The Human Voice: Exploring Vocal Paralanguage
The voice is an extraordinary human instrument. Every time we speak, our voice reveals our gender, age, geographic background, level of education, native birth, emotional state, and our relationship with the person spoken to. All these clues (and many more) are contained in even small fragments of speech, and other people can “read” our voices with remarkable accuracy. When we speak, we “encode” important information about ourselves; when we listen to others, we “decode” important information about them.
This remarkable video explores the power and importance of “vocal paralanguage.” Spoken language contains two distinct types of communication. Text (the words themselves) is whatever can be typed on a page. Vocal paralanguage is everything else — the thousands of ways in which any given words can be said.
“The Human Voice” examines twelve different types of “clues” that are contained in vocal paralanguage. These include clues to our biography and background, our identity and uniqueness, our use of standard or nonstandard speech, our regional and national accents, our emotions and true feelings, our voices when we speak to children, our ability to perform and recognize sarcasm, our efforts to tell if others are telling the truth, and our response to dialects and other variations in vocal paralanguage.
“The Human Voice” was produced by Prof. Dane Archer, Univ. of California, Santa Cruz.