Verbal Communication – Models & Elements, Goffman's Theory and Signals YouTube Lecture Handouts for Competitive Exams

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Verbal Communication: Katz & Kahn Model, Signals and Elements

  • Verbal Communication is form of language – open communication system

Daniel Katz & Robert Kahn – 9 characters of open system

  • Importation of Energy: Energy form outside – people, material

  • Throughput: Transform energy – build product or train people

  • Output: Export product to outside environment – students’ knowledge

  • Cycle of Events: Pattern of activities are recycled

  • Negative Entropy: Tendency towards degeneration of order existing within systems (e.g., when communication perspective is lost, breakdown of verbal communication occurs)

  • Feedback: Information coming to organization is coded and selected, negative feedback indicates deviation and this is control mechanism

  • Dynamic Homoeostasis: Preserve character of system

  • Differentiation: Elaboration of roles and specialization of functions

  • Equifinality: Similar communicative effects can be arrived at in different ways

Model of Verbal Communication


  • Message is coded and transferred as text via a channel

  • Urgent messages - short, forceful and effective

  • Formal refusals or declinations - elaborate written structure


  • Code: Sign system capable of translating between two signal system

  • Natural language: Language signs + grammatical rules

  • Paralanguage: Parallel to language & replace language – eye gaze, head nod

  • Non-linguistic codes:

    • Visual (static: colour, graphics; dynamic: gestures, facial expressions, posture, proxemics, kinesics)

    • Non-visual: Subdivided into non-acoustic (taste, haptics, smell) and acoustic, which may be non-vocal (body noise: clapping; instrumental: drums, whistle) or vocal (paralinguistic: vocal quality, hoarseness, laughter, loudness, tempo; prosodic/suprasegmental: intonation, stress, tempo, rhythm, etc.)

  • Signal: Physical property perceptible by senses

  • Extralinguistic: Lag, re-take, overlap time, turn length

Communication Network

Medium: Way in which a message is conveyed – Verbal

Medium depends on context, noise and feedback

Channel: Path along which a message is sent – Physical Connections

  • Direct (face-to-face conversation)

  • Mediated (cell phone, electronic mail, etc.)

  • Monological or dialogical (dyadic or polylogical communication depending on whether two/more than two interlocutors are involved)

Goffman’s Theory of Communication Constraints

  • Since certain characteristics of verbal communication are systematically controlled by nature of communication system, they are language-universal and so they should be present in all types of verbal communication

Six Communicative Functions of Language

  • Referential - focuses on various aspects of a message, content and context

  • Metalingual - object of communication is the language (code) itself & used to discuss some basic points

  • Expressive - directs attention to the sender´s self-expression (attitudes, emotions)

  • Conative - emphasizes the sender’s intention to influence (change, alter) the receiver’s attitude

  • Poetic - focus the form and structure of a message

  • Phatic - establish and maintain interpersonal contact

Variations Caused by Situation

Relatively permanent features of language:

  • Individuality: voice, manner of speaking, phrases

  • Dialect: User’s geographical location or social position.

  • Time: old English compared to new English.

Variation in Discourse is Provided By

  • Medium of communication

  • Participation in a communication

Relatively Temporary Features of Language

  • Province includes features providing information on the type of the (occupational and professional) activity

  • Status includes features reflecting social status

  • Modality - conventional format of a message for a specific purpose

  • Singularity - use of some linguistics features to achieve a specific (e.g., humorous, poetic) effect.

Signals in Verbal Communication

  • Channel Open and Close Signals: Introduction or farewell

  • Backchannel Signals: Inform transmitter that message is being received

  • Turnover Signals: Exchange between two parties, there are signals which project the end of individual contributions & readiness to let the other person speak.

  • Bracket Signals: Separate discussions of main idea from the off topic discussions

  • Nonparticipant Constraints: Nonparticipants compete for the admission to ongoing communication by, e.g., gazing steadily or intently, waving, asking for a permission to enter conversation, etc.

  • Pre-Empt: Interrupting ongoing communication

  • Gricean Norms: Principles of quality, quantity, relevance, and clarity.