Communication Theories

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That language is "socially diagnostic" (Giles & Coupland, 1991) is manifest in everyday conversations. How many times have we come across a "different" accent or pronunciation of an individual sound without adopting a critical stance or making guesses as to the speaker's non-linguistic characteristics, such as status, education, class, or even intelligence' In fact, the slightest nuance in pronunciation, not to mention stylistic discrepancies, can as often as not "have evaluative repercussions for its utterer" (ibid, p.


As Giles & Clair (1979: 17) note, "language is not a homogeneous, static system. It is multi-channeled, multi-variable and capable of vast modifications from context to context by the speaker, slight differences of which are often detected by listeners and afforded social significance." Given the fact that even the most trivial aspects of speech and pronunciation can take on crucial importance, it stands to reason that individuals, consciously or unconsciously, should, among other things, seek or eschew identification with others through language.
There are several theories developed to model the process of communication between two or more individuals. One of these is the Communication Accommodation Theory. This theoretical perspective examines the underlying motivations and consequences of what happens when two speakers shift their communication styles. Communication Accommodation theorists argue that during communication, people will try to accommodate or adjust their style of speaking to others. This is done in two ways: divergence and convergence. Groups with strong ethnic or racial pride often use divergence to highlight group identity. ...
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