Gestures and body language are therefore often second nature; something that we follow based on instinct and the need for survival. Therefore, when an individual is speaking or listening to another, he or she often reveals unconscious feelings or reactions through gestures and body language.
Since our bodies speak the truth and our words often do not, it is important for people to learn to observe body language as well as listening to the speech of others. Body language often has an unconscious affect on the speaker or listener. If somebody speaks and demonstrates very confident body language, people are more likely to take that individual seriously, and/or believe in what that individual has to say. If another individual speaks the same speech but shows a lack of confidence with gestures and body language, people are less likely to respect or care about the information presented. Thus, whether or not an individual successfully gets a point across has a lot to do with how that individual presents his or her body language.
How does the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis fit in with all of this' According to Amy Stafford, Sapir "believed that language and the thoughts that we have are somehow interwoven, and that all people are equally being effected by the confines of their language. In short, he made all people out to be mental prisoners; unable to think freely because of the restrictions of their vocabularies" (para 1). If our vocabularies are restricted, it is therefore important for individuals to have another way of expressing themselves, or of getting their main points across. This is where body language comes into play (Henslin 45). Since body language is often an initial instinctual reaction, it allows individuals to communicate on an unconscious level and get their concepts across when they lack the words to express those concepts. Stafford further states: "Whorf fully believed in linguistic determinism; that what one thinks is fully determined by their language. He also supported linguistic relativity, which states that the differences in language reflect the different views of different people" (para 3). Language is therefore important to demonstrating what an individual is thinking, and what that individual's limitations are. However, language is often relativistic from person to person, as is language ability, and therefore Whorf felt that we can get a strong feel for an individual by understanding these limitations.
Stafford's article can be found at: http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/cultural/language/whorf.html. Her link is very helpful and describes body language as well as the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis. The presentation on this website helped the researcher to grasp and better understand these concepts and why they are important. Therefore, this link is very helpful when it comes to understanding body language and the issues surrounding body language.
Henslin, James. Essentials of Sociology: A Down to Earth Approach. New Jersey:
Allyn and Bacon 2006.
Stafford, Amy. "The Sapir-Whorf Hyp