Language Within Communication: A Communication Issue

Language in communication includes a vast number of variations, which contains similar principles. There are over a thousand variations in language, which can have a potential of using different signal systems, sign language or even different spoken languages. In communication, rules also play a big part in how we structure words. The rules include, phonological rules, syntactic rules and semantic rules. Within communication, language can be confusing to learn and with discourse, communication gurus are hoping to close the gap of confusion in language.

Within human cultures, we speak about 10,000 different languages variations (Adler, Rodman & Sévigny, 2011), which can be confusing. However, with all of these different language variations we use the signal system to communicate different things to help with the confusion. Within the signal system we have signs and symbols:

Signs are signals that are casually related to the message [which is being] (conveyed). We say that a smile is a sign that someone is happy because we know that happiness is … [the only] … cause [for] smiling. Symbols on the other hand, are the products of social conventions. Because of an implicit agreement among speakers of English, the sound pattern we recognized as the word pig denotes the familiar category of broad-snouted barnyard animals. (Knapp & Daly, 2011, p. 202)

Along with the signal systems people can also use sign language as a way to communicate. Sign language,

Is ‘spoken’ by many deaf people, [which] is symbolic in nature and not the pantomime it might seem. There are literally hundreds of different sign languages spoken around the world that represents the same ideas in different ways. These different languages include Canadian Sign Language, Langue des signs québécois, British Sign Language, French Sign Language, Danish Sign Language, Chinese Sign Language-even Australian Aboriginal and Mayan sign languages. (Adler, et al., 2011, p.84)

Even though the signal system is different from sign language and sign language is different from spoken language, they all pose the same characteristics of language. We have learnt that, “… language [is] a collection of symbols [that are] governed by rules and used to convey messages between individuals” (Adler, et al., 2011, p.84).

Within communication, there are some rules, such as phonological rules, syntactic rules, semantic rules and pragmatic rules that govern certain aspects of language and communication. The rule that is linked to the pronunciation of words is phonological rules (Adler, et al., 2011). Take the example of “… the words champagne, double … and occasion [they] are spelled identically [the same] in French and English[,] but are pronounced differently in each language” (Adler, et al., 2011, p.86). It has been stated that, “English is notable for having particularly inconsistent phonological rules…” (Adler, et al., 2011, p.86). The rule that is linked to the structure and arrangements of symbols of language is syntactic rules (Adler, et al., 2011). With the English syntax the arrangement of sentences is a subject, verb and an object. A bad example of an English sentence would be on page 87 in our text, which is, ‘[have] you the cookies brought?’ However, that would be a perfectly acceptable sentence in the German language (Adler, et al., 2011). The semantic rules are what guides the meaning of specific words (Adler, et al., 2011). With “(semantic) rules [it] … (makes) it possible for us to agree that ‘bikes’ are for riding and ‘books’ are for reading…” (Adler, et al., 2011, p.88). The final rule that governs language is pragmatic rules, which governs how we use language in everyday interactions (Adler, et al., 2011). Which can be seen differently from culture to culture. For instance the example on page 88, ‘hold the fort while I am away’ can be “(a) hurtful reminder of the era when the fort was a colonial outpost that had to be held [securely] against Indigenous ‘enemies'” to a Native employee, whereas the employer was meaning it to be “(a) casual remark upon stepping out of the office” (Adler, et al., 2011). With this all being said, “(when) people use language, they usually understand one another, and do so at [an] exceedingly intricate level of detail” (Knapp & Daly, 2002, p.216). With these rules people of all cultures and languages can begin to understand one another.

By learning the function of languages it is more common for it to be unnecessary of knowing what language is (Knapp & Daly, 2002). However, the attitudes about language are beginning to fade, the term language has been so carefully adopted by the structural interests of sentence interpreters that any effort of studying the use of language goes beyond sentence structures and now requires a whole new term called discourse (Knapp & Daly, 2002). With discourse, sentence interpreters are “… [attempting] to close the gap between conceptions of communication process and language structure and function” (Knapp & Daly, 2002, p.213), these sentence interpreters have been working on this process for some time now. With the concept of discourse, “… (messages) communicated may not be connected in any obvious way to what is directly and literally said” (Knapp & Daly, 2002, p. 216). With this “(language) [can be] systematically organized in a variety of ways beyond the units of word and sentence, all of which contribute to the information conveyed and the actions performed by a message” (Knapp & Daly, 2002, p.214). Along with this theory of discourse:
[When] producing messages, people decide what will make sense and what will not. They are more or less sensitive to the need to be polite. They know how to do things with words like bet, beg, and complain. (Knapp & Daly, 2002, p.214)

Furthermore, it has been said that, “(all) animals communicate, but humans do so with unparalleled precision, flexibility, and creativity. These strengths derive largely from humans’ unique ability to use language” (Knapp & Daly, 2011, p.201). Communication of any and all kinds operates on the principle that signals transmit messages from one source and sends them to a destination (Knapp & Daly, 2011). With that, we are beginning to realize that at the end of the day, communication is a systematically chain of event of sender and receiver, no matter the language that they speak and how they structure their sentences.

Within language and communication, there are a vast number of variations that utilizes certain principles. Some of the variations can be contained in the signal system, which includes signs and symbols. You can also use sign language and even spoken language to communicate with one and another. There is a list of rules that govern language, like how words sound, to how sentences are structured, even what the meaning behind words are and how we use language in everyday interaction. Furthermore, learning language is difficult and a new term has been created to help close the gap within communication. Language is expressed by everyone in different ways and we are only starting to learn how to use it and learn why we communicate in the way we do.


Adler, R., Rodman, G., & Sévigny, A. (2011). Understanding human communication (2nd ed.). Don Mills, ON.: Oxford University Press.
Knapp, M., & Daly, J. (2002). Handbook of interpersonal communication. Thousand Oaks, CA.: SAGE Publications.
Knapp, M., & Daly, J. (2011). The Sage handbook of interpersonal communication. Thousand Oaks, CA.: SAGE Publications.
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