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Multimodal Communication

Human communication is multimodal by nature and includes linguistic and nonlinguistic modalities (with the term modality suggesting a particular means of expression). Linguistic modalities include language expressed and understood via speech (and its written equivalent) and manual sign languages; nonlinguistic modalities include natural kinesthetic systems (e.g., natural gestures, emblems, pantomime, facial expression, body orientation, or other embodied forms); visual-graphic systems (e.g., drawings, photographs, pictographics); proxemics (i.e., use of space during communication); and chronemics (timing of communication). Paralinguistic systems exist only as accompaniments to linguistic communication and include dimensions of prosody, rate, loudness, and stress patterns expressed in modality-appropriate ways. Terminology can be confusing because people use terms interchangeably; for example, the term nonverbal communication can mean nonspoken communication (i.e., the reference domain is the modality), ...

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