Verbal gestures

According to an article on ScienceDaily, we unconsciously use ‘verbal gestures’ when we speak. These verbal gestures or ‘analog acoustic expressions’ add extra information to our utterances not provided by the words themselves. For example, when we talk about things, such as the stock market, going up or down, we tend to raise or lower our voices slightly at the ends of sentences. Saying words closetogether can emphasis proximity, while distance can be emphasised by spacing words out more. If we talk about something that’s moving or happening quickly, we tend to talk more quickly, while we tend to slow down to talk about slow moving things.

This is apparently quite a new area of research and sounds very interesting. I’ll certainly listen out for such verbal gestures from now on.

This entry was posted in Language.

8 Responses to Verbal gestures

  1. Makes sense to me…we are finding that the motor cortex is connected to various neuro-linguisitic sub-systems.

  2. Podolsky says:

    Such verbal gestures, or ideophones, are extremely popular in many African languages.
    By the way, try to tell a small child a story about a big, very big elephant and a small mouse – your voice will be low while saying VERY BIG ELEPHANT, and high while saying small mouse.

  3. I would be interested to find out if in certain languages some of these effects are more obvious than in others. For instance, in a tonal language, would the first set of effects you describe be disguised?

  4. Podolsky says:

    I can advise you to check ideophones in, say, Hausa or neighbouring languages.

  5. Does anybody know if such ideophones in African languages continue to have effects on those African-descended populations brought to the U.S. and other countries by the slave trade? I’m wondering if that has anything to do with the preference (and effectiveness) of putting spoken word to music, like in some reggae, and rap.

  6. Skunk says:

    I just wanted to point out that by defenition verbal comunication means in the form of words. Non-verbal or oral gestures would be more appropriate. Sorry, just a peeve of mine.

    Unless of course you where being clever by mixing ‘verbal’ and ‘gesture’ together, which would be an oxymoron.

    Thank you.

  7. alex says:

    Surely the sounds we use when saying words can be considered under the heading ‘verbal’, just as ‘sartorial’ may legitimately include the colour of clothing? Words aren’t just written, after all.

  8. Skunk says:

    Nope, sorry. If you had actually read my post you would see that verbal means words. Therefore only the actual distinguishable words we make with our mouth or hands (sign language) or pen, etc. can be considered forms of verbal communication. Inflections of speach and voice are not.

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