1.1 Communication: History and Forms


  1. Define communication.
  2. Discuss the history of communication from ancient to modern times.
  3. List the five forms of communication.
  4. Distinguish among the five forms of communication.
  5. Review the various career options for students who study communication.

Before we dive into the history of communication, it is important that we have a shared understanding of what we mean by the word communication. For our purposes in this book, we will define communication as the process of generating meaning by sending and receiving verbal and nonverbal symbols and signs that are influenced by multiple contexts. This definition builds on other definitions of communication that have been rephrased and refined over many years. In fact, since the systematic study of communication began in colleges and universities a little over one hundred years ago, there have been more than 126 published definitions of communication. Frank E. X. Dance and Carl E. Larson, The Functions of Human Communication: A Theoretical Approach (New York, NY: Holt, Reinhart, and Winston, 1976), 23. In order to get a context for how communication has been conceptualized and studied, let’s look at a history of the field.

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