Wednesday, 10 February 2016


1. Communicating interpersonally
Communicating occurs at three different levels: extrapersonal, intrapersonal, interpersonal. It’s extrapersonal when pets are involved. It’s not uncommon to find people talking to animals, pets, plants, elements of nature. Intrapersonal refers to talking to oneself.
When we meditate, contemplate, think, analyze, interpret, we are communicating to
ourselves. Interpersonal involves two or more than two people passing on and receiving messages of various kinds interactively as speaker(s)-listener(s) or listener(s)-speaker(s). It happens through several mediums, the major ones being verbal and non—verbal, some of the other ones being dancing, painting. When messages are passed on from one person to another without using words or speech, they are termed non-verbal.

2. Non-verbal messages
Nonverbal communication represents two-thirds of all communication (Wikipedia).
Sometimes we communicate only nonverbally. We may enter or leave a place without permission to show there is no formality or to show authority. We may throw or pretend to throw an object at a person seriously or for fun. 

People tend to have much less control over their non-verbal messages than of what they’re actually saying. This is partly because non-verbal communication is much more emotional  and instinctive. If there is a mismatch between the two, therefore, you should probably trust the non-verbal messages, rather than the words used.

A lack of non-verbal message may also be a signal of sorts, suggesting that the speaker is carefully controlling their body language, and may be trying to hide their true emotions.

Cross-cultural studies done in various countries on all continents show people not only express basic emotions very similarly (happiness, fear, surprise, anger, disgust, sadness) but also recognize them without hesitation.

3. Interaction between verbal and nonverbal messages
Nonverbal messages can interact with verbal messages thus:
When verbals and nonverbals convey conflicting messages the latter are taken as revealing the mental disposition.

Accurate interpretation of messages is made easier when nonverbals and verbals complement each other. Besides, messages are remembered better when nonverbal signals affirm the verbal exchange.

Nonverbal signals can be used by themselves.  Widening of the eyes indicates wonder, raising of the eyebrows, doubt, and a smile, satisfaction or happiness.

4. Body Language
Non-verbal communication is equated with ‘body language’. Because most of it occurs through the use of the body. Body language also includes ‘gestures’ that we do with different parts of the body. 

4.1 face
Winking, rolling the eyes, raising the eyebrows, twitching the nose, scratching the head, gnashing the teeth, putting the tongue out, closing the eyes, intentional coughing, tapping the forehead, massaging temples, face turned away, bent head, head shaking, raising the chin, using fingers or arms, nodding,  pouting express messages.

4.2 physical characteristics
Height, weight, colour, hair, beard, unkempt hair, thick or thin eyebrows, dress, dress colours, its quality convey messages.

4.3 eye contact
This is a very essential body language for socialization purposes. It’s generally said that eyes don’t lie. When somebody fails to look at you, we say   ‘Look me in the eye.’  

4.4 posture
This happens when we keep our body in a particular position, when we hold our body in a particular way—the way we stand, the way we’re seated.

4.5 proximity
This refers to physical space that we have in mind and put to use when we are with others in a given place. ‘Space’ refers to the body distance between others and us.

4.6 touch
We employ this when we shake hands, placing a hand on another’s shoulder, embrace, lift one bodily.

4.7 time
By ‘time’, we refer to the amount of time we take to respond. We may take less or more time. The partner will interpret the ‘time’ according to the situation, his/her mental make-up at that moment and understanding of the person responding.

4.8 speech aspects
4.8.1 tone (vocal and nonverbal)
When someone asks a question, we say ‘yes’ to agree with or accept what the other person is saying. For this, our tone is normal. But it’s possible that we want to add some more meaning to the ‘yes’. When we wish to do this, we use our tone. For instance, the ‘yes’ with a raised volume can imply impatience or ‘so what?’ When we say ‘yes’ haltingly, it can send a message of ‘hesitation’. When there is aggression in the tone, the ‘yes’ will probably be a threat. The ‘yes’ with a bored voice means ‘disinterest’ or ‘compulsion’. The ‘yes’ in a whisper indicates ‘reluctance’ or ‘meekness’. ‘Yes’ with a falling tone means that the idea is complete. ‘Yes’ with a rising tone is a question.  

4.8.2. volume (vocal and nonverbal)
When we speak, the volume of our voice is normal in the sense that it’s clearly heard and doesn’t disturb the hearer. But sometimes, we may increase or reduce the volume, depending on the need.

4.8.3 sound symbols (vocal and nonverbal) 
‘Ah’, ‘aha’, ‘er…’, ‘ha’, ‘ha ha’, ‘hey’, ‘hi’, ‘ho’ ‘oh’, ‘oho’, ‘ooh’, ‘ouch’, ‘sh’, ’uh’, ‘um’, ‘uh-huh’, ‘mmm..’ are sounds that we produce as symbols to express our emotions.

4.9 silence (non-vocal and nonverbal)
It can be a very effective tool of communication when used sparingly.

5. Why is non-verbal communication important?
We use both verbal and nonverbal messages to communicate with others. But it is believed that generally speaking, we derive meaning from nonverbal messages rather than from the verbal. Because the former is more natural, instinctive, involuntary and automatic. Words may lie. Verbal messages may hide our thoughts or feelings. We may speak, converse and continue our relationship with a person even when we hate that person. We may call someone names but we don’t mean them. We may say “I’ll kill you” but more often it stays at the threat level. We may bless someone while in our mind we’re actually cursing that person.

Non-verbal communication does not usually lie. Very rarely do we plan it. But it may lie when we want to intentionally deceive or when we have in mind some gain for ourselves or our close ones. We may embrace a person to show friendship or relationship, but we may actually be planning how to steal their property.

6. Interpreting nonverbals
Sources for this subsection:
iii. Steve Darn’s Aspects of Nonverbal Communication in The Internet TESL Journal, Vol.   
     XI, No. 2, February 2005, at

6.1 in different countries
There is another aspect that should be remembered constantly. The interpretation of non-verbal communication is likely to differ from culture to culture.

Italians express their emotions freely whereas Englanders are generally very restrained. However, even in Italy, there are geographical variations.

The thumbs-up gesture, which generally signals approval in English-speaking countries, is considered offensive in other countries, including apparently Greece, Italy and some parts of the Middle East.

Making a circle with your thumb and forefinger like this means OK in Western cultures. It is used in particular by divers in this way. In Japan, however, it is reputedly the sign for money, and in Arabic countries, it is a threat.

The Chinese prefer silence to verbal communication. 

There are differences in how people handle time. In Italy and Spain people perform several activities at once where as in America, people do one thing at a time.

In the United States, pointing is the gesture of a finger or hand to indicate "come here please" when beckoning a dog. But pointing with one finger is also considered to be rude in some cultures. Those from Asian cultures typically use their entire hand to point to something.

Sticking the tongue out is seen in Western countries as mockery but in Polynesia it serves as a greeting and a sign of reverence.

Clapping is a North American way of applauding, but in Spain it’s used to summon a waiter at a restaurant.

Northern Europeans nodding their heads up and down to say “yes”, and shaking their head from side to side to say “no”. But the Greeks have for at least three thousand years used the upward nod for disagreement and the downward nod for agreement. 

There are many ways of waving goodbye: Americans face the palm outward and move the hand side to side, Italians face the palm inward and move the fingers facing the other person, French and Germans face the hand horizontal and move the fingers toward the person leaving. 

In Arab and Iranian cultures, people express grief openly. They mourn out loud, while in Asian cultures, the general belief is that it is unacceptable to show emotion openly. 

For people in Westernized countries, laughter is a sign of amusement, but in some parts of Africa it is a sign of wonder or embarrassment. 

Native Americans tend to be more reserved and less expressive with emotions. Frequent touches are common for Chinese people; however, such actions like touching, patting, hugging or kissing are less frequent in America and not often publicly displayed.

As Latin American cultures embrace big speech gestures, Middle Eastern cultures are relatively more modest in public and are not expressive.

In Western culture, eye contact is interpreted as attentiveness and honesty. In Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern, and Native American cultures, eye contact is thought to be disrespectful or rude, and lack of eye contact does not mean that a person is not paying attention.

In Latin America and the Middle East the acceptable distance is much shorter than what most Europeans and Americans feel comfortable with. This is why an American or a European might wonder why the other person is invading his or her personal space by standing so close, while the other person might wonder why an American or a European is standing so far from him or her. 

The following are examples of common gestures which have different functions and meanings in different cultures:

1. the forefinger and the thumb forming a circle:
    Commonly: everything is ok, perfect
    France: worthless, Japan—money, Germany—rude, Malta, Greece and Brazil—obscene

2. Thumbsup
     Commonly: all OK, Australia, Iran—rude, Nigeria—very offensive, Japan—five,
     Turkey—political rightist party

3. showing right palm: stop, enough (person, car, action),
     Turkey—you get nothing from me, W.Africa—you have 5 fahters

4. The fig (fingers folded into the palm with the thumb pushed between the foreginger and
    the middle finger
    Turkey, Greece, Tunisia, Holland—obscene, Russia—you get nothing from me,   
    Yugoslavia—you can’t have it, Brazil—good luck 

6.2 in the same community
It’s also necessary to remember constantly that the messages that non-verbal communication conveys need not be the same for all the members even in the same community. For instance, let’s consider shaking hands. A may just touch B’s hand with just the fingers lightly indicating a perfunctory gesture, A may grip B’s hand in such a way B may feel pain, A may embrace B’s hand completely indicating acceptance. A smile may or may not accompany shaking hands indicating presence or absence of warmth.    

7. Conclusion
It’s incumbent on the part of everyone—tourists, bureaucrats, politicians, scientists, technologists, common public—to observe how they use body language to communicate and how others use theirs and learn from the observation so they would be able to handle different relationships better and enjoy harmony with others. They would also be able to monitor their own signals and achieve better control over themselves and so function more effectively.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The Future tense form and the messages it carries

I Simple Future
1. will/ shall

Future tense forms are formed by placing
         · ‘will’* before base verbs in first person singular and plural ( I and we)
         · ‘will’ before base verbs in second person singular and plural (you, you)
         · ‘will’ before base verbs in third person singular and plural (nouns, he, she, it,

          I will/ ll come tomorrow.   You will (ll) meet me this evening. She will (ll) see you.
           Will you talk to him?   Will he oblige?    When will she attend to the file?

Note: ’ll is the shortened form of ‘will’.       

        *Traditional grammar says shall is the correct future auxiliary to be used with ‘I’ and ‘we’.
          But ‘……,  many people avoid shall except in the interrogative and use will all the time for   
          affirmative and negative…..’ say Thomson and Martinet in their A Practical English Grammar.

         Quirk et al in their A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language also say the use
         of shall with I and we ‘is nowadays widely ignored.’ People use will or ‘ll with ‘I’ and ‘we’.
         In other words, people say ‘I’ll meet you tomorrow’, not ‘I shall meet you tomorrow’. Shall
         is used with I or we in interrogatives to seek response from a listener or to make suggestions
         about shared activities:
             Shall I talk to my superior about this? (seeking response)
             Shall we meet at Suresh’s house for a discussion? (seeking suggestions)

2. be + going to + full verbs 
                  I’m going to complain if things don’t improve. (future fulfilment of the present)
                      She’s going to have a baby.  (future result of present cause)

3. be + -ing participle   
                  The match is starting at 2.30 (tomorrow).
4. present simple tense form (bare verbs)         
                 School closes on 31 March.
                 What will you do if I don’t marry you? (conditional clause)
                 I’ll inform her when she arrives. (time clause) 

5. be + to-infinitive        
                 The Prime Minister is to visit Japan next month. (present arrangement for future) 
                 You’re to meet the Company representative and collect the documents.
                     (order about a future duty/responsibility)

6. Verbs in imperative
                       Be quiet!
                     Search the room thoroughly!
                     Make yourself a cup of tea.
                     Don’t drop it!
                     Don’t wait for me!  

7. other verbs 
              The weather may improve. (tomorrow)
             You must have dinner with us. (sometime soon)
             I intend to resign next Monday.
             I hope to be married soon.

II Future Progressive
This expresses
1. actions that will be progressive at some point of time in future time:
           When you reach the end of the bridge, I’ll be waiting to show you the way.   

2. actions that describe normal procedures and routine events in future time:   
         The Inspector will be visiting your school again in three months.
          Good bye! We’ll be seeing you.
          I’ll be following your progress with great interest.

III Future Perfect
1. This expresses
    actions that began in the past time, goes on in the present time and will complete some
    time in the future:
          We will have arrived  in New York by this time tomorrow.
         It’s now 6.30 p.m.; I’ll have finished my work by 10 o’clock.
         In another year or so, you’ll have forgotten all about him. 

2. assumptions or possibilities in the present time:
       You’ll have heard, I expect, that Srikala is going to be married in another two weeks.
       It’s five o’clock; they’ll have arrived home by now.

3. actions or states of some duration up to a certain time in the future:
          On July 29, we’ll have been married for 38 years.
         At the end of this academic year, you’ll have taught for 43 years.

Note: This use of future perfect means that the action/state will not complete at a given time
          in the future but will in all likelihood continue to be true.

IV The messages are different between simple future and future progressive:
            When will you pay back the money?
            (=I’m not interested in your problems; I want my money back.)

               When will you be paying back the money?
            (How soon can you pay the money back? / Repayment here is a matter of course.)

                We will fly at 30,000 feet.
            (The pilot had just decided to fly at that height.)

            We will be flying at 30,000 feet.   
             (It’s the normal height that the pilot is talking about.) 

                The next train to Tambaram will arrive at platform four.

            The next train Tambaram will be arriving at platform four.            
               There is no direct human involvement. The difference between these  two is not as
               important here as it is in the other two examples. However, the future progressive is
               more informal than the simple future.                   
V Future tense as a concept
It’s said that there’s no future tense in the English language.

The argument goes like this:
1. To form past and present tenses,
    we inflect (= make changes in) regular verbs
    with the addition of ‘s/es’, ‘-ing’ and ‘ed’ at the end
    we inflect irregular verbs with difference in their spellings:
                                Full verbs
        Primary verbs
tense forms
base form
-s form
-ing participle
past form
-ed participle
begin          speak        put
begins        speaks       puts
beginning   speaking   putting
began          spoke        put
begun          spoken      put

* These are derivatives of ‘be’.

It is these inflections (=additions and different spellings ) that result in the past and present forms of full and primary verbs.

2. There is no such inflection in the tense forms with regard to expressing ‘future’. We
    don’t make any changes by adding to the verbs or changing their spellings. We simply
    use different expressions to convey ‘future’ time:

          1. will/ ’ll  for ALL ‘persons’ before full verbs and primary verbs
                   indicates actions and states as occurring in future time:     
                   full verbs                                                                 primary verbs                 
                 I’ll             }                
                 We’ll         }                                                           I’ll be rich soon.
                You’ll        } talk to the manager.                           I’ll have a solution soon.
                He’ll          }                                                            I’ll do what you say.
                She’ll         }
                They’ll       }

Inflection occurs thought the addition of ‘s’ or ‘es’ or ‘ed’; this is not a uniform happening because we make changes in the spelling of a verb. The key word is ‘addition’. If one or two letters can be added at the end of a verb or one or two letters can be changed to indicate the time of an action or a state, the addition of will/shall before a verb also indicates the time of an action or state.

I think we’re splitting hairs.

For instance, if ‘go’ can transform itself into ‘went’ and if ‘go’ can take derivatives of ‘be’ for present or past progressive forms, why can’t ‘go’ take ‘will’ to form future tense form to indicate future time? ‘Will’ is an addition just as ‘es’ is an addition to ‘go’, since both are additions, whether the addition gets attached to the verb or placed before it, where’s the harm saying we have the future tense forms.

Another argument is tense forms are only AIDS to expressing time, they don’t substitute ‘time’. Simply put, several forms as a bunch express the three times’. What are these finer distinctions for if not to serve OUR intentions, to carry messages?

Past Perfect and past perfect progressive tense forms and meanings

Past Perfect
   · is used to express actions in ‘if clauses that did not take place:
            If you had listened to me, you could’ve avoided mistakes.
           (=You didn’t listen to me and so you couldn’t avoid making mistakes.)

              If you’d explained your problem to your boss, he’d have understood it.
              (=you didn’t explain your problem to your boss and so he didn’t understand it.)

              If she hadn’t married him, she’d be living now.
              (=She married him and now she is no more.)      

   · expresses unrealized hope or wish:
            I had hoped we would be able to leave tomorrow but I have an emergency operation.
            I had intended to see my mother but I have to stay back and finish my report.
            I wish I had taken your advice. [ But I did not]
            We had expected you to stay at least a week [But you are not]       

Past Perfect Progressive
This expresses
1. duration of past actions:
        It was getting dark and he was exhausted because he had been digging since

2. repeated past actions:
                He had been trying to get on the phone, but he was unsuccessful.

3. duration of actions earlier than the completed ones:
                When I opened the door I found him on his knees outside. I knew
                he had been looking through the keyhole.

Past progressive tense form and the messages

Past Progressive 
      · actions in progress when another action occurred:
            The sun was setting as we reached home.
            When you rang up your mum/mom, she was resting. 
      · gradual progression: 
            The sun was setting.    It was getting darker.     The wind was rising. 

Past Progressive Tense Form and ‘time’
Past progressive tense form expresses 
1. importance to the continuity of the action rather than its completion:
            He was listening to the radio.
            They were watching TV.
            What were you doing all morning?
2. actions in progress when another action occurred:
            The sun was setting as we reached home.
            When you rang up your mum/mom, she was resting

3. gradual progression: 
            The sun was setting.    It was getting darker.     The wind was rising

4. actions repeated for a short period:
            The manager was typing his own letters while his secretary was ill.
            At that time, she was having regular singing lessons.
            He was taking his children out much oftener in those days.

5. annoyance or irritation at some repeated action (with an adverb):
             He was always grumbling.
             She was constantly troubling her husband for money with which to buy new clothes.

6. an intention not completed:
             You were going to give me your mobile number. (but you didn’t)
             The police were going to charge her.                 (but they didn’t)

7. an arrangement in the future determined in the past:
             You were meeting him at the Taj the next day.
             They were getting married the following spring.
             He busy packing for he was leaving that night.

8. actions that are contrary to routine:
              I was surprised to see they were drinking tea at breakfast.
                 (They usually took coffee.)
              I felt that the fellow was telling the truth. (He usually lied.)
              Their regular teacher fell ill, so I was taking the class for history. 

9. incomplete actions because of interruption:
              I sprained my ankle while I was playing tennis.
              Father was watching TV while the lights went off.

10. interrelationship or identity with another simultaneous event:
                Do you think he was telling the truth (when he said that)?

                A: What did she mean by that?
                B: I think she was advising you not to interfere.    

11. casualness rather than purposefulness:                
                 I was talking to Mohan, and he was telling me that the job is still vacant.

Note: The use of second past progressive tense here doesn’t mean the action was a long one;
          nor does it mean the action was incomplete.  The tense tells us that the action (‘telling’
          or ‘advising’) was part of a conversation where it was one of the several ideas that were
          shared. Other verbs of ‘speaking’ used in this manner are: apologize, thank, predict,
          request etc.

Meaning differences between past and past progressive
1.        My sister was studying for her exams while I was watching television. 
           My sister studied for her exams while I watched television.
    The past progressive tense stresses ‘continuity’ while the past tense, ‘completion’.

2.        When we arrived, my wife made some coffee.
           When we arrived, my wife was making coffee.
    The past tense indicates that coffee-making followed our arrival. The past progressive
    means that the arrival took place during coffee-making.

3.        He played for several first-class teams (before he retired).
           He was playing in a match against the North (the day he scored a hat trick.)
    The past tense indicates permanence of ‘playing’ and the past progressive, a specific 
4.         I read a novel yesterday evening. [ie the whole novel]
            I was reading a novel yesterday evening.
    The past tense indicates completion of the act and past progressive indicates only the
    continuity of the action.    

5.          A: ‘Did you hear about Balu’s new job?’
             B : ‘ Yes, my wife was telling me about it this morning.’ 
            (or) ‘ Yes, my wife told me about it this morning.’
   The past tense suggests: ‘I know more or less all about it; I don’t need any further
   The past continuous tense suggests: ‘I have heard a little about it, but I should like to hear

6.            I talked to Gopal the other day.
               I was talking to Gopal the other day.
   The past tense implies intention/purpose. The past progressive means: I happened to talk 
    to Gopal. (I had no intention, the talk just happened.)

7.            What were you doing before you came here?
               What did you do before you came here?  
   The past progressive implies ‘politeness’ towards the listener. This is absent in the past

8.             What were you doing in my room?
                What did you do in my room?
   The past progressive implies an accusation, which is absent in the past tense.