The Struggle to Define Human Communication

The Struggle to Define Human Communication

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definition of communication is as follows: the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc. to someone else (Communication, 2016). By all accounts this is an excellent definition. In most cases this definition would suffice and please the interested reader, but there are two word choices that leaves me viewing the concept as being somewhat incomplete.

            The first example of incompleteness I see in this definition is the use of the abbreviation ‘etc.’. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines ‘et cetera’ as ‘so forth’ (2016). This is often an acceptable acronym to use when giving examples, but in this instance it actually lends itself to the incompleteness of their definition. It is as if the definition is accepting the fact that communication, specifically among humans, cannot be concretely defined.

            The second example of incompleteness is their use of the word ‘someone’ when defining the receiver of the action of communication. The use of the word ‘someone’ suggests that communication can only be practiced between the same species (i.e. humans), which is not always the case. While we as a species have tried our best to separate ourselves from our animalistic nature, the fact remains that we are and forever will be, part of the animal kingdom.

          An example of my argument is the way humans communicate to animals, be it a dog, lion, etc., with body language and noise. While a scenario like this involves only one human, it is still human communication at its most basic form. This early form of human communication may have helped us evolve as a species. Moving to modern times, we can now use human communication to interact with artificial intelligence. A programmer who writes a code that a computer understands has used human communication and put it on a digital format.

            Human communication can be found anywhere, through many processes and mediums, to any eligible receiver, in an infinite amount of forms. Raphael and other 16th century artists are still communicating to us today, as we will still be communicating to our great grandchildren when our blogs and YouTube videos are viewed as the papyrus scrolls from ancient Egypt are today. Whether we like it or not, communication encompasses all aspects of our lives.


“Communication.” Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2016.

“Et Cetera.” Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2016.

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