Exploring Vocal Paralanguage
The voice is an extraordinary human instrument.
Every time we speak, our voice reveals our gender,
age, geographic background, level of education, native birth,
emotional state, and our relationship with the person spoken to.
All these clues (and many more) are contained in even small fragments
of speech, and other people can "read" our voices with remarkable
accuracy. When we speak, we "encode" important information about
ourselves; when we listen to others, we can "decode" important
information about them.
This video, THE HUMAN VOICE, explores the power and importance
of this uniquely human instrument. When we speak, we use words,
but we also "perform" these words using the range and subtlety of
our voices. Spoken language therefore contains two distinct
types of communication: (1) "text" (the words themselves) and
(2) "vocal paralanguage", the thousands of ways in which any
given words can be said. Text is whatever can be typed on a page.
Vocal paralanguage is everything else--intonation, pitch, regional accent,
sarcasm, hesitations, truthfulness, emotion, etc.
In THE HUMAN VOICE, we examine twelve different types of "clues"
that are contained in human vocal paralanguage. These include
important clues to our biography and background, our identity and
uniqueness, our use of standard or non-standard speech, our regional
and national accents, our emotions and true feelings,
our voices when we speak to children, our ability to perform
and recognize sarcasm, our efforts to tell if others are telling
the truth, and our response to dialects and other variation in
THE HUMAN VOICE explores the richness and power of vocal paralanguage.
The video examines provocative questions about the voice. What does
our voice reveal about us? Is our paralanguage unique and recognizable?
Which accents are preferred and which are disliked? Should people
try to abandon their native accents in favor of "standard"
How does our voice reveal what we are feeling? Is it text or
paralanguage that makes a great speech? How do we "tell" others
that we are being sarcastic, and is this pattern universal across
cultures? What is "Parentese", the language we speak to
what age do children become "skilled" at lying? How should we
to stuttering and other forms of dysfluency? Are distinctive voices
"property"--for example, can advertisers be sued for impersonating
famous voices in commercials?
As THE HUMAN VOICE, demonstrates, much is revealed by our speech and
our paralanguage. Whether we are conscious of our voices or not,
they speak volumes about us--our biography, who we are, how we are
feeling, what kind of person we are, and what we really mean.
The people we speak to listen not only to the text of what we say
but also to the paralanguage with which we say it. Vocal paralanguage
is a powerful, subtle, and vital part of human communication. The
way we see others--and the way we are seen by them--depends in
large part on what is heard in the human voice.
AUDIENCES for THE HUMAN VOICE
This videotape will be ideal for classes in psychology, sociology,
anthropology, communication, speech, linguistics, drama, theatre arts,
and multi-cultural studies. THE HUMAN VOICE brings into provocative
focus the incomparable gift of human speech. Anyone who sees this
video will emerge with a greatly enhanced sense of the power, variety,
richness, and importance of the spoken word. THE HUMAN VOICE
is available with an INSTRUCTOR'S GUIDE that provides (a) suggested
uses of the video, (b) classroom demonstrations designed to show
the power of the human voice and our ability to read vocal paralanguage,
and (c) background and reference materials on the voice and nonverbal
What reviewers are saying about "THE HUMAN
- "THE HUMAN VOICE does a great job, touching on all the important
topics. Archer's tapes are fast-paced and fun, and they never lecture.
He lets the audience absorb the concepts through watching real people
behaving. This tape, like A WORLD OF GESTURES, will
prized addition to teaching materials on nonverbal behavior."
- -- Judith A. Hall, Professor of Psychology, Northeastern University,
Editor of THE JOURNAL OF NONVERBAL BEHAVIOR
- "Dane Archer has done it again! What he did for the study of
with his video A WORLD OF GESTURES he has now done
for tone of
voice with his video THE HUMAN VOICE: Exploring Vocal Paralanguage.
Original, informative, and thought-provoking, it is done
with flair, with zest, and with great good humor. It
should be used successfully in a wide variety of courses
in the social sciences and humanities--including
courses in psychology, anthropology, and sociology;
communication and education; and linguistics, speech, English,
theatre, and English as a Second Language. It's a wonderful job!"
- -- Robert Rosenthal, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University,
co-editor, NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION IN THE CLINICAL CONTEXT
- "I am delighted with THE HUMAN VOICE: EXPLORING VOCAL PARALANGUAGE.
This is an exciting and comprehensive videotape, and its style
is highly interactive and very engaging. Like Dane Archer's
A WORLD OF GESTURES, this videotape is highly
involving, and witty--an excellent tool for promoting class
discussion. Students will love this videotape! In THE HUMAN VOICE,
Dane Archer has created another hit and instant classic--this is
the 'Gold Standard' for videotapes on nonverbal communication."
- -- Robin M. Akert, Professor of Psychology, Wellesley College
- "THE HUMAN VOICE is an exceptionally well-conceived video which
shows the power and utility of a frequent behavior we all too
often take for granted; it is an extraordinary supplement for teachers.
Viewers cannot help but get caught up in the excitement and interest
communicated by the people in the video. Through the use of real
people (of various ages and cultural backgrounds), real voices,
and real reactions to the voices, this video evokes real responses
from viewers. A rare and special treat."
- -- Mark Knapp, Professor of Speech Communication, University
of Texas, author of NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION IN HUMAN INTERACTION
- "Just what I was looking for--a video that captures the
complexity and intrigue of the human voice in a provocative way.
THE HUMAN VOICE will be a valuable teaching tool in classes in diverse
disciplines such as psychology, communications, speech, anthropology,
sociolinguistics, etc. This video is also very strong on
cultural diversity, and the Instructor's Guide is extremely useful."
- -- Bella M. DePaulo, Professor of Psychology,
University of Virginia, author of "Nonverbal Behavior and
- "THE HUMAN VOICE is an exciting and well-done film.
It should be ideal for arousing interest in students
because of the way it captures the different ways we use
our voice....one could tell the students were truly
interested, involved, and enthusiastic."
- -- Edward T. Hall, Professor of Anthropology (Emeritus),
Northwestern University, author of THE SILENT LANGUAGE, THE HIDDEN DIMENSION,
and AN ANTHROPOLOGY OF EVERYDAY LIFE
- "This is an an excellent short film which highlights an
important aspect of communication, paralanguage--those
aspects conveyed by the human voice outside of language
itself. This film answers many questions about human
speech and human communication in a most entertaining
and enjoyable fashion. I will certainly use the video
the next time I teach our Linguistics 1
class and I will suggest it to my colleagues."
- -- Victoria A. Fromkin, Professor of Linguistics, UCLA,
co-author of AN INTRODUCTION TO LANGUAGE
- A very good introduction to an important hitherto neglected topic
which raises important questions about the social funtioning
of language. I enjoyed it.
- -- John Gumperz, Professor of Anthropology, UC Berkeley,
author of DISCOURSE STRATEGIES