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What is Communication?

Communication is the activity of conveying meaningful information. Communication requires a sender, a message, and an intended recipient, although the receiver need not be present or aware of the sender's intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast distances in time and space. Communication requires that the communicating parties share an area of communicative commonality. The communication process is complete once the receiver has understood the sender.

Communication as an academic discipline, sometimes called "communicology," relates to all the ways we communicate, so it embraces a large body of study and knowledge. The communication discipline includes both verbal and nonverbal messages. A body of scholarship all about communication is presented and explained in textbooks, electronic publications, and academic journals. In the journals, researchers report the results of studies that are the basis for an ever-expanding understanding of how we all communicate.

Communication happens at many levels (even for one single action), in many different ways, and for most beings, as well as certain machines. Several, if not all, fields of study dedicate a portion of attention to communication, so when speaking about communication it is very important to be sure about what aspects of communication one is speaking about. Definitions of communication range widely, some recognizing that animals can communicate with each other as well as human beings, and some are more narrow, only including human beings within the different parameters of human symbolic interaction.

Human Communication

Human spoken and picture languages can be described as a system of symbols (sometimes known as lexemes) and the grammars (rules) by which the symbols are manipulated. The word "language" also refers to common properties of languages. Language learning normally occurs most intensively during human childhood. Most of the thousands of human languages use patterns of sound or gesture for symbols which enable communication with others around them. Languages seem to share certain properties, although many of these include exceptions. There is no defined line between a language and a dialect. Constructed languages such as Esperanto, programming languages, and various mathematical formalisms are not necessarily restricted to the properties shared by human languages.

A variety of verbal and non-verbal means of communicating exists such as body language, eye contact, sign language, paralanguage, haptic communication, chronemics, and media such as pictures, graphics, sound, and writing.

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities also defines the communication to include the display of text, Braille, tactile communication, large print, accessible multimedia, as well as written and plain language, human reader, and accessible information and communication technology.

Nonhuman Communication

Every information exchange between living organisms i.e. transmission of signals that involve a living sender and receiver can be considered a form of communication; and even primitive creatures such as corals are competent to communicate. Nonhuman communication also include cell signaling, cellular communication, and chemical transmissions between primitive organisms like bacteria and within the plant and fungal kingdoms.

Communication Noise

In any communication model, noise is interference with the decoding of messages sent over a channel by an encoder. There are many examples of noise:

Environmental Noise:
Noise that physically disrupts communication, such as standing next to loud speakers at a party, or the noise from a construction site next to a classroom making it difficult to hear the professor.

Physiological-Impairment Noise:
Physical maladies that prevent effective communication, such as actual deafness or blindness preventing messages from being received as they were intended.

Semantic Noise:
Different interpretations of the meanings of certain words. For example, the word "weed" can be interpreted as an undesirable plant in your yard, or as a euphemism for marijuana.

Syntactical Noise:
Mistakes in grammar can disrupt communication, such as abrupt changes in verb tense during a sentence.

Organizational Noise:
Poorly structured communication can prevent the receiver from accurate interpretation. For example, unclear and badly stated directions can make the receiver even more lost.

Cultural Noise:
Stereotypical assumptions can cause misunderstandings, such as unintentionally offending a non-Christian person by wishing them a "Merry Christmas".

Psychological Noise:
Certain attitudes can also make communication difficult. For instance, great anger or sadness may cause someone to lose focus on the present moment. Disorders such as Autism may also severely hamper effective communication.

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