Because nearly everything changes with time, it is important that we date the information we communicate by telling when it was true. Not dating leads to inaccuracies that can be dangerous. For instance, Parker says, I’m going to be transferred, to Henderson City. Laura replies, Good luck-they’ve had some real trouble with their schools. On the basis of Laura’s statement, Parker may worry about the effect is move will have on his children. What he doesn’t know is that Laura’s information about this problem in Henderson City is five years old. Henderson City still may have problems, but then, it may not. Had Laura replied, Five year ago, I know they had some real trouble with their schools, I’m not sure what the situation is now, but you may want to check, Parker would look at the information differently.
Generalizing drawing a conclusion from particulars tables people use what they have learned from one experience and apply it to another. For instance, when Glenda learns that tomatoes and squash grow better if the ground is fertilized, she generalizes that fertilizing will help all of her vegetables grow better. Glenda has used what she learned from one experience and applied it to another.
Indexing generalizations is the mental and verbal practice of acknowledging that individual cases can differ from the general trend while still allowing us to draw on generalizations. For instance, we may have a generalized concept of men. But we must recognize that although Fred, Darnell, and William are all men, they are likely to have individual differences. So, how do we index in ordinary speaking? Let’s consider two examples.
To index, (1) consider whether what you want to say is about a specific object, person, or place, or whether it is a generalization about a class to which the object, person, or place belongs. (2) If what you want to say is a generalization about the class, qualify it appropriately so that your assertion does not go beyond the evidence that supports it. All people generalize at one time or another, but by indexing statements we can avoid the problems that hasty generalization
Cultural Differences in Verbal Communication
Cultures vary in how much meaning is embedded in the language itself and how much meaning is interpreted from the context in which the communication occurs.
In low-context cultures, such as in Northern Europe or the United States, meaning (1) is embedded mainly in the messages transmitted and (2) is presented directly. In low-context cultures, people say what they mean and get right to the point (Unsteady & Satsuma, 1996, pp. 29-30). So, in a low context culture, “Yes” means” Affirmative, I agree’ with what you Ave said.
The United States has a low-context national culture, as described previously. But the United States is a country of immigrants, and we know that individual Americans differ in whether they are high or low context in their approach to language. So, although knowing the characteristics of a national culture or culture of origin may be useful, we still need to be aware that people mayor may n t behave in line with their ethnic cultures (Amontillados, 1999, p. 75). Then why mention these differences at all? Because they give us a clue to how and why people and cultures may differ. An essential aspect of communication is being sensitive to needs and differences among us, so we must be aware of the nature of those differences might be.
Gender Differences in Verbal Communication
Over the two decades, stirred by such book titles as Men Are from Mars, people have come to believe gender differences in messages are genetic. Yet research strongly states that differences in gender behaviors are learn rather than biological and that the differences are not nearly as large as portrayed (Wood & Dindia, 1998, pp. 34-36).
There is no evidence to suggest that the differences aftershave been identified between women’s message construction patterns and those of men cause problems for either group (Canary & Hausa, 1993, p. 141). Nevertheless, a number of specific differences between women’s and men’s speech patterns have been found, and understanding what has led to them has intrigued scholars. Mu lac (1998) notes two differences in language usage between men and women that seem to have the greatest support.
1. Women tend to use both more intensifiers and more hedges than men. Intensifiers are words that modify other words and serve to strengthen the idea represented by the original word. So, according to studies of the actual speech practices of men and women, women are more likely to use words such as awfully, quite, and so (as in It was quite lovely or This is so important). Hedges are modifying words that soften or weaken the meaning of the idea represented by the original word. According to the research, women are likely to make greater use of such words as somewhat, perhaps, or maybe (as in It was somewhat interesting that or It may be significant.
Women ask questions more frequently than men. Women are much more likely to include questions like Do you think so? and Are you sure? In general, women rend to use questions to gain more information, get bonbon ration, and determine how others feel about the information.
But are these differences really important? Mu lac goes on to report that our research has shown that language used by U.S. women and men is remarkably. similar, In fact, it is so indistinguishable that native speakers of American English cannot correctly identify which language examples were produced by women and which were produced by men” (p. 130). If this is so, then why even mention differences? Even though the differences are relatively small, they have judgmental consequences: “Observers perceive the female and male speakers differently based on their language use” (p. 147). Female speakers are rated higher on sociology intellectual status and aesthetic quality. Thus people perceive women as having high social status, being literate, and being pleasant as a result of perceived language differences. Men rated higher on dynamism. That is, people perceive mentor be stronger and more aggressive as a result of their language differences. These judgments tend to be the same whether observers are male or female, middle-aged or young.
Julia Wood (1997) explains these differences in language usage from differences in the basic psychological orientation each sex gender identity by seeing themselves as connected to mother, or-hey learn to use communication as a way of relationships with others. Men establish identity by how are different or separate from mother. Thus they use talk as a way to exert control, preserve independence, and enhance status.
During the last few years, we have had frequent discussions and disagreements in the United States about” political correctness. Colleges and universities have been on the forefront of this debate. Although several issues germane to the debate on political correctness go beyond the scope of this chapter, at the heart of this controversy is the question of what language behaviors are appropriate and what language behaviors are inappropriate.
Speaking appropriately means choosing language and symbols that are adapted to the needs, interests, knowledge, and attitudes of listeners in order to avoid language that alienates them. Through appropriate language, we communicate our respect and acceptance of those who are different from us. In this section, we discuss specific strategies that will help you craft appropriate verbal messages.
Formality of Language
Language should be’ appropriately formal for the situation. Thus, in interpersonal settings, we are likely to use more informal language when we are talking with o.ur_best friend and more formal language when we are talking with our parents. In a group setting, we are likely to use more informal language when we are talking with a group of our peers and more formal language when we are talking with a group of managers. In a public-speaking setting, we are likely to use more formal language than in either interpersonal or group settings.
One type of formality in language that we usually observe is the manner by which we address others. In formal settings, we address others by their titles followed by their surnames unless they invite us to do something else. So in business settings or at formal parties, it is appropriate to call people Mr. X, Ms. B, Rabbi Z, Dr. S, or Professor P. In addition, we generally view it as appropriate to refer to those older than we are, those of higher status, or those whom we respect by title and surname unless otherwise directed.
Jargon and Slang
Appropriate language should be chosen so that jargon (technical terminology) and slang (informal, nonstandard vocabulary) do not interfere with understanding. We form language communities as a result of the work we do, our hobbies, and the subcultures with which we identify. But we can forget that people who are not in cur same line of work or who do not have the same hobbies or are not from our group may not understand language that seems to be such a part of our daily communication. For instance, when Jenny, who is sophisticated in the USA of.c language, starts talking with her computer-illiterate friend Sarah about Social Ml.Ds
based on fictional universes,Sarah is likely to be totally Jose. If, however, Jenny recognizes Sarah’s lack of sophistication in cyber language, she can work to make her language appropriate by discussing the concepts in words that her friend understands. In short, when talking with people outside your language community, you need to carefully explain, if not abandon, the technical jargon or slang.