Verbal Associates

Kinds of Verbal Associates

Verbal associates are audible signals which are not technically regarded as part of body language or nonverbal communications; but they are also important to give attention to.

Verbal associates are quite different from the spoken words, and they can all convey more and/or different meaning compared to the spoken words themselves.

Some examples of verbal associates as provided by Chapman (2010) are as follows:

Pitch (the constant musical note of the voice)

Pace (speed or rate of talking)

Volume, which ranges from whispering to shouting

Volume variation (how volume changes in phrases or longer passages of speech)

Intonation and ‘musicality’ (how the pitch changes according to what is being said)

Timbre (quality or sound of the voice, and how this changes)

Emphasis (of syllables, words, or phrases)

Projection (where the voice is being projected to—for example, lots of projection, as if talking to a big group, or none, as if mumbling)

Silences, and hesitation

rm’s and erh’s

Gasps, tuts, and other intakes and exhalations of breath

Habits, such as ‘I think ...’ , ‘You know ...’, ‘Like ...’

Laughing and giggling (which can be interspersed within speech, or separate signals, such as nervous laughter) and all sorts of other audible/vocal effects, including:

  • Accents and dialects
  • Accent affectations (‘received’ or conditioned, false or exaggerated—permanent or temporary, for example, social climbers, and ordinary people who have a ‘telephone voice’, or a voice for talking to authority figures)
  • Mistakes (spoonerisms, malapropisms, mispronunciation)
  • Drying up, being lost for words, stuttering (as distinct from a stammer)
  • Over-talking (feeling the need to fill a silence)
  • Interrupting
  • Holding back (someone has something to say but is not saying it)
  • Coughs and grunts (some types of coughing suggest something other than a tickly throat)
  • Belching and burping
  • Whistling
  • Tongue clicking, teeth-sucking