATOR may appear just and upon payment
or delivery of the said sum of money, debts, rents, goods, and chattels to make and give
proper receipts, acquittances and discharges for the same respectively.

4.4 Creole
The term Creole, which comes from the Portuguese word ’creoulo’, originally meant a
person of European parents who had been born and raised in a colonial territory. Later, it
was used to refer to anyone native to these countries and then it became the name of the
language spoken by these people.
A Creole is a language that comes into being through contact between two or more
languages. When people who speak different languages find themselves in a situation
where they have to communicate with each other for purposes of trade, business or to
survive, these people usually devise a form of language communication, called a pidgin.
Pidgins are not ordinary languages since they are normally used only for communication
between persons from different speech communities. However, in some cases, a pidgin
begins to be used as the first language of people in the same community (usually the
children). This pidgin may then become a native language; it acquires the more complex
grammar of a full language and is referred to as a Creole. Therefore, all Creole languages
start as pidgins. Sometimes Creole languages are referred to as patois or patwa. However,
52 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

the word patois can be used as a synonym for any non-standard variety or local dialect,
including pidgins.
Although a Creole has influences from several languages in its sounds, structure and
vocabulary, it is usually classified according to what is perceived as the dominant language
ancestor. Therefore, in the Caribbean, Creoles are referred to as English-based, French-
based, Dutch-based, or Portuguese-based. Generally, Creoles from a European and
African language mix (such as those spoken in the Caribbean) have obvious similarities
in grammatical structure.

Some characteristics of Caribbean Creole


Like all other languages, Creoles can be described Did you
according to the typical features of sound units, vocabulary,
grammar and semantics (word meaning). Caribbean know?
Creole languages, regardless of their lexical (vocabulary) Haiti is the only
base, exhibit consistent features that are easily recognisable. Caribbean country that
These are the characteristics that make them clearly has given its Creole
different from Standard English, Standard French and so language official status
on. It is important to be able to recognise and understand within its constitution.
those differences in order to use both standard and non-
standard codes effectively. An understanding of the
distinctions between the language varieties will help you
to be consistent in your use of either and to make fewer of
the errors that result from a mixing of Creole and Standard.
Sound units
In the case of English-based Creole, generally, the most distinctive differences in sound
combinations are observed in sounds that occur in Standard English but not in the Creole.
A very obvious one is the ’th’ sound, which is produced in English by placing the tip of the
tongue between the front teeth. This sound does not exist in Creole or Creole-influenced
vernacular and is replaced by either the ‘d’, ‘t’ or ‘f ’ sound, depending on its position in the
word and the presence or absence of other non-English influences on the Creole.
Example
brother brodder/bredda
this dis
there dere/deh
thing ting/fing
thief tief
mouth mout

Creole also dispenses with the final consonant in the words that end in ‘ing’ or with a ‘d’.
CHAPTER 4: DEFINING LANGUAGE 53

Example
dancing dancin
going goin/gwine
send sen
sending sennin
find fine

In some cases, an English sound combination is not dropped but reversed, for example
ask→ aks and film→ flim.
Vocabulary
The vocabulary (lexicon) of Caribbean Creole English is derived primarily from Standard
English. However, a number of words used in Creole speech are related to cultural influences
from other European, Amerindian, African, East Indian and Chinese languages. The scope of
usage depends on the composition of the population of the specific territory and its history
of cultural influences. Which of the words in the following lists are familiar to you?
East Indian Amerindian Chinese African
Dhal Barbecue(Babrikot) Chow mein Senseh
Sari Manatee Chop suey Dutty
Orni Cassava Chow chow Bakra
Maticore Iguana Wonton Nyam
Baratan Arepa Bok choy Foo Foo
Table 4.4 Sources Bhariat Maraca Soy Yam
of some Caribbean Saro-bhai Wok Makak
Paisa Shango
Creole vocabulary
J. Rickford

Like any other language, the vocabulary of Creole is dynamic and reflects changes
that arise out of social movements such as Rastafarianism (for example, ital, irie) or the
incorporation of prevalent slang (for example, bling, swag).
Grammar
There are several points of grammar that can be used to compare Creole to Standard
English. Much of the syntax and grammar of Caribbean Creoles actually comes from West
African languages. So while the Creoles draw their lexical (word) base from the European
languages, the structures of the Creoles are often those of African languages.
One important Creole grammatical rule is that nouns, verbs and pronouns are not
altered in form to indicate plurals, tense, person or case. Instead, Creole uses other
indicators of these aspects.
Example
Singular Plural
Table 4.5 Plurals in Standard English Girl Girls
Standard English
Creole gal / gyal dem gyal / de gyal dem
and Creole
54 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

Notice that, in the case of Standard English, the plural marker is the addition of the
’s’ to the noun while the Creole uses the plural marker ’dem’ without changing the noun
in any way.
Example
Standard English Creole
1st person singular I am eating I eatin
2nd person singular You are eating You eatin
3rd person singular He/She/It is eating He/She/It eatin
1st person plural We are eating We eatin
Table 4.6 Verbs in
2nd person plural You are eating You all/All you eatin
Standard English
and Creole 3rd person plural They are eating Dey/Dem eatin

Notice that Creole does not utilise an auxiliary verb to indicate change in person,
while Standard English uses a changing auxiliary as a marker in this case.
However, the Creole differentiates between the second person singular and plural
by inserting ’all’ in the latter case. Standard English does not normally make this
differentiation.
Another characteristic of Creole grammar is its use of predicate adjectives. These are
words that function as both adjective and verb in the sentence.
Example
Standard English English Creole French Creole
Table 4.7 Predicate I am tired I/me tired Mwen las
adjectives in He is sick He/Him sick E malad
Standard English
You are thirsty You tirsty Ou swef
and Creole

The use of double negatives is another characteristic that Creole shares with
Standard French (and Spanish) but not with Standard English.
Example
Standard English Creole Standard French
Table 4.8 Double
negatives
I’m not doing anything I not doin nothing Je ne fais rien

Creole does not reverse word order to indicate the interrogative form of a sentence.
Example
Standard English Creole
Table 4.9 You have eaten You eat already
Interrogative word
Have you eaten? You eat already?
order

Notice that, while the word order remains the same, the interrogative is merely
indicated by intonation, that is, raising the voice at the end of the declaration to
turn it into a question.
CHAPTER 4: DEFINING LANGUAGE 55

Some Creole structures are used


Hey man, how to create particular emphasis. For
you look so? example, front focusing brings
the word to be emphasised to the
Is tired I beginning of the sentence as in: Tired
tired, boy. I tired (I am very tired).
In Figure 4.6 front focusing of
the verb emphasises the degree of
tiredness. The word, ’very’ is not used
as a qualifier in Creole. Adjectives
are also emphasised through back-
focusing or repetition, for example
’De place, mash up, mash up’ or ’Dat
Fig. 4.6 Front focusing in Creole gyal pretty, pretty’.
Semantics
All Creoles share a large part of their vocabulary with the language that forms their lexical
base. However, in many instances the same words have very different meanings in the
Creole. For example, ‘dis chile so miserable!’ does not mean that the
child is sad or listless but quite the opposite, that he/she is
ACTIVITY 4.11 troublesome and overactive. Also, in Creole, an ‘ignorant’ individual is
not necessarily lacking in knowledge, but is quick to anger and acts
How are the following words/
phrases used in your Creole? Do without thinking.
their Creole meanings differ from Another interesting semantic feature is the use of calques, which
the standard? are compound words borrowed from another language as literal
translations. Look at the following examples. How would you translate
hot feisty wine soaps
them into Standard English? Can you think of any others used in
your country?
malicious ‘you lie!’ fast
nose-hole house-bottom eye-water cut-eye door-mouth force-ripe

Conclusion
All living languages perform the same major function, which
is to convey thought. They operate within specific structures,
are guided by set rules, yet retain vibrancy by borrowing from
each other, accommodating new words and using old ones in
new ways. Language is the main tool of civilised society and the
most significant means of preserving and sharing culture. It is
within this context that we must examine how language enables
us to define who we are. Chapter 5 looks at the role of language
in human communities and how it can vary depending on the
peculiarities of the particular society.
56 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

Evaluation 2 Select one of the purposes of language identified


in this chapter. Write a piece to exemplify

and extension this purpose. Share it with your class and get
feedback on whether or not it achieves the
intended purpose.
1 Read the following poem and answer the
questions that follow:

Bruce St John References


Bryson, B. (1990). The Mother Tongue: English and how it got that way. New
York: Avon Books, pp. 14–15.
Language Christie, P. (ed.) (2001). Due Respect: Essay on English and English related
Creoles in the Caribbean in Honour of Professor Robert Le Page. Jamaica: The
She sah wha? University of the West Indies Press.
We language limit? Cooper, C. (1993). Noises in the Blood: Orality, gender and the ‘vulgar’ body of
Jamaican popular culture. Oxford: Macmillan, p. 68.
Who language en limit?
Frank, A. (1954). The Diary of Anne Frank. London: Penguin Books Ltd. p. 221.
Evah language
Grenada Board of Tourism. (2006). Information brochure. St George’s,
Like a big pot o’ Bajan soup; Grenada: p.7.
Pice o’ yam, piece o’potato LIAT. (2006). Rain Forest Aerial Trams Caribbean. Islander, 74, p. 64.
Rickford, J. (ed.) (1978). A Festival of Guyanese Words. Georgetown, Guyana:
T’ree dumplin’, two eddoe,
University of Guyana.
One beet, two carrot, St John, B. (1982). Bajan Languag’. Bumbatuk I. Bridgetown: The Cedar Press,
Piece o’ pig-tail, piece o’ beef p. 53.

Pinch o’ salt, dus’o’pepper,


An ‘doan’ fuget okra fuh add to de flavo’
An ’ whuh?
An ’ yuh still wan’ rice
Boil up, cook up, eat up
…Bajan language is a damn funny language
Piece o’ English, piece o’ African tongue,
Mix Carib an’ Arawak to save damage
An’ de cook-up is a beautiful soun’…
Extracted from Bruce St John

(a) How does the poet’s description of his


language relate to what you know about
how language evolves?
(b) Identify some specific features of Creole
language in this poem.
(c) In groups, write a Standard English
translation of the poem. Read it aloud.
Then read the original poem aloud.
Which do you prefer? Why?
CHAPTER 5: LANGUAGE IN SOCIETY 57

5 Language in Society
Language is the main tool used to establish societies and keep them together.
It is through language that a society is able to create agreed rules and
regulations, convey and receive information critical to its survival and pass
on its culture through oral and written forms. Language has facilitated the
development of science and technology and resulted in the creation of formal
learning institutions and educational structures. Societies also depend heavily
on the use of language for recreational purposes. However, although language
is common to all societies in terms of general function and purpose, it is
also one of the main characteristics by which a community is recognised as
separate and apart from others.

The skills you learn in this chapter pertain to Module 2 and Specific Objectives
5, 6, 7, 8 and 10.

Expected Learning Outcomes


On completing this chapter, you should be able to:
1 describe the influence of various factors (cultural, political,
historical, social) on language
2 analyse the various roles of language in human society
3 evaluate the role of language in Caribbean identity
4 describe the Caribbean in relation to a range of languages
5 discuss the various attitudes to language in the Caribbean
6 assess the use of dialects, registers and ranges of formality in
various types of interactive settings
7 identify the technological advances that have impacted on
communication
8 examine how communication, technology and culture are
interrelated.

Introduction
In the previous chapter, we established that language is a
distinguishing feature of all human societies. It is not solely
Did you
a means of communication, but influences our culture and know?
our thought processes. Societies tend to be characterised
Approximately 90 per
by their most dominant languages and language is often a
cent of all Internet traffic,
primary vehicle of culture. Language situations vary from 75 per cent of the world’s
region to region, country to country and community to mail and 60 per cent of its
community. There are multiple and sometimes complicated radio programmes are in
reasons for such variation. English.
58 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

5.1 The modern language


situation The whole world lives in London. Walk
Each society is distinct in terms of the down Oxford Street and you will see
Indians and Colombians, Bangladeshis
language or languages used. A society
and Ethiopians, Pakistanis and Russians,
where only one language is used is said
Melanesians and Malaysians. Fifty
to be monolingual; however, there are
nationalities with communities of more
very few societies in the world today that than 5,000 make their home in the city,
use only one language. Most societies and on any given day 300 languages
use more than one language and may be are spoken. It is estimated that by 2010
bilingual (using two languages) or even the population will be almost 30 per
multilingual (using multiple languages). cent ethnic minorities, the majority born
While many countries have a monolingual in the U.K. Most of these Londoners
bias and officially recognise one language, are the children and in some cases the
the reality is that, even in these countries, grandchildren of the many thousands who
there are bilingual or multilingual came here from the Caribbean and the
communities particularly where there are Indian subcontinent during the fifties and
sixties, after the British Empire imploded.
large numbers of immigrants. In addition,
within a monolingual community, there S. Worrall
may be individuals who are competent
in more than one language; for example,
children of parents who speak different
languages. Although England is traditionally regarded as a monolingual society, Baker and
Eversley (2002) estimate that approximately 300 languages are spoken in London today.
This is largely a result of the arrival of migrants and refugees, especially in the second half
of the twentieth century.
The table below gives global examples of the multilingual reality of the modern world.
Country Main languages used
Belize English, Garifuna, Mopan, English Creole, Spanish, Ketchi,
Mayan,Yucatecan, Mandarin, Cantonese
China Mandarin, Wu, Cantonese, Min, Hakka, Xiang, Gan
India Hindi, English, Urdu, Bhojpuri, Punjabi, Telugu, Nepali, Tamil, Bengali, Oriya
Iran Farsi, Kurdish, Baluchi, Turki, Arabic
Nigeria Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, English, Kanuri, Ibibio, Efik, Tiv, Ijo, Edo, Fulfulde,
Urhobo, Nupe, Igala
Singapore Mandarin, Malay, Tamil, English

Table 5.1 South Africa Sesotho, Leboa, Setswana, Swati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Afrikaans, English,
Multilingual
Ndebele, Xhosa, Zulu
countries
When you carry out Activity 5.1, you will
ACTIVITY 5.1
notice that most countries have an official
Select some countries not listed language. This is the language that is given
in the table above and do some
unique legal status as the language used in the
research to find out which
languages are used in each one. country’s legislative bodies. Some countries have
languages that are used for official purposes, but
CHAPTER 5: LANGUAGE IN SOCIETY 59

have no declared official language. The United States of America and Eritrea are two of
those. However, although these countries do not declare an official language, they do have
a main or de facto language.
You will notice that, in some cases, there are also
national languages. A national language is believed to
represent the national identity of a country. It can be
Did you
approved by government for use in legal or political know?
settings and in most cases is also recognised as an official
The language with
language. For example, in Malta, Maltese is the national the largest number of
language and both Maltese and English are official speakers is Mandarin
languages. In Singapore, the Malay language is the national Chinese. This is followed
language and it shares official language status with English, by Hindi. English has the
Mandarin, Chinese and Tamil. third largest number of
In addition to national and official languages, some speakers.
countries have multiple languages in use. Some are both
spoken and written, while some are spoken only and
do not have an orthography or written code. Sometimes a language can be officially
recognised without being classified as a national or an official language. Official
recognition means that the language can be used as a working language but it would not
be declared an official language in the national constitution or other official sources.

5.2 Factors influencing language


The linguistic characteristics of a society come about as a result of several factors.
Historical, social, political and cultural factors all influence the language(s) used in any
given society. It is important to understand those factors in order to understand why the
languages we use exist in our society and why we use them as we do.

Historical factors
The language situation in any
country can normally be linked
directly to historical factors. These
are often related to colonisation
or migration. For example, French
and English are spoken in Canada
today because it was the scene of
several conflicts between France
and England in the seventeenth
and eighteenth centuries.
Colonisation is, in fact, the greatest
factor responsible for the spread
of certain languages from more
homogeneous populations to
distant and diverse geographical
Countries where English is the main language
locations.

Fig. 5.1 Countries where English is the main language


60 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

Social factors
You have already noted, in the previous chapter, how the social dominance of a group
ensures that its dialect becomes the one that assumes the place of importance in the
society and is considered to be the standard language of that society.You have also noted
that language is dynamic and never static unless there are no more speakers of that
language. Much of the dynamism of a language is a result of constant social change and
the emergence of new cultural phenomena as a result. However, the elements of social and
economic class always affect attitudes to and choice of language. For example, individuals
seeking to be recognised as part of a certain social group may deliberately cultivate the
language or dialect of that group although they do not normally speak that dialect.
Sometimes a person may switch from one variety of language to another throughout the
day as he/she interacts in different social settings. Social factors also determine which
types of language are considered desirable and which ones are improper. Several words
that are considered lewd or vulgar today were used quite normally in earlier times:
for example, many works by Geoffrey Chaucer contain words in regular usage in the
fourteenth century that are considered obscenities today.

Cultural factors
Global movement of people has been a major influence on language. Many migrants and
refugees are eager to assimilate quickly as much of the new culture as they can, to facilitate
their ability to fit in with their society. As generations are born into the new culture, much
of their original language is lost. For example, in the case of Hispanic populations in the
US, a form of language has evolved that features aspects of both Spanish and English. The
name ‘Spanglish’ has been coined for this phenomenon, but linguists would refer to it as
‘code mixing’.
Example
Spanish English ‘Spanglish’
ir de compras to shop chopin
camioneta truck troca
Table 5.2 Influence
reunion meeting mitin
of acculturation on
language fin de semana weekend wiken

While acculturation, or assimilating, of the new culture affects the language of


immigrants, sometimes the language of the host country also undergoes change as a result
of the new cultural influences. For example several Spanish words have become part of
everyday English language (taco, flan, pinata, machismo).
Inevitably, the coexistence of different languages from different cultures in a society
results in linguistic changes in all the languages. However, the nature of the cultural
changes determines which language is more widely influential and what types of change
take place. In the case of the USA, the fact that some states may well have more Spanish
than English native speakers will be largely instrumental in how language develops there.
CHAPTER 5: LANGUAGE IN SOCIETY 61

ACTIVITY 5.2
Find out the cultural origin of the following words, which have become part of the
English language:

bongo apartheid kindergarten rendezvous ’cello yam boss


hamburger Anglophone opera banana cookie dachshund
camouflage pizza marimba knapsack waltz chalet ballerina
obeah mannequin angst hors d’oeuvres ghetto

Political factors
As indicated earlier, the official language of a country is normally indicated in the national
constitution or other official sources. Recognition given to other languages is also a
political or government decision. Most countries maintain the assigned status of their
languages regardless of political change. However, in some countries, language is significantly
influenced by political events. Language policies typically define a government’s plan
regarding the approach to the treatment of language in the
specific country. For example, the language policy usually
determines which languages will be taught in schools, or
used for particular official purposes. The policy may either
promote or discourage the use of a particular language or
languages and in some cases it is designed to protect an
ethnic language that may be in danger of disappearing.
Political influences on language can determine the
extent to which minority languages or dialects are accepted,
recognised or utilised in a society. For example, in Quebec,
Canada, the provincial government stipulated that only
Fig. 5.2 Political influences on language French should be used on street signs and, in places where
bilingual signage was allowed, the English lettering had to
be significantly smaller and within stipulated dimensions. Political decisions on language
are sometimes taken to promote national identity as in the cases of Denmark and Norway.
While Danish and Norwegian are linguistically dialects of the same language, they have
been promoted as separate languages in the interest of nationalism.
Turmoil and friction and sometimes violence and war can arise out of political disputes
over language. Countries such as Chechnya, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan and Turkey are examples
of places where language is a serious political issue.

5.3 Language situation in the Caribbean


The Caribbean is often described as a complex linguistic region, largely because its
complicated history has resulted in an array of languages, dialects and vernacular forms
that provide rich material for study by linguists from far and wide. The original inhabitants
of the region had their own wide range of languages, some of which are still spoken by
62 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

small groups in places such as Guyana and Surinam. Many Caribbean people are not aware
that there are significant Amerindian influences on their way of life and language today.
The arrival of the European colonists in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries meant
that non-indigenous languages began to take root in the society. It is important to note
that many of these Europeans were themselves speakers of non-standard dialects and no
one variety of English, French, Portuguese, Dutch or Spanish was spoken.
When the need arose for cheap labour to work on the plantations, Africans were
captured, enslaved and imported primarily from countries along the west coast of Africa.
Many of them were also speakers of various non-standard dialects of their own languages.
However, in order to minimise communication among the enslaved Africans as a security
measure, plantation owners made sure that they purchased from a variety of ethnic groups
so that few Africans speaking the same language could be found on any one plantation.
After the emancipation of the enslaved Africans in 1838, estate owners began recruiting
indentured labourers from India, China and some Portuguese territories. These people
introduced an even greater potpourri of dialects. The last major group of non-indigenous
people came to the Caribbean in the twentieth century from Syria and Lebanon. They
came primarily to Trinidad and, to a lesser extent, Jamaica and the southern island chain.
Country Official languages Other languages
Anguilla English English Creole
Antigua and Barbuda English English Creole (Growing number of
Spanish migrants from Dominican
Republic have introduced some
Spanish and associated dialects)
Aruba Dutch Papiamento, English, Spanish
Bahamas English English Creole
Barbados English English Creole
Belize English English Creole, Spanish, Garifuna,
Ketchi, Mayan, Yucatecan, Mandarin,
Mopan, Cantonese
Bermuda English
Bonaire Dutch Papiamento, English
British Virgin Islands English
Cuba Spanish (Migrants from Haiti and Jamaica have
introduced some pockets of French
and English Creole)
Curaçao Dutch Papiamento, Spanish, English
Dominica English English Creole, French Creole
Dominican Republic Spanish (Migrants from Haiti have introduced
some French Creole)
Grenada English English Creole
Guadeloupe French French Creole
Guyana English English Creole, Bhoj Puri, some
Amerindian languages, some Dutch
and French along the borders
CHAPTER 5: LANGUAGE IN SOCIETY 63

Haiti French, French Creole


Jamaica English English Creole/Jamaican Patois
Martinique French French Creole
Montserrat English English Creole
St Kitts and Nevis English English Creole
St Lucia English English Creole, French Creole
St Martin / St Maarten French, Dutch French Creole, Papiamento, English
St Vincent and Grenadines English English Creole
Surinam Dutch Sranan Tongo, Saramaccan, Javanese,
some Amerindian languages,
Hindustani, Aukan (Ndyuka)
Table 5.3 Language Trinidad and Tobago English English Creole, Hindustani
situation in the
Caribbean
Venezuela Spanish Other Amerindian languages

It is easy to see how these major movements would spawn a number of pidgins and
subsequently Creoles (as described in Chapter 4) in the region. Remember that a lot of
internal movement was also taking place among the countries, and cultural practices were
continuously being exchanged. Despite the fact that the European languages were the socially
dominant and official ones, the Creoles were, and still are today, the most widely used.
Notice that Dominica and St Lucia, which were colonised for long periods by both
the French and the British, have both French and English
Creoles in addition to their official English language.
Whenever either power ruled, the official language was
changed and matters of state were carried out in the
language of the ruling power. In the case of St Lucia,
there were 13 changes of ownership of the island,
which moved back and forth from English to French
(each country owned the island seven times); hence the
development of both types of Creole. Other islands that
came under brief French rule, like Trinidad and Tobago
and Grenada, also had pockets of French Creole speakers,
but that language did not take hold among the masses
as it did in the case of Dominica and St Lucia. In the
latter case, French Creole flourished especially because
of their proximity to the French-owned Martinique
Fig. 5.3 Distribution of Caribbean countries according
and Guadeloupe and the frequent movement of people
to official language
among these four islands. Note also that recent migration
in countries such as Antigua, Dominican Republic and
Cuba is beginning to have some impact on the language demographics there. Therefore,
geographical factors also play a part in determining the language situation.
The dialects spoken in the Caribbean today have been greatly influenced by social
and cultural factors. One of the most powerful influences on the language of Caribbean
people, especially the youth, is the Rastafarian movement. For example, in many
Caribbean countries, words like ‘irie’, ‘ital’ and ‘I-man’ are commonly used and understood
by young people outside of the Rastafarian culture.
64 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

As various cultural groups settled in the region, they assimilated much of what they
found already there. At the same time, they preserved what they could of their own cultures
while they managed to influence and change the way of life of those who were there before.
The East Indians and Chinese who came to the region greatly influenced the type of food
eaten and the methods of preparation. Therefore, a number of food-related vocabulary
items were introduced to the local dialects. Chow mein, wontons and wok, roti and dhal
found their way into everyday speech alongside the Creole oil-down, cook-up and pelau.
Words related to dress, music and relationships were most common. Countries receiving
the largest percentage of Asian labourers, like Trinidad and Guyana, have a higher
proportion of Chinese and East Indian lexical items in their dialects. For example, the
several types of roti described below are not all familiar to countries where East Indian
culture has not made a big impact, but are easily recognisable in Guyana and Trinidad.

Paratha Dosti Cassava Daalpuri Aloo Chotha Puri Sada


roti
Essential Flour Flour Flour Flour Flour Flour Flour Flour
ingredients Baking Baking Baking Baking Baking Baking Ghee Baking
powder powder powder powder powder powder powder
Cassava Filling of Filling of Sugar
dahl aloo
Consistency Fairly soft Running Fairly stiff
of dough consistency
Times Twice Once Not at all Once
baylay(-ed)
Inside Oil Oil
Outside If preferred
Number One Two or As much One
cooked three One as ghee
together cooked could take
as one comfortably
Method of ‘Baked’ on tawa Fried in Partly cooked
cooking deep ghee on tawa then
saykay(-ed)
Clapped or Clapped If preferred, Not clapped
not clapped
Table 5.4 Types of roti J. Rickford

5.4 Attitudes to language


Language clearly plays a major role in all aspects of society. The most obvious is its
social role of allowing people to relate to each other in all facets of their lives: to share
information, emotions and ways of life. We use language as a means of navigating our
daily lives and it plays an integral role in most of our interactions. However, apart from
this obvious social role, language plays other subtler roles in society. For instance, your
speech immediately conveys specific impressions to an audience. People form impressions
of your personality, emotional state, geographic origin, age or socio-economic status from
CHAPTER 5: LANGUAGE IN SOCIETY 65

the language you use and the way you use


Louise Bennett
it. Some impressions may be formed largely
because of societal and personal attitudes to
Noh lickle twang! certain types of language. Therefore, people
Me glad fe ses you come back bwoy,
often adopt certain linguistic behaviours that
But lawd yuh let me dung,
they believe would create more favourable
Me shame o’ yuh so till all o’
impressions of themselves, or enable them
Me proudness drop a grung.
to fit in with the crowd. For example,
someone from the southern United States
Yuh mean yuh goh dah ‘Merica
who moves to New York City in the north
An spen six whole mont’ deh,
may try to tone down his/her southern
An come back not a piece betta
accent and vocabulary because New Yorkers
Dan how yuh did goh wey?
are perceived to be condescending towards
Bwoy yuh noh shame? Is soh you come? southerners.
Afta yuh tan soh lang! In Caribbean society there are varying
Not even lickle language bwoy? attitudes to language. Because of our history,
Not even little twang? people of the region tend to place a high
An yuh sista wat work ongle premium on the standard languages or, as we
One week wid ‘Merican have noted before, the languages of power
She talk so nice now dat we have and economic might. Many people believe
De jooce fe understan? that upward mobility is largely dependent on
Bwoy yuh couldn’ improve yuhself! one’s ability to fit in with the predominant
An yuh get so much pay? socio-economic class, and language is the
Yuh spen six mont’ a foreign, an main signifier of this fit. Many Caribbean
Come back ugly same way? writers have described scenarios of people
who went overseas, were generally expected
Not even a drapes trouziz? Or
to return with a new command of the target
A pass de rydim coat?
language and often demonstrated their new
Bwoy not even a gole teet or
found ‘status’ by emphasising their new
A gole chain roun yuh t’roat.
foreign accent or ‘twang’. Noh lickle twang!,
Dem hooda laugh afta me, bwoy for example, indicates the shame a mother
Me could’n tell dem soh! feels when her son returns from America
Dem hooda sey me lie, yuh was without the appropriate ‘twang’.
A-spen time back a Mocho. Nonetheless, while some may be impressed
Noh back-ansa me bwoy, yuh talk by the ‘twang’, others view such pretensions
Too bad; shet up yuh mout, with derision and Dry foot bwoy, by the
Ah doan know how yuh an yuh puppa same author, gives the other side of the coin
Gwine to meck it out. where someone is made fun of because he
Ef yuh want please him meck him tink has returned with British intonation.
Yuh bring back something new.
Yuh always call him ‘Pa’ dis evenin’ Wen him
ACTIVITY 5.3
come sey ‘Poo’.
In your groups, dramatise the two poems.
Louise Bennett Discuss your personal responses to them.
Which point of view do you support?
Do you think that either of these two
attitudes exists today?
66 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

These two poems demonstrate the


Louise Bennet
varying attitudes towards adopting language
characteristics that are considered to be
Dry foot bwoy ‘foreign’. On one side are those who believe
Wha wrong wide Mary dry-foot bwoy? that this is desirable and on the other are
Dem gal got him fe mock, those who believe that it is ludicrous and
An wen me meet him tarra night ought not to be encouraged.
De bwoy gi me a shock! Attitudes to language may vary from one
Me tell him sey him auntie an sector of the society to another and some
Him cousin dem sen howdy,
An ask him how him getting’ awn,
people demonstrate self-conscious behaviour
Him sey, ‘Oh, jolley, jolley!’ when speaking the standard language. This is
Me start fe feel so sorry fe largely a result of the fact that in most
De po bad-lucky soul, societies one is often judged on the basis of
Me tink him come a foreign-Ian the variety of language that one speaks. This
Come ketch bad foreign cole! is even more prevalent in societies with a
Me tink him have a bad sore-throat, colonial legacy, like the Caribbean, where
But as him chat-chat gwan,
Me fine out sey is foreign twang
certain dialects are associated with the
De bwoy was a-put awn! institution of slavery or conquest. The
For me notice dat him answer following extract is a report by Evans (2001)
To nearly all me sey on research done into attitudes to language
Was ‘Actually, what oh deah!’ among secondary school students in Jamaica.
An all dem sinting deh.
Me gi a joke, de gal dem laugh
But hear de bwoy, ‘Haw-haw! ACTIVITY 5.4
I’m sure you got that ballydash
Out of the cinema!’ 1 Do you think that Evans’ findings
would be replicated should the survey
Same time me las’ me tempa, an
be conducted in (i) other Caribbean
Me halla, ‘Bwoy kir out!
countries, (ii) primary schools, (iii) tertiary
No chat to me wid no hot pittata
Eena yuh mout!’
institutions?
Him tan up like him stunted, den
2 Discuss how you feel about speaking
Hear him noh, ‘How silley! the various dialects in your country?
I don’t think that I really
Understand you actually.’
Me sey, ‘Yuh undastan me aw,
Noh yuh name Cudjoe Scoop?
Always visit Nana kitchen an
Gi laugh fe gungoo soup!
‘An now all yuh can sey is “Actually”
Bwoy, but tap!
Wha happen to dem sweet Jamaica
Joke yuh use fe pop?’
Him get bex an walk t’rough de door,
Him head eena de air,
De gal dem bawl out affa him,
‘Not going? What! Oh deah!’
An from dat night till teday, mah
Dem all got him fe mock,
Miss Mary dry-foot bwoy!
Kean get over de shock!
Louise Bennett
CHAPTER 5: LANGUAGE IN SOCIETY 67

Students and their attitude to language


Jamaican Creole was the language of the conversations among friends and family.
overwhelming majority of the students, their
Despite this acknowledgement, some
home and community. It was their normal
students – nearly all of them boys – come
medium of expression, and the language
to high school thinking it is ’funny’, almost
in which they expressed themselves most
embarrassing to speak Standard Jamaican
comfortably. Grade 7 students, however, have
English in public. This attitude existed
spent at least six years in a primary or all-
in varying degrees in all classes but was
age school where they have studied English
particularly evident in one of the six classes.
grammar, read books written in English
This attitude to Standard Jamaican English
and heard adults speak Standard Jamaican
initially hampered efforts to get students to
English. They live in a society where both
express themselves and to develop confidence
Standard Jamaican English and Jamaican
in speaking Standard Jamaican English.
Creole are used in written and verbal
However, as will be shown later, there was
communication. During English lessons they
during the year a major change in students’
normally communicated with one another
willingness to speak Standard Jamaican English
in Jamaican Creole, though they changed
and to accept corrections in their speech.
register somewhat when they addressed the
teacher. They therefore understand and have Although students admitted that it was
developed certain attitudes toward Standard important to speak Standard Jamaican
Jamaican English and Jamaican Creole. English, they felt inhibited when it came to
speaking the language. Students reported
All students who were interviewed agreed
in their diaries that they felt self-conscious,
that it is necessary for one to know how to
worried that they would make mistakes,
speak Standard Jamaican English. The reasons
and acutely aware of their unfamiliarity with
given were primarily utilitarian. Proficiency
Standard Jamaican English. These perceptions
in spoken English would gain the respect of
had different effects on different students
others and would facilitate the obtaining of
during the first term. Some were halting and
a job. It is needed for career advancement.
hesitant in speech; some, according to the
Furthermore, this proficiency makes one feel
teachers, used ’big words’ to compensate for
proud, ’big’, mature, impressive. Proficiency
their perceived inadequacy. Others refused to
in Standard Jamaican English is necessary if
participate, at least initially. At the same time,
one wants to travel or widen one’s horizons.
students reported that they felt important and
However, the majority of students interviewed
proud when they believed that they spoke
did not think that Standard Jamaican English
Standard Jamaican English correctly.
had to be spoken at all times. The Creole
was reserved and seemed appropriate for H. Evans

Language is an important means of creating and recognising identity. Our sense of


self and our sense of community are tightly tied in with the language we speak.You may
have noticed that, very often when individuals are in foreign countries, the moment they
encounter someone from ‘home’ they immediately revert to their original dialect or way
of speech. Language, in this case, creates a sense of ethnic community, or of belonging to a
group, and immediately assuages the feeling of being an outsider in a foreign land.
68 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

Wha gwan gyal?

Bway dis wedder


jus bussin me tail.

Fig. 5.4 Language creates a sense of ethnic community

Increasingly, educators are becoming aware that a person’s native language is an integral
part of who that person is and marginalising that language can have severe damaging
effects on that person’s psyche. Many linguists consistently make a case for teaching native
languages alongside the target language so that children can clearly differentiate among
the codes and hence be less likely to mix the two. This approach has been adopted in
Haiti, where schools teach both Standard French and French Creole (Haitian) and
children are expected to be fluent in both. Additional prominence has
ACTIVITY 5.5 been given to Caribbean Creoles with the publication of Creole
dictionaries and with the translation of the New Testament from the
Read the passage on page 69 and Christian Bible into French Creole in St Lucia. A similar project has
answer these questions:
since been undertaken in Jamaica using Jamaican Creole or ‘patois’.
1 In what way does the creation
of the Creole New Testament
challenge traditional views of the
use of Creole?
Bondyé té tèlman enmen sé jan For God so loved the world that He
2 From your reading of the
latè-a, I bay sel Gason’ y- lan pou gave His only begotten son; that
passage, suggest THREE reasons
why the translation of the Bible is a yo. Tout moun ki kwè an li pa whosoever believeth in him shall
positive step for St Lucians. kay pèd lavi yo, mé yo kay ni lavi not perish but shall have eternal life
etonnèl.
3 What may be the drawbacks of John 3: 16
such a move? Jan 3: 16
4 Explain why you think a similar
translation would/would not be Creole Bible and translation
accepted in your territory.
CHAPTER 5: LANGUAGE IN SOCIETY 69

Press Release
First Creole New Testament in the Caribbean
A partnership between the Bible Dame Pearlette Louisy also gave her
Society in the Caribbean (BSEC) and endorsement to the project, noting,
the Summer Institute of Linguistics ‘we have come a long way from
(SIL), resulted in the publication of Hebrew to Creole, but the language,
the first ever translation of the New Creole, is ours’.
Testament in Creole. The project which
Monsignor Theophilus Joseph,
lasted fifteen years was undertaken by
representing the Catholic Church,
a joint team comprising Drs David and
praised the initiative for using the
Lyn Frank, Paul and Cynthia Crosbie,
language of the people as a vehicle
Emmanuel Leon and Peter Samuel.
to get them to devote their lives to
The Creole New Testament was God. He also encouraged everyone to
launched in St Lucia on October 10, purchase the Creole New Testament,
1999, with selected Psalms, coinciding and to learn to read it in what is,
with the annual Kweyol celebrations essentially, their mother tongue.
held in that month. While the official
After hearing the first passage read
language of St Lucia is English, the
from the book, artist Llewellyn Xavier
majority of St Lucians speak French
commented with great emotion, ‘It was
Creole (known as Kweyol) in everyday
the most profound experience of my
communication. The language is also
life to hear the word of God being read
used in electronic media programmes,
in my own language’.
in the political arena and in churches.
Meanwhile the BSEC and the SIL
Speaking at the launch ceremony,
continue to run literacy programmes
Executive Director of the Folk Research
which utilise the Creole New Testament
Centre, June King-Fredrick said, ‘This
as a critical teaching resource and
New Testament makes me feel very
expect to continue their alliance with
proud because it says to the Creole
a view to continuing the translation
people that you are equal to anybody
project.
else’. The Governor General of St Lucia,
70 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

5.5 Choice of language


While attitudes to local dialects have been slowly changing, many people still associate the
use of Creole with negative images and believe that its use should be relegated to specific
circumstances and occasions. However, the fact that non-standard language varieties are
the most widely spoken in the Caribbean makes them the choice of persons trying to get
information to large sections of the society. For example, many advertisers use the Creole
language to ensure that their message appeals to most people. At the same time, because of
the prestige attached to the standard language, it tends to be the language of choice on
formal occasions, like church services.

I would like to purchase


some Ananas comosus and
some Musa acuminata
if you please.

Fig. 5.5 Match language choice to occasion

ACTIVITY 5.6
From your experience, what have you noticed about the usual choice of language in the
scenarios below?
1 The Master of Ceremonies at a calypso show or popular music concert
2 A politician speaking in the House of Parliament
3 People buying and selling at the local market
4 A politician at a political meeting or rally
5 The valedictorian’s address at a school graduation
6 Students conversing at lunch time
7 A calypsonian or reggae artist performing
8 Someone narrating a folk story

A language variety is usually chosen because of its perceived social function.You may
have noticed that, the more formal the occasion, the more likely the use of the standard
language, while for everyday interaction, popular music or emotional appeals, people tend
CHAPTER 5: LANGUAGE IN SOCIETY 71

to gravitate towards the non-standard


varieties.You would also have noticed
that, even in a formal situation, non-
standard dialect might be used for
anecdotes, to inject some humour or
in a quotation. In the Caribbean,
people switch from one code of
language to another, often without
thinking. However, there are times
when the use of standard language
would seem totally out of place and
would even interfere with semantics.
For example, folk stories, folk songs
Fig. 5.6 Cat no deh, rat tek ovah.
and proverbs seem to lose a certain
essence when translated into standard.
ACTIVITY 5.7
1 Find the meanings of the following West Indian proverbs.
2 How many are used in your territory?
3 In the case of those not used in your country, are there similar ones?
4 Try to find an English equivalent of each proverb.
5 Make a list of as many other Creole proverbs as you can and discuss their meanings
with your classmates.
(a) De sea en’ got no back door
(b) If yuh eye nah see, yuh mout nah must talk
(c) If greedy wait, hot will cool
(d) Bucket wid hole a battam have no business a riverside
(e) Monkey know what tree to climb
(f) Dog doh mek cyat
(g) Yuh cyan suck cane and blow whistle
(h) When trouble ketch yuh, pickney shirt fit yuh
(i) Chicken deh merry, hawk deh near
(j) If yu no check di wata, no tek off yuh shoe
(k) Big tree fall down, goat bite de leaf
(I) Hard ears mus’ feel
(m) Wha doh kill, fatten
(n) Monkey see, monkey do
(o) Too much a wan ting good fi nuttin’

The role of language as a vehicle for sharing culture is indisputable. Caribbean writers,
singers and oral poets have played a major part in fostering acceptance of the Creole
languages of the region, by incorporating them into their work and exposing them to
the world. Nonetheless, negative attitudes to these languages persist in the minds of many.
The following extract from a speech elaborates on the relationship between language and
society. Do you agree with the speaker’s perspective?
72 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

Yet there exists among Caribbean peoples a dysfunctional relationship


between culture and language. We are proud of our culture, and our
culture products, but we have a hard time eroding the negative attitudes
towards our indigenous languages which, if we are to believe Franz
Fanon, support our Caribbean culture identity. We have used language
to access and appreciate the culture of the peoples with whom we came
into contact – the English, the French, the Spanish, the Dutch. We need
to do the same with our own languages as powerful symbols of identity,
and embrace them. Which Jamaican would not recognise a Louise
Bennett, a Barbadian – Alfred Pragnell or Austin Clarke, a St Lucian – a
Sesenne, a Trinidadian – a Paul Keenes Douglas? The languages in which
these have communicated their thoughts, their fears, their joys, their
hopes and aspirations, in verse, prose, or song have been the home-
grown languages of the people of the Caribbean – all powerful symbols
of identity, both at home and abroad.

Our indigenous languages and the cultural products they support


need not be seen only as entertainment, but as elements which can
be translated into economic wealth. The economic and competitive
potential of Caribbean culture has been firmly established. In fact,
over the last three years, the scale of influences from the Caribbean,
particularly in music, literature and the expressive arts has been no less
than phenomenal. A testimony that these cultural products – reggae,
zouk, kadans, calypso, soca – with a distinctiveness of their own, can
when properly managed, find a niche in the global market. In fact, it is
widely acknowledged that it is in the area of culture and in the exercise
of the creative imagination of its people that the Caribbean has made its
greatest contribution to the world civilisation. The role of our indigenous
languages in this should not be minimised.
Her Excellency, Dame Pearlette Louisy

Conclusion
Human societies can be primarily characterised by their languages.
However, the increasing movement of people from various parts of
the world to other countries has resulted in rapid changes in the
linguistic composition of many societies. Linguists have to study
continually the changes that new demographics are bringing about
in language use everywhere. As we indicated in Chapter 4, human
language is dynamic. This chapter illustrated just how dynamic
language is by observing how it operates within cultures. Chapter
6 looks at this dynamism from another angle by examining the
interrelatedness of communication, culture and technology.
CHAPTER 5: LANGUAGE IN SOCIETY 73

Evaluation and extension


1 Discuss the following excerpt. Do you agree with
the sentiments expressed? How far does it reflect
the reality of your own community?

Education impacts on the various socio-economic competence to their schooling (their cultural capital).
groups differently. Theorists say that schools have a Lower-income students tend to be more competent
middle-class bias and are set up to reward children in non-standard forms of the language and have
who have the necessary cultural capital to succeed fewer opportunities to use formal language. Thus,
in the academic world. For example, middle-class written language expressed in the standard for
children are able to ’switch’ competently between school and examination success is more likely to
forms of the local language and the standard, such elude them. The school does not deal specifically
as between the patois or dialect and Standard with how the first language of students interferes
English. This ease of switching is attributed to their with their capability in the standard form. The social
many and varied experiences, including travel, institution of education therefore confers more
educational toys, home computers and involvement challenges on children of lower socio-economic
in varied extra-curricular activities, where they groups than on those of the middle classes.
interact with different groups and in different J. Mohammed
contexts. They thus bring considerable linguistic

2 Write a letter to your Prime Minister making a (b) (i) Is there any difference between the
case for the translation of the constitution of language of mother and the neighbour?
your country into your local Creole. Explain why.
(ii) What attitudes to the boss’s wife can
3 (a) Explain the similarity of the language
be inferred from the way the two
situation in Dominica and St Lucia.
women speak about her?
(b) Why do you think a visitor from Guadeloupe
(c) What is the significance of the writer’s use
would experience little difficulty with
of the ellipsis dots after: Mother: But you
communicating in Dominica? Where else
know …
would this visitor feel equally comfortable?
(d) What do you think Mother’s response,
4 Keep a record of your verbal interactions over ’Understand? Do you understand?’ means?
a two-day period. Which speech register do you How could the actress aid our understanding
use most often? At which points do you change of her response?
register and why? Present your findings to (e) Imagine that you had to direct this play.
your class and compare them to those of your Discuss how you would stage this extract,
classmates. including positioning and body language.
(f) What can you infer from the extract about
5 Read the passage on page 74 and answer the
the social reality of the community in which
questions that follow.
this play is set?
(a) Compare the language used by boss and
(g) In your groups, dramatise the extract,
mother in the passage. What does their
experimenting with positioning and
language tell us about their social position?
intonation.
74 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

Witness: He gat to speak to heself! And I guess Mother: But you know…
to answer your first question, she wasn’t a godly
Boss’s Wife: You don’t have to have them, you
mother. Exposin’ dose poor children to all dat kind
know. I had two and stopped; there are many ways.
o’ poor example.
(Lights out on Witness Stand. During the Jury Chorus Mother: Ain’t going bother with dat, lemme tell
WITNESS moves back into Jury. BOSS moves to you. I ain’t want stop havin’ no children yet. Deyis a
Witness Stand.)
blessing send from God above and I think it unnatural
to stop yourself. You stop dat, your whole nature may
Jury: (Jury Chorus 12): Drinking, fighting, swearing,
go funny on you. Who know? Dese people ’round
drinking, killing, hurting.
here ain’t got no God in dem. He’ll take care o’ us.
(Lights up on Witness Stand.) Tying tubes, having aboritions and all dem kind o’
things, I think it’s flyin’ in da face o’ da Almighty and
Lawyer: But all the time she worked for you, did
it ain’t right. If he didn’t want me to have dem, he
you know any of these things?
wouldn’t o’ let me. He ain’t going make a mouth he
Boss: Naturally, as her boss I never saw that side of won’t provide for. He’ll take care o’ us.
her. She was always at work, except when she was
Boss’s Wife: Do you understand? I’m only trying
having a baby. Sometimes she was a little puffy,
to help.
like when people drink, but I wouldn’t call her an
alcoholic. I don’t think she used to drink on the Mother: Understand? Do you understand?
job. I didn’t know she was such a character. All of (Lights out DSC. Boss’s Wife leaves and goes to
this is news to me. I knew she loved that son of Witness Stand.)
hers excessively and I just thought she was careless,
having children for different men, et cetera. My Neighbour: Well, how dat come before your boss
wife tried to get her to stop but no matter what my lady? Da’s a nerve, eh? And talkin ‘bout it so open,
wife said to her, she still held firm to those primitive like you all is some company.
views of hers, it seemed. Mother: (Entering the House.) Well, I guess da lady
(Lights cross to DSC. We are in the Yard of Mother’s was just tryin’ to help.
House. Lights also up on House. NEIGHBOUR ONE is in
the House looking into the Yard and listening.) Neighbour: You look like you need any kind o’
help? Let her mind her own business. Dem people
Mother: And den you have one, and da man he t’ink dey is da only one who know what right for
promise to help. And den you have two and da everybody and does want you to follow dem. Poor
men dey promise to help. And den you have three people could be right ’bout some things too, you
and you go to the Magistrate’s Court for the li’l know! What good for da goose ain’t get to be good
maintenance dey could give you. And dey still don’t for da gander.
pay, except when dey want come back and hot up
(Lights cross to the Witness Stand.)
your house. And when dey come back, everything
so sweet, den you have four. Den you working all
Boss’s Wife: Simpleton, I thought. Until one day,
day, you go home you tired, dis one want dis, da
one day, finally, the penny dropped. She said she
nex’ one want dat; what a woman supposed to do?
wanted to try the pill. So we tried the pill. And I
Boss’s Wife: Well, certainly you don’t go bringing used to check with her to see if she was taking it.
misery on your head. Yes she was, we thought.
W. Saunders et al.
CHAPTER 5: LANGUAGE IN SOCIETY 75

References
Baker, P. & Eversley, J. (2002). Multilingual Capital: The language of London’s
schoolchildren and their relevance to economic, social and educational policies.
London: Battlebridge.
Bennett, L. (1966, 3rd impression 1975). Dry Foot Boy and Noh Lickle Twang.
Jamaica Labrish. Jamaica: Sangster’s Book Stores, pp. 205–207, 209–210.
Bible Society in the East Caribbean (1999). Testeman Nef-La Epi An Posyon An
Liv Samz-la. Barbados, p. 142.
Evans, H. (2001). Inside Jamaican Schools. Jamaica: University of the West
Indies Press, pp. 113–114.
Louisy, P. (2004). Nation Languages, Culture & Education. Speech delivered at
Cavehill Campus, University of the West Indies, Barbados.
Mohammed, J. (2007). CAPE Caribbean Studies: An interdisciplinary approach.
Oxford: Macmillan, p. 182.
Rickford, J. (ed.) (1978). A Festival of Guyanese Words. Georgetown, Guyana:
University of Guyana.
Roberts, P. (1997). From Oral to Literate Culture: Colonial experience in the
English West Indies. Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press.
Saunders, W., Scott, D. & Sealy, G. (2005). You Can Lead a Horse to Water and
Other Plays. Oxford: Macmillan, pp. 20–22.
Worrall, S. (2000). London Bridges the Racial Divide. National Geographic,
June, p. 10. http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0006/fngm/.
76 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

6 Technology, Culture
and Communication
It is hard to imagine that, less than 20 years ago, the concept of literacy was
restricted to the acquisition of basic reading, writing and numerical skills.
Today, this has been broadened to multiple literacies. The language and
communication skills we use today are set in an increasingly technological
environment. We are also expected to interact with communities on a global
scale with increasing frequency. The new literacies are essential components
of basic life skills today, at work or in the home. This chapter looks at how
the cultural, technological and communicative aspects of our lives are
interdependent.

The skills you learn in this chapter pertain to Module 2 and Specific Objectives 5, 7,
8, 9 and 10.

Expected Learning Outcomes


On completing this chapter, you should be able to:
1 understand the interactive relationship among communication
technologies, language and society
2 appreciate the significance of communication technologies in
cultural interaction
3 identify the technological advances that have impacted on
communication
4 discuss how communication is: (i) affected and (ii) effected, by the
use of technology in different cultural and interactive settings
5 discuss the influence of culture on language
6 discuss how the differences in culture impact on the potential for
integration, marginalisation and alienation.

Introduction
Communication, technology and culture are inextricably connected. Culture influences
the ways in which people communicate and the technology they select as part of that
communication; the ways in which we communicate evolve out of the nature of our
culture and the type of communication technology available to us; technology alters and
shapes our culture while it influences the decisions and choices people make regarding
communication. It is impossible to deal with these three elements in isolation.
CHAPTER 6: TECHNOLOGY, CULTURE AND COMMUNICATION 77

6.1 Culture and communication


Culture is one of those indefinable terms that lead to long lists of possibilities of capturing
what they really mean. For the purpose of this text we will use the following definition:
Definition Culture refers to common practices and beliefs held by a specific group. Culture is
Culture refers to expressed through our language; proverbs and folk tales; legends and myths; art and music,
common practices
and beliefs held by
food, drink and the unique ways in which we interact with each other.
a specific group. Culture unifies one group but separates it from other groups with dissimilar practices
and beliefs. The fact that the Caribbean is descriptive of a particular geographical area does
not mean that there is one definitive culture. In each of the Caribbean countries there is a
general feeling that one island or territory is different from the others. This difference may
be observed through the variations in Creoles. For example, you learnt in Chapter 5 that
Barbados has an English-based Creole while in St Lucia there is a French-based Creole.
However, the English Creoles in the region differ from one territory to the next largely
because their vocabularies, intonation patterns and points of reference are reflective of the
particular culture of that territory. The same applies to the French Creoles. While there
is a broadly identifiable Caribbean culture, it is also possible to differentiate among the
individual cultures of each territory.
Differences in culture are also visible when one looks at the folk tales and proverbs of the
different countries. In Jamaica there are folk stories about the rolling calf while in Trinidad
you may come across a story about the Dwen. Travel to St Lucia and you may learn of the
Bolom, while in Barbados you are likely to become acquainted with the Steel Donkey. Then
take a trip to Belize and learn about Tata Duhende. There are similarities in the presence of
these supernatural beings but they point to a slightly different cultural experience.
The names for carnival in the various islands also illustrate these differences and
similarities in culture. In the Bahamas there is a cultural celebration called Junkanoo
but the costuming and other aspects of the celebration are very similar to Carnival in St
Vincent, Mardi Gras in Dominica and Crop Over in Barbados.
The history of the Caribbean is one that clearly illustrates the relationship between
language and culture. There are French, Dutch and English Creoles throughout the
Caribbean. Additionally, the Caribbean countries illustrate the effect of culture on language
in the place names in the various islands.Vieux Fort, King William Henry Street, Fort de
France, Port Antonio and Middlesex all reflect a cultural bias based on historical colonisation.
The names of our food have also been influenced by culture. In Guyana and Trinidad
a significant Indian presence is reflected in the foods eaten there. Roti, doubles, pelau
and channa began in the Indian community and spread to islands with very little Indian
presence. Cou-cou and fou-fou derive from the African heritage as well as cassava bakes
or cakes.
Each successive culture that comes into contact with another group will over time
affect the language, foods, place names and other cultural symbols.
Currently within the various countries of the Caribbean there has been significant
movement of people. One interesting move is the influx of people from Santo Domingo
(Dominican Republic) into Antigua. This influx has changed the language patterns of
Antigua, which was simply known as an English-speaking territory with an English-based
Creole, to a country with pockets of Spanish speakers. There have been similar movements
of Haitians to Bahamas and to Jamaica. This has led to changes in the language patterns in
those countries.
78 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

What else has changed the language patterns of the Caribbean? Within the various
countries television has played its role in redefining cultural norms and language. The
longer and wider the influence of North American television, the greater the change. The
use of certain American terminologies has certainly crept into the language of our
societies. The benign ‘neighbourhood’ or ‘community’ has now become the ‘hood’ with all
its negative connotations. As in many American films, the use of foul and vulgar language
has become acceptable in any circumstance and the culturally based expletives previously
used in the Caribbean have been replaced by a single four-letter word that is used as a
verb, adjective and exclamation.
Cultural penetration is also effected through the increased travel of the younger
population. There are many cases in which school-age children spend summer vacations
in North America. Consider how many of your acquaintances spend their summer
holidays with relatives in a North American city. Consequently, the influences of language,
dress and values of the host country will impact on those returning home and a shift in
norms can eventuate. Apart from changes in clothing styles, language is probably the first
evidence of this. These changes often signal changes in the norms and values of the society.

ACTIVITY 6.1
1 Write a list of words and phrases that you and your friends have
adopted from the North American culture. Say whether they enhance
or degrade the speaker and the person to whom the word or phrase
may be directed.
2 List five dishes eaten in your territory and trace their cultural source.
3 Make a list of all the folklore characters that you know. Try to find
out how they compare to those from other Caribbean countries.

Another influence of culture on language is seen in the spelling of words. The


textbooks used in schools are now often published in North America and therefore
the spelling of words like centre/center; organise/organize; cheque/check become
interchangeable in the written work of students. While the understanding is that neither
choice is an example of misspelling, the writer should be consistent in the use of
American Standard or British Standard.
In the world of business, language and culture can play a very important part in
shaping the effectiveness of communication. Language can be a barrier to communication
especially when the individuals on two different sides of the bargaining table speak a
different language, but speaking two different languages is not the only situation that has
potential for poor business interaction.

ACTIVITY 6.2
David Victor in the passage on page 79 suggests other cultural
factors that can lead to misunderstandings in the world of business.
What are these?
CHAPTER 6: TECHNOLOGY, CULTURE AND COMMUNICATION 79

Among the most often cited barriers to conflict-free knowledge of this distinction exists, conflict deriving
cross-cultural business communication is the use of from misunderstanding is likely.
different languages. It is difficult to underestimate
Nor do such mistranslations need to actually cross
[sic] the importance that an understanding of
languages in cross-cultural business situations.
linguistic differences plays in international business
Dialectical differences within the same language
communication. Difficulties with language fall
often create gross errors. One frequently cited
basically into three categories: gross translation
example of how variations within a single language
problems, the problems in conveying subtle
can affect business occurred when a U.S. deodorant
distinctions from language to language, and
manufacturer sent a Spanish translation of its slogan
culturally-based variations among speakers of the
to their Mexican operations. The slogan read ’if you
same language.
use our deodorant, you won’t be embarrassed. ‘The
Gross translation errors, though frequent, may be less translation, however, which the Mexican-based English-
likely to cause conflict between parties than other speaking employees saw no reason to avoid, used
language difficulties for two reasons. First, they are the term ’embarazada’ to mean ’embarrassed.’ This
generally the easiest language difficulty to detect. provided much amusement to the Mexican market, as
Many gross translation errors are either ludicrous ’embarazada’ means ’pregnant’ in Mexican Spanish.
or make no sense at all. Only those errors that
Attitudes toward accents and dialects also create
continue to be logical in both the original meaning
barriers in international business communication.
and in the mistranslated version pose a serious
The view that a particular accent suggests loyalty or
concern. Nonetheless, even when easily detected,
familiarity to a nation or region is widespread in many
gross translation errors waste time and wear on the
languages. The use of Parisian French in Quebec, of
patience of the parties involved. Additionally, for
Mexican Spanish in Spain, or sub continental Indian
some, such errors imply a form of disrespect for the
English in the United States are all noticeable and may
party into whose language the message is translated.
suggest a lack of familiarity even if the user is fluent.
The subtle shadings that are often crucial to business More importantly, regional ties or tensions in such
negotiations are also weakened when the parties do nations as Italy, France, or Germany among others can
not share a similar control of the same language. In be suggested by the dialect a native speaker uses.
English, for example, the mild distinctions between
Finally, national prejudices and class distinctions are
the words ‘misinterpret’ and ’misunderstand’ can
often reinforced through sociolinguistics – the social
prove significant in a sensitive situation. To a touchy
patterning of language. For example, due to regional
negotiator, to say that he/she ’misunderstands’ may
prejudice and racism certain accents in the United States
imply that he/she is dim-witted. To say that same
associated with urban areas (e.g., a Bronx accent), with
negotiator ’misinterprets’ a concept, by contrast,
rural regions (e.g., an Appalachian accent), or race (e.g.,
allows the negotiator a way to save face since all
black English) may reinforce negative stereotypes (usually
interpretations are arguable. He/she has reached an
erroneously) regarding business ability, education level,
understandable though inaccurate interpretation
or acumen among certain U.S. subgroups. Similarly,
of the matter. In such a situation, the term applies
some cultures use sociolinguistics to differentiate one
more objectively to the matter at hand than to the
economic class from another. Thus, in England, distinct
specific negotiator. To a non-native speaker with
accents are associated with the aristocracy and the
inadequate control of the language, however, such
middle and lower classes. These distinctions are often
subtle distinctions might be lost. When other parties
unknown by foreigners.
with full control over the language with whom the
non-native speaker communicates assume that David Victor
80 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

Music within the region has also made some impact on the communication style of
the youth. Clothes are a communication tool and the clothes associated with specific
genres, for example dancehall, communicate their own story. Music also influences the
body language we use. For example, in the 1960s many songs were sung about bringing
about peace. Slogans like ‘Make love not war’ were very popular; therefore, the peace
sign, the raised separated index and third finger, was used to communicate goodwill and
friendship. That was the sign used along with hello or goodbye and it was shared with
friends and strangers alike. People were referred to as ‘sister’ and ‘brother’ and there was a
popular movement towards world peace. This particular communicative symbol spanned
cultures although it originated in North America.

Fig. 6.1 The peace sign communicated goodwill

In the Caribbean, the dancehall phenomenon, which has close links to North
American hip hop, has led to the introduction of signs as well. However, these signs, like
some of the music, tend to relate to aggressive behaviour. The raised index and third finger
are now closed in a symbolic gesture of the gun and often accompanied by the gun sound.
The audience should not only be aware of the power of the song and spoken word but
the power of the body language that goes along with those words.

ACTIVITY 6.3
1 Cut out pictures from magazines or the newspaper illustrating
dance hall or hip hop wear for males and females. Comment on the
message that this clothing sends.
2 Are there any other genres of music that can be easily
identified by specific clothing? What messages are predominantly
communicated by these genres?
CHAPTER 6: TECHNOLOGY, CULTURE AND COMMUNICATION 81

6.2 Technology and communication


The earliest technology began with humans converting natural resources into simple
tools to make their lives and work easier. Implements like the stone axe or the pounding
Definition stone were examples of early technology, as was the ability to create fire by rubbing
Technology can be certain objects together. Technology can be utilised for destructive purposes, as in
defined as the technical the development of weapons, or as a means of advancing civilised society’s ability to
means (material
objects, systems or communicate with and understand each other. The first major technological phenomenon
techniques) that people associated with communication was the invention of the printing press in the fifteenth
use to improve their
surroundings.
century. This was the first mass communication vehicle and has been credited with
ushering in the Age of Enlightenment. The printing press facilitated the spread of
information in all areas of human life: religion, politics, science, economics, art and
literature. Naturally, it was also able to influence human thought and eventually the
development of even greater communication technology through the centuries. For a
long time, the only mass communication medium was print, until the invention of the
electromagnet in 1825 heralded the advent of electronic communications: telegraph,
telephone, radio and eventually the ‘miracle’ of television. However, it is hard to imagine
that there can be anything to revolutionise communication to the extent that the Internet
and other modern electronic media have done.
Bill Gates (1999) referred to modern business transactions as ‘business at the speed of
thought’. Much of modern communication is certainly conducted at lightning speed.
Communication technology has evolved from the telephone to fax machines to the
mobile phone and instant messaging and their most revolutionary aspect is speed. Less
than 20 years ago, these were only possible in science fiction; now it is almost impossible
to imagine giving up the ease of communication that more and more sophisticated
technology affords us. Technology has enhanced our lives by offering multiple options for
our modes of communication and by affording us the opportunity to exist in a virtual
world in which we can potentially communicate with everyone else. The virtual classroom
enables us to gain certification without stepping through a school door; we can play
board games without sitting across the table from our partners, or participate in adventure
fantasy games with thousands of other players whom we have never seen.
The many new avenues for communication have changed how, when and with whom
we communicate. Telephones allow you to speak to one person or hold a conference call
with several and your Smartphone puts you in touch with the world.You may choose
person-to-person email correspondence, or liaise with limitless groups through chat rooms
or threaded discussions.You can send information to hundreds via electronic mailing lists
or multiple text messages to millions via television and satellite technology.You can also:
■ Chat with your friends and family in real-time using an Instant Messaging program
such as Y! Messenger, MSN Messenger, Blackberry Messenger, AppMe, Skype or OoVoo.
■ Create and update your online profile on sites such as Facebook, and interact with
others online by sharing photos, videos, links. Other social network sites can be geared
towards business purposes, for example Linked In.
■ Express your thoughts and emotions by keeping an online journal or ‘blog’. Although
Livejournal was the original large and ‘underground’ blogging community, many others
exist, for example Wordpress. Bloggers include famous athletes, musicians and political
figures, as well as millions of ordinary people blogging about all sorts of subjects.
82 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

In the same way, you may be on the receiving end of mass emails (spam) on a daily
basis or have the gory details of a faraway war shown in real time in your living room.
Apart from the array of available modes of communication, we are also faced with large
volumes of information that needs to be sorted, processed, filed, responded to or utilised.
Therefore, comprehension skills must be deployed in several areas at once.You need to be
discerning with regard to what is important and what should be discarded with little
thought. This is why most email programs now have automatic filters to save you from
wading through hundreds of junk mail messages. It is also important to develop expertise
in the use of all communication tools at your disposal so as to select the appropriate mode
and to observe the required etiquette for modern communication. The North Central
Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL) refers to these skills as interactive
communication, which it defines as ‘the generation of meaning through exchanges
using a range of contemporary tools, transmissions and processes’ and has listed the
following required competencies:

Students who are interactive communicators:


When selecting modes of interaction:
• Consider features, conventions, and etiquette of interactive
electronic environments

• Choose media and processes appropriate to purpose and audience

• Seek out and interact with virtual communities of interest (formal


and informal learning).

During interaction:
• Use a range of expression (such as voice, video, text and image) to
maximise the impact of medium or online environment

• In synchronous modes, are comfortable with immediacy of


interaction, engaging in appropriate give and take, and effectively
interpreting and providing emotional cues to enhance electronic
communications

• Manage high volume electronic communication efficiently and


Fig. 6.2 ‘New’ technology effectively

• Listen well, seek mutual understanding, welcome full sharing of


information, and consider others’ views before commenting

• Exhibit personally responsible behaviour, especially in situations of


anonymity.
ACTIVITY 6.4
NCREL
1 Which of the above competencies
do you possess?
2 Trace the development of electronic
technology from the invention of the
electromagnet.
CHAPTER 6: TECHNOLOGY, CULTURE AND COMMUNICATION 83

6.3 Technology and culture


Apart from its influence on our methods of
communication, technology continuously Did you know?
reshapes language itself and, therefore, culture. Even though [India] has only 3.7
One of the greatest impacts of technology on million personal computers, it has
culture has been on language. The dominance the largest number of software
of English as the major language of the Internet professionals outside of California
has resulted in the adoption of English language in the world and exported software
characteristics by speakers of other languages. worth about $8 billion in 2003–4,
In some cases, vocabulary such as ‘iPad’, ‘blog’, much of it to the U.S.
‘email’, ‘Blu-Ray’, ‘flash’ have been directly A. Marcus
absorbed into the language of non-English
speakers online. In addition, many email
correspondents do not take the time to put in
the accents that belong to Spanish, Swedish or
ACTIVITY 6.5
French words, for example, which of course,
changes the language. 1 In your groups, make a chart
We have already established that language depicting all the words and
expressions relating to Internet and
is a major aspect of culture. If the Internet digital technology that you use or
reflects the language of the dominant economic encounter often.
power, then speakers of other languages are 2 If you do not already know, find
forced to adapt or remain at a disadvantage. The out what an iPod and MP3 player do.
majority of online journals, abstracts and other 3 Make a list of the abbreviations
reference material is in English and translations you know that are used in modern
are not always feasible or available. The cost of technology. Find out what they
developing software to facilitate multilingual web stand for.
searches is a deterrent factor. However, while
English continues to dominate the Internet,
Internet translation services like Google Translate
instantly translate text and web pages with a fairly high level of reliability.
Technology is also responsible for the influx of a large number of words into the
English language. We have already noted some of them in Chapter 4. Some of the words
used to describe the components of new technology have had to be invented, for example
‘Blogger’, ‘Google’, ‘Qwerty’, ‘Wiki’. However, the majority of technology-associated
words are adaptations of vocabulary already in use. New compound words have been
formed, for example ‘Netbook’, ‘homepage’, ‘software, ‘Facebook’ and ‘YouTube’. In
addition, new meanings were ascribed to several already existing words, for example ‘surf ’,
‘mouse’, ‘windows’, ‘tweet’ and ‘drive’. Many abbreviations have also become accepted as
words and no one wonders what they stand for since they have already been incorporated
into vocabulary as having a word meaning, for example ‘USB’, ‘HTML’, ‘MP3’, ‘HDTV’.
Abbreviations have also become the norm for communicating in Internet chat rooms or
via instant messaging services and mobile phone texts. In this case the sender and receiver
are both familiar with the meanings of the abbreviations. An entire new ‘language’, known
as Netlingo, has evolved to facilitate the speed with which conversations now take place.
Often one person may be carrying out several different conversations at once and has to
shift from one to the other rapidly.
84 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

Inevitably, the development of technology has


ACTIVITY 6.6
an impact on the culture of a society by
Read this instant message conversation. Can you influencing or changing the way in which things
rewrite it so that someone unfamiliar with Netlingo are done. As a society becomes more technology
can understand?
driven, there is a need to communicate faster and
to transfer larger amounts of information.
Therefore, traditional means of communication
are either abandoned or adapted to suit the new
glitterwings360 says:
hey ‘sup? LTNS
technology. We can trace the history of
communication and relate it to the development
je11yb3an says: of technology, from traditional handwritten letter
Ikr! u’ve been AWOL recently. writing and postage, to the advent of the
glitterwings360 says: typewritten document, onwards to transmission
LOL b/c tons of hw 2 do. of information via telegram/telegraph, and then
via the personal computer, which replaced the
je11yb3an says:
typewriter. The advent of the fax machine
Yh me 2.
signalled the death of the telegram, and
glitterwings360 says: electronic mail (email) has largely replaced both
Lab 2 finish. BTW did urs? fax transmission and traditional ‘snail mail’ (the
je11yb3an says: colloquial name given to mail sent through the
Nah. My bff and I went salsa dancing. Post Office).The change in technology has also
I have 2 left feet! resulted in changes in our language style. For
#YOLO example, with the advent of the Internet, letters
glitterwings360 says:
are increasingly sent via electronic mail and tend
ROTFL. FYI its due mon! to be less formal. Emails are generally formatted
in memorandum style with pre-set fields such as:
je11yb3an says: ‘To:’ and ‘subject:’. Dates and return address are
OMG! 4got!… N E way, will do B4 mon.
automatically inserted when the message is
glitterwings360 says: transferred to the receiver. Therefore, the norm
GL! But GTG. C ya tmr. is to exchange quick notes with little or no
attention to paragraphing or closure. Greetings,
je11yb3an says: when used, are informal: ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’. On page
KK. TTYL 85 is a sample of a traditional friendly letter
followed by an email version. Which one do you
use more often?
The volume of traditionally mailed letters
is constantly decreasing as even the most bulky
documents can be transmitted via email as electronic attachments. No longer is there a
need to mail various forms back and forth; for example, application forms can easily be
filled in, submitted and processed online in an entirely paperless way.
For many people, even email has become too slow and this has been replaced by SMS
(Simultaneous Messaging Service) text, which can be done via cellular phones or IM
(instant messaging) on the Internet. No longer do we need to wait a week or two for a
response to a question from a colleague two continents away. In addition to IM, which is
even more accessible through our smartphones,VOIP (Voice Over Internet Provider)
offers a viable alternative to face to face communication. Skype and ooVoo are popular
examples and software such as Blackboard Collaborate allows students in distance
CHAPTER 6: TECHNOLOGY, CULTURE AND COMMUNICATION 85

Example 1

University of Guyana
Turkeyen Campus, P.O. Box 10-1110
Greater Georgetown, Guyana

5th March 1981

Dear Susan,
How are you? I thought that I would let you know that I have
settled into university and though it is confusing it is also
quite exciting.
I bumped into Adrian from our class yesterday and we
are taking some of the same courses so there is at least one
friendly face among all these strangers. I also saw Shanni
but as usual I ignored her.
So how is the job going? Made any new friends at work?
Is the job exciting or dead boring? When I come home in the
summer I will need a job too so please check on that for me.
I’ve absolutely got to get some sleep so I look forward to
getting a letter from you soon.

Love Cathy

Example 2
New Message

From: catgirl@hotmail.com To: sassysue@yahoo.com


Subject: I reach
Date: Mon, 09 Apr 2013 09:15:44 -0400

Hi Susan
Settled in. Kinda confusin but exciting. Saw Adrian. Got sum
classes wid him.
Saw Shanni. Dissed her. How de job? Goin good? Check out
one for me for summer. Need sleep. Hear ya.
Cathy

education programmes to participate in a simulated classroom environment.VOIP


technology allows communicators to chat in real time and hear each other without the
bother of expensive telephone bills, by simply investing in a microphone and headphones
or using a laptop or tablet’s built-in camera/microphone. The following excerpt on page
86 addresses the issue of modern day communication through social networks.
86 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

Social Networking’s Good and Bad Impacts on Kids


Psychologists explore myths, realities and Rosen said new research has also found positive
offer guidance for parents influences linked to social networking, including:

WASHINGTON – Social media present risks • Young adults who spend more time on
and benefits to children but parents who try to Facebook are better at showing ‘virtual
secretly monitor their kids’ activities online are empathy’ to their online friends.
wasting their time, according to a presentation
• Online social networking can help introverted
at the 119th Annual Convention of the American
adolescents learn how to socialise behind the
Psychological Association.
safety of various screens, ranging from a two-
‘While nobody can deny that Facebook has altered inch smartphone to a 17-inch laptop.
the landscape of social interaction, particularly
• Social networking can provide tools for teaching
among young people, we are just now starting
in compelling ways that engage young students.
to see solid psychological research demonstrating
both the positives and the negatives,’ said Larry D. For parents, Rosen offered guidance. ‘If you feel
Rosen, PhD, professor of psychology at California that you have to use some sort of computer
State University, Dominguez Hills. program to surreptitiously monitor your child’s
social networking, you are wasting your time.
In a plenary talk entitled, ‘Poke Me: How Social
Your child will find a workaround in a matter
Networks Can Both Help and Harm Our Kids,’
of minutes,’ he said. ‘You have to start talking
Rosen discussed potential adverse effects, including:
about appropriate technology use early and often
• Teens who use Facebook more often show and build trust, so that when there is a problem,
more narcissistic tendencies while young adults whether it is being bullied or seeing a disturbing
who have a strong Facebook presence show image, your child will talk to you about it.’
more signs of other psychological disorders,
He encouraged parents to assess their child’s
including antisocial behaviours, mania and
activities on social networking sites, and discuss
aggressive tendencies.
removing inappropriate content or connections to
• Daily overuse of media and technology has a people who appear problematic. Parents also need
negative effect on the health of all children, to pay attention to the online trends and the latest
preteens and teenagers by making them technologies, websites and applications children
more prone to anxiety, depression, and other are using, he said.
psychological disorders, as well as by making
‘Communication is the crux of parenting. You
them more susceptible to future health problems.
need to talk to your kids, or rather, listen to them,’
• Facebook can be distracting and can negatively Rosen said. ‘The ratio of parent listen to parent talk
impact learning. Studies found that middle should be at least five-to-one. Talk one minute and
school, high school and college students who listen for five.’
checked Facebook at least once during a Larry D. Rosen
15-minute study period achieved lower grades.
CHAPTER 6: TECHNOLOGY, CULTURE AND COMMUNICATION 87

In the same way that technology affects writing and speaking communication,
ACTIVITY 6.7 it also influences reading behaviours. One may browse at an online bookstore and
1 Discuss some of the order a physical book or opt to buy an electronic version or e-book, which can
ways in which social be downloaded and read on screen or printed by those who still are more
networking might be comfortable with the feel of paper. Many people now own electronic readers,
used as an innovative
teaching tool.
(some of which simulate the matte look of paper) on which they can also
download books and other documents like university prospectuses and academic
2 Do you agree with
Dr Rosen that parents papers. This means that certain cultural practices such as going to the library or
should monitor their exchanging books with friends may no longer have their traditional place in our
children’s activities on lives. Similarly, books, which were once popular gifts, are given less often and one
social networking sites? is more and more likely to get some type of electronic device.
Why or why not? Listening behaviours have also been influenced by changing technology. Over
3 How do you the years, music has become more portable as the vinyl record was replaced by
imagine people will be the audio cassette, which
communicating in the
next ten years?
gave way to compact discs
and eventually digital music
downloaded from the Internet
onto portable media players
such as the iPod or other digital audio
players. As with the online bookshops,
online music stores allow the listener to
browse, listen to excerpts and purchase
either hard copies or downloadable
music files. There is no longer the need
to rush home to watch your favourite Once upon a time…
television show, since you can easily
watch it at your leisure on the Internet
at a later time or even while you are
on the bus or the beach, by way of Fig. 6.3 Listening to an electronic reader
your smartphone. Streaming media
allow you to watch live events on your
computer so that there is no need even to download.
Increasingly, technology impacts on the way we learn and impart knowledge. Some
of you may own miniature recording devices that allow you to supplement your note-
taking in class by seeking your teacher’s permission to record lectures (remember that this
should never be done without permission). Technology also allows you to enhance your
class presentations through the use of overhead, digital or multimedia projectors; or you
may choose to record supporting material on DVDs or USB drives to accompany your
presentation. Paper charts, chalk and chalkboards are already not necessary parts of the
modern classroom. Meanwhile, the modern classroom is often not a physical space at all.
Many of you will pursue online courses at some point in your lives, earning diplomas and
degrees without leaving home to attend a physical college or university. Therefore, your
traditional methods of study and interacting with teachers and peers, which are part of
your culture, will undergo change.
Social interaction has also been influenced by technology. The television has been
blamed for a number of cultural changes such as increased antisocial behaviour and less
community interaction since people tend to spend more time indoors being entertained.
88 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

Newer technology has contributed even further to the variety of home entertainment and
non-physical interaction options. For example, it is possible to engage in a game of
scrabble or participate in role playing games with other players from around the world.
The Internet has spawned large communicative networks in the form of chat rooms, web
logs (blogs), e-groups and virtual friendship networks, which have limitless possibilities in
terms of the number of communicators participating in a single communication act.
Images can be shared just as easily as words since texts and pictures of family picnics,
accidents or popular idols can be transmitted from digital cameras through the Internet or
even instantly from one cellular phone to another. They are often posted online on
Facebook or any number of private or public Internet forums. Therefore the nature of
communicative content has also changed, as the new media allow the sharing of one’s
most intimate information with absolute strangers, something which was taboo in most
cultures.YouTube has provided an avenue for many amateur film makers and singers to
broadcast themselves to the world. Even the most horrific acts of violence have been
filmed and broadcast and it is quite easy for a video to ‘go viral’ or spread rapidly through
social networking. Some have expressed concern that the content of the Internet tends to
portray primarily the culture of economically/socially dominant societies, which subtly
impacts on cultures that are less dominant on the world stage. Some people have begun to
define themselves and their self-worth according to the technology that they own or
control and this is sometimes at the expense of traditional culture and societal norms.
Business culture has also been modified by technology.You are more likely to hear
of a sale or marketing promotion via electronic media than through print. Daily offers

Fig. 6.4 People define themselves according to the technology they own

of discounts and specials fill your email inbox and you are not restricted by lack of
transportation to the sale site. Companies advertise on search engines, social networking
sites or anywhere else that people go online. The number of online shoppers continues to
grow rapidly and while post offices have seen a decline in the number of letters, they are
recording massive increases in the number of mailed packages.You can purchase absolutely
anything online, from homes and cars to jewellery and clothing. People who would never
have attended an auction in their lives are now competing for items on sites like e-Bay
and those who have no retail experience are selling items with ease and confidence. In
many countries, it is now possible never to leave your house since ordering groceries is at
your fingertips and you can conduct your banking, pay your bills, participate in a religious
service or keep up with your friends and family from your favourite armchair.
CHAPTER 6: TECHNOLOGY, CULTURE AND COMMUNICATION 89

It is difficult to think of an aspect of our way of life and cultural practices that has not
been influenced in some way by modern communication technology.
It is impossible to turn back the tide of rapid expansion of communication technology.
At the same time, critics lament the fact that these new methods of communication also
negatively affect interpersonal communication skills. Many people use the Internet to
communicate with others within their own neighbourhoods, rather than interact at actual
social gatherings. In fact, some modern families who operate on different time schedules
may actually communicate most often via telephone, email and instant messaging.

Sure, Jason. I
just lit the grill.

Sharma, I’m
bringing out the
chicken now.

Fig. 6.5 Some families communicate most often by telephone

Although the advent of web cameras allows people to see each other while
communicating through the Internet, such interaction is often self-conscious and
contrived. Therefore it is difficult for some individuals to develop good interpersonal
relations in real life. Some psychologists believe that the web camera encourages ‘show-
off ’ behaviour and may incite violent activities as has happened with young people who
display weapons and boast about their intentions and then either commit violent acts or
dare others to do so. Cyber bullying has become a serious concern and has led to some
tragic incidents.Virtual communication also encourages the blurring of moral standards
and the elimination of protocol. For example many people post provocative photographs
or lewd videos of themselves online, with no thought to propriety. Modern technology
enables inappropriate messages or images to be transmitted without restriction and a
constant battle must be fought against the invasion of privacy through spam, junk mail or
unwanted virtual visitors sifting through the contents of your computer or other devices.
The anonymity afforded by the World Wide Web also has an impact on the nature of
90 UNIT 2: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNICATION IN SOCIETY

interpersonal communication. Anybody can


ACTIVITY 6.8
register an email address, and whole false
1 How does technology affect your identities can be created via social networking
life differently today from the way sites. Therefore, it is possible to develop virtual
it did ten years ago?
relationships with people who are not the least
2 Discuss the technological trends
like the image that they portray through the
that may impact even more on
your culture in the future. Internet.

Conclusion
The way we communicate is not static. Every day there are
new ways of interacting available to us. The key to effective
communication is knowing what is available, choosing the
preferred method and making oneself aware of the protocol when
using this methodology. Our culture impacts on and is impacted
by communication and this is something we must take into
consideration as we communicate.

However, we must also prepare ourselves to function in the new


technological age. In our schools and communities there are
courses offered that introduce these technologies, and libraries
often offer use of the computer for research and preparation
of documents. Every opportunity should be grasped to become
proficient in what is steadily becoming a paperless world.

The availability of practically anything one can imagine, instantly


at one’s fingertips, has been described as information overload,
which often makes it difficult to exercise the level of concentration
required for effective listening. Reading and listening skills, which
are described in the next unit, are key to determining which
information is necessary to the task at hand and which can
be discarded. Unit 3 teaches you how to apply the appropriate
comprehension and research skills to the infinite amounts of
information at your disposal.
CHAPTER 6: TECHNOLOGY, CULTURE AND COMMUNICATION 91

Evaluation
and extension
1 Explain three ways in which culture impacts on
language.

2 Discuss three ways in which language has been


affected by the emergence of the computer age.

3 In what two ways has music aided in crossing


cultural barriers thus leading to wider
communication?

4 You are about to set up your own business. State


three technological devices you would not want
to be without.
Explain how you would use two of these devices.

5 ‘The new language of technology has alienated


or excluded large groups of society. Internet
culture is representative only of the young and
middle class.’ Discuss this view.

References
Constance, Z. (2002). Duelling Voices in Bully, A., Constance, Z. & Cumper, P.
Champions of the Gayelle. Oxford: Macmillan, pp. 42–43.
Gates, B. (1999). Business at the Speed of Thought: Using a digital nervous
system. GrandCentral Publishing, p. 37.
Hodge, M. (1997). The Knots in English: A manual for Caribbean users.
Wellesley, Massachusetts: Calaloux Publications.
Interactive Communication. Accessed 15 May 2013 from http://pict.sdsu.edu/
engauge21st.pdf p. 56
Marcus, A. (2004). Insights on Outsourcing. Interaction, July/August, p. 13.
Rosen, L. (Plenary Session: 3378, 4 p.m.–4:50 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 6,
2011 Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Street Level, Room 147 B.
Presentation: ‘Poke Me: How Social Networks Can Both Help and Harm Our
Kids’. Larry D. Rosen, PhD, California State University, Dominguez Hills)
http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2011/08/social-kids.aspx. Retrieved,
11 November, 2012.
92

End of Unit
Test 2
2 What TWO technological devices could a politician
use to gain support for his/her candidacy? Explain
The majority of us are not, of course, English how he/she could use these. (4 marks)
speaking. We are a Creole-speaking people. We
have a language of our own, and English is another 3 You have travelled back in time to 1970. Describe
language that we have to learn. the communication methods available to you.
Comment on both the positives and negatives of these
The trouble is that we are not always able to
communication methodologies. (25 marks)
distinguish Creole from English. This is because we
use the same words in Creole as in English: both 4 Read the extract on page 93 and answer the question
have more or less the same vocabulary. Often people that follows:
assume that they are speaking or writing English
because they are using English words. In essay format discuss the following:
• the range of language and register used in this
However, our first language (or ’mother tongue’) has
passage.
a different grammar from English, a different sound
• how the stage directions help in understanding
system and a certain percentage of its vocabulary that
the body language of the speakers.
is not English …
• how a filmed version of this dialogue would help
We are liable to make mistakes because English is the audience to better appreciate the tone and
not our mother tongue, and like the Venezuelan or intent of the speakers. (25 marks)
Guadeloupan using English, we may take something
of our mother tongue with us when we cross over in
to another language. References: Unit 2 Additional reading
Allsopp, R. (2003). Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. Kingston:
We are less likely to make those mistakes if we are University of the West Indies Press.
aware of the differences between English and Creole. Christie, P. (ed.) (1996). Caribbean Language Issues, Old and New. Jamaica:
The University of the West Indies Press.
Merle Hodge
Hudson, R. (2005) Sociolinguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Roberts, P. (1988). West Indians and Their Language. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Society for Caribbean Linguistics. Creole Language maps at http://www.scl-
online.net/FAQS/caribbean.htm. Accessed 15 May 2013.
1 Answer the questions on the extract above: Zeuschner, R. (1997). Communicating Today. Allyn & Bacon.
(a) Give four examples of mistakes Caribbean
students make in Standard English that may be
attributed to transference of Creole grammar.
(4 marks)
(b) Identify two sounds in Standard English that are
not used in Creole. (2 marks)
(c) ‘We have a language of our own.’ Discuss the
historical, social and political influences that
shaped Caribbean language. (15 marks)
93

MARGE: Miss. Me eh blame the teachers nah, some o’ MARGE: But Miss, them girls does say them is big
them girls does look for they own trouble. women, and you should hear them. ’What I want
with a schoolboy, them could give me anything?’
MISS: I know, but these gentlemen, I have to call
And, ‘Schoolboy could mine me if I get pregnant?’,
them that for want of a better term, use this to take
and besides they does say they looking for a man
advantage of the girls. I mean, some of them are
with experience.
married, some are twice as old as the children, and yet!
MISS: I know, but when you get older you’ll see how
MARGE: But Miss, if the girls like the teacher?
stupid that is. It is the responsibility of the man who is
MISS: Majorie, that is no reason for you to have a much more experienced to avoid these relationships.
sexual relationship with him. You know how many young, teenage girls find
themselves making babies for men who are so much
MARGE: Miss, you doh know nah, but when you hear
older than they are, that they could be the fathers of
you like a teacher so, you does end up doing all kinda
the girls and grandfathers of the babies? You know
thing.
how many wives have to leave their husbands because
MISS: The way you speaking like you interested in one. he is involved with a teenage girl outside the home?
How you will feel if you were the cause of, say, Mr
MARGE: (Caught off-guard.) Me, Miss you mad! But Johnstone leaving his wife?
it have girls in the class who I know have.
MARGE: (Genuinely startled.) Me, Miss? That could
MISS: (teasing her.) You sure is not you? never happen to me. I ’fraid Mr Johnstone, and beside
MARGE: Yes, Miss. he too old.

MISS: ’Yes’ meaning you have? MISS: You are right. People have to understand that
the relationship between teachers and students is a
MARGE: I mean ’No’, Miss. very serious thing. It is almost a blessed, sacrosanct
MISS: Oh huh! thing … a holy affair. It is like walking on a sacred
ground. It is more important and critical than the
MARGE: (Relieved.) Oh gosh, Miss. relationship, say, between a doctor and his patient;
more trusting than the relationship between a politician
MISS: Don’t worry. Just a joke I’m making. I hear how
and his constituent; more sensitive and binding than
some of the girls in your class like Mr Johnstone. Is a
that between a priest and his confessioneer; more
good thing he’s not one of the sex-hungry men we
confidential than that between a lawyer and his client.
have on the staff.
Because you are dealing with young minds, and if
MARGE: Is true, Miss. the early years are tainted and spoilt, then the child
could be hurt forever. If hopes cannot be cherished
MISS: I still find that it’s the men’s fault. If you know
and futures cannot be realised; when respect becomes
a child has a crush on you, you should be responsible
disrespect and love turns to lust; when trust is replaced
enough to handle the situation …
by fear and familiarity gives way to contempt; when
MARGE: But some o’ them girls does be pushing up levels are confused and positions exchanged, then the
theyself. child is a victim of her own immorality and the teacher
is a prisoner of his own conscience. And education …
MISS: Yes, because they have no shame, no ambition
education becomes a travesty, a mockery of our reality.
and no training. But if you are a grown up, mature,
responsible male, you are going to risk your career, your MARGE: (stunned for a while) But Miss, ent it
marriage, your whatever else for a bit of enjoyment possible for two people to really love each other?
with some little girl who could be your daughter? Z. Constance
3 Interpreting
Communication
We live in an information-rich society and new
information is created daily. We are bombarded daily
through all types of media, with news, views, statistics,
argument, instructions, persuasions, reports, reviews and,
of course, conversations. Some information is critical,
some is useful, some is entertaining, much is useless.
On a daily basis, we need to sift, sort, compile, retain,
discard and respond to the information we receive.
The sheer volume of information would overwhelm
us if we did not develop strategies for dealing with it.
We must learn how to find the information we need,
how to sort the essential from the extraneous, and how
to recognise when we are being manipulated by the
messages we receive.

Expected Learning Outcomes


On completing this unit you should be able to:
1 evaluate examples of written and spoken communication based
on their form, content and context
2 apply comprehension skills of analysis and critical evaluation
to a range of material.
96 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION
CHAPTER 7: COMPREHENDING INFORMATION 97

7 Comprehending
Information
The modern world contains more information than any other period in history.
Naturally, with each succeeding day, week, month and year more and more
information is added to the already existing body of knowledge. Sometimes we
feel overwhelmed by all the knowledge that actually exists in the world and
become daunted by the fact that it is impossible to get to know everything.
While it is indeed impossible to know everything, it is possible to know and
understand more than enough to enable us to live productive and satisfying
lives. We feel overwhelmed when we do not have the skills to manipulate
the mass of information with which we come into contact daily. The ability
to manage information effectively makes it much easier to improve our
communication skills and understand the world in which we live.

The skills you learn in this chapter pertain to Module 1 and Specific Objectives 1, 2 and 4.

Expected Learning Outcomes


On completing this chapter you should be able to:
1 describe the comprehension process
2 identify the levels of comprehension
3 identify characteristic formats, organisational features and modes
of expression of different types of speech and writing
4 apply the levels of comprehension to examples of written or
spoken material.

Definition
According to
Introduction
Webster’s dictionary,
comprehension What does it mean to ‘understand fully’? Obviously, simply understanding what each
is ’the capacity for word means does not result in comprehension. To comprehend means to understand the
understanding fully;
the act or action of
thoughts and ideas of a writer or speaker and to be able to apply these ideas in various
grasping with the contexts. Understanding a concept is far more than merely understanding the words with
intellect’. which it is explained. The act of comprehension is more complicated than you might think.

7.1 Process of comprehension


It is important to understand that comprehension is a process that can be controlled.
Awareness and control of this process is called metacognition, which means ’knowing about
knowing’. Many people find the comprehension of reading material very difficult, mostly
because they are not cognisant of the strategies that they should apply to comprehension.
Comprehension is a process that should be triggered automatically when you listen to
98 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

or read information. Developing good comprehension skills begins with understanding


the process and consciously going through the steps until it becomes instinctive. The main
stages of the process are (i) pre-reading/listening, (ii) during reading/listening and (iii)
post-reading/listening. Each stage requires you to apply specific thinking strategies that
enable you to maximise comprehension.

Pre-reading / listening
This stage involves predicting: making educated guesses about thoughts, events,
outcomes or conclusions. Predictions may be based on elements such as the cover of a
book, the topic of a speech, what you know about the author or speaker, the type of book,
the context of a speech. Note that, as you read or listen, your predictions are confirmed
or invalidated and you are constantly making new predictions.You can also prepare your
mind for receiving information more efficiently by determining what you would like to
find out from what you are about to read or listen to.

During reading / listening


In this stage you are monitoring your comprehension, or engaging in metacognition. As
you read or listen, you should:
a) Picture or form images. As you listen to or read words and ideas, they create mental
images that are directly or indirectly related to the material. These images facilitate
greater understanding of the text.
b) Relate to your experiences. By relating your experiences and existing knowledge to
the new material that you encounter, you are able to make it part of your repertoire of
ideas and are better able to digest the new material.
c) Monitor: while listening or reading, you constantly check your understanding of the
material. Should you find information confusing, you try to resolve this by rereading or
looking at a previous page for clarification or, in a listening situation, asking questions
of the speaker.You are continuously questioning yourself and reflecting on the material
that you are encountering.

Post-reading / listening
This is the stage in which you consolidate what you have heard or read by thinking
about it, discussing it with others and applying it in new ways and contexts. This stage is
important because this is when you are sure that you have mastered the information and
made it part of your knowledge framework.
The following table sums up the activities involved in the reading/listening process:
Pre-reading/listening During reading/listening Post-reading/listening
Skim (reading) Monitor Think
Table 7.1 Activities
Predict/imagine Question Discuss
in the reading /
listening process Think Reflect Apply
CHAPTER 7: COMPREHENDING INFORMATION 99

7.2 Levels of comprehension


The process of comprehension operates at three levels: literal, interpretive and applied. If
you are comprehending (understanding fully), it means that you are capable of operating
at all three levels. We will use the passage below to illustrate the levels of comprehension.

Plenty of plantains
bananas. They are a staple crop in much of
South and Central America, Africa and the
Caribbean. They are belly fillers, not for the
dieters, as they are mostly carbohydrate,
approximately 40 grams per half plantain,
with 180 calories. They are very high in
potassium: approximately 500 milligrams
per serving.

Plantains can be cooked at varying stages


of ripeness. Green plantain is starchy, like a
potato, and can be fried or boiled.

Fried green plantains (Tostones)

• 4 green plantains, peeled and cut into


1-inch pieces

• 4 cloves of garlic

• 1 tablespoon salt

• 1 quart water oil for frying

Fig. 7.1 Fried plantains For a traditional appetiser, smash garlic with
salt to a paste, and mix into water. Soak
plantain pieces in garlic water for an hour.
At most fruit stands in the Caribbean, you’ve
Drain and fry pieces in vegetable oil until
seen the very large ’bananas’ in varying
golden brown. Be careful of the oil splatter.
stages of ripeness. They might be bright
Flatten fried plantain pieces by pressing them
green, yellow or black. I’m certain you
with a large spoon on wax paper, re-wet
wondered who would buy such under-ripe
slightly mashed plantain in original garlic
or over-ripe fruit from the vendor. I would –
water, shake off excess water and return to
because the fruit isn’t bananas, but instead
hot oil for two minutes. Great served warm
plantains. The plantain is a banana which
with hot sauce and cold beers.
is eaten cooked rather than raw. The fruit
banana is eaten raw when it turns yellow. For simpler, non-traditional tostones, do
The plantains, also called air potatoes or without soaking.
cooking bananas, are drier with lower water S. Hall
content, making then starchier than fruit
100 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

Literal level
ACTIVITY 7.1
This refers to understanding what was actually
Refer to ‘Plenty of plantains’ and
stated and requires surface understanding of answer the following questions:
facts and details. If you are engaging in rote 1 Who is the author of the recipe?
learning and memorisation, you are operating
2 What is the main ingredient of
at the literal level. Questions that often elicit this recipe?
this level of thinking are who, what, when and 3 When is the fruit banana eaten?
where questions.
4 Where are plantains grown?
Notice that the answers to these questions are
right there in the text and are stated explicitly.
Therefore you need only to apply the literal level
of comprehension in this case.

Interpretive level
ACTIVITY 7.2
This level of comprehension is the understanding
Refer again to ‘Plenty of plantains’
of what is implied or meant, rather than what is and answer the following questions:
actually stated. Therefore, you would need to be 1 Why are the plantain pieces
able to make inferences and logical deductions. soaked in garlic water?
At this level, reading ‘between the lines’ is 2 How would you drain the
necessary to arrive at meaning. Often, you need plantain pieces before frying?
to draw upon your own prior knowledge and 3 What might you do differently if
experience in order to understand.You also ripe plantains were used instead of
need to see how the new information you green ones?
are acquiring fits in with the information you
already have. Generally, open-ended questions
like why, how, what and if are required at this
level of comprehension.
Notice that you had to pause and think about
your answers to Activity 7.2, using information
in the text to make deductions as well as
referring to your wider experience and logic to
make suppositions.

Applied level
ACTIVITY 7.3
At this level, all the information you have
Refer once again to ‘Plenty
gathered at the first two levels is used to extend of plantains’ and answer the
the concepts or ideas beyond the immediate following questions:
situation in the text.You are analysing and 1 Do you think this piece appeared
synthesising information and applying it to other in (a) an official cookbook or (b)
information or contexts. a newspaper or magazine? What
Notice that these questions required you to makes you think so?
apply the information you have gathered to justify 2 Suggest some other food that
your opinion and to create something new. may be prepared in this way.
3 Write a similar piece, focusing
on the preparation of another
local food.
CHAPTER 7: COMPREHENDING INFORMATION 101

7.3 Listening
Much of the information we
receive every day comes through
Definition listening and viewing. In Chapter
Most dictionaries define 1, you learnt that the largest
listening as paying
thoughtful attention
portion of communicative time
whereas hearing is merely is spent listening. Therefore, if we
the perception of sound are to be effective receivers of
and is quite effortless.
communication, our listening
skills must be well developed.
Unfortunately, most people
are not aware that listening is
an active process and believe
that once they are hearing, they
are listening. On the contrary,
hearing is only the first step Fig. 7.2 Listening means paying thoughtful attention
of the listening process and,
unless we actively engage in
the entire process, it is possible to receive information passively (hear it) without actually
comprehending. As you read this you are probably hearing lots of sounds around you, but
you are not actively trying to identify, interpret or attach meaning to them nor are you
responding to them. Listening is a communicative act because the listener is involved in a
process that requires concentration and effort.

The listening process


Whether you are listening to a joke or lecture, viewing a news broadcast or a play,
effective comprehension can only be achieved if you are actively engaged in the process.
Most of the process actually takes place in the brain.

Purposes of listening
We listen for a number of purposes, including:
a) appreciative: for enjoyment or aesthetic pleasure
b) informative: for learning, getting directions, generally gathering
knowledge for later recall or use
c) therapeutic: to create social bonding; to empathise; typical of
interpersonal rather than public communication
d) critical: to interpret, weigh and judge information
or evaluate what is listened to.
Regardless of the purpose for
listening, a good communicator ACTIVITY 7.4
ensures that he/she is prepared In your groups, discuss examples
to get maximum benefit from of situations where you would
the listening exercise by employing employ listening for each of the
Fig. 7.3 The process of listening as many of the following techniques purposes listed above.
as possible:
102 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

■ Prepare to listen – clear your mind and focus on your purpose for listening.
■ Pay attention – give the speaker/performer your undivided attention. Concentrate.
■ Listen for key words – for example, those repeated for emphasis, to introduce new
points or indicate conclusions.
■ Defer your opinion – avoid forming an opinion too quickly. Allow the speaker to make
the point.
■ Make notes – jot down important facts or points. Listen for main ideas, supporting
evidence and techniques.
■ Establish eye contact whenever possible.

Did you know?


The following are all barriers to
effective listening:
■ Daydreaming
■ Poor posture
■ Mentally arguing with the
speaker
■ Negative attitude to speaker or
message
■ Preset ideas about the topic
■ Physical discomfort
■ Speaker’s voice, gestures or
appearance.

The most important thing about


listening is being aware that you are
actively doing something. However,
you should also be aware of the
possible barriers or impediments
Fig. 7.4 Listening to doing it effectively. This allows
you to refocus when you observe
yourself mentally drifting off, or
allowing negative thoughts about the speaker/message to enter your mind. The ability to
concentrate is not automatic and must be practised. Training yourself to listen well will
pay valuable dividends throughout life.

7.4 Reading
In the same way that listening is much more than recognising sound, reading is much
more than recognising words. Reading is making meaning of the words we recognise as
well as those we do not and understanding the main idea and intent of the author. If you
are confused about what you are reading or find yourself leaving out a quantity of text
because it is ‘difficult’, you are not comprehending. A good reader:
CHAPTER 7: COMPREHENDING INFORMATION 103

Definition ■ sets purposes for reading


Webster’s dictionary ■ identifies the main ideas of the text
indicates that reading
is ‘to receive or take
■ makes inferences and draws conclusions about what he/she reads
in the sense of … to ■ recognises patterns of organisation in a text
understand the meaning ■ perceives relationships between concepts
of written or printed
matter’. ■ applies his/her knowledge and understanding of the material.
An important characteristic of good readers is flexibility. Because we read for different
purposes, we must adjust our technique and rate of reading to fit the type of material.
For example, you may read quickly through the latest best-selling novel, but more slowly
through this textbook; you are likely to read the novel once but you may need to read
a poem several times to get the meaning. This is because writers also set purposes for
writing and vary their writing to suit its particular purpose. Readers respond to the density
of language, level of vocabulary and structural patterns by adjusting their ways of reading.
Generally, styles of reading fall under five categories.
1 Skimming Done very quickly. Fastest rate of reading. Used for locating a particular bit
of information or specific reference, for example a dictionary definition or a
number in the telephone directory.
2 Scanning Used to preview material or obtain a general overview, for example how you
would look through a newspaper at the headlines or check the contents of
a book.
3 Rapid Generally used for light reading for pleasure or simply to understand the
basic plot of a story. Also used when reviewing known or familiar material.
4 Normal Generally applied to material of average difficulty. Used when reading
to make connections between ideas, for purposes of retelling, or for
answering questions.
5 Careful Used when memorising or evaluating content: applied to material for
Table 7.2 Styles of note-taking, summarising or analysis. Slow and thorough, often involving
reading rereading.

Notice that the type of material, as well as your purpose for reading, determines the
style that you use. Note also that skimming and scanning are also used as pre-reading
strategies for material that requires careful reading. Selection of style is the basic step
towards interacting with your text. Once you begin to read, you will need to select
appropriate strategies for understanding the specific type of information.

7.5 Applying the levels of comprehension


As a student, you interact most frequently with expository writing for the purpose
of gathering information. Expository materials include textbooks, articles in journals,
magazines or newspapers, reference manuals or any other writing that is done to
ACTIVITY 7.5 inform and explain. They normally depend on specific patterns of organisation
Scan the pages of this to present their information. (An exploration of those patterns from a writer’s
book and identify the point of view is done in Chapter 11.) This type of writing is often presented with
types of organisers and typographical organisers such as headings, subheadings, and varying fonts as well
aids used to assist the as graphic aids such as illustrations, charts and pictures. These are all designed to
reader. assist you in making meaning and should be an integral part of your reading.
104 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

Very often, paying attention to these organisers allows you to get the gist of a
Did you piece of writing even before you actually begin to read.
One of the most effective ways to approach an expository piece is by using the
know? KWL strategy: What I KNOW, what I WANT to know and what I have
Reading is a gradually LEARNT. Approaching text purposefully enables you to focus more easily and
acquired skill. This maximise your use of the time spent reading.
means that in order to
KWL chart
get better at it you must
do it. The more you K W L
read, the better you get. (what I know about the (what I want to find out (what I have learnt about
topic) about the topic) the topic)

Table 7.3 KWL Chart

ACTIVITY 7.6
The piece on page
105 is entitled ’A note
on cricket’. Fill in the
first two columns of
the KWL chart before
reading the extract.
Then fill in the last
column. While reading,
put a tick next to
parts that answer the
questions in your ’W’
column and a question
mark next to new ideas
that you would like to
explore further. Once
you have completed
the ’L’ column compare
it to the ’W’ column.
Any questions left
unanswered by the
passage will need
additional research.
This piece is just part
of the introduction to
‘Beyond a Boundary’.
You should try to read
the entire book by
CLR James.

Fig. 7.5 West Indian cricketer Brian Lara in action


CHAPTER 7: COMPREHENDING INFORMATION 105

A note on cricket
Two teams of eleven players each contend on a huge of red leather and weighs slightly more than a baseball;
grassy oval, often as large as a football field, in the it is about nine inches in circumference. Players bat in
centre of which lies the cricket pitch – a closely cropped pairs – one member of the batting team standing at
area (occasionally covered by a mat) 22 feet by 5 feet, each wicket. Their task is to keep the thrown ball from
at either end of which stands a wicket – three vertical hitting the wicket by batting it away (here they function
stumps connected at the top by two horizontal pieces much like hockey goalies, but with the added benefit
called bails. The batsman and bowler face each other of being able to score points depending on how and
from opposite ends of the pitch, standing in front of where they hit the ball); in addition they attempt to
the wickets in areas demarcated by lines called creases score points by running across the pitch to the opposite
(popping creases, bowling creases, and return creases). wicket, in effect exchanging places with each other.
The distance between them is about the same as that
The field team is constantly shifting positions, trying
between a baseball pitcher and batter. Rules specify
to get the batsman to make a mistake. Because of
where each must stand while throwing or batting,
the many psychological calculations being made by
and which parts of the body may extend beyond the
batsmen, bowlers, and fieldsmen throughout the game,
creases. The boundary is the line that encircles the
each trying to wear the other down, matches may seem
perimeter of the entire playing field, and across the field
to take a relatively long time to complete.
are strewn – in designated positions – members of the
fielding (bowling) team. A batsman can be dismissed, or eliminated, in a
number of ways: if the bowler can dislodge a bail in
Point, cover point, silly point, extra cover, mid-off, silly
the wicket with the hurled ball or the batsman does the
mid-off, short leg, and long leg all refer to specific
same accidentally with his bat or body; if a fieldsman
fielding positions (there are over thirty, including the
catches the batted ball before it touches the ground or
bowler and the wicketkeeper, who functions much like
dislodges a bail while the batsmen are running; if the
a baseball catcher, with an equally critical and subtle,
batsman is lbw (leg before wicket) – a kind of illegal
yet oft unheralded, role).
interference, where he keeps the bail from hitting the
The bowler hurls the ball alternately from each wicket wicket by stopping it with something other than his
in sets called overs – six to eight balls per over (varying bat, batting hand, or glove; if he illegally moves beyond
from country to country). When the requisite number the crease while receiving the ball (steps out of the
of balls has been bowled, a new over is begun by a batter’s box, so to speak), handles the ball illegally, or
different bowler. The captain of the fielding team may deliberately obstructs the field.
allow any of his players to bowl, so long as no one
Each team bats in turn, completing an innings when
bowls two successive overs. When James recounts,
ten of its eleven members have been dismissed.
at an early moment in the book, that he has bowled
One-day matches usually consist of one innings per
three maiden overs, he’s completed three overs in
side, won by the team accumulating the most runs in
which no runs have been scored from the bat (that is,
their single innings. Test or international matches can
runs involving balls actually struck) – a feat of no small
go for thirty playing hours – lasting up to six days –
dexterity that can be duly appreciated by any pitcher
with the winner determined by the aggregate score
who’s attempted to carve out a no-hitter.
of two or more innings.
The bat is wooden, slightly over three feet long, and flat C.L.R. James
like a paddle with a slight wedge in it. The ball is made
106 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

The KWL approach works well for organising and getting a command of your
information, especially at the literal level of comprehension. ‘A note on cricket’ is an
example of simple exposition, which is essentially a descriptive explanation using the
definition and illustration method. Comprehension, however, often requires you to delve
further into the text.You need to ask clarifying questions such as ‘How is this done?’
or ‘Why does this happen?’ Authors anticipate these reader questions by using specific
methods of exposition to address them.
Sometimes the writer needs to guide you through a process to illustrate how
something is done.You will need to look out for key words that indicate the sequence
of the steps. Read the following student writing sample of the process method. The key
words are highlighted.

A birthday party can be a very fun affair, free from the last minute
harassment if it is properly organised. The first thing one needs
to know is the age of the celebrant. This will determine the kind
of party that will take place. Secondly, the number of people
to be invited must be decided upon. After this is done a theme
or a colour scheme must be chosen; this makes shopping for
ACTIVITY 7.7 decorations easier. When this is settled, the appropriate venue
Using the key words and time must be selected to complement the theme as well
as a guide, list in point as the guests. Then invitations are prepared ensuring that they
form the sequence fall in with theme or colour scheme and sent out to prospective
of steps in preparing guests. Be sure to include a telephone number so guests can
for a birthday party. confirm their attendance or inform of their absence. It might also
Notice how easy it is to
be necessary to include a map giving directions to guests who
locate the information
are unfamiliar with the venue. The next step is to decide on a
because of the key
words used by the menu and contact caterers or friends to decide on a costing for
writer. the food. It is very important to prepare a budget and ensure that
there is no over spending. Subsequently, you must choose the
activities for the party (games, etc.). Remember that the guests
must never be bored and at the same time should not be tired out.
After this comes the most tiring part, the shopping. Prepare a list
for food, drinks, snacks, decorations, party favours and all other
things you may need like napkins, cups, plates, candles. Make sure
this is done at least two weeks before the party so plans can be
changed if necessary. Then you go out and buy the items except
for perishable goods.

Finally, on the day of the party make sure that everything is in


order, food and drinks prepared and laid out, decorations up,
activities ready hours before your guests are due to arrive. Sit back
and relax and enjoy the remarks of your guests.
CHAPTER 7: COMPREHENDING INFORMATION 107

Another method writers use to organise information is cause and effect. This
illustrates why things happen and how one thing either leads to or is caused by another.
Specific key words also indicate that a correlation is being made. The following passage
exemplifies this.
Example

Downtown death
In the past decade, many of our cities have lost the active and vibrant pulse
of night life. No longer are city streets filled with the sights and sounds of
window shoppers strolling along eating roasted nuts or people spilling out
of cinemas in animated discussion of the latest film. The reasons for our
dark and empty streets are economic, cultural and social.

The abundance of cheaper land and larger spaces in suburban areas has
attracted entertainment business owners who needed to expand but could
not do so in the confines of the city. Therefore, as business enterprises
grew, their owners relocated to areas that allowed greater parking facilities
and of course larger premises. Cinemas, nightclubs and restaurants moved
en masse out of the city. In addition, the advent of North American styled
shopping centres and malls created a new cultural phenomenon. As a
result, customers increasingly gravitated towards these large, attractive
areas which facilitated one stop shopping and entertainment day and
night. There was no need to window shop along city sidewalks when
one could sit on a comfortable bench surrounded by dazzling displays of
merchandise. The fear of crime on city streets also drove many former city
residents to the relative safety and security of suburban areas and cities
were depleted of a residential component. Consequently, cities became
predominantly corporate centres which operate from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00
p.m. Nowadays, after six o’clock each evening, our cities are routinely
transformed into virtual ghost towns.

Writers sometimes explain or describe something by comparing it to or contrasting it


with something else. This is the comparison/contrast method. A writer may compare
only, which means that he/she looks at similarities between things, contrast (look at
differences only), or do both in the same piece of writing. As a reader, you will find it
helpful to look for key words that indicate a comparison is being made. This helps you
to weigh the ideas being presented in your mind as you read. See how the writer of the
following passage on page 108 uses this technique.
108 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

Example

Lawn and table tennis


Tennis is a popular game dating as far back as the thirteenth century. There
are two versions of the game, namely, lawn tennis and table tennis (or
ping pong). While there are some similarities between the two versions,
most aspects vary greatly.

Both table and lawn tennis are played by two players or two team players
(doubles), who alternate hitting a ball over a net. In the case of lawn
tennis, the net is set up on an outdoor court while the table tennis net is
smaller and placed on a table. Table tennis is played with a paddle and a
light vellum ball, whereas lawn tennis is played with a stringed racket and
a rubber ball. In both cases, the objective is to hit the ball across the net
within set boundaries, in such a way so as to prevent the opponent from
returning it to your side. In lawn tennis, games consist of four points. On
the other hand, a table tennis player must reach a score of 21 points to
win and a winning margin of two points in required. A similar two-point
margin applies to the lawn version. Lawn tennis, the older game, is by far
the more popular of the two.

When an author analyses a topic by breaking it down into categories representing


particular sets of characteristics, he/she is using division or classification. This means
that similar aspects of the topic are grouped together and dealt with separately from
the other aspects. Again, key words relative to this method assist you in identifying the
classes or groups and their characteristics. The following passage on page 109 uses the
technique of classification.

ACTIVITY 7.8
Can you find writing that uses these tones?

reflective condescending disdainful persuasive sarcastic


whimsical amused reverent urgent ominous
CHAPTER 7: COMPREHENDING INFORMATION 109

Example

Shakespeare’s plays
Shakespeare’s plays seem to reflect three distinct periods in his life and can
be grouped accordingly. Each set of plays has common characteristics like
theme and style.

The first major group is the histories and early comedies written in the
1590s. Many of these were adaptations of other playwrights’ works. The
Comedy of Errors, the Taming of the Shrew, Henry VI and Richard III were
some from this earliest period. These plays were primarily lighthearted and
comic in nature, a fact ascribed to the public’s desire for comedy after the
ravages of the plague.

The second group of plays was begun at the end of the century in 1599
when Shakespeare wrote Julius Caesar. This period lasted till about 1606
and was characterised by what are known as his darkest plays, for example
Macbeth, Hamlet and King Lear. The overriding themes were lust, betrayal,
power and egoism. Although Shakespeare did write a few comedies like
Twelfth Night and Measure for Measure during this period, the majority of
his work at this time was dark and tragic.

The final group of plays is often referred to as the ’late romances’. These
include Pericles, Cymbeline and The Tempest, written between 1606 and
1613. These plays bear some similarity to the romance literature from the
medieval period and feature magic events and happy endings. The main
theme of this set of plays is the prevailing of justice in spite of tragedy.

Often, an author’s purpose goes beyond simply conveying information. A piece


of writing may be designed to convince or persuade. A good reader must be able to
differentiate between claims or points that are based on clear, logical premises and those that
are opinionated and spurious. Critical thinking skills must be employed to determine the
intent of the author, the devices he/she uses to achieve that intent and the overall value of
the piece of writing. The author’s intent is the effect he/she would like to have on the reader
or the response that he/she wants to provoke. Comprehending at the interpretive level
requires you to figure out the author’s intent, which can be conveyed through the tone of
the writing and the mood created by the author. Both tone and mood are achieved by the
choice of words and the type of literary devices that the writer employs.
Tone refers to the manner in which writers reflect their attitude towards their material
or readers; for example, tone can be formal, intimate, ironic, outraged, serene. A writer may
shift tone from paragraph to paragraph or even from one line to another. While it is easy
to detect a speaker’s tone since his/her intonation makes it evident, understanding written
tone requires the reader to appreciate word choice, images and other details in the text.
110 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

ACTIVITY 7.9
Read these two passages below and answer the questions that follow.

Passage A:
‘Ivan the Terrible’
invades Grenada
He moved in slowly from the East
in early September, disguised
as ’Tropical Depression Number
Nine.’ Growing in magnitude, and
renamed ’Tropical Storm Ivan,’ this
menacing weather system perplexed
storm watchers by following an
atypical track far south of the usual
’Hurricane Belt’ latitudes seen
with past Atlantic Basin storms.
Apparently, a sizeable prevailing
’Bermuda High’ contributed to the
hurricane’s southerly track. Fig. 7.6 Grenada after Hurricane Ivan

A day later, Ivan was a Category


The following few days made it before galloping into the U.S. Gulf
2 Hurricane (on the Saffir-
very clear what a powerful weather Coast, Ivan still was not done. The
Simpson scale, this is a powerful
system this storm was, as Ivan killed storm then meandered through
storm leading to flooding, and
dozens of residents and damaged Mississippi, slid across the Southern
considerable damage), travelling
or destroyed many of Grenada’s and Mid-Atlantic states and ambled
towards the southern Windward
buildings. Countless houses back into the Atlantic.
Islands with sustained winds of
suffered damage, and most lost
120 mph (104 knots). There was After a brief rest, and fuelled by the
at least part of their roofs. A good
no doubt, in all of the National warm waters of the Gulf Stream, it
number just blew away.
Hurricane Centre’s prediction formed again off the Florida coast.
models, that ’Ivan the Terrible’ was Ivan’s eye passed over Grenada’s Ivan gave the ’Sunshine State’
going to cause havoc as it rolled southern parishes, but its fury another scare before grinding into
into one or more of southern extended as far north as Carriacou, the Gulf of Mexico for a second
Caribbean islands. It wasn’t a case Petite Martinique, the Grenadines, time. Three weeks after Tropical
of if – but where and when. St Vincent and up into St Lucia. This Depression 9 first appeared on the
was a momentous storm – and had weather maps, Ivan started to blow
Ivan gathered momentum as it
plenty of intensity in it as it crossed itself out and toppled the last of its
careened into the southern half of
the Caribbean and headed for more rain on the Texas coast.
Grenada, classified as a Category
windfalls downwind.
3 storm (flash flooding, a threat Ivan ended up whipping its way
to beach residences and extensive After brushing Barbados, grinding across 11 countries, killing at least
damage to roofs and buildings’ into Grenada, jumping over 39 people in Grenada, 15 in Jamaica,
sidewalls) and leaving a wake of Jamaica, colliding with the Cayman five in Venezuela, four in the
devastating consequences. Islands, and crashing into the Dominican Republic, three in Haiti,
western end of Cuba one in Tobago and one in Barbados.
Tom Tyne
CHAPTER 7: COMPREHENDING INFORMATION 111

Passage B: The terrible toll


Grenada’s Prime Minister Keith Mitchell estimated that Relief experts report that the tourism and agricultural
90 per cent of the island’s structures were damaged, sectors were devastated by the hurricane, which
including many churches and warehouses in the historic account for a majority of the nation’s GNP.
capital St George’s – including the new national sports
There are plans to start rebuilding the island’s hotels
stadium, the emergency agency’s office, the fire station,
to an even higher standard, but recovery for the
police stations, schools, shops, prison, and homes –
agricultural sector will take much longer. Sixty per cent
including the Prime Minister’s own residence.
of the nutmeg trees were destroyed, and it will take
U.S. officials surveying the damage soon after the five to seven years for the damaged trees to grow
storm confirmed that almost all of the homes were back – and longer still for the young trees to produce
affected in some way by the winds and rain, and 40 per fruit. This is quite critical to the world’s commodity
cent need major structural repairs. Many in Grenada are markets, as Grenada – the ’Spice Isle’– is the world’s
living in shelters or makeshift homes made of tarpaulins second largest supplier of nutmeg after Indonesia. This
and sheets of galvanised zinc. The St George’s Medical devastation has left 8,000 families without a source
School and Veterinary Schools were seriously damaged. of income. Fortunately, officials report that there is
In an effort not to interrupt the future doctors’ enough nutmeg left in ’drying rooms’ to satisfy world
professional training, students were temporarily markets for at least three years.
relocated to schools in the United States. A few of the
Total damage to Grenada was estimated at U.S. $900
veterinary faculty and students remained in Grenada to
million.
set up an animal relief program. They are working with
Tom Tyne
Habitat for Humanity to help the people of Grenada
re-establish their lives.

1 Which of the passages had an excited and active tone? Identify the most exciting part of that passage.
2 What is the main difference in the way the passages are written? Do you think this contributes
to the tone?
3 Both passages are part of the same article by the same writer. Why do you think the writer
decided to shift tone?
4 Would the writer have achieved the same effect had the second passage been the first part
of the article? Why or why not?

Misinterpretation of tone results in misinterpretation of meaning; therefore it is


important to decipher the writer’s tone correctly. As much as possible, read passages
aloud since punctuation, which reflects intonation in speech, will help you to ‘hear’
the writer’s tone as well.
112 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

ACTIVITY 7.10
Read the following passage. Note your responses as you read. How would you describe the tone of this
passage? What is the author’s intention?

How to cure the drug problem


Recently I had a simple, foolproof idea for eliminating 1. There is a plastic wrapper to keep you from getting
the drug problem in this country. It came to me while I at the cap.
was making spaghetti sauce. 2. The cap, which is patented by the Rubik’s Cube
company, cannot be removed unless you line an
I use an ancient Italian spaghetti-sauce recipe that
invisible arrow up with an invisible dot while rotating
has been handed down through many generations of
the cap counter clockwise and simultaneously
ancient Italians, as follows:
pushing down and pulling up.
1. Buy some spaghetti sauce. 3. In the unlikely event that you get the cap off,
2. Heat it up. the top of the bottle is blocked by a taut piece
of extremely feisty foil made from the same
Sometimes I add some seasoning to the sauce, to give
impenetrable material used to protect the Space
it a dash of what the Italians call ’joie de vivre’ (literally,
Shuttle during atmospheric re-entry.
’ingredients’). I had purchased, from the supermarket
4. Underneath the foil is a virtually unremovable wad
spice section, a small plastic container labelled ’Italian
of cotton the size of a small sheep.
Seasoning’. My plan was to open this container and
5. As a final precaution, there is no actual aspirin
sprinkle some seasoning into the sauce.
underneath the cotton. There is only a piece of
Already I can hear you veteran consumers out there paper listing dangerous side effects, underneath
chortling in good-natured amusement. which is …
6. … A second piece of paper warning you that the
’You complete moron,’ you are chortling. ’You actually first piece of paper could give you a paper cut.
thought you could gain access to a product protected
by MODERN PACKAGING??’ Even this may not be enough security for the aspirin of
tomorrow. At this very moment, packaging scientists
Yes, I did, and I certainly learned MY lesson. Because it are working on an even more secure system, in
turns out that Italian Seasoning has joined the growing which the entire aspirin container would be located
number of products that, For Your Protection, are inside a live sea urchin. With aspirin leading the way,
packaged in containers that you cannot open unless more and more products are coming out in fiercely
you own a home laser cannon. protective packaging designed to prevent consumers
This trend started with aspirin. Years ago – ask your from consuming them. My Italian Seasoning container
grandparents – aspirin was sold in bottles that had featured a foil seal AND a fiendish plastic thing that I
removable caps. That system was changed when could not remove with my bare hands, which meant of
consumer-safety authorities discovered that certain course that I had to use my teeth. These days you have
consumers were taking advantage of this loophole by to open almost every consumer item by gnawing on
opening up the bottles and – it only takes a few ’bad the packaging. Go to any typical consumer household
apples’ to spoil things for everybody – ingesting aspirin and you’ll note most of the products – food, medicine,
tablets. compact discs, appliances, furniture – are covered with
bite marks, as though the house is infested with crazed
So now aspirin bottles behave very much like stinging beavers. The floor will be gritty with little chips of
insects in nature movies, defending themselves against consumer teeth. Many consumers are also getting good
consumer access via a multilevel security system: results by stabbing their products with knives. I would
CHAPTER 7: COMPREHENDING INFORMATION 113

estimate that 58 per cent of all serious household give up trying to get at their drugs and become useful
accidents result from consumers assaulting packaging members of society, or at least attorneys.
designed to improve consumer safety.
I realise that some of you may have questions about
Anyway, I finally gnawed my seasoning container open, this plan. Your most likely concern is: ’If dangerous
no doubt activating a tiny transmitter that triggered an and highly addictive narcotics are sold freely in
alarm in some Spice Security Command Post (WHEEP! supermarkets, will the packages be required to have
WHEEP! WHEEP! INTRUDER GAINING ACCESS TO Nutritional Facts labels, like the ones that now helpfully
ITALIAN SEASONING IN SECTOR 19!) While I was inform consumers of the protein, carbohydrate, vitamin
stirring my spaghetti sauce, it occurred to me that if we A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron content of products
want to eliminate the drug problem in this country, all such as Cool Whip Lite?’
we have to do is:
Of course they will. Even though, if my plan works
1. Make all drugs completely legal and allow them to as expected, an addict would be unable to consume
be sold in supermarkets (’Crack? Aisle 6, next to the his heroin purchase, he still has a vital right to know,
Sweet’n Low’). as an American consumer, that if he DID consume it,
2. Require that the drugs be sold in standard consumer he’d be getting only a small percentage of his Daily
packaging. Requirement of dietary fibre. This is just one of the
many benefits we enjoy as residents of this Consumer
My reasoning is that if physically fit, clear-headed
Paradise. My head aches with pride.
consumers can’t get into these packages, there’s no
D. Barry
way that strung-out junkies can. Eventually they’ll

The mood of a piece of writing can be described as the prevailing atmosphere or


context created by the writer.You would have noticed how movies create moods by
using special lighting, sound effects, selected music as well as the tone of the dialogue
of the actors. Much of the horror in a horror movie would be lost if the soundtrack was
of light upbeat music. A writer depends entirely on language to create mood. Therefore
words and other devices have to be very carefully selected in order to create the mood
that supports the author’s intent.
114 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

ACTIVITY 7.11
Read the following sample of writing and discuss the feelings it evokes.
What is the prevailing mood of the piece? Looking carefully at the language used, identify the ways in which
the writer creates the specific effect.

Edward Brathwaite

The cabin These are the deepest reaches of time’s long


attack. The roof, dark shingles,
Under the burnt out green silvered in some places by the wind, the finger-
Of this small yard’s tufts of grass tips of weather, shines still secure, still
where water was once used perfect, although the plaster peels from walls,
to wash pots, pans, poes, at sides, at back, from high up near the roof: in places
ochre appears. A rusted where it was not painted. But from the front,
bucket, hole kicked into its the face from which it looked out on the world,
bottom, lies on its side. the house retains its lemon wash as smooth and
bland as pearl.
Fence, low wall of careful
stones marking the square But the tide creeps in: today’s
yard, is broken now, breached insistence laps the loneliness of this
by pigs, by rats, by mongoose resisting cabin: the village grows and bulges:
and by neighbours. Eucalyptus shops, super-
bushes push their way amidst market, Postal Agency
the marl. All looks so left whose steel spectacled mistress
so unlived in: yard, fence and cabin. rules the town. But no one knows
where Tom’s cracked limestone oblong lies.
Here old Tom lived: his whole
tight house no bigger than your The house, the Postal agent says,
sitting room. Here was his world is soon to be demolished:
banged like a fist on broken a Housing Estate’s being spawned
chairs, bare table and the sideboard board to feed the greedy town.
dresser where he kept his cups.
No one knows Tom now, no one cares.
One wooden only door still latched, Slave’s days are past, for-
Hasp broken; one window, wooden, gotten. The faith, the dream denied,
broken; four slats still intact. the things he dared
Darkness pours from these wrecked boards not do, all lost, if un-
and from the crab torn spaces underneath the door. forgiven. This house is all
that’s left of hopes, of hurt, of history.

Edward Brathwaite
CHAPTER 7: COMPREHENDING INFORMATION 115

Writers also use other techniques to convey their intent. Figurative language is
ACTIVITY 7.12
a very common one. Figurative language refers to the use of comparisons
Using the chart below, between things belonging to different classes. They are not necessarily literal or
identify the figurative logical and writers have the freedom to make any types of association that suit the
language used in the
preceding piece.
purpose of their writing. Writers use this device to create a desired image in the
reader’s mind and it is a major component of descriptive writing.
Term Definition Example
Simile Comparison indicating that one thing Lin felt as scared as a cockroach in
is similar to another using the words front of a chicken.
like or as.
Metaphor Comparison that suggests that one The parade was a rainbow of colour.
thing is another.
Personification Non-human objects and animals The stars winked at me through my
given human qualities. window.
Alliteration Repetition of the initial sound in Day broke, a dull and dismal dawn of
neighbouring words. despair.
Onomatopoeia Words that imitate the sound they I listened to the water gushing
describe. down the drains and the cracking of
branches outside.
Hyperbole An exaggeration used for emphasis. By the time we got to the summit,
my backpack weighed a ton.
Allusion A reference to something from He employed Gangster-type
Table 7.4 Some another context that requires the techniques of persuasion.
figurative language reader/listener to make an association
quick references based on his/her general knowledge.

Responding to argumentative
writing
Islands are surrounded
The first thing you ask yourself
by water… therefore he
when reading an argumentative
is an island.
piece is ‘What is the writer doing
to convince me?’ Writers try to
present a convincing argument
by using devices that emphasise
logic and clear reasoning. The most
convincing aspect of an argument
is the presentation of factual data
and information. Therefore, writers
often try to support their points by
referring to verifiable evidence and
facts. These devices lend undeniable
strength to an argument because
they cannot be refuted. Another
useful device is authoritative
opinion. Here the writer cites
the informed views of experts in Fig. 7.7 Example of a false premise
116 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

the particular field, who the reader expects would provide objective viewpoints based
on professional experience. A weak argument is based on illogical or false premises.
A premise is a proposition (assumption) upon which an argument is based or from
which a conclusion is drawn. Therefore, a false premise is an incorrect proposition and
the conclusion drawn may also be in error. A statement or argument based on incorrect
reasoning is called a fallacy. It is important to be able to recognise fallacies so that you do
not find yourself agreeing with or referring to an idea or point that has no valid base.
Arguments generally use two types of reasoning: (a) deductive and (b) inductive.
a) Deductive reasoning is the process by which one arrives at a conclusion from a
previously known fact or universal premise.
Example Major premise – Ice melts when heated.
Minor premise – This is ice.
Conclusion – Therefore this melts when heated.

However, you should look out for arguments that appear to use deduction but are
really non sequitur, meaning the conclusion does not follow from the premises.

Example Major premise – Ice melts when heated.


Minor premise – This melts when heated.
Conclusion – Therefore this is ice.

This is obviously flawed reasoning since many other elements also melt when heated.

b) Inductive reasoning generally works conversely to deduction; it is the process of


arriving at a conclusion based on a set of specific observations.
Example Premise – The canteen manager reports that most of the students at this
school buy hamburgers for lunch every day.
Conclusion – Therefore hamburgers are the most popular lunch item
among students at this school.

Since the observation was made at that particular school, then the conclusion is correct;
however, it is very easy for writers to make hasty generalisations from observations and
the discerning reader should be wary of this.

Example Premise – The canteen manager reports that most of the students at this
school buy hamburgers for lunch every day.
Conclusion – Therefore hamburgers are the most popular lunch item
among students.

Obviously, unless the same observation was recorded at every single school, the latter
conclusion could not be correctly applied to students in general.
CHAPTER 7: COMPREHENDING INFORMATION 117

ACTIVITY 7.13
Read the following letter. Identify the devices used by the writer to support the argument. Are there any
flaws in reasoning?

Elite College
Friendly Alley
St John’s
15th December, 2013

The Permanent Secretary


Ministry of Education
St John’s

Dear Madam

On behalf of the members of the Proactive Students’ League (PSL), I would like to support
the proposal put forward by the Education Advancement Team (EAT) for the extension of
the school day.

The current length of the academic year is not adequate in light of the substantial volume of
the syllabus. Over the years, it has been proven that no teacher has managed to complete the
syllabus in time for final examinations. This means that students face crucial examinations
without sufficient preparation. If the school day is lengthened by two hours, we would gain ten
hours a week, which would certainly be more than enough time to cover the topics that are
never completed.

Additional hours in the school day would also allow students to pursue more general
education and enrichment courses, which are now difficult to fit into their schedules. Surely
our country can only benefit from a population of well-rounded individuals who are not just
academically oriented. Should we not be encouraging our young people to take courses in
music, theatre arts or physical education? It is often said that the wealth of a nation is in the
health of its people. What better way to develop mentally and physically healthy people than
through a wide-ranging curriculum? A longer school day would certainly facilitate this.

We should also take into consideration the fact that we live in a hurricane belt. This means
that in any given year we face the possibility of losing several school days due to bad weather or
the destruction of school buildings. The additional time which will be available to us year round
when we extend the school day will afford a measure of insurance against such eventualities.
Therefore students would not be disadvantaged by having to repeat a school year as happened
in some cases when our sister island of Grenada was hit by Hurricane Ivan.

In light of the above, I trust that your Ministry will make the right decision to the benefit of
thousands of students.

Sincerely

Susan Chow
Secretary, Proactive Students’ League
118 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

Responding to persuasive writing


We have seen how argumentative writing depends on logic and coherence to convince
the reader that the writer’s points are supported and his/her point of view is credible.
Persuasive writing is specifically designed to influence or change the reader’s thoughts
and actions and can employ different devices from those used in logical argument. We
are subjected to various forms of persuasion every day, particularly in advertisements.
Persuasive techniques are also critical to occupations such as law, journalism, teaching,
politics and religion.You will rely on persuasive techniques many times in your life, but
you must also learn how to defend yourself from the strategies that may be used not
merely to persuade but also to take advantage of you.
One of the most frequently used devices in persuasion is emotional appeal, where the
writer attempts to arouse fear, hate, greed, love, sexual desire and so on. For example, the
typical deodorant advertisement plays on our natural fear of being socially outcast or rejected.

Example

Fig. 7.8 Emotional appeal


CHAPTER 7: COMPREHENDING INFORMATION 119

Another primary persuasive device is repetition. Sometimes particular words or


phrases are repeated throughout the writing to emphasise the point being made. At other
times the writer repeats a particular structure in order to create a hypnotic rhythm that
draws the reader into acceptance of the message without thinking.
The third major persuasive device is the use of rhetorical questions. This is often
used for dramatic effect and to grab the attention of the audience. Sometimes a set of
rhetorical questions is used in succession to build up outrage or a sense of injustice.
Note that while some writers may employ persuasive devices purely for the purpose of
influence or control, others may use them in conjunction with the devices of logical
argument to assist in convincing the reader.Very often, a good argumentative piece uses
both.Your task, as reader, is to weigh each point carefully, identify the devices used and
evaluate their effect on the validity or the success of the argument.

ACTIVITY 7.14
Read the following opposing points of view on the same topic and answer the questions at the end.

(i) Should vagrants be removed from the streets?


No, everyone should have the right to choose where in Article 1: ‘All human beings are born free and
and how they live. equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with
reason and conscience and should act towards one
There can be no doubt that forcibly removing vagrants
another in a spirit of brotherhood’. The attitude of
from the city streets is a violation of their fundamental
those who applauded while their brothers and sisters
human rights and ought to be condemned by all right-
were dragged off unceremoniously certainly belied this
thinking citizens.
assumption, as they personified George Orwell’s ironic
Firstly, Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human line in his book Animal Farm:
Rights states clearly: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom
‘all animals are equal but some are more equal than
of movement and residence within the borders of
others’. It appears that some of us would like to rewrite
each state’. Nowhere in the Declaration (which was
Article 1 of the Declaration along these lines. We would
adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of
probably also prefer Article 13 to read: ‘Everyone has
the United Nations in 1948) are the words ‘movement’
the right to freedom of movement and residence out of
and ‘residence’ defined or circumscribed in any way.
sight of the rest of us’.
Therefore, one must assume that a person should be
as free to move around a fixed domicile as to wander We must free ourselves of the bigotry that causes us
the streets, if this is where he chooses to move about. to consider a certain set of behaviours the norm and a
Restricting this freedom is like confining your children particular group of people the arbiters of what is normal
to the house since their presence on the lawn interferes or acceptable. We should also remember that we are not
with its aesthetics. the ones who determine what it is to be human.

Secondly, to arbitrarily descend upon these people and Finally, surely the fact that this country, like most of the
force them to bathe and cut their hair is tantamount world, was a signatory to the Declaration binds us to
to declaring them less than human, which is another operate within its edicts. To do less would be to begin
violation of their rights as defined by the Declaration the descent into barbarianism.
120 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

(ii) Should vagrants be removed from the streets?

Absolutely; this City Council action will have benefits Thankfully, the City Council officials were able to weigh
for all. the rights of the many against the idiosyncrasies of the
few and the correct conclusion was arrived at: human
The removal of vagrants from the streets by the City
rights are not the preserve of the aberrant, but should
Council was a long-overdue and perfectly justifiable
apply equally to the peaceful majority that simply wants
move. There can be little objection to an attempt by the
to live under normal circumstances.
authorities to render the city a pleasant environment,
conducive to the orderly conduct of business and the The outcry of the self-styled human rights activists
engagement in leisurely pursuits by the majority of is baffling. Obviously, these vagrants were not in
normal, decent and law-abiding citizens. possession of their full mental faculties and therefore
unable to make rational decisions. There can be no
The city has long been littered with dozens of unkempt
doubt that the action of the authorities was merciful
individuals who insist on turning public streets and
and humane. The vagrants were picked up and
sidewalks into their personal bedrooms and lavatories,
provided with clean clothing, meals and personal
totally oblivious to those of us who are forced to
hygiene facilities. They were also exposed to the
walk around their makeshift homes to go about
possibility of an alternative lifestyle which could be
our legitimate business. They are totally uncaring of
theirs should they opt to give up their street life. This is
the stench emanating from their unwashed bodies,
what it means to exemplify the biblical precept that we
threatening the stability of our stomachs. Are they
should be our brother’s keeper.
cognizant of the fact that few tourists brave this city-
centre spectacle, thus depriving merchants and vendors The City Council should be commended for its decision
of much needed revenue? Did they understand that to finally take the bull by the horns and restore the city
their way of life infringes on the rights of others to go to its former pristine state. If this means putting a stop
about their lives unassailed by the constant presence of to the wanton abuse of public edifices by persons who
human derelicts? turned them into private property, then kudos to them.

1 Which piece offers the more convincing argument? Why?


2 Identify the persuasive or argumentative devices used by the writers.
3 Comment on the structure of each piece. Which is more logically structured? What makes it seem so?

7.6 Understanding word meaning


One impediment to comprehension is a limited vocabulary. If you have difficulty reading
material that is aimed at your level (educated adult), then you need to improve your
vocabulary and utilise specific strategies to decipher word meaning. One strategy you can
use is locating context clues in the text that you are reading. Context clues are hints that
authors build into their writing to clarify their meaning. If you come across words that are
unfamiliar to you, using context clues will save you the task of constantly referring to the
dictionary. Five types of context clues are illustrated on pages 121 and 122.
CHAPTER 7: COMPREHENDING INFORMATION 121

Fig. 7.9 Limited vocabulary impedes comprehension

1 Definition: The author includes an explanation of the word within the sentence
or paragraph.
Example There are several context clues or hints built into their writing that
authors use to clarify the meaning.
Notice that the word ’or’ is the indicator that ’hints built into their
writing’ is another way of saying ’context clues’.

2 Description:The author uses other descriptors to amplify the meaning of a word.


Example Janelle was very industrious and her employers rewarded her hard work
and diligence with a promotion.
Notice that the descriptors, ‘hard work and diligence’ expand the
meaning of ‘industrious’ and provide a definition.

3 Synonym: The author provides a synonym (a word that has the same or nearly the
same meaning as another word) in the same sentence or close to the word he/she
wants to clarify.
Example Exorbitant expenditure by the government has depleted the country’s
foreign reserves. This excessive spending has also resulted in serious
debt.
In this example, it is easy to draw the conclusion that ‘exorbitant
expenditure’ is the same as ‘excessive spending’.
122 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

4 Visual clues: The author may include a graph, picture or other illustration that depicts
the meaning of the word. The visual clue may also have a caption.
Example

Fig. 7.10 The rotors are normally located at the top of the helicopter

In this example, it is obvious that ‘rotors’ are the propeller blades visible
at the top of the machine in the picture.

5 The author uses examples to define the term. These can be signalled by colours,
dashes or key words (like, such as, including, consists of).
Example Astrologers refer to celestial bodies, such as the sun, moon and stars, to
create their horoscope charts.

ACTIVITY 7.15
Select the correct meaning of the underlined word, from the box to the right.

1 Sanjaya is so hyperactive, he just cannot remain still.


(a) opposed
2 Della is averse to my point of view. She does not
support me at all. (b) loud
3 If he were less vociferous we would be able to hear
(c) overactive
what the others are saying.
4 Kelcie is a novice at music. She is only at the Grade 1 (d) remain alive
level.
(e) beginner
5 You cannot subsist on this diet. If you persist, you
will die!
CHAPTER 7: COMPREHENDING INFORMATION 123

ACTIVITY 7.16
(a) Define the underlined word in each sentence below based on the context clue.
(b) Identify the type of context clue used.
1 My father was so parsimonious that he used to give us half a pencil at a time. He
also hated parting with his money.
2 I do not believe in clandestine meetings. I think things should be done openly.
3 His behaviour was churlish. He was rude, sullen and ill-mannered.
4 Pedagogical institutions such as kindergartens, schools and colleges must all take
blame for the type of society in which we live.
5 I was not well remunerated for this job. Imagine I was only paid $50.00 for all that work!
6 I would never spend so much money on valuable jewellery. I usually just buy baubles.
7 Devaughn is so eloquent. Only yesterday the principal commented on how well
spoken he is.
8 You can trace your genealogy, or ancestry, on this website.
9 Our class was inundated with assignments. When the teachers realised how
overwhelmed we were, they extended our submission deadlines.

Conclusion
You have learnt how the process of comprehension works both
in listening and reading, and how to apply various levels of
comprehension to different types of written information. It is
important to monitor your comprehension as you read and listen,
to continually question whether or not you are receiving the
right message and the entire message. Effective communication
requires both expressing and receiving ideas correctly. Sometimes,
in order to process and manipulate information, you need to
summarise and structure it in ways that aid your understanding.
These methods are discussed in Chapter 8.
124 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

Evaluation 4 How would you define the tone of a piece of


writing?

and extension 5 Select a piece of writing (poem, prose, song) that


evokes a particular mood that you like. Share it
with your class and talk about how it makes you
1 What are the three stages in the process of feel and why.
comprehension?
6 Read the following passage and answer the
2 List the levels of comprehension and explain questions below:
what each level entails.

3 What do you think are your main barriers to


effective listening?

The art of negotiation


Humans have found a way to resolve their to communicate ideas has given us another choice. We
differences without fighting. We do this can use our jaws for purposes other than to maim or
constantly at work and at home. But how do threaten our adversaries. This means that the physically
we go about negotiating effectively? Here we weaker members of our species have a chance to assert
examine the fundamentals, and offer some tried- their interests on an even level with the strong.
and-true advice...
However, our perception of the negotiation process is
Everybody negotiates – or at least everybody who is not clouded by a cultural preoccupation with winning and
a babe in arms. As soon as they can talk, toddlers try to losing. We live in a society of gains and losses at work
get their way by making bargains. They will ask: ’Can and at play. We see our favourite sports teams attain
I stay up after bedtime if I’m good?’ Their parents may victory or go down to defeat. In business, we try to
want a more specific concession: ’Okay, if you put your ’beat’ the competition. It is therefore difficult for us
toys away.’ Thus a classic negotiation is concluded – to conceptualise a form of competition in which it is
classic in that it meets the wishes of all concerned. possible for everyone to win.

From that age on, people proceed to negotiate their People must give in order to receive. This does not mean
way through life – with their parents, friends, mates, that one must give away the whole store in a negotiation.
employers or employees, business contacts and But shrewd bargainers always ask themselves what
colleagues. Some become professionals at it: not only short-term advantages they can concede to meet their
diplomats and business agents, but many lawyers long-term objectives. The very first objective must be to
and executives, and a multitude of people in sales. arrive at a settlement that can be relied upon – one that
Most of us remain amateur negotiators, but there are is satisfactory enough to the other party that he/she can
times when we are all called upon to assume that role be expected to live with its terms.
when buying or selling things, dealing with marital
Co-negotiators should examine their mutual problems
or family problems, asserting our rights, or seeking
together on the theory that demands are merely
compensation. At such times it helps to consider what
symptoms of problems. The least such an examination
negotiation is all about.
can accomplish is to establish the feeling of being in the
Fundamentally, it is a way of settling differences with same boat.
a minimum of strife. It is an exclusively human activity.
Successful negotiators generally do more listening than
When the other creatures of the Earth come into
talking. The only time when they may say more than
conflict, they must either fight or run away. Our ability
their opposer is when they periodically summarise what
CHAPTER 7: COMPREHENDING INFORMATION 125

has occurred to keep track of the concessions made frequently, putting aside the desire to be agreeable so
and to confirm that it has all been mutually understood. as to be liked. You should always reply in the negative
One of the most serious faults a negotiator can have is when you have the slightest hesitation about what is
talking too much. being proposed. It is always easier to change a ’no’ to a
’yes’ than the other way around.
The most critical time to keep quiet is when there is
nothing more to be said. How many times have you Although charity seemingly has no place in bargaining,
been in an argument which seemed to be settled, but a little of it is sometimes necessary to allow others to
which flared up again because someone insisted on preserve their dignity. It is not the only old-fashioned
getting a final crushing word in? virtue involved in negotiating effectively. Tolerance and
understanding both have a part to play in this important
Often the hardest part of a bargaining session comes
arena of human relations. These are civilised qualities,
in closing it. One simple proven method is to say:
and they are all directed toward the same eminently
’I think we know everything we need to know to agree,
civilised end – to resolve the differences that are bound
don’t you?’
to arise among human beings in an atmosphere of peace.
For many of us, the most difficult word in the language Royal Bank of Canada
is ’no’. A skilful negotiator must be prepared to say it

(a) Summarise the author’s definition of


negotiation.
(b) What rationale does he/she give for learning
the art of negotiation?
(c) Give synonyms for the following words as
used in the passage: adversaries, shrewd,
conceptualise, reinstatement. References
The Art of Negotiation. (1986). Royal Bank of Canada Letter Collection, 67 (4)
(d) State the main point of the article in about Jul/Aug, available at www.rbc.com/responsibility/letter.
30 words. Barry, D. (1997). Dave Barry is from Mars and Venus. New York: Crown
Publishers Inc. pp. 41–5.
(e) What is the writer’s purpose in writing this
Brathwaite, E. (1973). The Cabin. The Arrivants: A New World trilogy. Oxford:
article? Oxford University Press, pp. 70–71.
(f) What techniques has the writer used in Hall, S. (2006). Plenty of Plantains. Caribbean Compass, 133, p. 45.
assisting with the purpose? James, C.L.R. (1993). Beyond a Boundary. North Carolina: Duke University Press.
Tyne, T. (n.d.). Ivan the Terrible Invades Grenada. A Whole New Altitude,
(g) Evaluate the appropriateness of the tone Caribbean Star Airlines Magazine Issue 15.West Indies Publishing Ltd, pp. 36 –37.
used in this passage.
126 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

8 Summarising
Information
A summary is an overview of the most important information from something
you have read or listened to. We summarise information every day, whether we
are regaling a friend with the highlights of the wedding, giving the gist of the
latest best-selling novel or reporting in class on a researched topic. We often
complain of information overload in modern society and most people simply
do not have the time to read or listen to detailed information. For example, a
business person may need only the elements that will help him/her make a
decision; a lawyer must sum up the key points of the case for the jury; a news
reporter must condense the day’s happenings into a brief news report. This
chapter introduces different ways of summarising information to assist you in
increasing your comprehension of what you read or listen to.

The skills you learn in this chapter pertain to Module 1 and Specific Objectives 1, 2 and 5.

Expected Learning Outcomes


On completing this chapter you should be able to:
1 write continuous prose summaries
2 distinguish between main and subsidiary ideas
3 make clear notes on written and spoken material
4 create outlines and graphic organisers for structuring material.

Introduction
Summarising skills enable you to
reprocess the information you have
gathered and express it concisely
in your own way. The process of
digesting and reorganising information
leads to mastery of that material.
This skill is particularly important
in an academic environment, where
you are faced with large amounts of
information from reading material
and lectures. Good summarising skills
enable you to sift quickly through
information, identify the key ideas
and reorganise them in a manner that Fig. 8.1 In summary, I failed the driving test
makes them easy to understand and
remember. Summarising must not be confused with paraphrasing, which means to restate
CHAPTER 8: SUMMARISING INFORMATION 127

information in your own words. A paraphrase does not reduce the length of a piece nor
does it eliminate any details. A summary condenses and reduces a piece of material to its
essence. It is always much shorter than the original.
There are various ways of summarising information and it is wise to master all of them.
However, before you attempt to summarise, you must be able to differentiate between main
and subsidiary ideas. Then you will be able to reduce your key information to notes, outlines
or prose summaries. Note that under no circumstances, must you present the words of the
text as your own. This is known as plagiarism and is dealt with further in Chapter 9.

8.1 Distinguishing main and subsidiary ideas


The main idea in a passage is the central message or thought that the writer wants to
get across. It should not be confused with the topic, which is the subject of the piece. If
you were telling your classmates about the poorly organised party you attended, while
the topic would be the party, the main idea would be that it was disorganised. However,
the main idea can be conveyed in what is known as the topic sentence, which is a
statement that expresses the main idea in the author’s words. Authors sometimes do this in
expository writing, but in many cases you need to come up with the main idea based on
other clues in the passage. Sometimes the author repeats the main idea in different ways
throughout the passage or places the topic sentence at the end of a paragraph. However,
a good rule of thumb is to look out for the main idea in the first third of the piece.
Remember that the main idea is the answer to the question, ’what general point does the
author want to make?’
Example Nitrous oxide (N2O), commonly known as ‘laughing gas’, has been widely
used as an analgesic and anaesthetic agent for decades. Also known as
‘laughing gas’, this gas is capable of reducing pain normally experienced
during childbirth or in medical procedures such as dental surgery. It provides
almost immediate relief to the patient but its effects dissipate rapidly. The use
of N2O is not very widespread in North America, but it is very common in
European countries, where it is used in 50 per cent to 70 per cent of births.
It is also used widely in Australia and New Zealand.

Select the main idea of the passage:


a) Nitrous oxide is an important element of pain relief.
b) Doctors most often choose nitrous oxide as a form of anaesthetic.
c) Nitrous oxide has been a traditional choice of pain relief in several countries.
d) Nitrous oxide is most popularly known as ‘laughing gas’.
The correct answer is (c), which conveys the main point the author wants to make.
While the other statements are also ideas conveyed in the passage, they are there to help
the writer make the point. Only (c) sums up the complete gist (main idea) of the passage.
Remember the main idea is a general summary of the author’s main points or argument.
128 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

ACTIVITY 8.1
Read the following passages and identify the main idea from the choices given below.

Before World War II, pork had been the most popular meat in the Unites States. Rising incomes,
falling cattle prices, the growth of the fast food industry, and the mass appeal of the hamburger
later pushed American consumption of beef higher than that of pork. By the early 1990s, beef
production was responsible for almost half of the employment in American agriculture, and the
annual revenues generated by beef were higher than those of any other agricultural commodity in
the United States. The average American ate three hamburgers a week. More than two-thirds of
those hamburgers were bought at fast food restaurants. And children between the ages of seven
and thirteen ate more hamburgers than anyone else.
E. Schlosser

(a) Hamburgers are the favourite fast food in the United States.
(b) Beef has replaced pork as the most popular meat in the United States.
(c) Beef production has generated higher revenues than any other agricultural industry in the United States.
(d) World War II was responsible for the popularity of beef in the United States.

Genes are the raw resource of the new economic epoch and are already being used in a variety
of business fields – including agriculture, animal husbandry, energy, bioremediation, building
and packaging materials, pharmaceuticals, and food and drink to fashion a bio-industrial world.
Nowhere is the new genetic commerce likely to have a bigger impact, however, than in human
medicine. For the first time in history, scientific tools are becoming available to manipulate the
genetic instructions in human cells. Human gene screening and therapy raise the very real possibility
that we might be able to engineer the genetic blueprints of our own species and begin to redirect
the future course of our biological evolution on Earth. The new gene splicing technique will make it
potentially possible to transform individuals and future generations into ‘works of art’, continually
updating and editing their DNA codes to enhance physical and mental health. Breakthroughs in
genetic technology are bringing us to the edge of a new eugenics era with untold consequences for
present and future generations and for civilisation itself.
J. Rifkin

(a) Advances in genetic engineering hold major implications for human development.
(b) Human beings will soon become artificially transformed by genetic engineering.
(c) Genetic commerce is the new bio-industry.
(d) Humans now have the scientific tools to conduct genetic engineering.

The first step in summarising is, of course, reading or listening to all the material at
least once.You may need to read a second time if you think you have not understood
the gist of it. As you read, try to determine what is the main point the writer is trying to
CHAPTER 8: SUMMARISING INFORMATION 129

bring across.You will either find it in the topic sentences of each paragraph or you may
have to determine what is implied by the paragraph. It is useful to underline what seem to
be essential points, as you read.
Example

The Internet’s effect on jobs


The presence of the Internet has had numerous effects on the job market.
As the technology changed rapidly, so did jobs. Workers needed to be
retrained to perform the new jobs, spawning an entire training industry.
For example, many workers needed to attend computer classes to learn
how to operate the newly available software and how to get around the
Internet. Administrative assistants and office personnel needed different (or
additional) skills than those for which they had been originally trained. For
example, although keyboarding remained a critical skill, knowing how to
actually operate a typewriter was no longer necessary.

Middle managers were also affected by the introduction of the Internet


into the workplace. They were required to learn new skills and use
computers for a greater percentage of their workday. In some cases, jobs
were combined or eliminated because the computer enabled workers to
operate more efficiently.
But not all of the changes were negative. The Internet, although it displaced
some workers, has simultaneously opened doors of opportunity for them.
The Internet facilitates outsourcing and working from home. Additionally,
many workers can work remotely as consultants or freelancers, using the
Internet to stay connected with others. Entire new industries and jobs (such
as Web designers) have been born. Finally, a host of job search sites, such as
Career Builder (www.careerbuilder.com) and Monster.com (www.monster.
com), aid people in their search for new careers.
L. Bird

Notice that the first line of the extract sums up what it is about. This is the main idea
of the piece summarised in one sentence. The types of effect on jobs are then illustrated to
support and clarify the main idea. These are subsidiary ideas, but they contain important
information that you would use in a summary. The writer also uses examples to further
illustrate her points as in the last lines of the first and third paragraphs. These are not
crucial to the gist of the passage and would therefore not be included in a summary.
Therefore a prose summary of this passage might read as follows:
Example The Internet has affected the job market in several ways. First, as jobs
changed in response to technology, all classes of workers had to be
retrained. Second, the efficiency of computers resulted in the elimination
of some jobs. Third, new jobs and opportunities for workers and flexibility
of work schedules have impacted positively on the workforce.
L. Bird
130 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

In a prose summary (as above), not only should you capture the essence of the original
piece, but you must do it logically and fluently. Unless the original is poorly written, you
should generally retain its organisational pattern. Use the following checklist to evaluate
your summaries:
1 Have I included all the main points?
2 Have I used my own words as far as possible?
3 Have I omitted all minor details and examples?
4 Does my summary reflect the order of the points in the original?
5 Are the points logically linked in my summary?
6 Have I acknowledged the source of the summarised information?

ACTIVITY 8.2
Read the passage below and complete the exercise that follows:

Global warming is probably the greatest challenge currently facing all species on Earth.
Many scientists have described the gradual and continuous warming of Earth’s climate as
potentially catastrophic and few can combat such a claim. This trend poses the greatest
risks to our environment and, co-relationally, to our economies. The most devastating
effects would be on poorer countries and small island states, which would be hardest
hit by rises in sea levels and degradation of forests and agricultural lands. Countries with
limited financial resources would be helpless in the face of major damage which could
arise even from incremental changes in global temperatures.

Confronting the challenges posed by global warming will require consistent collaborative
efforts by international governments, to create policies which are reflective of the scientific
evidence before them and to promote creative solutions. This means that legislation
governing industrial operations should be firm and enforceable. It would also be prudent
to design social policy which would engage the public in making the type of personal
decisions that are guided by an awareness of their effect on climate and environment.

1 Underline the key points in the passage.


2 Write a 50-word summary of the passage.

8.2 Note-making
You do not always need to write a continuous prose summary in order to condense and
simplify your material. Note-making is also an effective means of summing up information.
Most people develop a personalised method of making notes.Your aim is to put your
notes in a format, using a system that will allow you to review and retain information
easily. Whatever system you use, there are some basic rules that you should follow:
1 Select an outline form or a numbering system that allows you to distinguish major
from minor points.
2 Put notes in your own words except for specific facts, formulae or definitions.
CHAPTER 8: SUMMARISING INFORMATION 131

re about, regarding 3 Be brief. Do not write in sentences.


&, + and, in addition
4 Use a consistent set of abbreviations and symbols.
5 Leave spaces on your page so that you can add further notations
vs against, opposite
when you review.
etc. and so on 6 Write down only the important points.
@ at 7 Review notes as soon as possible and review often.
defn definition Note-taking from lectures must be done quickly but notes must be
dx does not clear enough for you to understand some hours later when you are
eg example reviewing or rewriting. Students often scribble notes horizontally, simply
1st
first ensuring that important points are recorded without paying attention to
format. If you had been listening to the passage on page 129, your rough
incl including
notes may have looked like this:
viz namely
neg negative
poss possible/possibly Internet – effects on jobs – jobs lost – wrong skills –
pp pages
must retrain – BUT – new opps – flexitime – easier job search
ref reference
w/o without

Table 8.1 Some note-making Fig


Fig. 8
8.2
2 Student notes from a lecture
abbreviations

However, it is quite possible to take notes quickly while maintaining


a basic structure that will enable you to be much clearer about the
points you have recorded. In addition, the more graphic your notes
are in terms of organisation, the easier they are to retain and recall.
Notice how much more reader friendly the notes in Figure 8.3 appear
to be even though they are recording basically the same information
as the previous example.

ACTIVITY 8.3
Effects of Internetnet
e on jjobs
obs
Add other abbreviations to the st
list in Table 8.1. You can make up
1 Neg.g.
your own personal symbols and – jjob
obb losses
looss
sses
abbreviations for taking notes; – IIrrelevant
rre
relevan annt skills
however, it is important to be
consistent so that your notes are
– fforced
orceed training ngg
always clear to you.
2nd PPos.
os.
+ nenew
ew jjobb op
oopps.
ppps.
+ fleflexitime
exi
xititme
+ easy searches
searrch
ches
e

Fig.
i 8.3 Structured
S d lecture
l notes
132 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

Linear outlines
Notes are commonly put in outline or linear format, which must be structured so that the
most important points can be clearly identified. It is advisable to transform your rough
notes from lectures into more formal notes as soon as possible after the lecture. Rewriting
your notes helps you to retain information and to clarify things that may be blurred in your
memory over time. Formal outline notes on the passage on pagepag 129 may look like this:

Effects of Internet on jobs


Did you
1. Negative know?
a) loss of jobs Studies show that people
b) workers’ skills no longer applicable may forget 50 per cent of
c) all classes of workers forced into retraining a lecture within 24 hours,
80 per cent in two weeks,
and 95 per cent within
2. Positive one month if they do not
a) new job opportunities for workers take notes.
b) flexible work schedules
c) easier job searches

Fig 8
Fig. 4 Linear notes
8.4

You may also want to organise your notes into categorising subheadings that help you
to clarify specific aspects suggested by the material. The example below organises the
information from the passage on page 130 in this way.

Problem: Global warming


Effects:
a) General risk to
i. economy
ii. environment
b) Specific risks to
i. low lying countries
ii. poor countries

Solutions:
a) government – creation of collaborative policies
promote creative solutions
commitment to enforcing rules
b) public – lifestyle changes

Fig. 8.5 Notes with subheadings


CHAPTER 8: SUMMARISING INFORMATION 133

Notice that two main categories have been created: Effects and Solutions. Then you
have created sub-categories, for example General and Specific risks. Creating your own
categories for notes means that you are analysing the information and manipulating it in
such a way that it makes sense to you. This is the most effective way to remember what
you read or listen to.

ACTIVITY 8.4
Read the following passage and make notes using one of the formal outline examples.

The wireless wounded


We used to push paper; now we push buttons – and switching the cell phone from your right to left hand
the result is getting ever more painful. From BlackBerries periodically, can be useful.
and Treos to cell phones and iPods, our miniaturised,
PDA hunch. Looking straight down at your mini
high-tech gizmos are leaving us with a whole new set
monitor flexes the neck in an unnatural position, says
of repetitive stress injuries that go beyond carpal tunnel
Manhattan chiropractor Marc Bochner. This can cause
syndrome (which caused those afflicted to typically miss
neck pain. It is advisable to set an alarm and take
27 days from work in 2005, according to the U.S. Bureau
breaks approximately five minutes every half hour. Get
of Labor Statistics). Here’s what you should know about
up, stretch, and walk around.
the next generation of gadgetry woes.
Mouse arm. ‘Most people using a mouse keep
BlackBerry thumb. This condition can develop from
their hand and forearm tense even when they’re not
constant emailing, text messaging, or Internet surfing
clicking,’ says physical therapist Rik Misiura, owner
on hand held devices. ‘Thumbs are not very dexterous,
of Central Park Physical Therapy in New York City.
and subjecting them to continual pressure can lead
‘So in addition to straining the finger, over time you
to irritation,’ says Michele Kehrer, a physical therapist
can also develop tendinitis in the elbow, where the
and owner of the LifeStyle Physical Therapy & Balance
muscle operating the finger originates.’ Persons with
Center in Chicago. Symptoms are pain or numbness in
this condition usually experience pain on the outside
the thumbs and thumb side of the wrist. One solution
of the elbow, usually when grasping or lifting. You
is to use a stylus or pen to punch the keys on your PDA.
should keep the mouse close to you so that you’re not
Stretch out thumbs periodically. Ice them if they are sore.
reaching for it. And for relief, Misiura suggests this
Cell phone elbow. Cubital tunnel syndrome can exercise: Imagine you have water on your hands, and
result from constantly holding a cell phone to the vigorously shake it off for seven seconds. Next bring
ear. In severe cases, it can cause permanent nerve your hands behind your head and neck from above
damage, and surgery may be the only option, says and swing them down in front of you, forward, then
Kehrer. Symptoms include elbow pain, numbness, pain backward; repeat for seven repetitions.
or tingling in the little fingers. Invest in a headset or ‘O’ magazine

Graphic organisers
An effective method of organising your notes is putting them in a format that leaves a
picture in your head when you try to recall them. Graphic organisers are also referred
to as knowledge/concept/story maps, cognitive organisers, or concept diagrams. They
are visual, graphic ways of representing information in such a way that illustrates the
134 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

links between/among concepts. They can be used across a range of subject areas and are
used widely as a major learning tool. Many people find it much easier to understand
and memorise information presented graphically. The type of graphic organiser you use
depends on the nature of the material you are organising. Thus, a cycle map would be
useful for illustrating a recurrent or interactive process, while a series chain or flowchart
would be used for a sequential or step by step process.
Example 1

Fig. 8.6 Cycle map

Example 2 Radioactive decay process of Thorium 232

Fig. 8.7 Flowchart

Graphic organisers can also be used to compare entities. The Venn diagram is most
often used for comparison purposes. Similarities are recorded in the overlapping areas and
differences in the outer areas. The following diagram on page 135 organises comparative
notes on poems by Olive Senior and William Wordsworth.
CHAPTER 8: SUMMARISING INFORMATION 135

Example

Fig. 8.8Circle or Venn diagram

There are numerous other graphic organisers that can be used for practically any
area of study. However, the most popular is the matrix or tabular format.You can adapt
this format to record any type of information, as you have seen done in this textbook.
Remember the more you practise the more proficient you will become at processing and
recording information. Graphic organisers are excellent tools to assist you in setting out
your information in logical ways that facilitate your comprehension.

Conclusion
The ability to summarise information accurately is proof of
comprehension. It is becoming more and more important to have
this skill, as we are bombarded with ever increasing amounts
of information every day. Once you have mastered the skill of
summary, you will find it useful in all aspects of your life, academic
and otherwise. Chapter 9 teaches you how to research information
for various purposes. You will find that, having understood in this
chapter how to structure information in logical ways, you will find
this skill very applicable to your research activities in the next.

9780230431584_text.indd 135 24/02/2014 09:31


136 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

Evaluation 2 Cut out newspaper articles. Cut off the headlines


and have members of your group come up with

and extension possible headlines after reading the article. Then


compare them with the originals.

3 Identify the main idea in the following


l Listen to a documentary or news programme and paragraphs:
make notes on the information you receive.
Compare your notes with those of your classmates.

Today we have a great opportunity to develop With the exception of head and facial hair styles,
a whole new range of environmentally friendly male body norms have varied less than female
technologies for use in our cities. Efficient energy norms over the last two centuries. Masculinity,
systems are now available for urban buildings, with rare exception, has been associated with
including combined heat-and-power generators, power, strength and domination and symbolised
with fuel cells and photovoltaic modules waiting by muscularity. Nevertheless, there has been
in the wings. New concepts of architectural variation in the degree of muscularity deemed
design allow us to greatly improve the energy ideal. Over the course of the nineteenth century,
performance and to reduce the environmental industrialisation increased affluence and the
impact of materials use in buildings. Also, waste- proportion of men who could avoid physically
recycling technologies for small and large, rich and taxing labor and malnutrition. Prosperity made
poor cities, can facilitate greater efficiency in the a middle-aged ’spread’ and softer bodies more
urban use of resources. Transport technologies, common, not only in the upper class, but also
too, are due for a major overhaul. Fuel-efficient in the growing middle class. The more fashion
low-emission vehicles are at a very advanced stage conscious corseted their girth. Others adopted
of development. In U.S. cities, rapid urban transit new methods of body discipline promoted by the
systems are starting to reappear even where physical culture movement.
people had come to depend almost exclusively on D. Sullivan
private transport.
W. Fox

4 Read the following passage on page 137 and


summarise, in one paragraph, the story that
the writer tells.
CHAPTER 8: SUMMARISING INFORMATION 137

When words return


You would think that well-loved books would be just what Daughter Mel had driven from San Diego to help us get
the doctor ordered if you’re confined to a hospital bed around the Phoenix suburb of Mesa and take us back to
with nothing much to do following a major operation. Show Low and these three days in Mesa saw a clearing
of the mind fog.
At least, that’s what I thought, and prepared for it
diligently heading into the big event. Was it merely the two weeks away from the hospital sick
bed that had brought about the change? Was it possible
The books had to have certain well-defined attributes: they
that the effect of various painkillers had leached away
had to be small, easily capable of being held with one hand
from my system, bringing some clarity?
so as not to encourage extra weight on a traumatised chest.
And they had to be familiar works I’ve enjoyed. The fact that I wanted to spend time in the Borders
bookstore near the motel was not so much a surprise as
That’s how I came to pack Ex Libris: Confessions of a
it was a massive lure! We ended up making two visits.
Common Reader by Anne Fadiman and The Antilles, by
And words began to beckon once more.
Derek Walcott. Sure fire reading fare I reckon them to be.
Ex Libris, besides, was a gift from a grandson, making it Not only did I pick up some books but I commandeered
more valuable. And Antilles, Derek’s Nobel Prize lecture, one of their armchairs, and with my oxygen cylinder
is something I had read maybe eight or ten times, and parked beside me, did something I daydream about: I sat
had given away copies to friends in the U.S. and Canada. there reading!

Derek’s evocation of the Ramleela in Felicity in Central Barak Obama’s Dreams From My Father replaced an
Trinidad was one of the components that made me feel edition I owned, and parted with, in T&T so it was like a
wedded to this gem. homecoming.

The picture he painted always takes me back to a Ramleela Frances Mayes’ A Year in the World puts together
festival in which I took part many years ago when, with a ‘journeys of a passionate traveller,’ touching the Greek
group of childhood cricket friends, we walked for perhaps Isles, Morocco, the Turkish coast, Spain, Portugal,
an hour and a half from Eckles Village, along the road Southern Italy and the British Isles.
to Princes Town, to an estate compound beside the road
She also wrote Under the Tuscan Sun, turned into a
where the festival was being enacted.
movie.
And although the celebration incorporated aspects of the
The Best American Essays of 2006 and Reading Like a
village life around us, there was poetry, and a touch of
Writer rounded off the lot.
enchantment, about the whole afternoon.
Francine Prose wrote Reading and you may have sampled
I’ve never seen the Felicity version, so near to where we
Gluttony, her contribution to that witty series on the
lived in Port of Spain, but Derek’s depiction reprises for
seven deadly sins. I had picked up this volume several
me something of my own biography.
times before and declined, but in my new awakened
Ah, but the minutiae of post-operation life, the hesitant state, I took her on. Now it will join her Year of Reading
hobble to the bathroom, the endless ministrations of a Proust, which is another story.
solicitous bevy, were all signs that I was still in thrall to
With perfect weather in these hills, I am able to go into
the surgeon and, in the end, this took its toll and never
the sun on to the deck and, between watching the
once did I even feel moved to open either of the books!
contrails, allow Frances Mayes to take me on tour!
Not only that, the thought of doing so brought not the
Walcott, somewhere in Antilles, said that for ‘every poet
expected pleasure, but produced, instead, as blank an
it is always morning in the world.’
emotion as if I were contemplating tomes on calculus or
celestial mechanics. Poet or not, with the return of words I can actually feel
the shining hopes of morning.
Even away from the hospital the pall persisted and the
most I would connect with was a few CDs. Then two R. Hernandez
weeks after the procedure I had to re-visit the surgeon
and cardiologist: just checking!
138 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

5 Use the spider map to makes notes on a topic


References
from one of your subject areas.
Bird, L. (2004). The Complete Guide to Using and Understanding the Internet.
New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Fox, W. (ed.) (2000). Ethics and the Built Environment. London: Routledge. pp.
24 –25.
Hernandez, R. (2007). Trinidad Express. 7 April.
Rifkin, J. in Behrens et al. (eds). (2000).The Ultimate Therapy: Commercial
eugenics on the eve of the biotech century. Writing and Reading Across the
Curriculum. Toronto: Longman, pp. 546–7.
Schlosser, E. (2002). Fast Food Nation. New York: HarperCollins, p. 198.
Sullivan, D. (2000). Cosmetic Surgery: The cutting edge of commercial
medicine in America. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, pp. 8–9.
The Wireless Wounded. O Magazine. February 2007.

Fig. 8.9 Spider map


CHAPTER 9: RESEARCHING INFORMATION 139

9 Researching Information
As you engage in learning at the tertiary level you will be asked to explore
some areas of the curriculum on your own or you may be asked to conduct
your own research on some topic of your choice. Research is an integral part
of the learning experience and it is therefore important to learn how best to
become a researcher and a writer of research findings. This chapter provides
guidelines for finding valid sources and writing the research paper, including how
to quote and how to cite those sources.

The skills you learn in this chapter pertain to Module 1 and Specific Objectives
3, 6, 7, 8 and 9.

Expected Learning Outcomes


On completing this chapter, you should be able to:
1 discuss different types of research
2 explain the difference between primary and secondary research
and give examples of each
3 explain key concepts in research, for example population, sample
4 discuss the importance of validity and reliability in research
5 evaluate the worth of sources whether in libraries or online
6 write a bibliographical source using the APA or MLA style.

Introduction
Research is defined as the disciplined process of investigating and
seeking facts that will lead one to discover the truth about something
(Markham et al. 2001). This research must be presented in such a
manner that the discovered facts are available to others. The research
paper, a formal presentation of these discovered facts, provides the
evidence one needs to defend the opinion expressed as the thesis (ibid).
When we speak of researching information we refer to various
ways of sourcing knowledge for varying purposes. For example, in
secondary school you may be required to find out all you know about
something or someone famous, or to write an essay on a particular
subject using two or three sources, or to investigate the reasons for
tardiness of students at your institution. Each of these assignments
merits some level of research. Some key terms that we will look at in
this chapter are: information/data; instruments; population; sample;
reliability; validity; plagiarism; sources and bibliographies. Each of
these terms plays an important role in the development of your
written assignment.
Fig. 9.1 Researching information
140 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

9.1 Types of research


The first differentiation that can be made is between primary and secondary research.
Primary research is that which is original. It is research that the researcher designs and
carries out using surveys and/or focus groups. Secondary research is the type you are
probably more familiar with as this is the type often required in the school situation. This
type of research is one that depends on accessing information that has already been
researched and can be found in books, other publications and expert sources.

ACTIVITY 9.1
Read the following scenarios and identify which are examples of primary and which are
examples of secondary research.
1 The role of Marcus Garvey in the Harlem Renaissance.
2 The performance of students at Malacar High in Cape Communication Studies.
3 The impact of youth counselling on the incidence of teen pregnancy in Kairenda village.

ACTIVITY 9.2
1 Explain the difference between primary and secondary research.
2 In your groups, brainstorm and discuss possible research topics and the types of
research under which they would fit.
3 Discuss the research projects in which you may have been engaged over the past two years.

In the examples of research given in paragraph 2 of the introduction, which ones do


you see as primary research and which ones do you see as secondary?
If you need to find out all you can about a famous person or thing, you will be
engaging in secondary research. The second example of the essay using two or three
sources is also secondary research. The third example of the reasons for tardiness of
students is an example of primary research.

Types of primary research


There are also two types of primary research.
■ Qualitative
■ Quantitative

Qualitative research
This type of research is widely used. It is based on information findings taken from
observation, interviewing and from tracing patterns of behaviour. This type of research
helps us understand how people feel and why they feel as they do. Qualitative research
is also in depth in nature as one collects a significant amount of information or data. In
this type of research, samples tend to be smaller and the duration of the research is often
longer than in the case of quantitative research. Two examples of qualitative research are:
■ Historical research
■ Ethnographic research.
CHAPTER 9: RESEARCHING INFORMATION 141

Historical research, put simply, is the study of past events while ethnographic
research is the study of current events through the collection of extensive narrative
data over a period of time in a naturalistic setting. In ethnographic research, participant
observation and case studies are often used. An example of an historical research topic is,
‘The effect of music on clothing styles: the twenties to present time’, while ‘The effect of
dub on the behaviour of school children’ is an example of ethnographic research.
Quantitative research
This type of research is widespread and requires the use of surveys to feed the statistical
analysis. Quantitative research requires a large sample. Because the sample is quite large
the researcher is not likely to have contact with the participants in the research process.
Two examples of quantitative research are:
■ Descriptive research
■ Correlational research
Descriptive or survey research involves the collection of data in order to answer a
question about the current status of a subject or situation. This type of research is concerned
with ‘the preferences, attitudes, practices, concerns, or interests of some group of people’
(Gay & Airasian 2000). Consumer surveys are typical examples of descriptive research.
Correlational research is the type of research that seeks to establish a relationship (or
lack thereof) between two variables or to use relationships to make predictions (ibid). One
example of this type of research is ‘How does the performance at the Common Entrance
Examination correspond to the performance of students at CXC General Examinations?’
The variables are Common Entrance marks and CXC results at general level.

9.2 Data/information
Most research texts do not suggest a difference between data and information. Thus
information or data refers to the collected facts, observations, records or statistics that
allow the researcher to come to some conclusion. Personal details such as age and gender
help to determine who the respondent is. This information is useful in looking at trends
of behaviour for specific groups. For example, suppose you were researching student
choice of television programmes between 8 and 10 p.m. at weekends.You could ask for
certain demographics including the age of the student, sex/gender and address. These
three pieces of information allow the researcher to look at trends by age, gender and by
the areas in which the participants live.You will observe as you either develop research
instruments or take part in some research that there are often other pieces of information
sought about the respondent, for example approximate salary and profession.
Information or data can also be used to make inferences and come to conclusions
about a research question. Sources of information/data vary depending on the type of
research pursued. Sources may be government statistics from specific departments, student
records held in school offices and examination results recorded by an institution or
responses from a specific group. No matter what the source of your information, you must
view the information in a systematic way.
142 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

9.3 Instruments
In research, we use the word instrument to refer to the methodology used to collect
data. There are various instruments that may be used in research. It is always important
to select the instrument that is best suited to the type of research you are doing. There
are numerous research instruments already in existence and it is up to the researcher to
find one that best matches the research question. Alternatively, the researchers can create
their own instruments; however, this is quite time-consuming and raises the question of
test validity and reliability (explained later in this chapter).The alternative is to collect
already existing data (secondary data) or use the observation method and record naturally
occurring events (Gay & Airasian 2000). Standardised tests are one type of research
instrument that a researcher may use to collect data. There are tests available to measure
interest, values and attitude. Imagine that you want to do some market research on a fairly
new product. There are already established interest and attitude tests that can measure this
interest and therefore your research instrument needs only to identify the specific product.
You do not have to reinvent the wheel.
However, there are times when, because of the nature of the research, the researcher
needs to be original in the creation of the instrument used. Thus questionnaires and
interview questions (known as interview schedules) often have to be created to suit the
situation. These methods may still draw on the expertise of previous researchers
by looking at the types and format of questions asked and the methods used to
score the responses.

9.4 Population
In research terminology, population refers to the group of individuals, items or events
that the researcher wants to study. For example, if you were going to study the incidence
of obesity in secondary school students, your population would be all secondary school
students but you would not be able to administer and collect data from every single
student in your country! The results from this approach may take years to analyse and by
that time be totally irrelevant. What then does the researcher do? The answer is to sample
the population.
According to Gay and Airasian (2000
p.121), sampling is the process of
selecting a number of individuals for a
study in such a way that they represent
the larger group from which they are
selected. The purpose of sampling is to
gain information about the population
by using the sample.
Let us consider the example given
of the research into the incidence of
obesity in secondary schools. Of course
you want your research to be relevant to
the whole population, to all secondary
schools. We have already established
that the population was all students in
Fig. 9.2 But how do I sample the population?
CHAPTER 9: RESEARCHING INFORMATION 143

secondary schools. Since the researcher cannot


possibly collect information from all students, Did you know?
he/she must select a sample that is representative
If a sample is well selected,
of the population. What then constitutes a research results based on it will
sample that is well selected? First, one must have be generalisable to the population.
a clear understanding of the composition of the The degree to which the sample
population. In this case the population may be represents the population is the
described as comprising: degree to which results for one are
applicable to the other.
■ Male and female
■ A range of age groups 11–19 L.R. Gay and P. Airasian
■ Students of different ethnic groups
■ Students of different socio-economic groups
■ Students practising different religions.
A well-selected sample should reflect these different groupings as well as represent the
ratios. If the school population is 75 per cent male then the sample should reflect a similar
ratio. Likewise, if the population is 50 per cent Hindu, 10 per cent Christian and 40 per
cent Rastafarian, then one should expect to find these three groups represented in the
sample, especially as there may be a close link between diet and religious denomination.
There are three basic steps to sampling:
1 Identify the population.
2 Determine the required sample size.
3 Select the sample using any of four sampling methods:
■ Simple random sampling – this method entails choosing a sample so that each unit
has an equal chance of being selected, for example in a raffle every individual has an
equal chance of being the winner.
■ Stratified sampling – this entails choosing a unit using the simple random method
from each group within a population, for example if you have the school as a
population then groups may refer to forms/classes; thus one would do simple
random sampling from each year group.
■ Cluster sampling – the sample is obtained by selecting clusters (groups) from the
population on the basis of simple random sampling, for example all high schools
in your territory are clusters; you want five schools, which you choose randomly
through simple random selection. All students in those schools must be interviewed.
■ Systematic sampling – in this type of sampling the initial choice is made randomly
and then, using evenly spaced intervals, the other choices are selected. For example,
in a list of 100 names the 100 may be divided into groups of 10 then a number
between 1 and 10 may be chosen, for example 6, and number 6 in each group
becomes part of your sample.
Of course you will need to consider which method of data collection best suits the
purpose and breadth of your research.Your research proposal should guide you and your
advisor as to which method/methods are best suited. The time you have allotted to
acquiring your data will also impact on your choice. When you attempt in-depth research
you may want to triangulate; that is use three different methods of data collection to
ensure validity.
144 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

Here are the strengths and weaknesses of the methods of acquiring data:
Method Strength Weakness
Questionnaires Can reach large numbers Sometimes respondents
reply without real thought
Face to face interviews Interviewer can clarify responses. Time consuming
Interviewees tend to be honest.
Phone interviews Can clarify responses Time consuming
Table 9.1
Comparison of data Observation Actually records actions of persons Time consuming/tiring
collection methods

9.5 Reliability and validity


In the same way that there is reliability and validity of measuring instruments, there is also
the question of reliability and validity of sources and data.

Reliability
What does reliability mean? When you engage in secondary research you must be careful
to read and therefore cite from research or articles that are authoritative and scholarly.
Especially when doing research online, you must be aware that not everything on the
Internet is worthwhile; therefore it is important to evaluate your sources. This means
that you must determine to what extent your sources can be trusted to provide true and
accurate information.
The author or speaker must be evaluated by you to determine whether that person
has expertise in the subject matter. For example, an article written about Leptospirosis (a
disease carried by rats) would be considered reliable written by the Chief Public Health
Officer since he/she is an expert in health. His/her authority in the subject area would
not be questioned. The article should rely on data collected in the field and statistics
collected over a period of time. An opinion expressed by a talk show host or caller would
not be considered as reliable as the expertise of such would be in question. A speech
made by the shadow Minister of Health decrying the upsurge of rats under the present
administration and lacking figures and statistics should raise some flags in the researcher’s
mind because the speaker’s role is to persuade the public
of the Government’s ineptitude. The speaker can therefore
ACTIVITY 9.3 be deemed as politically biased.
You are doing some research on voter The researcher should also look closely at the context
participation in the last election. Put a tick next of the research. An article on women’s role in twentieth
to the sources that would be considered reliable century politics should only use data on seventeenth and
in this instance: eighteenth century to show a contrast but not to illustrate
• The local newspaper the twentieth century experience.
• The leader of the Opposition political party Another aspect of reliability looks at the text of the
• The Prime Minister speech or article. It is important to check for factual
• The Electoral Office accuracy. Is what is said true? Can it be checked?
• The poll clerk in your polling station Information is given in magazines, newspapers and
• The Statistics Department. especially on the Internet that is inaccurate. Go on the
Internet and check for some of the writers from the
CHAPTER 9: RESEARCHING INFORMATION 145

Caribbean and you will see that their birthplaces are sometimes listed incorrectly. The text
should also be checked for its logical structure and cogency. Does the writer present a
logical argument or is it flawed? Furthermore is the point of the article made clear or does
one have to make inferences?
In carrying out primary research, the source of your information must also be reliable.
The individuals that you choose or the sources of data must also be seen as relevant to the
research and having the information that could assist in your being able to come to some
definitive response about the research question.

Validity
Validity refers to the soundness of the research that has been undertaken. In research
there is quite a bit of concern about validity. There is concern with validity of design and
validity of the methods of research. There is also concern about the findings and what
they represent.Validity can be divided into internal and external validity.
Internal validity relates to whether there are flaws in the design of the research or the
methods of data collection. Of course, any one of these factors may lead to the findings
not being valid. There is an old saying that goes ‘if you start wrong you can’t go right’ and
this truly applies to research. In Chapter 7, you learnt that argumentative reasoning must
be based on valid premises or an argument would have no basis. Similarly, research that is
not based on a valid or logical design would carry little weight.
External validity looks at whether your findings can apply or be generalised to a larger
group or other situations. If your research has external validity, the findings can be generalised
to a larger group or similar research at a later time, therefore it can be replicated. However, lack
of external validity allows the research findings to represent
only that specific group at that specific time.
ACTIVITY 9.4 Validity can also be looked at in the sense of
1 You have been asked to research drug use in authority and weight of the research. For example, does
schools. You use your school only. the research have enough scope and depth to allow
(a) Can the conclusions of your research it to be considered meaningful to anyone apart from
answer the research question? the researcher him- or herself? Who is the individual
(b) Is this external or internal validity being conducting this research and under what conditions?
questioned here? Answers to these questions may well suggest to the
2 You are researching the use of alternative reader that the research conducted is not significant
medicine in your island or territory. You use a enough to qualify as an appropriate secondary source
survey (questionnaire) administered through the
or, if the researcher is truly critical of the research, he/
Internet (email). You use one Internet provider’s
email list as your sample. she may conclude that there are holes in the research
(a) Is this a valid methodology to gain your
as it may not measure what it set out to measure or the
sample of the population? conclusions may not be seen as really answering the
(b) Is this external or internal validity being research question. In this way the researcher must at all
questioned here? times strive for validity in research so that his/her time is
not wasted.

9.6 Evaluating sources


In all types of research the researcher needs to read on the subject matter. These secondary
sources will aid in making points or justifying the need for the topic to be researched. In a
146 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

simple research paper the emphasis is on


evidence to support the thesis or main idea of
the essay. In an in-depth thesis or dissertation
the researcher will need a literature review as
well as evidence that substantiates or challenges
the conclusions of the research. But how
exactly does one evaluate these sources?
Here are some questions you might ask
when evaluating sources:

Fig. 9.3 Evaluating sources

1. Does the author have a bibliography at the end of the book/chapter/article?


This indicates the writer’s awareness of other research in the field.

2. Does the date of the article suggest that it is current or is the research dated?
A maximum of 7 years should indicate some level of currency.

3. Are the writer’s credentials cited? You would be best served by experts in the
field of your research.

4. Have you seen references made to the author in other documents you have read?

This of course points to the writer’s reputation.

5. Where is the article printed? Although we enjoy popular magazines these are
more often not the sources for serious research.

6. Does the publication have some implicit bias? For instance, an article against
stem cell research printed in a religious magazine must be carefully analysed
and scepticism should underpin acceptance of this source.

7. Is the Internet site I am on a reputable one? You need to take note of the
creators of the site for as you well know anyone can set up a site. The best
sites are those set up by universities and those with names that have .edu
and .gov. These are more often than not reputable. Those that end with .com
are probably not as good sites. Pay attention to the authoritative links that
take you to another site. This suggests that this site has been evaluated and
accepted as reputable.

8. There is a way to access evaluated sites and this is by using:


• The Internet Public Library www.ipl.org
• The Librarian’s Index to the Internet lii.org
• The Argus Clearing House clearinghouse.net

These sites have links to sites evaluated.


R. Markham et al.
CHAPTER 9: RESEARCHING INFORMATION 147

ACTIVITY 9.5
Read the following article and, using the guidelines provided above, evaluate it as a source for research on
’The effects of the Internet on young people’.

Helping youths meet the challenge


The world, its lifestyles, and its fads have always and kids were often so absorbed in what they were
undergone change. Largely because of modern doing that two out of three times they did not even
technology, changes are even more pronounced today. say a greeting! They just kept on monitoring their
What was in yesterday is out today, and what is popular electronic gadgets. ‘We also saw how difficult it was
today will be obsolete tomorrow. These rapid changes for parents to penetrate the child’s universe,’ says Ochs.
have a marked impact on young people. She adds that during the study parents were observed
actually backing away, retreating from kids who were
A social revolution absorbed in whatever they were doing.
In recent years, technology has sparked a revolution
that has had a profound effect on youths. For example, Online social networks – Harmless?
in many lands the cell phone and the computer have Many parents and educators are concerned about the
become a lifeline of the adolescent social world. Social amount of time youths spend visiting what are called
networking sites have opened up a whole new world online social networks. One problem that arises is that
of possibilities. ‘You can be relatively friendless in real some individuals create a Web-site persona that reflects
life and then suddenly have hundreds of friends online,’ who they want to be rather than who they are. ‘There’s
says a 19-year-old girl in Australia. a kid in one of my classes who says he’s 21 and lives in
Las Vegas,’ states a 15-year-old boy. Both youths live
Few would deny that the cell phone and the Internet
about 1,600 kilometres from that U.S. city.
have numerous benefits. For many people, however,
these tools seem to have become addictive. University Such deception is quite common. ‘You can do anything
Professor Donald Roberts notes that some students on the Net,’ confides an 18-year-old Australian girl.
‘can’t go the few minutes between their 10 o’clock ‘You can become a whole different person because
and 11 o’clock classes without talking on their cell no one really knows you. You feel confident. You
phones.’ He says: ‘it seems to me that there’s almost can make up things so that you seem to be more
a discomfort with not being stimulated – a kind of ”I interesting.
can’t stand the silence”.’
As with any mode of communication, online social
Some youths even admit that they feel hooked. ‘I’m networks can have legitimate uses as well as potential
totally addicted to instant messaging and my cell abuses. As a parent, do you know what your children
phone, because they’re how I keep up with my friends,’ are doing online? Are you making sure that your
says 16-year-old Stephanie. ‘When I get home, I go children are using their time wisely? (Ephesians 5:15,
online immediately and stay on… sometimes till 3 16.) Furthermore, misuse of the Internet can expose a
a.m.’ Stephanie’s monthly phone bill is anywhere from youth to a number of serious dangers. What are some
$100 to $500. ‘By now,’ she says, ‘I owe my parents of these?
more than $2,000 in excess charges. But I’m so used
to having my cell with me all the time that I can’t live The darker side of cyberspace
normally without it.’ The anonymity of the Internet makes it a hunting
ground for child predators. Youths can unwittingly
The problems can be more than financial. While doing
become ensnared if they give out personal information
a study on family life, anthropologist Elinor Ochs found
online or agree to meet a person with whom they have
that when a working parent came home, the spouse
been corresponding. Some people argue that ‘children
148 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

face more serious threats of violence or abuse in their hooking up that much easier,’ says a New York Times
own homes or on the playground,’ says the book Magazine report. In one survey, more than four out of
Parenting 911, ‘yet there is something insidious for five girls admitted that they are not as careful as they
most parents about sexual provocateurs being able to should be online.
reach into their homes through a screen and tamper
Some who are looking online for a date or a hookup
with the innocence of their children.’
get more than they bargained for. ‘We have seen an
There are other ways communication technology increase in sexual assaults,’ states Jennifer Welch of the
has been exploited. Some youths have engaged in Novato Police Department in California. She says that
‘cyberbullying’ – relentless online teasing, ostracising, many victims first contact their future assailant online
harassing, or threatening. Web sites have been set and then agree to meet in person.
up purely to humiliate someone, while email, chat
rooms, and the like have become conduits for slander. Beware of the ’Wisdom of the world’!
The director of an online safety group believes that Teen advice columns in newspapers and magazines
up to 80 per cent of children between the ages of tend to take a soft stance when it comes to young
10 and 14 have been directly or indirectly affected people and sex. Although they give a nod of approval
by cyberbullying. to abstinence or moral purity their main goal is to
encourage ’safe’ sex rather than no sex. ’We can’t stop
In some cases, cell phones with a built-in camera have
them,’ the reasoning seems to be, ’so at least we can
been used to take rude and potentially embarrassing
teach them to be responsible.’
photographs and videos, perhaps in a school locker
room or shower. These images have then been placed on In an article posted on one respected Website for teens,
the Internet and sent to any number of eager recipients. the issue of whether to have sex or not boiled down to
three factors: (1) the risk of pregnancy, (2) the risk of
Yet, some parents know surprisingly little about what
contracting a sexually transmitted disease, and (3) the
their children are doing online. One mother, who
importance of deciding if both parties are emotionally
closely monitors her 16-year-old daughter’s online
ready for the experience. ’In the end, it’s your decision
activities, stated: ‘Parents would be absolutely horrified
to make,’ the site says. Only a passing reference is
and embarrassed if they knew what their children were
made to discussing the matter with a parent. And there
posting and discussing.’ According to an Internet safety
was not even a mention as to whether such sex is right
expert, some young people are posting photos that are
or wrong.
sexually very suggestive.
If you are a parent, surely you want something better
Negative effects than the fickle and foolish ’wisdom of the world’ to
Is all this alarm merely the paranoia of over concerned guide your children. (1 Corinthians 1:20) How can you
adults who have forgotten what it is like to be a help them to navigate their way through adolescence
teenager? The statistics suggest otherwise. Consider: In and avoid the dangers discussed in this article? The
some areas, nearly a third of boys and girls between 15 answer may not be as simple as unplugging the
and 17 years of age have had sexual intercourse. More computer or taking away the phone. Surface solutions
than half of teens between 13 and 19 say that they rarely reach the heart. (Proverbs 4:23) Consider, too,
have had oral sex. that your children may be using such devices as the
cell phone and the Internet to address certain needs
Has technology contributed to these sobering statistics?
that you as a parent may be able to address far more
Undoubtedly. ‘Cell phones and the Internet, which
effectively. What are some of these needs?
offer teenagers an unparalleled level of privacy, make
Awake!
CHAPTER 9: RESEARCHING INFORMATION 149

9.7 Acknowledging sources


Once you have found some reliable sources for your research you will need to make some
note of what others have said about the subject for use in your research paper.
There are various ways of capturing those ideas:
■ Direct quotation
■ Paraphrasing
■ Précis
■ Summary.

Direct quotation SEMESTERISATION


Direct quotation, as the name
‘An expectation that the introduction of a semester
suggests, points to the use of
system would facilitate curriculum development
the writer’s exact words. If
within each discipline and across faculties’
you intend to use this type
of referencing then you must
be sure to quote exactly as
the writer phrases his/her
idea. Even punctuation marks
should be copied in place.
Use double quotation marks
for this way of referencing. Fig. 9.4 An index card
In addition, make note of the
author, title of work and page numbers and publisher’s name, address and the year the
work was published. The best way to capture this information is by developing an index
card file with quotations you might use.

Paraphrasing
Long passages by the original author may contain fine ideas that cannot be captured by
direct quotation. The researcher must then in his/her own words capture the ideas of
the writer. It is imperative in paraphrasing to watch out for the tendency to slip into the
writer’s words as this may cause you inadvertently to plagiarise (see page 150). If you
want to discuss the lines of a poem you may also paraphrase rather than quote the lines.
Remember that paraphrases also need to be acknowledged, as you are still using
someone else’s ideas.

Précis
Here again the researcher must use his/her own words to capture the ideas of the original
writer. The précis is a careful rewrite of the original that maintains the style, point of view
and tone of the original without using the actual words of the original author.
(Markham et al. 2000)

Summary
This is also written in the researcher’s own words and summarises the general ideas in
long extracts or even a book. The researcher must still credit the author.
150 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

Plagiarism
The most important thing to remember is the need to acknowledge all material quoted,
all material paraphrased and all material summarised. If this is not done, any
material borrowed from
I don’t think you can really claim that Martin another source constitutes
Amis plagiarised your work just because you both plagiarism. Often, we do
used the words ‘to’, ‘if’, and ‘but’ on page 46. not mean to plagiarise but
another writer may say
something so well that we
put it into our own writing
without making the
necessary acknowledgement.
Also, a popular excuse is
that when we are about to
complete the final draft, we
cannot find the source of
the information and
therefore do not include it.
Nonetheless plagiarism
is a serious offence and
there are several ways of
Fig. 9.5 Plagiarism avoiding it:
■ Ensure that any quotation that you copy while researching is documented for future
reference. Note cards or a note book are useful for listing these sources and quotes.
■ Remember that paraphrasing an author does not exempt you from acknowledging
the source.
■ Become so familiar with the subject area that you can tell the difference between what
is generally known and what is a specific writer’s view of a subject. The specific view
must be acknowledged.
■ Desist from using a line of argument presented by someone else without
acknowledgement.
■ If there is doubt in your mind as to the question of plagiarism, ask a classmate what
they think or, better yet, your teacher.
Plagiarism is a serious offence and can cause students to fail courses. In some
institutions, incidents of plagiarism may lead to academic probation. In fact it is treated in
the same way as cheating, as it is considered academic dishonesty.

9.8 References and bibliographies


You have reached the point where you are writing your essay, so what do you do with
the card files containing the quotes, the summaries, précis and paraphrasing? How do they
fit in to your actual text? The answer lies in the use of a preferred style guide. There are
various style guides for different academic fields.
■ APA – American Psychological Association manual
■ MLA – Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, the Modern Language Association
of America
CHAPTER 9: RESEARCHING INFORMATION 151

These are the two most widely used style manuals for research papers. Following are
examples on how to use the two style manuals to fit quotations into your research paper.
Presentation MLA APA
elements
Materials Use good quality 8½ inch by 11 Use good quality 8½ inch by 11 inch
inch white paper. white paper.
Font Use a standard typeface and Use a standard typeface and typesize,
typesize, such as 12 point Times such as 12 point Times New Roman.
New Roman.
Identification Use a page header that includes Numbering should begin on the title
and pagination your last name and the page page, flush with margin on the right
number on the top right corner of and continue on each subsequent
every page e.g. Jones 11. page. The running head should be
on each page on the top left corner.
(Note the words ‘Running Head’ only
appear on the title page.)
Title page MLA does not require a title page. At the top left type the words
However the first page of your ‘Running Head’, followed by a
paper should include your name, shortened title of the paper no more
your instructor’s/teacher’s name, than 50 characters and in all capitals.
the course title, and the date on About half way down the page, centre
separate lines against the left the title. Use capital letters for words
margin. Centre the title of your of four letters or more. Under the title
essay. type your name and then the name of
your school.
Margins and Margins should be 1 inch on all Margins should be 1 inch on all four
spacing four sides of each page. Double sides of each page. Double space
space throughout the paper. Indent throughout the paper. Indent a new
a new paragraph ½ inch from the paragraph ½ inch from the margin. No
margin. No additional spacing is additional spacing is required between
required between paragraphs. paragraphs.
Headings Headings help to organise the text for
the reader. The main headings should
be centred and bolded. Capitalise the
initial letter of all words except articles,
Table 9.2 Style short prepositions, and coordinating
Guide: Presentation conjunctions.
152 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

Citation MLA APA


elements
In-text citations Should be used after quoting, The format is last name of author,
paraphrasing or summarising. year of publication, page number
State the author’s last name and of quote. When paraphrasing or
the page number in parentheses summarising an idea, include the
without a comma, e.g. (Ross page number, e.g. (Ross, 2007,
127). p.127).
Block Indent quotations longer than four Quotations that are 40 words or
quotations typed lines of prose or three lines longer need to be set apart in a block.
of verse. Indent the entire quote 1 Double space and indent ½ inch from
inch from the set margin. Double the left margin. Do not use quotation
space the quote. Do not use marks and place the final punctuation
quotation marks. Put the full stop before the in-text citation.
before the citation.
Citing indirect To cite information that your To cite information that your source
sources source has taken from a different has taken from a different source,
source, put the original author name the original source in your
of the information in the text introductory phrase, e.g. Educator
and write ‘qtd in’ in your in-text Joseph Inniss suggested that
citation followed by the author ‘Students need to be nurtured
and page number of the work you even as they reach post-secondary
found the material in, e.g. (qtd in institutions’ (as cited in Applewhaite,
Applewhaite 341). 2009, p. 341).

List the secondary source in your


list of references and include in your
citation.
Listing works The works or sources cited in The heading ‘References’ should
cited the essay must appear in your appear on a new page. The word
page/s under the heading ‘works should be centred 1 inch from the top
cited’. This is a new page and the of the page. The list should be double
actual words ‘Works Cited’ should spaced. Type the first line flush left
be centred but not underlined or and any additional lines should be
punctuated. Note that only the indented ½ inch.
work you used appears in this list,
not everything you read. Use alphabetical order of the last
name of the authors or editors to
Use alphabetical order of the last arrange the list of works cited. If there
name of the authors or editors to is no author/editor use the first word
arrange the list of works cited. If of the title other than a/an or the to
there is no author/editor use the place the work.
first word of the title other than a/
an or the to place the work. Use initials instead of first names,
e.g. Mahabir, T.D.
The hanging indent should be used
if your entry requires more than
one line.
CHAPTER 9: RESEARCHING INFORMATION 153

Web addresses MLA requires the following for a APA requires the following for
website citation: last name, first a website citation: Publication
name of author; title of website; information as for a print periodical.
sponsor of site; update; medium; Use the DOI (Digital Object Identifier)
date of access, e.g. Richards, instead of a URL. Only use a retrieval
Michael. Coral Reefs. Barbados date if you believe the article will
Library Association. 2010. Web. change.
24 January 2012.
Titles Use italics for the titles of books Italicise the titles and subtitles of
and other long works and for books. Do not use quotation marks
websites. Use quotation marks for around the titles of articles. Capitalise
the titles of articles, short stories only the first word of the title and
Table 9.3 Style and poems. subtitle (and all proper nouns) of books
Guide: Citations
and articles.

It is advisable to check the various


sites available on the internet to assist you
in presenting your work using the correct • Cite as you would a printed source,
followed by a retrieval statement that
format. The formatting requirements are
includes the Internet address or URL of
constantly changing and therefore what
the article. Start it with the word Retrieved
is presented above is only a guideline for and end with the Internet address/URL, for
use at the date of publishing. example Richards, H.B.R. (2000). Change
The style guide also aids in the management in the business environment.
format of your bibliography. A Journal of the Caribbean Human
bibliography lists the books, journals, Resources Society, 10, 106-129. Retrieved
articles read and Internet sites visited. from http://www.chr.org/cat/
You must be particularly careful to
• When you retrieve an article from online
include the works cited in your paper. and you need to include it in your
However, all works read should really bibliography you may use the above
appear in the bibliography. example or go online and check your
preferred style at www.ehoh.com or any
Citing sources from the Internet reputable source for citing.
The typical student tends to simply APA manual 6th ed.
write, for example, http://www.junk.
com as a source in the bibliography.
However, more than the above is
required. The APA manual (6th ed.) suggests that you should do as shown in the box above.

Conclusion
This chapter introduced some basic concepts in research. As
you advance academically you will learn more about research
techniques. However, in writing research papers for this level of
study you may refer to the guidelines offered here to ensure a well-
documented, valid piece of writing. This chapter also offered a
means of ensuring that your sources are indeed the types that offer
the best information available. As you continue on to Chapter 10 you
will explore the different types of writing in the world of academics.
154 UNIT 3: INTERPRETING COMMUNICATION

Evaluation 3 Select articles from journals, magazines and


newspapers. In your group, discuss their

and extension reliability as sources of information or data.


How credible is the author? Has he/she provided
evidence to support claims or conclusions?
1 Write the bibliographical reference for this 4 Select one of the following topics to research.
text. Choose one Internet source and write the Make a presentation on the topic to your class:
bibliographical reference for that source. Use APA (a) The impact of HIV/AIDS on your society
or MLA. (b) Human migration patterns in your territory
2 Choose a research topic and, using your school (c) Fashion trends among youth in your age group
or district library, find two valid and reliable (d) Themes in popular music.
sources that could provide information for your
research. Discuss with your classmates the
worth of your sources.
References
Adams, R. (2007). Viewpoints. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, p. 274.
Coleman, V. (1993). Private Consultation with Dr Vernon Coleman: Stress and
Relaxation. London: Hamlyn, pp. 9–11.
Gay, L.R. & Airasian, P. (2000). Educational Research. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Golafshani, N. (2003). Understanding Reliability and Validity in Qualitative
Research. The Qualitative Report, 8(4), 597–606. Retrieved 20 April 2007 from
www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR8-4/golafshani.pdf.
Markham, R., Markham, P. & Waddel, M. (2001). 10 Steps in Writing the
Research Paper, 6th edn. Hauppauge, New York: Barron’s.
Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6thedn. (2009).
Washington
Restak, R. (1988). The Mind. New York: Bantam Books, p. 48.
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York Inc. and Watch Tower Bible
and Tract Society of Great Britain (2007). Helping Youths Meet the Challenge.
Awake! March, pp. 4–7.
155

End of Unit
Test 3
Read the passage below and answer the questions that follow.

Whatever else you do with your life you will always be Modern advertising is a scientifically based creative art
a consumer. To the people who make items as varied which is designed to raise the intensity of your desires
as motorcars, refrigerators, underwear, indigestion and build your dissatisfaction and your fears. The
remedies, biscuits, coat hangers and kitchen sinks you advertising copywriter is hired to create unhappiness.
are a consumer. To lawyers, accountants, surveyors, Advertising is, in short, an industry which only works
house agents and even doctors you are a consumer. when it puts you under unnecessary stress.

In order to persuade you to become a customer, the Modern advertising is designed to make you dissatisfied
people who provide these products and services spend with anything which isn’t profitable. Advertising
considerable amounts of money trying to convince you copywriters want to take away your appreciation of the
that their products or services are better than anyone simple things in life because they know that there is more
else’s and are essential for a happy life. profit in making things more complicated, more expensive
and more unreliable. They want you to be in so much of
Modern advertising agencies know (because they have
a hurry that you eat instant foods rather than growing
done the necessary research) that it is impossible to
and preparing your own vegetables. They want you to
sell anything to a satisfied man. But, in order to keep
ride in a car rather than walk or ride a bicycle. They want
the money coming in, the advertising agencies must
to make you feel guilty if you don’t smell right or don’t
constantly encourage us to buy and they constantly
buy the right breakfast cereal for your children. They want
need to find better ways to sell us goods and services
you to feel a failure if you don’t have the latest clothes on
that we do not really need.
your back and the latest gadgets in your home.
Any fool can sell a product or a service that people
Advertising is most successful when it persuades you
need. If your shoes wear out then you will buy new
to forget your real needs and to replace them with
ones or have the old ones repaired. If you are hungry
wants; there is no doubt that the advertising industry is
and there is only one restaurant for miles then that
responsible for much of the sickness and much of the
restaurant will get your service. If your car is about to
unhappiness in our society.
run out of petrol then a garage doesn’t need to offer
you free products to get your custom. Even if you don’t have the money to spend on new cars,
kitchen furniture, clothes and other goods so cleverly
As far as the advertising agencies are concerned, the
advertised, you will not escape. Advertising, designed to
trick is to get you to buy shoes when you don’t need
inflame your desires, will show you services you cannot
to and to buy shoes that are more expensive than they
buy and things you cannot have. It will create wants and
need be: to buy food when you are not hungry and to
then turn those wants into needs. Advertising creates
fill your car with petrol long before its tank is empty,
frustration and disappointment, envy and dissatisfaction.
simply because you are attracted by the offer that
If you are too poor to buy the things which are
accompanies a particular brand of fuel.
advertised, you will never discover that the products on
As far as the advertising industry is concerned, the basic offer are unlikely to satisfy the promises made for them.
trick is to turn your most ephemeral wants into basic
Advertising is, without a doubt, one of the greatest
needs. In order to do this advertising agencies use all
causes of stress and is one of the greatest of modern
their professional skills to make you dissatisfied with
threats to physical and mental health. Advertising
what you already have. They need you to be constantly
agencies kill far more people than do industries which
dissatisfied and frustrated.
pollute the atmosphere.
V. Coleman
156

1 In one sentence, state the main idea of this passage. Read the following passages and answer the questions
(2 marks) below each one.

2 What are the intentions of the writer? (4 marks)

3 (a) Identify and give examples of TWO devices of What do fathers do? Partly, of course it is simply
argument or persuasion used by the writer. to bring a second adult in the home. Bringing
up children is demanding, stressful and often
(4 marks)
exhausting. Two adults can support and spell each
(b) Discuss the similarities between these devices and
other; they can also offset each other’s deficiencies
those used by the advertising industry.
and build on each other’s strengths. Beyond that,
(4 marks)
fathers bring an array of unique and irreplaceable
4 List the six main points used by the writer to develop qualities that women do not ordinarily bring. Some
his essay. (6 marks) of these are familiar, if sometimes overlooked or
taken for granted. The father as protector, for
5 Analyse the passage in terms of its reliability as a example, has by no means outlived his usefulness.
source of data. (4 marks) And he is important as a role model. Teenage
boys without fathers are notoriously prone to
trouble. The pathway to adulthood for daughters is
Read the scenario below and answer the questions somewhat easier, but they still must learn from their
that follow. fathers, as they cannot from their mothers, how to
relate to men. They learn from their fathers about
heterosexual trust, intimacy and difference. They
Your Caribbean Studies class has been given a learn to appreciate their own femininity from the
research project that counts for a large percentage one male who is most special in their lives (assuming
of your end of term grade. Your group has chosen that they love and respect their fathers). Most
to research the incidence of sexual activity amongst important, through loving and being loved by their
teenagers at your school. fathers, they learn that they are worthy of love.
R. Adams

l List THREE methods you might use to collect data for


your research. (3 marks)
Select the main idea from the choices below. (1 mark)
2 State THREE relevant questions that you may ask to (a) Fathers are very useful parents.
gain information /data for your research. (3 marks) (b) The father’s primary role is that of protector.
(c) Fathers are important to the development of both
3 State THREE sources you may draw on for boys and girls.
information /data for the research. (3 marks) (d) Fathers are capable of doing things that women
are unable to.
4 Some of your group members feel that the findings
of this research apply to all teens in your country.
Explain to your group why this is not so. (2 marks)

5 Explain how the research methods would have to


change to allow this research to have countrywide
application. (4 marks)
157

Scientists have known for years that all is not


quiet or quiescent within the womb. Intrauterine
recordings reveal the sounds of the mother’s
heartbeat along with muffled speech and sounds
from the environment. But important questions
remained unanswered. After birth will the newborn
recognise the sounds heard in the womb, perhaps
even prefer them over other sounds? Although
this was an intriguing possibility, there was no way
of knowing the answer until scientists developed
a way of measuring newborn preferences. The
breakthrough came with the use of a non-nutritive
nipple, which monitors the rate and amplitude of an
infant’s sucking.
R. Restak

1 Give definitions for the following: intrauterine;


quiescent; intriguing; amplitude (4 marks)

2 Describe briefly how you think a non-nutritive nipple


might have been used by the scientists. (4 marks)

3 In the original text, what do you think the next


paragraph dealt with? (2 marks)

References: Unit 3 Additional reading


Bell, J. (2001). Doing your Research Project. Buckingham:
Open University Press.
Grant, P. (1997). Reading and Study Skills. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall Inc.
McWhorter, K. (2002). Reading Across the Disciplines: College reading and
beyond. Longman.
Newby, M. (1989). Writing: A Guide for Students. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Smith, B. (2004). Breaking Through: College Reading, 7th edn. Longman.
Sullivan, H. & Sernoff, L. (1998). Research Reports: A guide for middle and
high school students. Connecticut: Millbrook Press.
Turabian, K. (1996). A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and
Dissertations, 6th edn. University of Chicago Press.
Zeuschner, R. (1997).Communicating Today. Allyn & Bacon.
4 Structuring
Communication
So far you have learnt what communication is,
how it works in society and how to interpret the
communication you receive. Deciphering information
requires receptive skills and the other side of
communication, which is conveying information,
requires productive skills. Whenever we speak, write
or gesticulate we are producing communication or
trying to convey a message. In order for that message
to be received clearly and interpreted by the receiver
in the way that we intend, we must be sure that it has
been structured appropriately. This unit explores the
ways in which we produce communication and how
the different forms of communication can be structured
and prepared for presentation to our audience
(whether listeners, readers or viewers).

Expected Learning Outcomes


On completing this unit, you should be able to:
1 produce different types of communication relevant to your social,
academic, professional and vocational needs
2 apply basic communication skills and principles to your communication
choices and behaviours
3 appreciate the use of speech and writing as mental and social processes
4 express yourself in speech and writing with precision, accuracy,
clarity and fluency
5 demonstrate competence in organising oral and written communication
6 use English structures correctly and appropriately.
160 UNIT 4: STRUCTURING COMMUNICATION
CHAPTER 10: SPEAKING 161

10 Speaking
It is difficult for most people (unless they are speech impaired) to imagine days
going by without using speech (or signing) as a means of communication. As
long as we are in social or interactive situations, the need for speech arises;
however, the type of speech required varies with each communication context.
Very often, the effectiveness of our communication depends heavily on how
well we can convey thoughts and messages through speech. Therefore it is
important to understand how to ensure that, whatever the communicative
context or purpose, we are able to speak clearly, choose our words carefully
and use the appropriate intonation in order to be good communicators.

The skills you learn in this chapter pertain to Module 3 and Specific Objectives 1, 4, 5,
6, 8, 9 and 10.

Expected Learning Outcomes


On completing this chapter you should be able to:
1 describe the various types of speaking
2 describe the mental and social processes involved in speaking
3 manipulate non-verbal elements and modes of speech
appropriate to specific purposes and audiences
4 speak in English on prepared and impromptu topics, using
appropriate verbal and non-verbal cues
5 use appropriate strategies for speech preparation
6 evaluate your own oral communication and that of peers,
according to set criteria.

Introduction
Can you remember a really outstanding talk or presentation that you attended? Which
aspect of that presentation made the greatest impression – the speaker’s delivery or the
content? Although a large proportion of our life is spent communicating through speech,
too frequently such communication is not very effective, often resulting in wrong ideas
being conveyed, or poor impressions of the speaker being formed. One clear example
where this may happen is in a job interview. The impression the interviewer receives of
you is dictated by your ability to communicate effectively. However, before you even
attempt to enter the world of work, you will be required to demonstrate proficiency in
public speaking.You may be called upon to present a paper in class, to attend a scholarship
interview, talk to your church or social group or you may be valedictorian as you graduate
from school or college.
Since most of the communication you engage in throughout life will be through
speech, it is important to take an objective look at the skills that characterise a good
162 UNIT 4: STRUCTURING COMMUNICATION

speaker and the strategies and techniques that assist in the delivery of different types of
speech. A good speaker is able to use the language tool to achieve any of the purposes
of language.

10.1 Basic speech skills


There are six basic speech skills that are key to the effective delivery of spoken
communication. These skills can be mastered only through consistent practice and frequent
self-evaluation. It is useful
to have a voice recorder
and a mirror when
practising, or you can
practise your skills with
your friends and ask for
their honest feedback.You
should not be self-conscious
or embarrassed about
trying to improve your
speaking ability. The most
powerful and influential
people in the world are
usually among those who
have mastered the basic
Fig.10.1 Do not be embarrassed about trying to improve your speaking ability skills of effective speaking.

Articulation
This is the careful pronunciation of words and syllables, with specific regard to consonant
sounds. The articulators are the tongue, lips, teeth and palate. These are the points of
contact that enable us to produce the particular consonant sounds. Make the sounds of ‘k’,
‘l’, ‘th’ and ‘m’. Notice which articulators are used for each one. Proper articulation occurs
when all consonant sounds are pronounced clearly in the right places. Obviously, words
like ‘knife’ and ‘sight’ do not require you to pronounce every consonant. It is important to
remember that consonant sounds vary from one language to another. When speaking
English, sounds such as the second ‘t’ in ‘tourist’ and the ‘d’ in ‘send’ must be sounded
although they are not pronounced in the Creole. Similarly the ‘th’ consonant blend is
difficult for many speakers (including native English speakers) and needs to be practised.

Enunciation
ACTIVITY 10.1
This is the careful pronunciation of the
Practise saying these:
vowel sounds in words and syllables. The
articulators do not have to touch each other
for us to produce these sounds. Try making ship fit did pun
the sounds of ‘e’, ‘o’, ‘u’, ‘i’ and ‘a’. Notice
gun sheep feet deed
how you produce these sounds. Notice also
that each vowel has more than one possible pan gone
sound. Proper enunciation requires clear
CHAPTER 10: SPEAKING 163

differentiation between separate vowels as well as between the two sounds of each vowel.
Your listener should be clear as to whether you are saying, ‘paper’ or ‘pepper’, ‘pin’ or ‘pen’,
‘potent’ or ‘portent’. Activities such as saying tongue twisters, recitation or choral speaking
are very useful in practising both enunciation and articulation.

Voice control
This is the ability to regulate and modulate your voice so that your words are audible and
your tone conveys the intended message. It is important to regulate the tempo or speed of
your speech to aid the understanding of your listener. Speaking too quickly can interfere
with articulation and enunciation, while speaking too slowly may well bore your listeners.
The volume of your voice also needs to be adjusted to suit the specific occasion. It
would be ridiculous to conduct an intimate conversation with someone that is clearly
audible to other people several feet away. Conversely, nothing is more annoying to a
listener than having to strain to hear the person addressing him or her.Your setting or
environment normally dictates how loudly or softly you speak.
The pitch/tone of your voice is another aspect to be modulated or adjusted.Your
tone conveys emotional and social information to your listener. It can indicate whether
you are angry, sad or excited and your listener can also get the impression that you are
superior, submissive or unsure from your tone. A loud, strident tone is usually interpreted
as aggressive, whereas softer tones are considered non-threatening. Since the quality of
your voice influences the impressions that your listeners form of you, listening to yourself
is a good idea. Record your voice when you speak in class or other situations and listen to
it.You may be surprised at how others hear you.

Usage
This refers to employing the correct grammatical structures when speaking, as well as
using structures that are appropriate to your audience and the purpose of your speech.
(See Chapter 13 for a review of common grammatical errors.) Remember that language
can be correct but inappropriate. For instance, if you were giving a talk to a kindergarten
class on the importance of keeping their surroundings clean, you would need to use
simple rather than complex sentence structures.

Disposing of your rubbish in the receptacle


provided is of paramount importance, not only to you, but
also to your colleagues, since the environment is a collective one,
and you are likely to develop a myriad illnesses from
unhygienic surroundings.

Fig. 10.2 You may end up alienating your audience


164 UNIT 4: STRUCTURING COMMUNICATION

Word choice
The words you use when speaking should be appropriate to the audience as well as to
the occasion or you may end up alienating your audience. For example, unless you were
addressing a group of computer savvy people, you would not throw in words like core
processors, teraflop, macros or search engine optimisation if there was no way of clearly
explaining them.You should also ensure that you do not use words that are socially
inappropriate or vulgar.

Audience–speaker rapport
Effective communicators work on developing a relationship
with their audience. This does not mean that you have to
know your audience personally but that, whatever you do,
you need to have your audience in mind. Therefore, even
before you give a speech, during your preparation phase, you
must think of your audience. This starts with the selection of
material that is of interest to your audience. Capturing the
interest of your audience is the first step towards developing
a good rapport with them. Second, you need to monitor
your audience’s reactions throughout your speech and make
the necessary adjustments to your content, word choice
or voice modulation. Look out for signs of boredom or
distraction, like fidgeting or most people not looking at you.
Sometimes just making a dramatic pause or changing your
tone of voice can make a difference. It is also important
to look at your audience in order to engage them. Avoid
focusing on the wall at the back of the room or looking
The speech was almost interesting. up at the ceiling. Make eye contact with individuals as
People began to sit up and fake interest. you speak. Establishing a good rapport with your audience
generates positive feedback from them, which in turn
Fig. 10.3 Audience–speaker rapport energises you as a speaker.

Dress
Have you ever attended a lecture and found yourself focused on what the speaker was
wearing rather than what they were saying? Whenever we are planning for an interview
or speaking engagement we should pay special attention to how we dress. Is our clothing
appropriate to the occasion? Do our clothes fit well? Not to tight? Not dropping below
our hips? Is the colour sending the right message? As you learnt in Unit 1, dress is a form
of non-verbal communication. We should always remember that when presenting a speech
the non-verbal cues are as important as the verbal.

10.2 Preparing speeches


There is no greater threat to an oral presentation than inadequate preparation.
Unfortunately this aspect is often underrated and done hurriedly. Preparation is key to
the eventual success of your presentation and should be approached in a logical, sequential
manner. The following eight-step approach on page 165 can be used:
CHAPTER 10: SPEAKING 165

1 Determine your purpose – will your speech be to entertain, inform or persuade?


Did you Your speech may have more than one purpose.
2 Select a topic for your speech – it is best to select a topic that you know about or one
know? that you are very interested in and would like to know about. If you are not interested
Fear of public in your topic then your audience will not be either. A speaker’s level of enthusiasm for
speaking is the topic can easily be detected by his/her audience.
one of the 3 Research your topic – find out everything you can on the subject.You need to
most common know more about it than you will tell your audience.You must appear authoritative,
phobias and knowledgeable and in control of your material.
ranks higher 4 Consider your audience – what are they likely to be interested in? You will not be
than the fear able to put everything you know about a subject into a speech, so understanding your
of death.
audience enables you to streamline and select the aspects most appealing to them.
5 Using the audience-centred approach – plan your speech. Write your central idea and
outline the main points. Decide which information from your research you will use to
support your points. No matter how short it may be, ensure that your speech has
(a) an introduction, (b) a body and (c) a conclusion.
6 Write out your speech so that you can practise it. Then make an outline with just your
main points. This is what you will speak from.
7 Select your visual aids if you intend to use them. Make sure that they are pertinent to
your topic and that they enhance rather than distract.
8 Rehearse your speech – use a mirror to monitor your body language and a voice
recorder to evaluate your vocal impact.

10.3 Components of the speech

Introduction
Often, the most difficult part of
preparing for a speech is planning
your introduction. The introduction
usually determines whether your
audience is going to sit up and pay
attention or begin to tune you out.
It must characterise you as someone
with something important and
interesting to say and the audience
must know what you are going
to talk about; however, under no
circumstances should you begin
with, ’The topic of my speech is ….’
Essentially, the introduction has three
major roles: to attract the listener’s
interest, to place the topic in context
for the listener and to deliver a
speech-focusing statement.

Fig. 10.4 A rambling introduction


166 UNIT 4: STRUCTURING COMMUNICATION

There are several types of speech openers


that can be used to catch the audience’s 1. Ask a rhetorical question.
interest. However, whichever one you Example: Did you know that each
select must be intrinsic to your topic. For night, two hours of your sleep is spent
example, if you decide to begin with a dreaming?
question, it should be answered by the end
2. Use humour.
of the speech and if you begin with a
Example: We all know that the only
quotation, it should be elucidated or
reliable way to predict the weather is
illustrated during your speech. There are by washing your car.
some examples of openers on the right.
Once you have the attention of 3. Use a startling statement.
the audience, you need to move your Example: By the time I have finished
introduction towards your exact topic by my speech, 1500 children will have
died from hunger.
first giving some general background or
contextual information, then zooming 4. Open with a quotation.
in on the specific aspect(s) on which Example: The famous writer Mark
you will be speaking. The final part of Twain once said, ’Every time you stop
your introduction is the speech-focusing a school, you will have to build a jail.’
statement. This tells your audience exactly
what you will be talking about and in
what order.
Example We all know that the only reliable way to predict rain is by washing your
vehicle. However, for centuries, human beings have tried to accurately
forecast weather systems, in an effort to plan agricultural or social events,
or simply in a vain attempt to gain some control over our environment.
Today, we can make more informed decisions on our activities largely
because the science (or art) of weather forecasting has become more
precise and dependable. Modern weather forecasting depends on a
combination of computer models, observation, and knowledge of trends
and patterns.

The body
The body of your speech develops your main points. It is where you carry out the
promise made to your audience in the introduction. Unlike a written piece that your
reader can peruse at will, savour slowly or return to several times, your speech must
accomplish your purpose within a given time. Therefore it must be carefully constructed
to deliver precisely the amount of information you intend, in a way that enables the
audience to comprehend easily, without having to tune out some parts while they try to
make sense of others.Your challenge is to keep the audience alert and interested while you
convey your points clearly. The approach you take towards constructing your speech will
depend on the type of speech and its purpose.
If you are telling a story, you will want to build suspense in your audience towards a
climactic point or the most dramatic part and then give the resolution or outcome.You
would also need to use highly descriptive language to keep the pictures in the audience’s
minds moving along with the story and to maintain the mood.
CHAPTER 10: SPEAKING 167

Conclusion
Your conclusion is perhaps the most important part of your speech, since this is the last
part of your message that your listeners will hear. This is the point at which you want your
audience entirely in agreement or having fully understood.Your main task in the conclusion
is to solidify their memory of the ideas you have put forward.You must summarise the main
points of your speech (remind your audience of what you have said). The main idea or thesis
should be clearly restated in your conclusion.You should also think carefully about the kind
of mood or frame of mind with which you would like to leave your audience. This will help
you to decide if you want to end by challenging your listeners to questions, appealing for
further action, or leaving them with food for thought in your last sentences.

10.4 Types of speech

Informative
The informative speech draws on some of the techniques used in narration. The facts
that you present must be brought alive in the minds of the audience. Simply giving out
information by listing facts will bore an audience. An effective approach would be to
present the facts in a descriptive manner by using analogies or comparisons and turning
your facts into pictures. For example, if you say, ‘Imagine that every minute an entire class
of students dies and every hour an entire school dies. That is the rate at which children are
dying of hunger worldwide,’ this gives your audience a better picture of what the actual
numbers mean when you give the statistics.
When giving a demonstrative speech, you should use the chronological or sequential
approach to ensure that the aspects of a process or item are presented in a logical order
that helps the audience in memorising them.You may also use a cause–effect method,
where you systematically show how one thing results in another.
The informative speech relies very heavily on careful and systematic construction,
since your audience is expected to learn or understand how things work or how to do
something. Structuring your information from the least to the most important points
(climax order) or vice versa (anti-climax order) enables your listeners mentally to list or
scaffold your points as you speak. Providing your audience with ordered structures helps
to keep them alert because their minds are busy filing this neatly packaged information.

Persuasive
The secondary purpose of these speeches can be to inspire, motivate, criticise or condemn;
however, their main purpose is to elicit some changes in the minds, values, attitudes,
beliefs or behaviours of the listeners. Therefore, the success of the persuasive speech would
be based on the degree to which the speaker is able to achieve the desired change.
First, a very effective way of influencing your audience is by use of repetition. It is
often said that, if one hears something often enough, one begins to believe it. Repetition
is a powerful persuasive tool. It creates emphasis and hammers home your points.
Second, you can use rhetorical questions to keep the attention of the audience and
suggest the absurdity of what you are persuading them against. Rhetorical questions
force the listener to respond mentally in a predictable way. They are not designed to elicit
debate, but to provide the stimulus for the only response that you are expecting.
Third, using language that appeals to specific emotions in your listeners is another
effective way of making them feel strongly about your position.
168 UNIT 4: STRUCTURING COMMUNICATION

ACTIVITY 10.2
Dramatise the extract below. Pay attention to the ways in which the speaker, Anthony, tries to influence his
audience, the plebeians. Then answer the questions that follow:

William Shakespeare

1. Pleb. This Caesar was a tyrant. 2. Pleb. If thou consider rightly of the matter, Caesar
3. Pleb. Nay, that’s certain. 70 has had great wrong.
We are blest that Rome is rid of him. 3. Pleb. Has he, masters?
2. Pleb. Peace! Let us hear what Antony can say. I fear there will a worse come in his place.
Ant. You gentle Romans,– 4. Pleb. Mark’d ye his words? He would not take the crown;
All. Peace, ho! Let us hear him. Therefore ’tis certain he was not ambitious. 115
Ant. Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; 75 1. Pleb. If it be found so, some will dear abide it.
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. 2. Pleb. Poor soul! His eyes are red as fire with weeping.
The evil that men do lives after them, 3. Pleb. There’s not a nobler man in Rome than Antony.
The good is oft interred with their bones; 4. Pleb. Now mark him; he begins again to speak.
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus Ant. But yesterday the word of Caesar might 120
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious. 80 Have stood against the world; now lies he there,
If it were so, it was a grievous fault, And none so poor to do him reverence.
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it. O masters! If I was dispos’d to stir
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest, Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,
(For Brutus is an honourable man, I should do Brutus wrong, and Cassius wrong, 125
So are they all, all honourable men) 85 Who, you all know, are honourable men.
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral. I will not do them wrong; I rather choose
He was my friend, faithful and just to me; To wrong the dead, to wrong myself and you,
But Brutus says he was ambitious, Than I will wrong such honourable men.
And Brutus is an honourable man. But here’s a parchment with the seal of Caesar; 130
He hath brought many captives home to Rome, 90 I found it in his closet; ’tis his will.
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill: Let but the commons hear this testament,
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious? Which, pardon me, I do not mean to read,
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept; And they would go and kiss dead Caesar’s wounds,
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff: And dip their napkins in his sacred blood, 135
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious 95 Yea, beg a hair of him for memory,
And Brutus is an honourable man, And, dying, mention it within their wills,
You all did see that on the Lupercal Bequeathing it as a rich legacy
I thrice presented him a kingly crown, Unto their issue.
Which he did thrice refuse. Was this ambition? 4. Pleb. We’ll hear the will. Read it, Mark Antony. 140
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious, 100 All. The will, the will! We will hear Caesar’s will!
And sure he is an honourable man. Ant. Have patience, gentle friends; I must not read it.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke, It is not meet you know how Caesar lov’d you.
But here I am to speak what I do know. You are not wood, you are not stones, but men;
You all did love him once, not without cause; And being men, hearing the will of Caesar, 145
What cause withholds you then to mourn for him? 105 It will inflame you, it will make you mad.
O judgment, thou art fled to brutish beasts, ’Tis good you know not that you are his heirs;
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me; For if you should, O, what would come of it?
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar, 4. Pleb. Read the will! We’ll hear it, Antony!
And I must pause till it come back to me. You shall read us the will, Caesar’s will! 150
1. Pleb. Methinks there is much reason in his sayings. 110 Ant. Will you be patient? Will you stay awhile?
CHAPTER 10: SPEAKING 169

I have o’ershot myself to tell you of it. That day he overcame the Nervii. 175
I fear I wrong the honourable men Look, in this place ran Cassius’ dagger through;
Whose daggers have stabb’ed Caesar; I do fear it. See what a rent the envious Casca made:
4. Pleb. They were traitors. Honourable men! 155 Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabb’d;
All. The will! – The testament! And as he pluck’d his cursed steel away
2. Pleb. They were villains, murderers! The will! Mark how the blood of Caesar follow’d it, 180
Read the will. As rushing out of doors, to be resolv’d
Ant. You will compel me then to read the will? If Brutus so unkindly knock’d or no;
Then make a ring about the corpse of Caesar. 160 For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar’s angel.
And let me show you him that made the will. Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar lov’d him.
Shall I descend? And will you give me leave? This was the most unkindest cut of all; 185
All. Come down. For when the noble Caesar saw him stab,
2. Pleb. Descend. Ingratitude, more strong than traitors’ arms,
3. Pleb. You shall have leave. 165 Quite vanquish’d him: then burst his mighty heart;
4. Pleb. A ring! Stand round. And in his mantle muffling up his face,
1. Pleb. Stand from the hearse! Stand from the body! Even at the base of Pompey’s statue 190
2. Pleb. Room for Antony, most noble Antony! (Which all the while ran blood) great Caesar fell.
Ant. Nay, press not so upon me; stand far off. O, what a fall was there, my countrymen!
All. Stand back! Room! Bear back! 170 Then I, and you, and all of us fell down,
Whilst bloody treason flourish’d over us.
O, now you weep, and I perceive you feel 195
The dint of pity. These are gracious drops.
Kind souls, what weep you when you but behold
Our Caesar’s vesture wounded? Look you here!
Here is himself, marr’d as you see, with traitors.
1. Pleb. O piteous spectacle! 200
2. Pleb. O noble Caesar!
3. Pleb. O woeful day!
4. Pleb. O traitors! Villains!
1. Pleb. O most bloody sight!
2. Pleb. We will be revenged. 205
All. Revenge! – About! – Seek! – Burn! – Fire!
Fig. 10.5 Scene from Julius Caesar – Kill! – Slay!
– Let not a traitor live.
Ant. If you have tears, prepare to shed them now. Ant. Stay, countrymen.
You all do know this mantle. I remember 1. Pleb. Peace there! Hear the noble Antony. 210
The first time ever Caesar put it on;
’Twas on a summer’s evening in his tent,
William Shakespeare

1 What is the Plebians’ initial opinion of Caesar? At which point does it begin to change?
2 What do you believe are Antony’s intentions when he begins his speech?
3 Identify the main persuasive devices used by Antony.
4 Why do you think Antony (i) pauses during the speech and (ii) hesitates to read the will?
5 What actions / body language accompany his speech between lines 172 and 185? What do you think is his
final action in line 199?
6 Which parts of the speech are ironic and why?
170 UNIT 4: STRUCTURING COMMUNICATION

Debates
A debate is a formal method of interactive argument. It requires a presentation of two
sides of an argument in a structured manner, following specific rules of conduct. Debating
a topic does not mean that you necessarily believe or agree with the side you are arguing.
In fact, you may personally believe quite the opposite. A debate is actually a demonstration
of your knowledge of a topic, using logical reasoning, language techniques and delivery
skills. The debate topic is sometimes referred to as a moot and is presented as a statement
or a claim that something is true.
Debating is a team activity. The proposing or affirmative team is expected to prove why
the topic is true while the opposing or negative team does the opposite. Most debating
models require three members on each team with the following roles:
Proposing team Opposing team
1st affirmative (team leader) 1st negative (team leader)
■ defines the topic ■ accepts, qualifies or rejects the
■ presents the team position definition used by the affirmative
■ briefly outlines what each speaker will talk ■ presents the negative team position
about ■ briefly outlines what each team
■ presents the first half of the affirmative case member will say
■ rebuts a few of the main points of the
first affirmative speaker
■ presents the first half of the negative
case
2nd affirmative 2nd negative
■ reiterates the team’s position ■ reiterates the team’s position
■ rebuts the main points presented by 1st ■ rebuts the other main points of 1st
negative affirmative and some of 2nd affirmative
■ presents the second half of the affirmative ■ presents the second half of the
case negative case
3rd affirmative 3rd negative
■ reaffirms the team’s position ■ reaffirms the team’s position
■ rebuts all remaining points of negative’s case ■ rebuts all remaining points of the
■ summarises the affirmative’s case affirmative’s case
■ concludes the affirmative’s case ■ summarises the negative’s case
■ concludes the case for the negative
Table 10.1 Roles in
a debate NB: No new points can be introduced by the third speakers

In some models, the debating team comprises two members and the team leaders speak
at the end to do the final rebutting and conclusion.
Much of a debate consists of rebuttal or showing why the other side is wrong. This
requires quick thinking and is the most challenging part of debating. If you have done
extensive research and preparation of your topic, you would have already anticipated
what points your opponents are likely to put forward and this will assist your rebuttals.
Rebuttals should be logically done so as to dismantle the opposing point. Under no
circumstance should you make personal references to, or criticisms of, your opponents.
Debating etiquette requires you to be courteous to the opposing side. Remember a
debate is not a quarrel.
CHAPTER 10: SPEAKING 171

A debate is judged according to the following:


ACTIVITY 10.3
In groups, research the following topics and list points to 1 Matter: The substance of the speech;
support their affirmative and negative sides. the types of example and supporting
1 A unified Caribbean will always be a myth. argument used.
2 Capital punishment has no place in a civilised society.
2 Method: The organisation of your
3 The United Nations is a failure as an organisation and
speech; the unity of the team, logical
should be dissolved. presentation of the arguments.
4 The worst drugs are already legal.
3 Manner: How you present your speech;
5 There is no difference between a terrorist and a freedom
voice, audience rapport, body language;
fighter. no dependence on a written speech.
6 Computer games do more harm than good.
7 It is impossible to have a world at peace; human beings are
confrontational by nature.
8 It is morally acceptable to experiment on non-human
animals to develop products that benefit human beings.
9 Democracy is not really the best form of government.
10 Examinations measure nothing useful and should be
replaced with other forms of assessment.

10.5 Delivering your speech


For some people this is the most difficult
part of the process because it means Fig. 10.6 Fear can be a problem
putting themselves at the mercy of an
audience. The best way of building your
confidence is making sure that your speech
is well rehearsed. This means practising
in front of your mirror and recording
your speech to listen to yourself. Practise
your gestures, pauses and posture. Use a
dictionary to check your pronunciation
and word usage.Your aim should be to
know your speech well enough that you
do not need to read it. Reading your
speech makes delivery more difficult
because it is harder for your audience to
feel involved with you. It is also difficult
for you to monitor your audience’s
response and maintain eye contact.
Speaking entirely from memory can also
be risky, unless you are very comfortable
with public speaking and not prone to
loss of concentration. When reciting
from memory you also run the risk of Fig. 10.7 Be yourself
172 UNIT 4: STRUCTURING COMMUNICATION

sounding robotic and monotonous especially if you are concentrating on remembering


your speech. The best option is using notes that give you cues to your points, so you need
only to glance down periodically. Avoid stapled pages since they require you to turn them
obviously. Small note cards are simplest and least obtrusive. Do not write out your entire
speech on the cards.You need only your outline points to aid your memory and help you
keep to your organisation.
Example

Weather foreing
cast
s ingg
WWeatherforecast
Weather forecasting
1. Compute r models
1.1 1. Comput
Computerer models
models
Use of infotion
rmation
Useofofinforma
Use information
Info from sates,llite s, ballo,ons,
weather stations
weather
Infofrom
Info satellites,balloons
fromsatellite balloons, weather stati
s atioons
st
stations ns
How thes e work
How thesework
Howthese work
2. Observation
22. Observa
2. tion
Observation
Tool
T thermom
s: thermom
eter,eter
e anemom
, anemome
om
eter,eeter
ter,, baroter
barome met
e er
Tools:
Tools: thermometer, anemometer, barometer
How thes e work
How thesework
Howthese work
3. Tren
T ds
3.3. Trends
Trends
Cloud patterns
Cloudpatterns
Cloud patterns
Duss&t &water
water vapour
Dust & water vapour
Dust vapour
EndNothing
: Nothinggis isfoolproo
foolpproo
End: Nothing is foolprooff f
End:

Fig. 10.8 Using


note cards

Before facing your audience, make sure that your visual aids are attractive, useful
and will be clearly visible to the entire audience. While visual aids can enhance your
presentation and improve the ability of your audience to retain information, poor quality
aids frustrate your listeners and make them inattentive.
You should also check your personal appearance to ensure that you are well groomed
and appropriately attired for the occasion. A floor length ball gown would be as out of
place at a career lecture as would a pair of jeans and a vest at a eulogy.
Once you are in front of the audience, remember to breathe deeply to steady your
voice and slow your tempo. (Speaking quickly is a customary response to nervousness.)
Make eye contact with your audience before you begin and relax your facial muscles.
A smile puts both you and your audience more at ease. Avoid fidgeting or excessive
gesturing. Use pauses to allow your audience to react to a startling fact or to laugh at
a humorous line. Significant pauses can also effectively emphasise a point. Above all, be
yourself and let your personality come across to the audience.
CHAPTER 10: SPEAKING 173

ACTIVITY 10.4
Read the following extract and make a list of the author’s suggestions for successfully facing an audience.

Public speaking is being practised increasingly as a shyness is ’worse’ than anyone else’s even as they try
broader range of people are being called upon to ’say to hide it. In fact, many others are just as shy, and are
a few words’ before an audience. Many speakers are hiding it just as well.
seized with stage fright as they rise to their feet. The
It may be reassuring to remind yourself that the
way to conquer this is also the way to make good
audience is naturally less conscious of your nervousness
speeches: Be prepared!
than you are. The tremor in your voice might sound like
More and more people these days are finding a jackhammer in your own head, but ask friends in the
themselves having to speak in public. In addition to audience about it afterwards, and they probably didn’t
the usual occasions when they may be asked to address notice it. Even if your nervousness shows, your listeners
a club or other social body, the number of situations usually are unlikely to object to it.
in which they may be obliged to face an audience
has grown. Overcoming fear and appearing confident
Once you resign yourself to a certain degree of
For instance, for many, delivering eulogies at funerals
nervousness, then you can start practising some of
is an important custom, and participants in wedding
the physical techniques for controlling it. Chief among
ceremonies are often expected to say a few words.
these is deep breathing. The extra oxygen is soothing
Whereas at one time only senior managers made
and the deliberate pacing of your breaths causes your
presentations or speeches as part of their jobs, almost
heart-beat to slow down.
anyone in today’s workplace may be called upon to talk
to an employee or client group, or similar gathering. The physical actions entailed in loosening up before a
public speaking appearance resemble the warm-ups
Executives who once thought they could spend their
athletes go through before entering a competition:
lives quietly administering affairs are now asked to
You wiggle your toes and fingers, rotate your head
speak before gatherings of financial analysts, regulators
and stretch your neck, move your jaw from one side
and community leaders to explain corporate policies
to the other.
and promote the interests of their industries. Public
speaking has been included in their job descriptions People accustomed to talking to groups develop an air
whether they like it or not. of poise which can be invaluable in meeting strangers,
participating in gatherings, and exercising leadership.
And many people don’t like it at all. Often the most
Carnegie advised speakers to take a bold stand though
insincere line in a speech comes when the speaker
they may be quaking inside: ’Stride forth bravely, stop,
attests to what a pleasure it is to be there, when in
stand still, and act as if you loved it.’ If you remain
fact he/she would sooner be almost anywhere else on
nervous, try not to show it. You can relieve the tension
Earth at that moment. Yet it is an absolute fact that
unobtrusively by doing things like twisting your fingers
public speaking can be an absolute pleasure for both
behind your back, wiggling your toes, or clasping a coin
the speaker and the audience if it is approached with
in your fist.
due care.
You should dress for a speech in the same way as you
The first step to making good speeches is to subdue
would dress for a wedding or any other social occasion.
one’s fear of appearing in public.
Your clothes should be suited to the occasion. A
Perhaps the first thing a prospective speaker should speaker’s dress should never be so incongruous, flashy
know about stage fright is that almost everybody in a or glamorous that it distracts attention from what he/
like situation has it. Shy people tend to think that their she has to say.
174 UNIT 4: STRUCTURING COMMUNICATION

People who are inclined to make flamboyant gestures As in singing, breath control helps them to do this by
should try to curb them slightly, mindful that they can permitting variations in volume and intonation. Nothing
also take the audience’s mind off their basic message. turns an audience off more completely than the
Gestures, of course, are a highly individualistic feature featureless droning of a voice speaking in monotone.
of a personality, and you would look and feel awkward
As far as public speaking is concerned, timing is
if you tried to suppress them totally. But you should
everything. Pauses at psychological moments, speed-
not just let yourself go – instead, you should be
ups and slow-downs, abrupt changes of pace – these
aware of your gestures, and try to use them to your
can make the difference between stimulation and
best advantage. If truth be told, some of the most
stupefaction.
apparently passionate orators have their gestures under
complete control. Unless you are a comedian, you are The greatest cause of failure among speeches is not
best-off to try to give yourself an air of quiet dignity. The stage fright or delivery technique or the appearance of
degree of respect you elicit for your personality is bound the speaker. If a speech fails, it is usually because it was
to affect your audience’s respect for what you have written at the last minute and delivered without ever
to say. So be yourself, but be a little better than your being rehearsed.
normal self. If you normally tend to slur your words, for
The speaker most likely to succeed is the one who
instance, take care to pronounce every word precisely
has put many long hours into preparation. The public
and clearly. If you ordinarily talk fast, slow down.
platform should hold no terrors for the person who
You may be an inveterate slouch in your daily life, but knows the subject and knows what he/she wants to say.
this is the time to hold your chest high, tuck in your
Self-confidence is half the battle in the public arena,
stomach, and press the back of your neck against your
and it cannot be gained without hard work and
collar. Apart from enhancing your physical presence,
forethought. But it makes the effort all the more
this stance deepens the chest cavity, allowing you to
worthwhile when you realise that the confidence
bring your breathing under better control.
gained in making successful speeches can extend into
People cannot do much about the pitch of their voices, every aspect of your life.
but they can learn to use their voices more expressively. Royal Bank of Canada

It is important to be able to evaluate your delivery. Feedback allows you to improve


your presentation skills. Just as you work with peers to evaluate your written work, you
should do peer evaluation of your speaking skills. The evaluation form on page 175 can
be used for this purpose. Remember to discuss the positive aspects of the presentation first.
CHAPTER 10: SPEAKING 175

Speech Evaluation Form


Speaker:
Topic: Yes No Comments
1 Was the purpose of the speech clear?

2 Was the topic relevant to the audience?

3 Was the introduction interesting?

4 Were the main points well supported?

5 Were the speaker’s ideas logically developed?

6 Was the conclusion effective?

7 Did the speaker use an original approach to


the topic?
8 Was the level of language appropriate to the audience?

9 Were the grammatical structures correct?

10 Did the speaker appear poised?


11 Was the speaker fluent?

12 Did the speaker use effective information?

13 Did the speaker use appropriate body language?

14 Did the speaker establish good rapport with the


audience?
15 Did visual aids (if used) contribute to the
effectiveness of the presentation?
Overall evaluation
____________________________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________________________
____________

Table 10.2 Speech


evaluation Conclusion
Like the other communication skills, effective speaking requires
practice and continuous self-evaluation. You have learnt the basic
skills to be developed and various strategies for structuring and
delivering what you say. You have also learnt that meticulous
preparation is key to successful delivery, which translates into
a positive communicative experience for speaker and audience.
Chapter 11 also looks at the importance of preparation and
appropriate structuring of communication, this time in written form.
176 UNIT 4: STRUCTURING COMMUNICATION

Evaluation
and extension
l In groups, paraphrase (write in your own words)
the extract from Julius Caesar on page 168 and
read your paraphrased version aloud. Does it
seem to have the same effect as the original?
Discuss this in your groups.

2 Collect samples of public speeches and examine


them to identify the speaker’s purpose and
devices. Try to obtain samples of recorded
speeches from your electronic media (GIS, radio
and television stations, Internet) and listen to
evaluate the speaker’s oral techniques.

3 Prepare a speech on one of the following topics


and present it to your class. Each speaker will be
evaluated using the Speech Evaluation Form
on page 175.
(a) Caribbean governments invested large sums
of money in preparation for the hosting of
the Cricket World Cup 2007. What are the
legacies of the tournament?
(b) ‘Women appear to be making progress in the
workplace at the expense of family life.’ Take
a position on this.
(c) The feature address at a youth rally, entitled,
‘Youth, builders of tomorrow’s world’.
(d) The advantages of travel.
(e) Conservation: Do we care?
(f) Designing schools for this century.
(g) The good life.

References
Dorsch, T.S. (ed.) (1975). Julius Caesar. New Arden Shakespeare. Methuen &
Co. Ltd, pp. 81–5.
Speaking in Public (1992) Royal Bank of Canada Letter Collection, 73 (6) Nov/
Dec, available at www.rbc.com/responsibility/letter/nov_dec1992.html.
CHAPTER 11: WRITING 177

11 Writing
Although on average we communicate less through writing than through the
other language arts (listening, speaking, reading), writing takes up a considerable
amount of our time as students and certainly in many professions later in life.
The codes of language that we follow when writing are stricter and less flexible
than those of speech, and writing has to be formally learnt. This means that
much attention must be paid to the art of writing and we must understand
how to communicate effectively regardless of the type of writing that we are
required to produce. In Unit 3 Chapter 7, we looked at types of writing from the
perspective of the reader. This chapter focuses on understanding the process of
writing for others and the differences among the various types of writing. You
will understand how to engage in a process that enables you to polish and refine
your writing so that it serves its purpose. You will also learn how to manipulate
various types of writing to maximise the effectiveness of your communication.

The skills you learn in this chapter pertain to Module 3 Specific objectives 3, 4, 5 and 10.

Expected Learning Outcomes


On completing this chapter, you should be able to:
1 describe the writing process
2 apply the writing process to written communication
3 engage in objective criticism of your writing
4 identify various forms of writing.

Introduction
Like speaking, writing allows you to structure your language in ways that enable others to
understand and relate to what you are trying to communicate. The primary goal of
writing is to convey a message. Whether you are writing for yourself or for others, you are
writing with a purpose in mind.You may be writing for yourself in order to express your

Fig. 11.1 Writing for oneself


178 UNIT 4: STRUCTURING COMMUNICATION

feelings or to organise information in a way that is more meaningful to you or you may
be exploring how much you know about a topic.
You may be writing for others for a variety of reasons: to inform, instruct, persuade
or to entertain. The characteristics of your writing depend on its purpose. Writing for
yourself is typically writer oriented while writing for others must be reader oriented. The
latter immediately raises questions such as ‘How should I structure this?’ ‘What will the
reader think if I use this word?’ ‘Which sequence would make it clearer to the reader?’

11.1 The writing process

Most writers know that good writing is carefully planned and well rehearsed. Sometimes,
writers create several versions of a text before they are satisfied that it conveys the message
that they want in the best possible manner. Authors plan, organise, draft, revise, edit and
proofread their work before they make it public. By engaging in these activities, they are
going through what is called the writing process. The steps of the process are as follows:

ACTIVITY 11.1
Think about the
following questions:
Have you ever sat
down to a writing
task and begun to
write immediately and
continuously?
Having written your
piece, were you
satisfied that it was
interesting, accurate
and clear to the
reader?
What do you normally
do before you begin to
write?

Fig. 11.2 The writing process

Notice that the writing process is not linear. Writers often repeat different steps of the
process, as needed, to complete the writing task satisfactorily. Of course, the circumstances
under which you are writing, determine the extent to which you can repeat, refine and
re-polish as well as the length of time you can spend on each step. If you are writing a
term paper, you obviously have more time to refine your work continuously than if you
are writing an essay that is due in two or three days. However, no matter what the time
CHAPTER 11: WRITING 179

frame, you should never compromise your use of the


writing process because this will affect the quality of Did you
your writing.
Once you get into the habit of using the process, you know?
will be able to adapt it to the time available to you. Even The English word essay
under examination conditions, you must go through an comes from the French
abridged form of the process if you want to produce verb essayer which means
answers that are clear, informative, well structured and free to try or to attempt.
of errors. During an examination, your use of the process
may be limited to three to five minutes of brainstorming
and jotting down a quick plan or notes and a minute or
two at the end for a quick review of what you’ve written.
The more you use the process, the easier it becomes and
the better your writing develops.

Pre-writing
This is the foundation stage of your writing and, like any foundation; it determines the
substance of your writing and the shape it will take.
Identifying the writing task
‘What am I being asked to do?’Your answer to this question determines the type(s)
of writing that are possible in the specific case, and the kind of critical thinking skills
necessary to accomplish the task. The main modes of writing and related critical thinking
skills are as follows:
Mode of writing Related critical thinking skills
Descriptive
Tells how something looks, sounds, feels, acts, Analysis through comparison/contrast or
smells or tastes. classification, summarising
Narrative
Tells what happened over a period of time and Summarising, sequencing, analysis
in what sequence, usually in combination with through cause and effect
descriptive
Expository
Explains something, making it clear to the Synthesising, analysing, interpreting,
reader. Uses techniques of comparison/contrast, drawing conclusions
cause and effect, definition or classification
Argumentative
Table 11.1
Identifying the Puts forward a statement as truth, which is Drawing conclusions, rebutting, analysing
writing task defended by the writer through reliable evidence through cause and effect

The way in which you prepare for writing, the approach that you select and how you
actually write your paper depend on the purpose of the writing task. Of course, a paper
can serve more than one purpose. Examine your topic closely and ask yourself:
180 UNIT 4: STRUCTURING COMMUNICATION

Is my purpose to:
Provide? Report? Summarise?
Analyse? Interpret? Discuss?
Define? Evaluate? Self-express?
Once you are clear about your purpose for writing, then the mode or type of writing
that you are meant to produce is also clear.

ACTIVITY 11.2
For each of the following questions/topics, identify the mode(s) of writing required.
1 Identify and discuss the risks associated with promiscuous sexual behaviour.
2 How would you respond to the statement: ‘Only team members themselves can be
blamed for the poor performance of a sporting team’?
3 Compare the main characters in A House for Mr Biswas and The Enigma of Arrival.
4 What constitutes the ideal school environment?
5 Write a report to your school principal on your geography field trip.

Identifying the audience


As in the case of oral communication, the nature of your writing is largely dictated by
your audience (in this case your reader/s).
Remember that the purpose of your writing is not handing
in an essay to your teacher, but addressing a specific audience.
For example, if you were asked to write an article for The
Compass, which is a yachting magazine, and one for Business
Focus, which is a commercial sector magazine, your audiences
would be distinctly different from each other. The more specific
your choice of audience is, the easier your decisions about the
characteristics of your writing will be.
The tone, style and structure must be carefully designed to elicit
the required response or to convey the intended message to the
target audience. A good writer establishes a relationship with his/her
readers.Therefore you should have a good idea of the characteristics
of those at whom your writing is aimed. These include their
general background, knowledge, experiences and possible points
Fig. 11.3 Identify the audience of view.You should ask yourself the following questions:
■ Who are my readers?
■ What do I have in common with my readers?
■ How am I different from my readers?
■ What topics, details or approaches will interest my readers?
■ What level of language should I use?
■ What might be my readers’ typical reaction to this topic?
■ What might my readers already know about this topic?
■ What would my readers need to know?
The most significant task in your writing is establishing a rapport with your readers.
Your relationship with the reader is most often defined from the introductory paragraph,
CHAPTER 11: WRITING 181

which either directly or indirectly defines your audience.


Once you have identified your audience, you need to determine what the tone of your
writing will be. Essentially, your tone is your attitude towards the topic and reader. It
enables you to create a general atmosphere. As you learnt in Chapter 7, writing can vary
significantly in tone. A piece of writing can be humorous, sympathetic, indignant, sarcastic,
indifferent and so on. For academic writing, you should aim for a serious and
knowledgeable tone without being condescending or artificial.You may want to review
the section on identifying tone, in Chapter 7.

ACTIVITY 11.3
See if you can identify the intended audience in each case from the introduction
excerpts below:
1 Most stay-at-home mothers underestimate their economic contribution to the family.
2 The rising cost of textbooks is in direct correlation to the elevation of parental blood
pressure at the start of every academic year.
3 One should note, however, that exploring the islands calls for resourcefulness,
patience, the ability to adapt easily and no small amount of courage.

Determining information needed


All writing tasks require a certain amount of research, whether it is as simple as searching
your memory or as complex as administering and analysing questionnaires. In your
planning or pre-writing stage, you must determine how much information you will need
in addition to your personal experience, and which are the most likely or appropriate
sources of such information.Your identification of task and audience will largely
determine the type and amount of research you do. Regardless of the extent of research
that you intend to do, the first step is exploring what you know.Your own experience
often serves as a basis from which to build ideas. There are many useful techniques for
discovering the knowledge you possess about a topic. These include brainstorming, free
writing, clustering/mapping and using graphic organisers.
(i) Brainstorming or listing can generate a lot of information in a short time whether
you are working alone or with partners. U