Communication And Behaviour. Speech Act.


The current article studies the “communication-behaviour” connection as the linguistic model. It observes different approaches to the notion of communication, communicative contexts. In the section dedicated to the problem statement, components of communication (source, receiver, encoding, decoding, message, channel, noise, receiver`s response, feedback, context) and types of messages are analyzed. The article also states that “communication-behaviour” connection is to be studied through the prism of speech act characteristics and components, the estimation of communicative process as it is. It enlists the social and psychological characteristics of the speech act, aspects and purposes of communication. So, the main purpose of the study is the research of “communication-behaviour” connection through the prism of speech act components and the SPEAKING model. The research methods contain the componential analysis of the speech act and the appliance of Dell Hymes’ SPEAKING model. Finally, the author states, that “communication-behaviour” connection is highly dependent on communicative components, its functioning within different contexts, the cultural world view of a sender and a recipient. It is clear, that communication is a dynamic, interactive, irreversible process, which takes place in both physical and social contexts. This social context is culture, and if we are to understand communication, we must also understand culture.

Keywords: CommunicationbehaviourSpeech ActDell Hymes SPEAKING modelculturemessage


There are many methods to make the process of communication productive and efficient nowadays. In the era of globalization we live in language communities which have different value-orientation systems. Every community expresses itself through communication. Cultures exist to create, preserve and send further common systems of cultural symbols with which their members can interact and exchange meanings. Cultural isolation happens due to the difference in meaning perception, not the difference in word-understanding. Every culture creates a cultural reservoir for its members - the context in which people can carry out their cultural knowledge. This cultural reservoir is familiar for the representatives of different generations, one of their basic purposes is the transmittance of cultural knowledge. People are surrounded with cultural norms, get used to them and hardly realize how the building blocks of their lingua-cultural communities function.

The notion of communication

There are many approaches to the notion of communication. Communication is an interactive channel, which helps people to build bridges instead of walls. It is a functional process, which is aimed at the fulfilment of a vital human need - the need to exist and evolutionize. In modern linguistics communication can be defined in three most common ways:

•The process of giving information to people or living things, systems and mechanisms that are used to broadcast information. In this case communication is a link, which enriches the recipient.

•Different methods of sending information to people and places, especially, official systems (the media, for example). This understanding of the notion of communication concentrates much on communicative instrumentalities (means, ways, acts). These are instrumentalities which people use to build relations with each other and understand each other's emotions. The symbolic aspect of communication is also meant.

•From the psychological point of view, communication is behaviour. It does not necessarily has the word-form, it also deals with attitude, perception, carried out through facial expressions, gesture, posture, style and manner.

Communicative Behavioural Contexts

Communication is a dynamic, linear process, which is the reflection of humans` language evolution (Cowley & Markos, 2019). Language is a variety and shape of human activity, which makes it possible for people to think of the past, present, and future situations and make plans related to them. As a mode of thought, it is not just an instrument, which conveys and receives messages. It enables an individual to pass and get responses from natives in one`s own and foreign speech communities. The messages, which are passed between humans, do not always lead to productive understanding. Both cultural and linguistic barriers exist, they are the blocks that provoke stereotyping. Stereotypes commonly have traditional and cultural roots. Once being historically approved, most of them have lost topicality, though bearers of the culture strongly concentrate on them. Those perform negative functions, which split global communities and set individuals apart. Stereotypes are rough, out-of-date blocks that are kept in our mental reservoir and somehow assist us to structure the reality. On the level of lingua-cultural worldviews this may cause collisions. The fact that everyday things are performed differently in different cultural contexts, often leads to misunderstanding, cross-culturalism, and even within a seemingly homogeneous lingua-cultural community varieties of behaviours create difficulties. It is also realised on the language level: the language seems to be coloured from the inside, psycholinguistics studies this.

In some societies linguistic barriers may be associated with ideas of status and class. For example, the use of the wrong dialect or variety of the language in a communicative situation may create obstacles to social and financial cooperation and the barriers can be set up through the differences revealed in the use of different linguistic codes in the mutual context. Languages and varieties of languages can, however, provide a “bridge to understanding” when they are used to mediate between co-natives or foreigners. On interacting with somebody, it is not in isolation, but within specific physical environments and under a set of specific social dynamic issues. Physical surroundings, settings include specific physical objects: furniture, coverings, decorations, light, noise, plants. Social issues create messages. The context defines the social relationships that exist between a source and a receiver. Such social and status roles as teacher-student, employer-employee, parent-child, friend-enemy, doctor-patient turn out very remarkable and influence the process of communication. And, quite often, physical settings help to define the social context. The social context has a long-lasting effect on communication: the style of the language used, the attitude residue, the timing, personal moods and the emotive background, who speaks to whom and in which turn, the degree of anxiety or awareness people carry out.

Problem Statement

“Communication-behaviour” connection creates a model, which is very complicated and disputable. This model functions within a context and is highly dependent on its constituents.

Components of Communication

Traditionally the following components (constituents) of communication are distinguished within the context of intentional communication (Jacobson, 1956).

Source: a person, who has a need to communicate. This may change from a social desire for recognition to the desire to share information with others. The source's wish to communicate is naturally-born. Communication, then, deals with the sharing of internal states with different degrees of intention to influence the information, attitudes and behaviours of others.

Communication is in the form of a symbol, representing the personal idea. Source is an active doer; he keeps the communicative situation under control and of about 70% of communicative feedback depends on his intentions.

Encoding is representing ideas as symbols. Symbols may be verbal and non -verbal.

The result of encoding is a message - a set of verbal and/or non-verbal symbols, that represent a source's state of being at a particular moment in time and space, his communicative intention. Encoding is an internal act that produces a message, a message is external to the source and the receiver. The form of the message is highly dependent on the communicative competence of the source.

The 4th communicative ingredient is the channel that provides the connection between the source and the receiver. A channel stands for an imaginary tunnel with means and instrumentalities, by which a message moves between a source and a receiver (media, print or electronic channel, physical phenomena, direct human communication).

Noise is the interference with the message: external (listening to an iPod while reading), internal (being hungry, which distracts from concentrating), semantic (a speaker's profanity and ignorance) (Storch, 2018). Noise may be considered the part of the channel.

Receiver gets and interprets messages and, consequently, becomes linked to the message source. Receivers may be those intended by the source, who come in contact with the message when it has entered the channel and perceive it, when it comes to the end of it. Like the source, the receiver is in charge of the final stage of communicative process. The perception of the message depends on receiver`s communicative intention and his interactive competence.

Converting external means into a meaningful experience, assigning meaning to the created symbols is decoding. The shape of the decoded message is formed in the mental reservoir of the receiver and is also the reflection of his personal world view.

Receiver's response is what receiver decides to do with the message. Minimum response - decision to ignore the message and escape the act of communication. Maximum response - immediate physical act of possibly violent nature. Receiver`s response depends on his psychological state when communication occurs. If communication is productive, the response will be the one desired by the source.

Feedback - the effect of the receiver's response, to which meaning is assigned. Although feedback and response are not the same, they are closely related. Response is what receiver decides to do about the message, his reaction, while feedback is the consequence, the outcoming information about communicative effectiveness. The feedback may remain in the mental reservoir of the receiver for a long time and get modified.

Communication takes place in the physical and a social context. Contexts are the environment which keeps, influences and modifies other constituents. Analysing the exact communicative act, one may start with the consideration of the contexts (their psychological, social and cultural regulations).

“Communication-Behaviour” Connection

Understanding communication means knowing what happens during an encounter, why it happens, what are the consequences and effects, and what we can do to influence and possibly change the results of the process.

Samovar amd Porter (1994) state that communication has to deal with human behaviour and the need to interact with other human beings, which is seen through the exchange of messages, that serve as bridges to unite individuals. Messages come into being through people's behaviour (Samovar & Porter, 2009). When we speak languages, we obviously are behaving, but when we smile, frown, walk, gesture, we also are behaving. For these behaviours to be called messages, they must meet two requirements: 1) they must be observed by somebody; 2) they must convey meaning. In other words, any behaviour, to which the meaning is attributed, is a message. Both verbal and nonverbal behaviours may function as communicative messages. Verbal messages consist of spoken or written words (speaking and writing are word-producing behaviours), while nonverbal comprise facial expressions, gesture, posture, eye-contact, silence, dress-code, olfactics. Non-verbal messages are culturally marked. Such items as smiling, direct and indirect eye contact, much or little gesticulating, closed and open postures, silence or talkativeness, colours of clothes in dress-code, types of smells preferable - it is all should be considered. We may speak not only of politeness of words, but also of politeness of non-verbal manner. Behaviours can also be conscious or unconscious. Non-verbal behaviour is quite often unconscious (Hoetjes, Krahmer, & Swerts, 2015). For example: frowning, tapping, jiggling, head shaking, staring, smiling are common unconscious behaviours. Since a message consists of behaviours, to which meaning may be attributed, it is possible to produce messages unknowingly, without realizing. One more implication of behaviour - message connection is that people often behave unintentionally, sometimes even subconsciously. For example, if we are confused or embarrassed, we may blush or stammer. These unintentional behaviours become messages, if someone sees them and attributes meaning to them. The source may not mean it as a message, but a receiver may give it a meaning. With this concept of conscious-unconscious, intentional-unintentional behaviour relationships, communication is defined as what happens when meaning is attributed to behaviour or to the residue of behaviour. When someone observes our behaviour or its residue and gives meaning to it, communication occurs. The very act of human being is a form of behaviour. In other words, we cannot not communicate when we behave. The notion of behaviour residue refers to those things that remain as a feedback of our actions. Attribution of meaning to behaviour means that we give it to behaviour we observe in our environment and we are familiar with from our previous life experiences. We might imagine that somewhere in our brain is a meaning reservoir, in which we have stored all the meanings we possess, having worked the out on our way (Edelman, 2017). These various meanings have developed throughout our lifetime as the result of our individual experiences within the cultural context. Meaning is relative directly to each one, because each of us is a unique individual with a unique background and experience.

When we encounter a behaviour in our context, we dive into our individual, unique meaning reservoirs and select the meaning we believe is likely to be more appropriate for the behaviour encountered and the socio-cultural context in which it has occurred (Hall, 2009). Usually, this works quite well, but sometimes it fails and we misinterpret a message—we attribute the wrong meaning to the behaviour we have observed, experiencing cross-communicative problems. This may likely happen when we observe behaviour of the bearers of another culture. So, our communicative processes should be intentional, full-minded, completely conscious.

Research Questions

“Communication-behaviour” connection is to be studied through the prism of speech act characteristics and components, the estimation of communicative process as it is.

Psychological and social characteristics of the Speech Act and the Speaker`s Behaviour.

Psychological components include: communicative intention and purpose - the motivational part of communication. They determine what the sender wants to pass to the receiver. Communicative intention is the wish to communicate with another person. The purpose of the message stands for unmodified information, which the sender wants to pass to the receiver, the project, the idea of the message. There are two types of purposes: immediate and distant. Among immediate purposes are intellectual, those concerning getting information and clarifying opinions. Immediate purposes often have some special implication, which complicates and deepens communication. Along with communicative intention and purpose the component of mindfulness exists. Within communicative act it stands for total awareness of the exact stage of communicative act, the form of the message and the communicative contexts.

Social characteristics of communicative act include: status and situational roles of the participants, communication styles. Status roles predetermine behaviour, prescribe social position or status to a person (considering age, sex, official status). At the beginning of each speech act the participants have to perceive the social roles, otherwise, it will be impossible to carry out the needed behaviour. Situational roles emerge during communication and influence greatly the communicative act itself. Characteristics of behavioural and language style depend upon personal speech style of a person. There are people who use only one style, they can't change their language and speak equally regardless of the situation. A person, possessing a high level of language competence, can easily change his speech style up to circumstances. Though, he usually tries to preserve his/her unique style of communication and manner of behaviour.

Characteristics of communication as a process

Communication as a process is informative; interactive; cognitive (Raimondi, 2019); value-oriented (communication is a process of values` exchange); normative; semiotic; practical.

Basic purposes of communication are:

  • informative (informational exchange);

  • skill-forming (the formation of cultural and social background of an individual);

  • opinion-forming (the formation of opinion towards oneself, other people and the society);

  • interactive, practical (exchange of activities, innovations, technologies, emotions,

  • change of action`s motivation).

Purpose of the Study

The research of “communication-behaviour” connection through the prism of speech act components and the SPEAKING model.

Speech act components` research from the functional point

Seven components of speech act need to be analysed from the functional point. Through the understanding of their functional implementation researches in the field of communication theory, specialists in intercultural communicative matters may achieve better results, become more productive and efficient.

The analysis of Dell Hymes` SPEAKING model

The analysis of Hymes` (1967) SPEAKING model shows that it can be applied to the study of any communicative context. A thorough research of its constituents reveals the “communication-behaviour” connection and may give basis to a more productive work of this model.

Research Methods

Sociolinguist Hymes (1967) developed a model based on the analysis of discourse as a series of speech acts (components of speech events) within a cultural context. It uses the first letters of terms for speech act components (SPEAKING), the categories are analytically very productive and this model is useful to analyse all kinds of discourse.

Componential analysis of the Speech Act.

  • Sender (speaker).

  • Speakers are aimed at identifying speech acts on both: the sender`s and the receiver`s side. That is how they get the background information about each other: age, sex, social status. It is often carried out on the subconscious level (Nagata, Mori, & Nose, 2017).

  • Sender as the component is in charge of the expressive aspect: set of words, intonation, emotions and mutual attitudes.

  • Channel may be revealed through gestures, speech. It has the physical aspect and the psychological one.

  • Message is the implementation of style. It has certain rules of form-building. The form and style of the message is deeply dependant on the context (Jones, 2017; White, 2014).

  • Topic is the thematic implementation of the discourse, it may be carried out through semantic fields and points of the written discourse.

  • Code is the semiotic implementation of the Speech Act. Encoding and decoding are highly dependant on the background knowledge of the sender and the receiver in semiotics (Lu, 2018; Mixdorffa, Hönemanna, Rilliardc, Leed, & Mad, 2017).

  • Receiver carries out the directive function, he guides the process of communication, re-structures it, dwells upon the outcomes. He also estimates what is left unsaid. This can be carried out through rhetoric questions

  • Setting (context) is the reservoir of the Speech Act, including its constituents. The setting performs a contextual function of the Speech Act.

Dell Hymes' SPEAKING Model

  • Setting and Scene.

Setting stands for physical surroundings of the Speech Act. The hall for negotiations might be a setting for business talk. Scene is the “relational setting”, it is culturally modified, including the range of business-like etiquette from more or less neutral to the one formally loaded. Negotiations may be held for the first time or may turn out a habitual procedure. The participants may feel serious and tense or light and reserved.


It stands for the speaker and the audience. The audience may be passive listeners (hearers) or active (interactive) recipients. For example, CEOs of each side may lead the negotiations along with the Reps, while PAs may be inclined to stay silent, making notes.


Purposes, goals, and outcomes of the Speech Act. CEOs may sum up, make general conclusions, plan the would-be cooperation.

●Act Sequence.

The turn and sequence of the communicative process. Negotiations may start with small talk (the ice-breaking technique), then develop through suspense (gradation), experience climax (the key problematic point), then decrease and end up with a logical outcome. The form of the process should also be considered in this very point.


It deals with the emotional atmosphere of the communicative act. The CEO may be displeased and talk in a loud voice, while the Reps may be serious and polite.


Shapes and styles of speech. Representatives of different language communities may display a variety of dialectal forms, from formal standard grammar to regional structural fluctuations. It should be analysed on different language levels: the phono-graphical level, the lexical level (vocabulary), the syntactical level (sentence level), the level of supra-phrasal unit (the level of text).


In this case one should mind the social context and the social paradigm of the Speech Act. Leaders in the process of negotiations would speak without interruptions in a serious, formal way. Reps may call for attention from time to time.


A type, kind of speech act, a kind of story.

This model can be applied to many kinds of discourse. The components of the model may have different significance, depending on the type of discourse. For example, when analysing scientific discourse, one should strongly consider the style on the level of syntax and vocabulary. Analysing casual speech of representatives of different lingua-cultural communities, attention must be paid to purposes and outcomes of the Speech Act. Researching business negotiations, one must dwell upon the plot development and personalities of the participants.


“Communication-Behaviour” connection is highly dependent on communicative components, its functioning within different contexts, the cultural world view of a sender and a recipient.

  • Components of communicative act are the main keys to the understanding of “communication-behaviour” connection.

The seven basic components of the speech act are important for the process of communication from the functional point of view. They carry out the certain functions: the identificational function, the expressive function, the physical and the psychological function, the poetic function, the referential function, the metalinguistic function, the directive function, the contextual function.

Dell Hymes` SPEAKING model can be applied to any type of communicative discourse.

Hymes` (1967) SPEAKING model serves as a perfect instrumentality for the analysis of any type of discourse. It helps to reveal out the constituents of the model, attribute them to a certain type, consider the style of the context and even mind the physical setting and the psychological scene. It also deals with the purposeful, motivational part of the discourse, dwells upon the acts and behaviours of the participants.

“Communication-behaviour” connection is culturally marked.

Even when the natural barrier of the language does not exist, we can still fail to understand and to be understood. These failures, both in the foreign and domestic contexts, must be thoroughly considered. Bearers of different cultural world views have cross-cultural misunderstandings on the basis of different building blocks in their brain reservoirs. This problematic issue can be eliminated by means of studying dominant cultural patterns. In fact, our communicative behaviours are largely dependent on the cultural roots. Lingua-culture, consequently, is the cradle of communication.


Communication is dynamic. It is an ongoing, ever-changing activity. Being participants in communication, we are always affected by other people's messages and, as a consequence, we undergo personal change. Communication is interactive. Communication must take place between a source and a receiver. Communication is irreversible. Once we have said something, and someone has received and decoded the message, we cannot retrieve it. It is clear, that communication is a dynamic, interactive, irreversible process, which takes place in both physical and social contexts. This social context is culture, and if we are to understand communication, we must also understand culture.

So, intercourse is carried out at three levels: communicative, interactive and perceptive. Intercourse at the communicative level occurs by means of language and cultural traditions. The result of this interaction is mutual understanding. The interactive level leads to define interrelations between people. The perceptive level provides common cognition at the rational basis. It's a process of perception of one another, determining the context. Perceptive skills become apparent in abilities to manage one's perception, to “read” one's mood by verbal and non-verbal characteristics, to understand the psychological effects of perception and take them into account.


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07 August 2019

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Dobrikova*, K. (2019). Communication And Behaviour. Speech Act.. In Z. Marina Viktorovna (Ed.), Journalistic Text in a New Technological Environment: Achievements and Problems, vol 66. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 594-603). Future Academy.