Communication refers to the sender's use of signs and semiotic systems (e.g., body language, alphabetical or visual language) to convey meaning and (2) the reader's, listener's, user's . . . interpretation of those signs.

a student activist speaks to student reporters

What is Communication?

Communication refers to

Thus, at its core communication concerns

  1. the creation or production of discourse: composing, composing processes
  2. the interpretation of texts.

Related Concepts: Code Switching; Communication Studies; Composing; Composing Processes; Literacy; Professional & Technical Communication; Register; Writing Studies; Semiotics.

Communication is a Complex, Subjective Process

Writers, speakers, knowledge workers . . . use symbolic language (e.g., alphabetic text, numerical data, visual data) to communicate with others.

Some symbolic acts are fairly straightforward. They require little forethought. They are commonplace.

Other symbolic acts are highly complex: they may require familiarity with jargon, research methods, particular epistemological positions; the particular discourse conventions of a discourse community (aka community of practice; and ongoing scholarly conversations about the topic and its related subtopics across communities of practice. And there are certainly other circumstances in life where your words are just not enough to convey the meaning you hope to convey.

[ Interpretation ]

Communication is an Organic Process:

Thinking, creating, and learning involves the body as well as the mind.

Developmental psychologists, since Vygotsky, have theorized that during childhood language goes underground: words become abbreviated, distilled, until all that is left is the gist of the word, a feeling, a felt sense.

[ Felt Sense ]

Communication is a Dialogic, Recursive Process

When writing, people re-read and reconsider what they’ve written. They go back and look at words and phrases and that behavior inspires new ideas.

The process of developing and sharing knowledge claims cannot be simplified into a simple formula such as prewrite, write, revise and edit. Writing, thinking, and learning involves recursive intellectual strategies. Rather than one ideal composing process that occurs in organized stages, writing is a chaotic process characterized by engaged, sustained, reflective thinking. 

[ Composing | Composing Processes | Revision ]

Communication is a Social, Rhetorical Process

Communication presumes a rhetorical context, a sender and a receiver.

Communication takes place in a context. That context, that rhetorical situation, has an impact on what gets communicated and how it gets communicated. Writers, speakers, knowledge workers . . . cannot stand outside of time: they are there in a moment and they have to reason their way out of it.

Communication is a Psychosocial Process

The process of communication is psychosocial: it involves a blending of the psyche of the writer with that writer’s literacy history, and a writer’s experiences with broader society.

Read More: