Monday, May 18, 2015

Development of Human Communication

The Meaning of Communication

Communication is an ever continuing process and an integral part of the world of all living things. The need for communication is as basic as the hunger for food and drink, perhaps even more so. It is an individual as well as a social need.

Derived form the Latin word communis , meaning common, communication is a synonym for interchange, dialogue, sharing, interaction or communion. It is the passing of meaningful messages and the receiving of feedback. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines communication as ‘the exchange of meaning between individuals or groups through a common system of symbols or language’.

Denis McQuail (“Towards a Sociology of Mass Communication, 1975) sees ‘human communication’ as the sending of meaningful messages from one person to another. These messages could be oral or written, visual or olfactory. He also includes laws, practices, customs, ways of dressing, gestures, military parades and flags as methods of communication.
Human communication went through different stages of development. At first this development was driven by the process of mankind’s evolution from the lower species, later it was driven by technological human progress.

Historical Survey of Communication:
The Age of Signs and Signals
The Age of Speech and Language
The Age of Writing
The Age of Printing
The Mass Communication Age
The Age of Information Revolution

1. The Age of Signs and Signals

Prehistoric humans were physically unable to talk. Communication was limited and determined by instincts. It was the age of signs and signals - drum messages, smoke signals, music, dance etc.

2. The Age of Speech and Language

Man’s first achievement was speech and language. It gave him an eminent position over others. Growth of different languages gave birth to different expressions that denoted distinctions within communities. Certain languages acquired the traits of others, e.g., the language of conquerors was absorbed into the local dialect. This then became the language of administration and commerce.

3. The Age of Writing

About 5,000 years ago, hieroglyphic writing was developed by the Mayans and the Chinese. They used pictures with a standardized meaning. The Sumerians developed a different form of writing that represented sounds by symbols. This allowed information to be stored and for traditions to be passed on in writing. Clay, stone and later papyrus were developed and used as portable media. Writing gave permanence to the spoken language. Writing was slow to develop because the clergy, who were the seats of power, wanted it to be their sole privilege.

4. The Age of Print

In the 1st century A.D, China invented paper. In the 8th century the Arab world began to manufacture paper. In the 15th century, the Gutenberg press was invented and printing began in Europe. As a consequence, information could be copied much faster and with far fewer mistakes than before. Availability of information was no longer restricted to the Roman Church and to nobility, but open to a wider section of European societies. This was the basis for further historical development that culminated in the Thirty-Years-War. Books were followed by the development of pamphlets and then newspapers in the 17th century. Some newspapers began to be edited by the then subjugated Asians and Africans in spite of severe opposition. Revolutionary journals began to see the light of day and enjoyed wide readership.

5. The Mass Communication Age

In the 19th century, communication was determined by several media forms. Print media, especially newspapers, were supplemented by telegraph and telephone. The introduction of radio, film and television in the 20th century saw the emergence of the Mass Communication era.

6. The Age of Information Revolution

At present, we are living amidst an information revolution. Integrated multimedia applications are now possible due to networks established from the development of digital communication technology. Hypertext structures form the basis for communication and navigation within the system.


Communication is a carrier of a social process and man is a social being because of communication.

Communication influences others and in turn is influenced by them.

Communication gives people a sense of belonging and reduces loneliness and frustration by helping people adapt to their environment.

The communication revolution has marched along with the industrial revolution and the media has been shaped by powerful economic and social forces, such as the rise of democracy. 


Post a Comment