The Value Of Understanding Paralanguage

Do you know what paralanguage is? If not you should because paralanguage is actually a language skill that we all speak no matter what country you are from and what language you speak. Paralanguage is a form of body language really, only it’s the body of the words you speak. Huh, what doea that mean? Paralinguistics is the study of paralanguage and that is basically in a nut shell the way or how you say things not what you are saying.

Paralanguage has a few aspects to it that we are all aware of we just may have never known to call it paralanguage. It’s all about the how and not the what. Paralanguage involves the intonation in your voice, the speed in which you are speaking those certain syllables that you put emphasis on to make your point. Plus those little what I like to call “fillers” the help your conversation along. For example when you talk and are stuck for a thought in the middle of a conversation and you have a pause or you mumble a filler like uh-huh, mmmmm, and ahh you know the fillers.

What’s that olde saying it’s not what you say but how you say it. When you realize what paralanguage is it becomes clear how important it is to the basic workings of any and all languages that people speak. The place where you can see the value in paralanguage is very important but unfortunately is very restricted is somewhere that most of use to communicate with on a daily basis.

Millions if not billions of people use e-communications everyday and what I am referring to is the e-mails and text messages that are relied on so heavily now a days. With the exception of an occasional 🙂 or abbreviated lol the use of paralanguage in an e-mail or text message is very limited.

This paralanguage limitation of course is what leads to a lot of miscommunication and misunderstandings when people text or e-mail each other with out really knowing the person that wrote the message you are reading. The only paralanguage that comes with an e-mail or text message is from your perspective and based on your history. So unless you know the sender really well the paralanguage that you attach to that message you are reading can be completely different if you actually heard how the the person said it. The how something is said is where the true value of understanding paralanguage lies.