Nonlinguistic Communication

Communication, Nonlinguistic


the means of human communication involving movements of the hands, body, and facial muscles.

Nonlinguistic communication may be conventional or spontaneous. Conventional nonlinguistic means of communication consist of gestures incomprehensible to the uninitiated, usually stipulated beforehand and sometimes codified into rules of usage. They may be international, national, or narrowly restricted; for example, the signals used by soldiers or the sign language of monastic orders. Spontaneous gestures are divided into four groups: pointing gestures, gestures that convey or reveal emotions, emphatic gestures, and rhythmical gestures.

Gestures are not universal and are unique to a given language group. For example, the gesture of sticking out the tongue, used as a form of teasing by Europeans, expresses a threat among the Chinese and anger in India; among the ancient Maya, this same gesture represented wisdom. Nonlinguistic means of communication may accompany ordinary speech; they are also related to the timbre and intonation of the voice.


Apresian, G. Oratorskoe iskusstvo. Moscow, 1969.
Nikolaeva, T. M. Zhest i mimika v lektsii. Moscow, 1972.
Vereshchagin, E. M., and V. G. Kostomarov. lazyk i kul’tura. Moscow, 1973.
Pike, K. Language in Relation to a Unified Theory of the Structure of Human Behavior, 2nd ed. The Hague, 1967.


References in periodicals archive ?
Yanden, Rowe, and MacGillivray (1999) recommended that researchers and educators consider both linguistic and nonlinguistic communication as important in the acquisition of literacy.
Individuals with severe cognitive disabilities may use nonlinguistic communication (Alvares, Falor, & Smiley, 1991) and exhibit learning characteristics that require greater time to learn and intensive forms of instructional support (Westling & Fox, 2000).
However, in noting that Collins's depiction of Madonna "focuses mainly on nonlinguistic communications between bodies" (89), Esmail seems to contradict the chapter's argument that Victorian writers understood fiction "as a record of what was said and heard"--instead, the depiction implies that Victorian fiction is also a record of what is seen.