Language is the most important element of social organization
Language is the most important element of social organization and the most common way in which people are grouped. The study of language and its influence on human life is referred to as linguistics, and it forms the basis for which understanding of conversation, speech and social stratification is done. People who use similar language to communicate, and are able to understand each other by conversation in the vernacular are grouped into cultures, often organized and with distinct ways of life.
In linguistics, conversation refers to the communication of ideas between two or more people by form of the spoken word. The people who are talking to each other need to understand each other for conversation to be considered to be effective. There are tow main types of conversations, defined by the environment in which they are used, and the aim of communication.
Transactional conversations are those that are engaged in for business reasons. Negotiations, haggling, business meetings and marketplace speech such as those used by salesmen all fall under this category. This form of conversation can either be formal or informal, depending on the context and the type of business being conducted. In an auction, the conversations held there are highly structured, formal and governed by stiff rules of engagement and fair play. The same can be said for formal business transactions such as negotiations for take-over bids, partnerships and such business engagements. With word of mouth being one of the ways in which two parties can enter into a contact agreement, conversation is not to be taken lightly in business. Informal environments where transactional conversation is engaged in include informal market places.
Interactive conversations are those that are engaged in during socialization, without having to exchange value in services or commodities. These interactions include social events, family gatherings, and basically all other forms of communications that are not related to business or the workplace.
Major features of conversations include turn-taking, turn-ending, feedback and tag questions. Turn taking is the feature of conversation that makes it impossible to engage oneself in conversation, that being the exchange of information. Two or more parties in a conversation take turns speaking while the other listens; more than one person speaking at a time becomes noise. Turn ending is basically the signaling a person does when they are done speaking for others to participate. The signals may involve pauses, questions, facial expressions among others.
Feedback is the type of response a conversationalist generates from their partner(s), and it may be vocal or non-vocal. This is the basis on which a conversation becomes communication, and through which the ideas are really engaged. Sometimes in conversations, non-feedback is considered to be feedback based on what the speaker interprets the silence to mean. Tag questions are another feature of conversations, and they are short, urgent questions that are asked from a person.
Purposes of communicating
Speech, on the other hand, is ordered speaking of a designated language for purposes of communicating to an audience. Keith Basso defines speech as a teamwork activity where people fulfill various communicative objectives, from which the audience is expected to respond in a particular way. There are four distinctive genres of speech namely persuasive, informative, special occasions and entertaining speeches.
Informative speeches are used to pass knowledge from the speaker to the audience. They are highly organized and require the speaker to have superior knowledge of a particular topic in order to impact the information on the audience. Research may be necessary to boost one's knowledge of the subject in cases of insufficiency, as informative speeches may be recorded and used in scholastic references. A professor lecturing students on a particular topic is one form of informative speech. "Wise Words", speech by the elders of the Apache that were identified by Basso also constitute informative speech used to share cultural wisdom in form of metaphors.
Persuasive speech is an address that is intended to create an active response from the audience, comprising of a call to action that is desired by the speaker. This type of speech is modeled along the lines of convincing audiences, often involving slogans, chants and other forms of interactions with the audience to create rapport. Campaign speeches made during rallies is the perfect example of persuasive speech, as they are meant to sway voters and convince them to vote for a candidate.
Entertaining speech topics
Special occasions speeches are those that are made to commemorate an event, person or occasion. Their structure is often semi-formal to casual, as they are mostly made amongst friends/family, or people who are closely related to an event. A person making the speech is supposed to have a thorough understanding of the event or person for whom the special occasion is organized. It often features anecdotes and a recall of special memories of the person, or a recap of the impacts of the event on the lives of the speaker and audience. A toasting speech made during a wedding is one example of a special events speech, another being a eulogy speech during a funeral service.
The last genre is entertaining speeches, which are made to please the audience, lighten their mood or make them laugh. These forms of speech are also highly interactive in nature, with the audiences' laughter encouraging the speaker, and often being the measure of the effectiveness of the speech. Stand-up comedy is one type of entertaining speech, and it employs anecdotes to keep the audience laughing all through the speech.
Social stratification is the placement of people in a particular society into socio-economic strata on the basis of their status, wealth or political and social power. Language is one characteristic that is used to classify people, and is also a determining factor of class. People in different classes speaking the same language can be told apart by the type of language they use in their communication.
In the higher class of society, standard speech is used in communication, with minimal use of sub-standard forms, and the opposite is true for the lower class. Research reveals the difference in forms of speech use as being the quality of communication engaged in between the two classes of people. While the higher classes engage in ordered, civil speech, reading and writing, the lower class people are often unable to find time to read and write, with conversation being engaged in with no particular structure of speech. Lower classes of people are more likely to engage in abnormal conversations, where rowdiness, disruptions, poor language and other such features of poor speech may be present.
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