17JulThis silent language …

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In his book The Silent Language, anthropologist Eward T. Hall analyzes the many aspects of non-verbal communication. He analyzes the way people “talk” to one another without the use of words. He proposes that the concepts of space and time are tools with which all human beings may transmit messages.


As I focused on the chapter “how space communicates”, I find intriguing the way Hall compares cultures and their reading of non verbal communication cues. He particularly states that the distance between individuals differs and can drastically affect the dynamics of space interaction. For instance, an American needs to take between 20 inches to 36 inches in a neutral conversation for a personal subject matter. Apparently in Latin America the interaction distance is much less. This claim was also proposed in his other book, The Hidden Dimension. This seems like a pretty large distance to me!

I was wandering, as we are becoming nomads, or neo-nomads –term created and analyzed by Dr. Yasmine Abbas, now that we travel constantly, I wander how these distances of interaction and non verbal communication cues have evolved. Is it possible that we absorb most of these social interactions in our everyday routines, and that after each travel, each interaction, we come back “socially transformed”? Would these non verbal communication cues become more obvious to us?


In one of his other book, The Dance of Life: The Other Dimension of Time, Hall explores the way humans are intrinsically linked to the rhythm of life, how being unsynchronized can disturb them and even bring them into depression! He explains, based on observations, how people are tied together and yet isolated by hidden threads of rhythm and walls of time. Time is treated as a language, organizer, and message system revealing people’s feelings about each other and reflecting differences between cultures. He claims that repetition is not appreciated or that Americans are not trained to appreciate repetition. Through repetition comes learning, comes depth of understanding, comes rhythm. He proposes that the invisible rhythm is not widely recognized, that rhythms are only presented on stage by talented performers! Hall assumes there is a relationship between rhythm and love. Basically it affects our entire being. Synchrony in life seems strangely related to rhythm in music. The pattern of our movements can translate into a beat. Without this rhythm, we are not synchronized and we loose our contact with life …

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

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  1. Gravatar Icon 1 Zee DeVoSS17 Jul 2008

    “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is Music.”
    “Without music, life would be a mistake.”

    It is too much time spent since I last read Nietzsche… thank you Cati to remind me this.

  2. Gravatar Icon 2 b17 Jul 2008

    I always adjust my personal space in accordance to others, assuming they aren’t intruding on mine to a point where I’m uncomfortable. When I’ve spent time in eastern Asia for example, I felt I was constantly being bumped and crowded, but no one else seemed to notice, so I just made up for it by keeping to myself when I came home to the States :)

    I think nonverbal cues are stronger the more you know about them though. With some people I know, they absolutely cannot read how I’m feeling based on my physical appearance, distancing, posture, and so on. But I have two of three people in my life who can immediately zero in on those things and react to them. Strangely, those people, while my best friends, live states and sometimes continents away from me! But when we’re together, there’s an immediate comfort with our physicality and nonverbal communication. I guess that does just prove it’s all connected…

  3. Gravatar Icon 3 Susan Sanford18 Jul 2008

    See also Richard Sennett’s “The Craftsman” for thoughts on repetition in learning, especially with reference to mastery of craft/art. A wonderful book.



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