Nonverbal communication

MITSURU ONDA

 

   There are many kinds of nonverbal communication including music, art, architecture and so on, but we have to acknowledge the existence of body language or gesture as well in daily communication. Many kinds of gestures are useful for communicating others who use not only the same language but different language. For instance, a visitor who came from abroad with a letter in his hand asked you something in unknown language. Even if you cannot understand his language at all, you can suppose his intention that he wants to get to the post office. You have only to point in the right direction of the post office with smile. In this way, gestures can often be a helpful international language, but we have to perceive that some kinds of gestures can mean different things to different people. If the gesture is not used carefully or correctly, it can lead to misunderstandings each other.

 I have ever heard that nodding or wagging has a different meaning from one country to another. It is regarded in Japan, America or many western countries as the sign of agreement, understanding or okay, but in India the sign means no or never. Now, I would like to show you some other examples as follows:

 

1. In Japan, when we want to express the meaning of ”be quiet or be silent”, we raise our index fingers up on the closed lips and sometimes we say ”Shh!”

In America or England, they zip up their mouths by moving their thumbs and index fingers from one side of their mouths to the other.

2.When we consult a Japanese archaic dictionary for the meaning or examples of ”nose or hana in Japanese”, we can find such an example as ”Sonata bakari-ga nomikon-demo, kono hana-ga nomikoma-nu”, which literally means ”Only you can accept the proposal, but I can never accept it”. In this sentence, ”hana” is used for the meaning of ”I”. When a Japanese man introduce himself to someone, he often points to his nose by the index finger and say ”My name is …, but an American man point to his chest by the thumb.

3. In many western countries, he/she motions ”Come here!” by curling his/her index finger or waving his/her hand with the palm facing up. On the other hand, In Japan, he/she motions to the companion by waving it with the palm facing down.



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