Methodologies of Communication Studies


Studies in language, culture, and communication are based on two different but compatible methodologies. One, an ethnographic or ethnolinguistic approach, employs anthropological techniques of gathering data from observations of people's daily lives and of attempting to understand behaviour from the participants' point of view. Ethnolinguists try to extract communicative rules by observing the behaviour that do or do not occur in various contexts and the reactions of members of a community to each other's actions. Studying language use within speech communities from an ethnolinguistic approach includes analysis of contexts, norms of appropriateness, and knowledge of language and its uses. Ethnolinguists also use elicitation techniques for obtaining linguistic data. They work with individual native speakers in order to collect material dealing with specific categories of vocabulary or types of grammatical constructions.

The second approach is sociolinguistic. This method is concerned with discovering patterns of linguistic variation. Variation in language use is derived from differences in speech situations and from social distinctions within a community that are reflected in communicative performance. Although some speech differences are idiosyncratic, it is possible to study intracommunity variables by recording and analyzing actual speech behaviour of members of distinct sectors of population.


11b Communication Settings

Settings of communicative events provide arenas for action, both in physical and social sense. They help define events as particular kinds of occasions, invoking certain behaviors and restricting others. Settings for communication can be classified along a continuum of formality or informality. There are the following four aspects of formality are universal:

1. increased structuring .(it is reflected in rules of etiquette that influence participants' attire and demeanor as well as their speech. Markers of formality may include features of pronunciation, intonation, facial expression, grammar, and vocabulary, with tendencies to use more prestigious or correct speech and to appear serious.);

2. consistency of co-occurrence choices (participants tend to make stylistic choices that are highly consistent with the overall theme of "seriousness" appropriate to the occasion);

3. emphasis on positional identities of participants (this aspect of formality refers to the social identities of participants. All people have multiple roles or identities: parent, friend, teacher, president of an organization. Formal situations define people by their "positional and public" . . .

4. emergence of a central situational focus (formal situations tend to focus on specific issues and happenings. This aspect of events typically is reflected in constraints on topic choice and in restrictions on speakers' rights to change or introduce elements).

Norms of communicative behavior in informal settings are much more diffuse and flexible, although participants always assess speech and nonverbal actions according to cultural models of appropriateness. Structuring of informal situations is relatively loose. Conversational patterns are usually adaptable and spontaneous. .


3 a

The Major Areas

of Communication Studies

The major areas of communication study include (1).linguistics, (2).pragmatics, (3) sociology and psychology, (4).cybernetics and information theory, and (5).the study of nonverbal communication.

1. Traditional distinction in linguistic analysis includes syntax and semantics. Syntax is the study of the relationships between linguistic forms, how they are arranged in sequence, and which sequences are well-formed. This type of study takes place without considering any world of reference or any user of the forms. that languages of the world are similar in more ways than they are different and that certain principles are true of all languages. Transformational grammar consists of rules that determine all the sentences that can possibly be formed in any language. Semantics is the study of the relationships between linguistic forms and entities in the world, how words literally connect to things. Semantics analyzes the meaning of words. Semantic analysis attempts to establish the relationships between verbal descriptions and states of affairs in the world as true or not, regardless of who produces the description.

2. Pragmatics is the study of the relationships between linguistic forms and the users of these forms. It includes the study of speaker meaning, contextual meaning, the expression of relative distance, of how more gets communicated than is said.

3. Sociology and psychology produced the first academic studies of mass communication during the 1930s. American sociologists studied the audiences of various radio programs and the effects of radio and TV broadcasting on the public. During World War II many scholars began to study propaganda, public opinion and how persuasive communication causes people to modify their beliefs.

4. Cybernetics and information theory. Cybernetics studies how information is transmitted by the nervous systems of living things and by the control mechanisms of machines. Its important part is the study of feedback by which devices and organisms regulate themselves.

5. The study of nonverbal communication, sometimes called body language, is the oldest area of investigation into human communication which includes kinesics, proxemics and chronemics. Kinesicsrefers to gesture, facial expression, eye contact, and body posture. Proxemicsincludes uses of touch and personal space. Chronemics studies how human beings communicate through their use of time.





Classification of Illocutionary Acts

Speech Act Functions and Subfunctions

Linguists and philosophers ( J. Austin, J.R. Searle, R. Ohmann, Bach K.) have given much attention to differences among illocutionary speech acts and proposed various typologies to classify them. Austin was the first to delineate illocutionary acts distinguishing five general classes verdicatives, exercitives, commissives, behabitives, expositives the most prominent taxonomy belongs to J.R. Searle. His classification is the following :

1. Representatives are utterances used to describe some state of affairs. This class includes statements of facts, assertions, conclusions, descriptions, predictions, denials, admissions, notifications, etc .Eg.: Its an interesting book.

2. Directives are utterances used to try to get the hearer to do smth. They express what the speaker wants. They include two subcategories:

a) attempts by the speaker to get the hearer to do smth. They are acts of commands, ordering, requesting, suggesting, insisting, recommending, warning, advising, etc. Eg.: Close the door.

b) questions are used to get the hearer to provide information.This class includes acts of asking, inquiring, etc.

3. Commissives are utterances used to commit the speaker (in varying degree) to some future course of action. They express what the speaker intends. They are acts of promising, vowing, volunteering, offering, guaranteeing, pledging, betting, refusing, threatening, etc. these acts can be performed by the speaker alone, or by the speaker as a member of a group.Eg.: Ill never do that again.

4. Expressives are utterances used to express the emotional/ psychological state of the speaker toward a particular state of affairs. This class includes act of apologizing, thanking, congratulating, condoling, welcoming, deploring, objecting, statements of pleasure, pain, likes, dislikes, joy, sorrow, etc. these acts can be caused by smth the speaker does or the hearer does, but they are about the speakers experience Eg.: Im so sorry.

5. Declarations are utterances used to change the status of some entity. They bring about the correspondence between the propositional content and reality. This class includes acts of appointing, naming, resigning, baptizing, surrendering, excommunicating, arresting, etc. E. g. I name this ship King Edward



Speech community and speech network

Talk takes place within a speech community consisting of people, who, although heterogeneous, are united in numerous ways. Several researchers have taken pains to define such a community. L.Bloomfield described it as a group of people who interact by means of speech. He recnized that in addition to speaking the same language, these people also agree about what is considered proper or improper uses of language. In discussing speech communities, William Labov emphasized the social and evaluative norms shared by members: A speech communityis best defined as a group who share the same norms in regard to language.

Although the notion of speech community is useful in delineating a group of speakers, it is an abstraction in the sense that individuals do not interact with all other members. In order to focus on people who actually interact, Lesley Milroy and James Milroy developed the concept of speech network. People in a speech network have contact with each other on a regular basis, although the frequency of their interactions and the strength of their association vary. Thus, people in dense networks have daily, or at least frequent, contact. They may be related, live in the same neighborhood, and work together. All of their associates also know each other. People in weak networks have less regular contact and do not know all of each others associates. Within dense networks, members tend to maintain speech norms with little variation. Members of weak networks do not share values as consistently. The concept of speech network is useful because it focuses on actual speakers and explains the mechanisms of control that lead to establishing and maintaining group norms in small-scale, daily interactions. Speech is constantly, although nonconsciously, evaluated.


7a. Ethnography of communication

An ethnography of communication includes descriptions of all explicit and implicit norms for communication, detailing aspects of verbal, nonverbal and social parameters of interactions.

All cultures provide rules for appropriate communicative interaction, defining behaviors that should occur, that may occur, and that should not occur in given contexts. These rules are learned through both formal and informal processes of socialization that begin in childhood.

An ethnographic approach to analyzing communication stresses the cultural specificity of rules of communication. The most important aspects are settings, participants, topics, and goals. But it is necessary to remember that a speech event is an integrated occurrence and all of its components are interdependent. Communication depends on speakers' assessment of the entire situation and their judgment of likely outcomes. Certain behaviors tend to occur in given contexts. Speech actions in contexts designated as formal often take place in specified settings, among expected participants, and concern relatively fixed topics. Communicative events taking place in informal interactions are not so highly structured, are constrained by cultural norms of roles, ways of speaking. Rules governing informal behavior are rarely objectified by participants and are not consciously stated or even recognized. . All people make errors in communication, although they act in accordance with their society's expectations. Speakers' errors often come from misjudging the relative importance of given components within speech events.


6a Communication theory: ritual constraints

Goffman claimed that there is a set ofuniversal constraints on all communication. He divides communication constraints into two types:

1. System constraints the components required for all communication systems. There are 8 system constraints. They are channel open and close signals ( in all communication, there must be ways to show that communication is about to begin and then begins, and ways to show that it is about to end and then ends.); back-channel signals(backchannel or feedback signals show that message is getting through); turnover signals (in communication there must be a set of signals that allow for a smooth exchange of turns): acoustically adequate and interpretable messages (in order for communication to take place, messages have to be interpretable and adequate ) ; bracket signals (there must be signals to show that parts of the message side sequences are not on line with the message of the moment.); nonparticipant constrains ( in order that messages be interpretable, it is necessary to keep other complete messages out of the channel); preempt signals ( there also have to be ways for participants to interrupt an ongoing channel message); a set of Gricean norms ( communication cannot truly work unless participants generally observe 4 major norms of cooperation: relevant, truthfulness, quantity, and clarity; these norm are called maxims

2. In addition to system constraints, there is ritual (or social) constraints. These constraints smooth social interaction and interact with the system constraints. While the system constraints give us the components required for all communication systems, ritual constraints reveal the system of social markers that allow communication to flow in an appropriate way. The ritual constraints reveal the ways in which we present ourselves as competent members of our particular society. Ritual constraints govern communication of all social groups, the ways they operate vary from group to group.



16a Organizational communication

The formal communication channels are the channels that result from a company's organizational structure. These designated pipelines for messages run in three directions : upward, downward, and horizontally.

Downward communication takes place daily conversations and interactions between managers or team leaders and their subordinates. Downward communication take place in large meetings. Typical devices used to carry downward communication are public relations announcements, annual statements, and various types of memos, reports, letters, and directives.

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