Difference Between Body Language vs. Paralanguage

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Main Difference

The exchanging of information is called communication, and it can be done in dozens of way. Most primarily we use verbal communication to exchange the information, though nonverbal communication equally serves the purpose. When it is about non-verbal communication, one needs to know its two important types, Body Language and Paralanguage. Body language is the conscious or unconscious movement, postures, gestures and facial expressions which convey the certain message or information, whereas paralanguage is about deducing the message or information from the non-lexical components of speech like pitch, tone, intonation, pauses, and volumes. The actual main difference in between body language and paralanguage is that body language can be observed or communication through it can take place by seeing, whereas in paralanguage you need to hear the speech to interpret the message.

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Comparison Chart

Body LanguageParalanguage
DefinitionBody language is the conscious or unconscious movement, postures, gestures and facial expressions which convey the certain message or information.Paralanguage is about deducing the message or information from the non-lexical components of speech like pitch, tone, intonation, pauses, and volumes.
Seeing or hearingBody language can be observed or communication through it can take place by seeing.In paralanguage you need to hear the speech to interpret the message.
Expressed usingConscious or unconscious movement, postures, gestures and facial expressions.Non-lexical components of speech like pitch, tone, intonation, pauses, and volumes.

What is Body Language?

It is the type of non-verbal communication in which exchange of information takes place through the conscious or unconscious movement of body, postures, gestures or facial expressions. Apart from the gestures or postures, facial expressions are also the important mean of communication in body language. The nodding of the head is one of the body movement that can show acceptance or refusal without much work. For instance, when a friend of yours ask you about going out for a hangout, you just nod the head either to accept or reject the deal. On the other hand, facial expressions is another aspect of facial expressions that carries on diverse meaning, opening up to different interpretations. For example in some countries making a direct eye contact is taken as symbol of sincerity and honesty, whereas in some countries it is taken as a rude attitude that even ends up as a mess between two individuals.

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What is Paralanguage?

It is the type of non-verbal communication message or information is deduced from the non-lexical components of speech like pitch, tone, intonation, pauses, and volumes. Non-lexical means not relating to words. In Paralanguage one has nothing to do with what actually words are saying, the meaning in it is derived from the way speech is presented or we can say that it is all about the non lexical components of speech. For Example, a higher pitch with a accusatory tone denotes the anger, whereas the long pauses show lack of confidence. Not only this, sometime parlanguage even gets dominant over the actual speech or words used. For example, sometimes when we are upset we come up with certain acceptance by saying yes, though our tone or volume seemed so dim that one knowing us actually knows that it’s a big no from our side. In Paralanguage the hearing process is involved ultimately, and one with good hearing can identify or get more from it.

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Body Language vs. Paralanguage

  • Body language is the conscious or unconscious movement, postures, gestures and facial expressions which convey the certain message or information, whereas paralanguage is about deducing the message or information from the non-lexical components of speech like pitch, tone, intonation, pauses, and volumes.
  • Body language can be observed or communication through it can take place by seeing, whereas in paralanguage you need to hear the speech to interpret the message.
  • Body Language can be expressed from conscious or unconscious movement, postures, gestures and facial expressions, whereas paralanguage can be expressed from non-lexical components of speech like pitch, tone, intonation, pauses, and volumes.
  • In body language whole of the body is involved, while in paralanguage parts of vocal system are involved.

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