The Humanity Of Words - online book

A Primer Of Semantics

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Let us consider the speaking-listening transaction on three levels of complexity: i. conversation, 2. conference, and 3. public address.
I. conversation
If all communication is purposive, even the aimless talk that most of us engage in now and then must be goal-seeking, whether on the conscious or the unconscious level. Such conversation seems to aim only at the satisfaction of the human need for togetherness. When this is the goal, it makes little difference how it is accomplished. We make scattered efforts from different approaches. Is the introduction of gossip about a current happening a possible strategy? Is the evaluation of a current incident a possible strategy? Or must the initiator resort to the questionto that purely incitive device that calls for an answer, if only a nod? There is, of course, the unwilling recipient. This is a social problem that deserves attention. Field theory can contribute only this:
As an initiator, be a recipient to the barest sign, verbal or nonverbal, that comes back to you.
Use that sign to redirect your words toward the expansion of that sign. This is, of course, the exercise of feedback.
Do not be a linear speaker. The target is likely to move out of range and take pains to stay there.
But there is a kind of conversation which is consciously and sharply directed toward a predetermined goal. Such conversation may be dignified by other (and more important) names. The interview is purposive conversation; salesmanship is purposive conversation (and the "salesman" would do well to think of his work as a seller-buyer situa-