Communication is something every living organism does, without communication, co-existing in a society would be impossible. Human beings, communicate in various ways, many of which one being non-verbal communication through facial features and expressions, arms and hands, the tone of our voice. Visual communication through text, images, interactive content, motion graphics, colors, and much more. However, the type of communication we will talk about today is through speech and conversation. The main tool for this that we use is language. It is the most influential ways to communicate with each other.
Language is a complex human phenomenon as all attempts to define it has proved inadequate. In brief, we can say, language is an ‘original noise’ used in actual social situations by human beings. Language is basically a system of conventional, spoken or written symbols by means of which human beings are used to communicate with each other.
As communication designers, it’s very important to understand the role of language in design and how we can reach our audience more effectively. A perfect example of this is the expression “Less is More” which first appeared in a poem by Robert Browning, Andrea del Sarto, in the year 1855. Many designers use this expression as a philosophy or inspiration to design things that are simple, yet beautiful. This phrase has a term that is known as an idiom, this a group of words in a fixed order whose meaning is different from the meanings of each word, for example ‘a cold fish’ means to a person who doesn’t seem very friendly and doesn’t show their emotions. The meanings of idioms have become fixed through use, and they have to be learned through reading and by looking up their meanings in a dictionary. Idioms reflect national features personify in a language and are prospered in customs and habits that characterize a society. Lots of cultural knowledge is personified in idioms. We can communicate effectively through idioms as it reflects nation’s culture.
Another tool designers use to have effective design are metaphors, or more generally a figure of speech, is a nonliteral way of understanding a phrase. This may confuse many because metaphors sound like idioms, right? Well, metaphor is a form of comparison, only you don’t say it is a comparison: you don’t use “like” or “as”. Elvis Presley’s song “Let me be your teddy-bear” is based on a sequence of metaphors: “I don’t wanna be a tiger, ‘coz tigers play to rough, I don’t wanna be a lion, cos lions ain’t the kind you love enough, So let me be your teddy-bear’.
Now, some idioms can be metaphors (“What a silly goose you are!”), but not all idioms are metaphors and not all metaphors are idioms!