Paralanguage - ClemsonComm150

•The nonverbal part of speech
that involves aspects of the
spoken message
•The way the delivered
message sounds and conveys
•Vocalized pauses
• The highness or
lowness of vocal
• Applied in two
• Tone
• Intonation
•Deep Voice for the Gay Man
Tonal Languages
• Each syllable has an inherent pitch
• Many words are differentiated solely by
tone, and each syllable in a multisyllabic
word often carries its own tone
• Includes: Mandarin Chinese, Japanese,
Korean, Most Sub-Saharan African
Mandarin Tone Guide
• Obnoxious, pushy, dominant
• “more aggressive, dominant, and self-assured”
(Page, 1978)
• Timid, unsure of themselves
• What differences do
you notice about
the volume of Miss
Trunchbull and Miss
Honey’s voices?
• Who appears to be
the more dominant
in the conversation?
Who appears to be
more timid?
• “Sixty-three male and female college students
listened to a tape-recorded interview in which
they heard a female interviewee answer
questions in either a low, moderate, or high
voice volume” (Page, 1978)
• High volume: perceived as most aggressive
Rate of Speech
• The speed at which a person speaks
• Normal rate of speech is 150 wpm
• There are negative effects on listeners for the
rate of speech being too fast or too slow
• Studies show that a slower speech rate increases
listening comprehension (Pashek, G.V. &
Brookshire, R.H, 1982)
• Do not want to bore listeners by speaking too
slowly though
• Speakers may lose credibility in the eyes of their
audience if their rate of speech is too slow
Rate of Speech
• The perceived importance of the
information that is presented in a lecture
decreases as the speech rate increases
(Robinson et al., 1997)
• If the rate of speech is too fast, listeners
can lose the ability to understand the
information presented
•At what speed is Boomhauer’s
rate of speech? Fast, Slow,
•How did his rate of speech
affect the listener’s
• Vividness of hue
• The identifying character of a vowel sound
determined chiefly by the resonance of
the person uttering it (Merriam Webster’s
• The way the melodic, rhythmic, and
harmonic materials are combined in a
• An inherent or distinguishing character
Hannah Montana
• One example of quality of voice
• Intonation is the inflection in
one’s voice.
• No intonation = monotone
• Too much intonation = distracting
Context and Intonation
• Context and intonation are interrelated- they are
both interpreted together to decode meaning
from a message (Woodland & Voyer, 2011).
According to a study done by Woodland and Voyer
in 2011:
• Speaker said either a positive or negative
statement with either sarcastic or sincere tone
• “Statements paired with an incongruent tone of
voice tended to reflect a response from the
participant that was closer to “neutral” on the
scale rather than either sincere or sarcastic.”
 Positive statement + sarcastic tone = neutral message
Ben Stein
• What made Ferris’s teacher so hard to
pay attention to?
• If a person had too much intonation,
what kind of message would this
convey about the idea they are trying
to communicate or about the person’s
Vocalized Pauses
• A pause that occurs when a speaker
fills the silence between words with
vocalizations such as uh, er, and, um
(public speaking tips website)
• Vocalization- to produce with voice
• My definition: A pause in a fluid
speech in which the speaker uses
filler words to complete the silence
10 Steps to Stop Using word “Like”
• Know how it is used
• Pause
• Record yourself
• Stop using “like” when quoting someone
• Don’t use “like” to approximate
• Stop using it before adjectives and adverbs
• Improve your vocabulary
• Quit using it altogether
• See how long you can go without saying “like”
(wiki how website)
Vocalized Pauses
• When used repeatedly, vocalized
pauses are irritating to listeners and
unnerving to the speaker
• In one study, “vocalized pauses and
repetitions were employed as
categories of verbal disturbance likely
to affect audience judgments of the
speaker” (Miller and Hewgill, 1964).
• Boyd, Stephen. (2012). Public Speaking Tips.
• Fromkin, Victoria A. (ed.). (1978). Tone: A linguistic survey. New York: Academic
• How to Stop Saying the Word “Like.” (n.d)
• Miller, G. R., & Hewgill, M. A. (1964). The effect of variations in nonfluency on
audience ratings of source credibility. Quarterly journal of speech, 50(1), 36.
• Page, R. L. (1978). The effect of voice volume on the perception of personality.
Journal of social psychology, 105(1), 65.
• Pashek, G.V. & Brookshire, R.H. (1982). Effects of rate of speech and linguistic stress
on auditory paragraph comprehension of aphasic individuals. Journal of Speech of
Hearing Research, Vol. 25 377-383.
• Pennycook, A. (1985). Actions speak louder than words: Paralanguage,
communication, and education. Teachers of english to speakers of other languages,
inc., 19(2), 259-282.
• Pike, Kenneth L. (1948). Tone languages: A technique for determining the number
and type of pitch contrasts in a language, with studies in tonemic substitution and
fusion. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.
• Quality. Merriam Webster, An Encyclopedia Britannica Company.
• Quality. (26 January 2012). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
• Robinson, S.L., Sterling, H.E., Skinner, C.H., Robinson, D.H., & Mississippi State
University. (1997). Effects of lecture rate on students’ comprehension and ratings of
topic importance.
• Woodland, J. & Voyer, . (2011). Context and intonation in the perception of
sarcasm. Psychology Press, 26(3). 227-239.