Vocal Cues

Vocal Cues that Accompany Speech

Vocal cues include intonation, voice quality, and vocal emphasis, that can enhance verbal meaning. Laughing and crying are also considered vocal cues. These cues may reveal an emotional state, attitudes towards others, social class, or origin.

Individuals may exercise dominance with a loud projecting voice and indicate submission by using a lower, softer pitch. When communicating verbally, it is important to ensure that the paralanguage aligns with the verbal messages it accompanies.

We can communicate with our voice through changes in rate Opens in new window, volume Opens in new window, quality, resonance, pitch Opens in new window, pauses, and hesitations Opens in new window. These changes indicate our mood.

How something is heard and vocalized varies and holds different meanings in different cultures. There are three categories of vocalizations:

  1. Vocal characterizers (laughing, crying, yelling, moaning, belching, whining, yawning). These send different messages in different cultures. In India, belching indicates satisfaction.
  2. Vocal qualifiers (volume, pitch, rhythm, tone, tempo).
  3. Vocal segregates (uh uh, shh, oooh, mmmh, hum, eh, mah, lah). Segregates indicate formality, acceptance, assent, uncertainty.