Role of Silence in Communication

 
 
 
 
Silence is not merely the absence of sound. It is a statement in itself and conveys meaning in communication. Covino discusses only one aspect of silence, the silence that can be taken for agreement. Silence might signify something quite different in another context. We can find many instances in which silence denotes agreement, but we can also find instances in which silence denotes anger, disagreement, an attempt at self-control, fear, and a wide variety of other emotions. Silence communicates something different according to when and where the silence takes place.

Covino points to a scene in Jane Austen's Persuasion in which the silence of the woman after a speech by the man signifies her agreement and also demonstrates certain power relationships between the sexes. Covino indicates that a silence after a speech act makes a statement about the emotional state, or pathos, of the audience. In the example given, the man flatters the woman, and since she agrees with his statement, she says nothing. Her silence thus suggests her agreement and perhaps her reticence to agree verbally and so to seem to be praising herself. Silence does the job witho

     
 
 
 
    

 

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