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Richmond and McCroskey (2009) state that "the importance of communication in human society has been recognized for thousands of years, far longer than we can demonstrate through recorded history".:223 Humans have communication abilities that other animals do not. Being able to communicate aspects like time and place as though they were solid objects are a few examples. It is said that humans communicate to request help, to inform others, and to share attitudes as a way of bonding. Communication is a joint activity which largely depends on the ability to keep common attention, to share the relevant background knowledge and joint experience in order to get the content across and make sense in the exchanges.
The current study of human communication can be branched off into two major categories; rhetorical and relational. The focus of rhetorical communication is primarily on the study of influence; the art of rhetorical communication is based on the idea of persuasion. The relational approach examines communication from a transactional perspective; two or more people interact to reach an agreed perspective.
In its early stages, rhetoric was developed to help ordinary people prove their claims in court; this shows how persuasion is key in this form of communication. Aristotle stated that effective rhetoric is based on argumentation. As explained in the text,[which?] rhetoric involves a dominant party and a submissive party or a party that succumbs to that of the most dominant party. While the rhetorical approach stems from Western societies, the relational approach stems from Eastern societies. Eastern societies hold higher standards for cooperation, which makes sense as to why they would sway more toward a relational approach for that matter. "Maintaining valued relationships is generally seen as more important than exerting influence and control over others".:227 "The study of human communication today is more diversified than ever before in its history".:229
Classification of human communication can be found in the workplace, especially for group work. Co-workers need to argue with each other to gain the best solutions for their projects, while they also need to nurture their relationship to maintain their collaboration. For example, in their group work, they may use the communication tactic of "saving face".
Spoken language involves speech, a mostly human quality to acquire. For example, chimpanzees are humans' closest relative, but they are unable to produce speech. Chimpanzees are the closest living species to humans. Chimpanzees are closer to humans, in genetic and evolutionary terms, than they are to gorillas or other apes. The fact that a chimpanzee will not acquire speech, even when raised in a human home with all the environmental input of a normal human child, is one of the central puzzles we face when contemplating the biology of our species. In repeated experiments, starting in the 1910s, chimpanzees raised in close contact with humans have universally failed to speak, or even to try to speak, despite their rapid progress in many other intellectual and motor domains. Each normal human is born with a capacity to rapidly and unerringly acquire their mother tongue, with little explicit teaching or coaching. In contrast, no nonhuman primate has spontaneously produced even a word of the local language.
Human communication can be subdivided into a variety of types:
- Intrapersonal communication (communication with oneself)
- Interpersonal communication (communication between two or more people)
- Organizational communication (communication within organizations)
- Mass communication
- Group dynamics (communication within groups)
- Cross-cultural communication (communication across cultures)
- Stacks, D.; Salwen, M. (2009). An Integrated Approach to Communication Theory and Research. New York: Routledge.
- "Origins of Human Communication". MIT Press. Retrieved 2016-02-09.
- Clark (1996). Using Language. Cambridge University Press.
- Fitch, Tecumseh (2010). The Evolution of Language. Cambridge University Press.