when people speak of the communicarion, first they will think of the language, which is the verbal behavior. the verbal behavior is a process relying on the language instrument, including text (written languages) and verbal (oral language ) to carry through communion delivering idea and transferring information. language is an important tool of human communication, but it is not the only tool of communication. in fact, in addition to language, there is a more abundant content of the means of communication that is non-verbal. the non-verbal communication is the language of all the acts of communication, it is very frequent in the frequency of daily life. a smile, a look, and a gesture belong to be non-verbal bahavior (huang, 2003:16). it is difficult to fancy and cannot be processed that the communication between the people just depend on words without any accompanying gestures or postures. that, at least, is not a sufficient communication. it is impossibility not to have the verbal behavior in human’s communication, but the non-verbal communication goes with the verbal communication. both of them formed the complete process of communication and also have their own features and functions. non-verbal communication can represent people’s psychological activities richly and accurately.
as the main component of non-verbal communication, bodt language has its own trait, effect, and function. it must comply with the “principles of cooperation” just as verbal communication (yang, 1994: 16).
ⅱ.the definition and importance of body language
2．1definition of body language
body language is not a language in the strict sense of the word “language”. “body language” is expressing how one feels by one’s sitting, standing, moving, etc, rather by words (oxford advanced learners english-chinese dictionary, 1997).
2．2the importance of body language
an investigation into the functions of the factors of verbal and nonverbal communications shows: 35% information is transferred by language; the other 65% are by nonverbal patterns (samovaretal, 1981). other study indicates: only 7% emotions in people’s communication are passed by language. the other 93% are by nonverbal patterns. american scholars deleig • bronan (1991) pointed out that “human’s communication consists of writing, oral and body three parts. because of culture prejudices, a great majority of educated people often think that written language is most important; the oral language is the second. the body language is ranked last. however, whether from the continuously evolution of whole humanity or from a personal point of view, the study indicate that thee important position among the three are part opposition. this shows the necessity and importance of body language.
human society’s long historical evolution confirmed that labor played a decisive role in the course of human’s evolution. at beginning, human ancestors rely on all sorts of gestures and postures for mutual coordination and communicate. so body language is actually the most primitive instrument of communication. the phonic language is gradually developed with the continuous deepening of communication. human gradually learned verbal communication after a far-flung nonverbal communication. this shows that the non-verbal communication came into being earlier than verbal communication, it is the origin and base of verbal communication, body language is the earliest communication tool of human.
ⅲ.the role of body language in communication
3．1to exchange ideasto exchange ideas is the most basic social function of the language. in daily verbal communication, body language also participates in verbal communicate actuality. speakers consciously or unconsciously use body language to match the language for expressing ideas; the listeners also understand ideas transferred by body language (yang, 1994:26). sometimes body language even can express ideas directly, especially at the kind of occasion that is inappropriate to speak or somebody doesn’t want to speak. for example, at the place where is as quiet as the reading room, it is inappropriate for people to talk.
3．2 to covey sentimentbody language is often affected by the impact of personality; different people use the same body language can express different feelings. if emotion has even a little change, it will be reflected in people’s face immediately. laughter is a kind of facial brow, in general the laughter is behaved when people feel buoyant (zhang, 1990:26). usually the sentiments expressed joy. but in different contexts, different laughers express different sentiments. sometimes laughers express completely reverse sensibility. for example, “forced smiled”, “a wan smile”, “an artificial smile”, “sneer”, “sinister smile”, “be mock” and so on (zhang, 2000:32). “the eyes are the window to the soul”, eyes is most good at behaving people’s inner emotion. sometimes a pair of eyes which looks can speak can convey very delicate and complex emotions. the eyes that convey people’s emotion always go with eyebrow. eyebrow also is an important part of expression. 3．3to bring forth people’s psychology and to behave people’s characterin fact, besides verbal language, the body language of gesyures, facial changes, meningful glance are all reflection of people’s innermost movement and character. french literary theorist turner said: “ becarefully studying his (shakespeare) every role,you will discover at anymoment that there is a kind of echo, a kind of omen smong one wording, one gesture, one touch of idea, one rip and one speak mode to leak character’s whole bosom,...” (chen,2001:38)
speaking of the humanity, each person can express our innermost feelings throught the body the idea, but west’s expression also differs from. for instance we split out rent a car, we can use the entire palm of the hand to summon, but the weaterner is surely is stretches out the thumb to summon, but also has us and others kiss is surely the relational not common friend and the family member, but westerner’s kiss only is and the friend greets.
3．4to denote social relationspeople who communicate with the other one have different identity, status, seniority and sex, so there are some differences in the body language they used. therefore, the social relations between them can be reflected by their body language. a smile and shaking hands with the initiative are the commonly used body language when they first meet somebody. but that is not suitable to stretch out initiative when meeting a person who has status that is much higher than you. no other than the person offers his hand, you can be approached to shake hands. the people who are more familiar often hold each other’s hands after shaking hands. but most women do not shake hands when regarding with each other, they draw their fingers together lightly. in europe and the united states people often use kissing ceremony. the form and place of kissing is different because status and longevity is different.
the way which but when china’s very many places, the majority people meet greets all are shake hand, certainly, also has some young people runs into the very familiar friend perhaps family member’s time, can use the hug the way to come big greeting.
ⅳ. the characteristics and the reason for difference of body language between western and chinese4．1the characteristics of body language4.1.1synonymy
one meaning can be shown by more than two body languages. for instance, gestures of shaking hands, nodding, or raise hand can show greeting. looks like us meets the acquaintance the time we to be able to shake hand, in us to some matter expressed satisfactory time we can nod, at not satisfactory time can shake the head and so on.
4.1.2obscurityeven experts in kinesics cannot name precisely all the vocabulary of gestures, for example, when an american rubs his nose, it may mean he is disagreeing with someone. but there are other explanations too. when this occurs, we must try to get further information or guess the meaning from the context of the situationg. in a word, all body language should be explained in a certain context. to ignore the situation that could cause misunderstandings. actually the meaning of some body language should be inferred in a spesific consent, but many more gestures have their meaning.
4.1.3symbolicthe symbolic characteristic is an important sign for distinguishing the body language and body physiological actions. although body language has the same physical attribute as body movements, but body language expresses an unique idea in some language condition, it is doing some communicate. in people’s daily life, body language not only can express a variety of frondose emotions, but also can express various kinds of understand or don’t care, powerless; knocking on the tabla shows angry, warning or impatient. numerous facts have shown that as a non-verbal communication symbols, body language is a key link in the communication speak of communication symbols system and the important part of purport system.
4.1.4cultural differenceround or “ok” has been widely used in the united states, but on the “ok” meaning, there are so many different views.
the meaning of “ok” is all the same in all of the english-speaking countries. however, after it quickly expanded to europe and asia, the meaning changed. for example, in france, it denoted “zero” or “nothing”; in japan, it has the meaning of “money”; in some mediterranean countries, it is often used to express that the male is a homosexual.
this show that body language has a strong cultural identity. in a different culture it should have a different understanding of body language; some different body language can express the same meanings. some of the same body language indicated different significance or concept; it affects the effect of communication and even can make the misapprehension and conflict of cross-cultural communication if we can not understand the special meaning of the nonverbal sign of communication. this is also embodiment of the dialectical relationship between nonverbal communication and culture difference. in fact, in the same community bosom, the culture, society status and even difference of occupation all have a distinctness embodiment by body language.
4．2the reason for difference of body language between western and china4.2.1the difference of the traditional culturethe difference of the traditional cultural in the differen characteristics. historians considered that culture is the entire form of movement of a nation. china and western countries have their own different social soil and cultural atmosphere. they have their own long history of independent development and special space, and each of them has its own distinct ethnic characteristics. body language reflects the characteristics of a nation , it not only includes the nation’s historical and cultural background, it also contains the attitude for life of the nation; it is a concrete manifestation of people’s lifestyle and way of thinking. chinese civilization system is accurately called “chinese cultural circle”, people call it “circle” means that it stays in an obdurate and self-sufficiency status for lengthy millennium because of the geographical factors and profound influence of confucian thought. in the inward-looking “circle”, the chinese people came into being a respected family-centered culture system. looking back over history, their homes are “siheyuan”; the board is “cubic city”, and has the great wall. it fashions a family-style country, it advocates “reunification”, pursuing “cooperation”, like living together. the strongly family concept ia very dim. although they also say: “east, west, home is best”. but what they express is probably a kind of “maritime civilization” and “nomadic that is outward expansion and lateral extension, go to the outer world is the only way for their survival and development. therefore, occidental pursue a kind of autocephaly, outward “on the road” spirit, it engenders a kind of “discrete” action mode. this cultural difference has clearly reflected in their body language between china and the west. for example, weatern people can’t do this, if they have to crowed sit in the narrowness space, they will use “special skills”----they will never see the people who too closed to them and never have any brow.
4.2.2different ethnic character traits
the nation character is a comparatively jar less characteristic that is formed in the process of a long history of cultural development. this characteristic is like a bright brand. it makes each nation have their own characteristic and differentiation with each other. there is a huge contrast between chinese and western ethnic character traits, so their body language is also different. china is a proprieties country that has a long history, it is a country that the feudalism centralization of state power pattern and the tradition principal part culture are most fixedness and continue the longest. it make chinese’s ethnic character traits careful, modest, follow crowd, continence, and think a lot of ceremony, ethic, and expression connotation and so on. in western countries because of more up growth geographical traffic, different races in break and social status make the westerns abound in adventure, uphold autocephaly and peace, extroversion, assuredness, candor and voluntaries. two different character traits bring on two different body languages. western may be putting china’s modest, connotation as short of assuredness or self-contemptuous. chinese may be putting western’s emotional exposure as arrogant attitude.
4.2.3 different social customsfolk-custom is a kind of special culture form, it is the sedimentation of traditional culture, it is a kind of cultural phenomenon that goes along from generation to generation. body language and folk culture are closely correlation; it is a concrete expression of folk culture. therefore, body language has special color of different folk-custom. many of the early history of body language have been oblivion, but it doesn’t prevent new generation from using these body language. they accumulate in the folk custom and were retained, but many users were not aware of these body languages’ source. for example, the word “matzo”, this pose uses open palms extended to others face. this never means hostility to chinese people, but this is an outrageous insult, ridiculed signal to achaean. it originated in the byzantine period; formerly it is an insulting action that people chuck feculence to prisoner’s face. several hundred years ago, how modern greeks do this action is to symbolically open empty hands, but the contumelious meanings is not changes.
v.the use of body language in communication
5.1the differences of exertion between chinese and western5.1.1posturepostures communicate just as language does. we have found that posture offers insight into a culture’s deep structure and reflects a person’s attitude toward people he is with. in many asian cultures, the bow is much more than a greeting, and it signifies that culture’s concern with status and rank. for example, in japan low posture is an indicator of respect. the manner of sitting, standing and moving can also communicate a message and reflect a certain culture’s lifestyle. as we know, in the united states, where being casual and friendly is valued, people often fall into chairs or slouch when they stand; and it is also common to see an american woman sit with her legs crossed even during public meetings. whereas in many other countries, such as germany and sweden, where lifestyle tend to be more formal, such postures are offensive and are often considered signs of rudeness or poor manners.
5.1.2eye languagethe eye, the window revealing what is deep in one’s mind, is full of rich expressions. eye language (including sight direction and duration of eye contact), like other elements in body language, also has cultural differences. we have found that people in western countries expect the person they are interacting with to look at them in the eye during a conversation; however, staring at people or holding a glance too long is considered to be improper in most english-speaking countries, even when the look may be one of appreciation, because it may make people uneasy and embarrassed. but arabs, on the other hand, look directly into the eyes of their communication partner, and do so for a long period of time, as they believe such eye contact shows interest in the other person and helps them assess the truthfulness of the other person’s words.
the manner of touch may serve as a reflection of that cultures attitudes and values. we find that cultures (e.g. german, english，scandinavian) believing in emotional restraints and rigid status distinction will do very little touching as compared with cultures (e.g. latin american, middle eastern, jewish，greek, eastern european) that stress collectivism and outward sign of affection. and kim observes, "southeast asians do not ordinarily touch during a conversation, especially one between opposite sexes, because many asian cultures adhere to norms that forbid public displays of affection and intimacy".
besides the variation in touch amount, types of touch preferred also vary among cultures different location of the touch (arm, leg, breast, face, and so on) may have different meanings, and each culture tells us precisely what it means when we touch certain parts of the body. here are some examples. in germany, women as well as men shake hands at the outset of every social encounter; in the united states, women seldom shake hands; in the arab culture, men often greet each other by kissing and hugging. we have also found that some parts of the body are not allowed to touch in some cultures. for example, in thailand and other places of asia, the head is sacred and it is offensive to touch someone there. and in korea, young people are socially forbidden from touching the shoulders of their elders.
the proximal distance (sometimes, we call it “personal space”) preferred by people of a culture dose not correspond to those preferred by people of other cultures. and people from different cultures have different ideas about the proper distance between people conversing. we have found that most english speaking people like the english, americans and australians do not like people to be too close unless there is areas on, such as showing affecting or encouraging intimacy. germans, too, regard private space as sacred. the reason is that all these above cultures stress individualism. while in cultures such as the greek, african, italian and arab, where privacy is less important, people demand less space. and in some asian countries, it is quite common to see people shoving and crowing on buses and in most public places, which might startle the english speaking people greatil. therefore, the lack of knowledge of cultural difference may lead to considerable misunderstanding.
5．2countermeasurescommunication needs both verbal communication and nonverbal communication. body language is the important component part of nonverbal language, so the difference of body language between chinese and western will affect human’s common communication behavior, if people want to reduce or abstain the bad infection by these difference, it needs to advert these points here in after: first, conscious cognize the body language in your own folk culture. second, comprehensively study the target culture and the nonverbal language in the target culture. third, in the process of communication, people need adopt “empathy strategy”, spurn “the ism of national center”, “cultural bias” and “cultural patterns” and live up to “do in rome as rome does”.
we can know from this article that body language is a really important part of cross culture communication. those who have “learned” a language without including the nonverbal component are seriously handicapped if they intend to communicate with living members of other cultures instead of with paper and print. insights in body behaviors as they affect communication not only increase sensitivity to other human beings but also deepen inevitably their understanding of their own body behavior systems. in order to really understand in cross-cultural communication, we must be able to “hear” the silent message and “read” the invisible action. although there are some body languages shared by all men, every body language can enhance the force of verbal language communication, it can promote the integrity of the process of communication, and it also can fetch up yhe deficiency of verbal communication. therefore, if people want to accurate and integrated express in formations, feelings, and communicate better, we must pay attention to the research and use of body language of cross culture communication.
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