From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Communication is a process that allows beings - in particular humans - to exchange information by one of several methods. Communication requires that some kinds of symbols from a kind of language are exchanged. There are auditory means, such as speaking or singing, and nonverbal, physical means, such as body language, sign language, paralanguage, touch or eye contact.
Communication happens at many levels (even for one single action), in many different ways, and for all beings, and some machines. Many or all, fields of study dedicate some attention to communication, so when speaking about communication it is very important to be sure about what aspect of communication one is speaking about. Some definitions are broad, recognizing that animals can communicate with each other as well as human beings, and some are more narrow, only including human beings within the parameters of human symbolic interaction.
Nonetheless, communication is usually described along a few major dimensions:
- Content (what type of things are communicated)
- Source (by whom)
- Form (in which form)
- Channel (through which medium)
- Destination/Receiver (to whom)
- Purpose/Pragmatic aspect (with what kind of results)
Between parties, communication content include acts that declare knowledge and experiences, give advice and commands, and ask questions. These acts may take many forms, including all variations of nonverbal communication. The form depends on the symbol systems used. Together, communication content and form make messages that are sent towards a destination. The target can be oneself, another person (in interpersonal communication), or another entity (such as a corporation or group).
Depending on the focus (who, what, in which form, to whom, to which effect), there exist various classifications. Some of those systematical questions are elaborated in Communication theory.
- Animal communication
- Plant to plant communication
- Cross-cultural communication