Date of Award

Spring 1981

Document Type



Communication Studies

First Advisor

Harry Smith

Second Advisor

Allen Pope

Third Advisor

Bill Huber


Through the stimulation of speech communication we are able to discover, explore, test, express and foster meaning. Oral communication is a unique process of symbolic communication which involves a transactional encounter between persons. Because of its predominance among the forms of communication, speech is almost the essence of our life as social beings. In Ruth Eissler's book, The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, Rene Spitz calls the mouth the bridge between the inside and outside of the human personality: The mouth as the primal cavity is the bridge between inner reception and outer perception; it is the cradle of all external perception and its basic model; it is the place of transition for the development of intentional activity, for the emergence of volition from passivity. Early attempts of the infant to communicate are characterized by gross, uncoordinated sounds and actions, which become stabilized and less generalized as the child becomes aware that certain sounds and movements bring specific kinds of responses. The standards and the forms of the infants' language are developed through contact with those who respond to the communication efforts, in most instances, the parents. Children adopt those behaviors which have resulted in bringing them the greatest satisfaction of their needs and desires.

When the original standards of speech communication are below the accepted norms and do not provide for satisfaction on a wider social interaction, the child almost certainly will become socially inhibited, resulting in societal retardation. This social deprivation which has resulted from faulty speech-communication habits is more frequent and more universal than first suspected. Communicologists are now beginning to successfully correlate social avoidance with communicational limitations. Speech communication is the primary vehicle needed in our adaptation to the environment and our societal encounters. Spitz's reference to the mouth as the bridge between the inner life of the infant and the outer life of the older human species gives added significance to the conclusion that communication is the foundational base of human interaction. Educators, psychologists and anthropologists agree, in general, that the primary mode of passing on knowledge about acceptable social behavior and social norms is through the family. It is here that a child learns how people relate to each other, how they share and do not share, how they compromise or do not compromise, how they communicate or 3 do not communicate. The family forms the basic matrix of the child's education. The conscious and unconscious interactions between family members provides the child with criteria necessary to form desirable ideals of social controls, community relationships and interactional responsibilities.