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Application of Kinesics in Linguistic Abilities

Kinesics: Human beings communicate a lot through body movements and facial expressions. Kinesics is the study of this kind of communication. Kinesics is one of the most significant aspects of applied Linguistic, as it studies the non-verbal component of expression and communication. Kinesis is the study of physical movements during reading, writing, listening and speaking. This physical movement signifies divergent aspects of personality which are very important to study and plan further communication process. Let us look at how different body movements and facial expressions communicate different messages.

1. Posture:

The way people sit or stand can reveal a lot about their attitudes and emotions. Posture portrays confidence, anxiety, fear, aggressiveness and a host of other emotions. A boss who wants to reprimand his subordinate may do so by standing, learning over the table and peering down at the hapless employee. Here, he is using posture to establish his superiority. Insecure or nervous people often their weakness by slouching, biting their nails or looking down. A person who wants to tell everyone else that he is quite confident may sit back expansively, wrap his arm over the back of the chair and stretch out his legs in front.

2. Gestures:

Gestures are of various types. Four common ones are emblems, adaptors, regulators and illustrators.

a) Emblems:

Emblems are gestures that have a meaning that is understood by the public at large. Of course, most of them are culture specific. Sometimes the same emblem may have different meanings in different cultures. For instance, forming an “O” with index and thumb means “OK” in theUSwhile inJapanit means “money” and in parts ofFranceit means “worthless” or “zero”.

b) Adaptors:

These are learned behavior patterns that we usually pick up in childhood. They way we use spoons or our hands while eating is a good example.

c) Illustrators:

These are gestures that go with what we are saying verbally and tend to depict what is being said. A good example is when you tell someone, “Come, sit in this chair”, and accompany it by a nod of the head or a wave of the hand.

d) Regulators:

These are gestures that control the communication exchange. Patting an employee on the back may encourage him to keep talking. Shuffling through your papers while he’s talking will certainly encourage him to stop.

3. Facial expressions:

The face plays a vital role in communicating various messages. The brows, the eyes, the root of the nose, the lower face, are all capable of conveying attitudes and emotions. But minor variations do occur from culture to culture.

Eyes: Of all facial expressions, those of the eyes are considered the most revealing. Studies have provided numerous insights about eye contact:

1) Eye contact is perceived as an indication of honesty, confidence, openness and interest.

2) People who avoid eye contact are usually embarrassed or nervous.

3) Eye contact varies by culture. For instance, some Latin American cultures teach children not to look directly at the face of an adult.