Tuesday, January 28, 2020

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The Art and Science of Communication
IFP Bureau | First Published: January 13, 2020 09:13:38 am

Public sphere communication can take many forms. Variations are contingent on the cultural specifics. There are regional peculiarities in communication too and Manipur is no exception. Take for instance, public speaking, which is one important facet of communication. Annual commemorative gatherings, public deliberations on issues that matter are unimaginable without public speeches. Given the scenario of social turbulence we have as part of our everydayness, there are issues unbound and so are public meetings. It is customary to begin speech with greeting, which is relevant in written communication as well. Needless to say, greeting is as natural as breathing. The point however is the redundancy of mentioning the day and its date along with the year – the subject of discussion and its background etc., repeatedly by almost all the speakers who have gathered to speak. To save time, this kind of monotony needs to be avoided. Though the practice might be appropriate when there were not enough materials to display the said information on a backdrop, it is time to get rid of such practice.  

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Moreover, there are speakers who have no sense of time. In fact, there are too many speakers like them. The very purpose of communication gets derailed if the attention span of the listener mismatches with the length of the speech. Venal habit of speaking beyond a given time not only confuses the listeners, but it also ruins the purpose of gathering. Irish poet, WB Yeats rightly said, “Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.”  Yeats’s statement could perhaps enlighten some of our social organisations as well. Having said this, we do not however claim to be expert communicators. It is our solemn duty to disseminate information to the public, in a language that is explicable.  Therefore, it is essential for the media to primarily understand the ‘story’ before communicating it to the public. Press communiqués of some of our social organisations have been like cryptic crossword puzzles to be solved. The languages, at times are too obscure to be understood. This is not to diminish the literary beauty of using antiquated words and sentences, of a language that is rich and vibrant.  

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Nevertheless, one should accept the veracity that languages, like living organisms, constantly go through processes of evolution. The language and style once employed by writers like Dr Kamal or Hijam Guno in their writings would have obvious variations, with contemporary writers like Thangjam Ibopishak or Yumlembam Ibomcha. Above all, literary works can be interpreted and reinterpreted in so many ways. The meanings can also have variations depending on the interpreter, because every individual has different sensitivities and subjective moorings. Public communication, whereas demands clarity of language. A public communicator must come down from the lofty height of literary disposition. The level of consciousness of social agents can be regarded higher than those of the hoi polloi. Therefore, it is important for them to communicate in the language of the common public. After all, it is for the ‘meeyamgi damak’ (for the people) that they vow to work. Great leaders are the best communicators, because they communicate in a language that is easily comprehensible by the people. It is also said that communication is an art, and as well as science. Can we anticipate a perfect blend of both in the days to come?

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