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When speaking, we normally do not stint ourselves to the pure uttering of words. A great deal of meaning is expressed by nonverbal means, which are always accompanied by oral talk intended or not. In other words, a spoken message is always sent through two ways simultaneously, verbal and nonverbal ones. If verbal communication has been the key issue of many linguistic investigations for centuries, nonverbal communication began drawing scholars attention just several decades ago.

Researchers do not have the only opinion concerning the share of words in the process of communication, although most of them agree that face-to-face communication is about 7 10 percent of verbal interaction and 90 93 percent of nonverbal communication.

Despite the fact that the share of each mode of communication varies depending on speakers cultural and social traits, no wonder that the percentage of nonverbal intercourse remains so high. Listeners assume that these mostly unconscious nonverbal actions do not lie because they are part of everyday behavior and, therefore, they tend to believe the nonverbal message when a verbal message cuts across it. Therefore, these symbolic messages help the listener interpret the speakers intention and this indicates the importance of nonverbal communication in multicultural intercourse.

When talking we do not think and even, in most of the cases, are not aware of the fact that we are sending definite messages through the subconscious nonverbal cues we are expressing. Moreover, when uttering an insincere message our body language, being a component of nonverbal language, reveals it for our companion if he or she is knowledgeable in body motion decoding.

The nonverbal signs that do not belong to body language make up such called nonverbal context, which is the totality of factors that make up the surroundings in a given place, including artifacts of companions appearance, noise, color, smell, design, and even air quality. It is just impossible to overvalue the importance of nonverbal context across cultures. It can improve ³ 14 (249), 2012_______________

the communication process if used for the purposes intended, as nonverbal context affects the level of our comfort and status, and helps or impedes the communication process.

One of the least studied elements of nonverbal context is our sense of smell, which, in the theories of nonverbal communication, got the name olfactics. To olfactics (some scholars also use the term aromatics in this meaning), modern scholars refer the perception of smell and the study of how smell functions affecting communication.

Olfactics began developing in the 1990s when researchers got interested in the sense of smell, olfactory memory, and its connection to mood, behavior, and communication [1]. They have discovered that the way the sense of smell affects nonverbal communication is closely related to proxemics.

There is no any doubt now that perfumes and odors enrich companions impressions, as physical contact between interlocutors does.

Smells can affect us at very basic levels, such as moods, emotions, mate selection, immune system health, endocrine system responses and overall health. Some researchers believe that much of olfactory feedback is done at an instinctive level and bypasses conscious thought [2].

For us, humans, scents communicate a variety of messages, depending on the odor and the person receiving it. We have a universal preference for some kinds of scents that may have biological, evolutionary and cultural roots.

For example, newborns identify their mommies and mothers are able to recognize their children by smell.

Scholars have proves that smell is the sense that sets off memories most effectively. The aroma coming out of a bakery sends the message for a hungry person, which is completely different from the message being sent for the person has just had a three-course dinner. Thus, determining which smells have positive ramifications for most people can affect nonverbal communication. Smell is used politically for marking social class distinctions economical position, and gender. Smell plays a significant role in the construction of power relations in many societies.

Fragrance experts have researched which basic smells consistently convey personality traits. For example, intelligence is signaled by cedar, orange, lime, cinnamon, and peppermint. Kindness is indicated by vanilla, jasmine, and lemongrass. Pepper, marjoram, basil, and tangerine denote humor and playfulness. Safety is conveyed by orange, sandalwood, and frankincense.

A famous American fragrance creator brought a new aroma to Latin American market. The launched advertisement made a point of the perfumes fresh camellia scent. Despite its fantastic scent and widely spread competent advertising, the perfume was hardly sold [3, p. 50].

Naturally, sales were low in Latin America because camellias are the flowers, which are used for funerals in most of Latin America. The new advertised perfume raked over old ashes by its aroma, so people were not in a hurry to buy it. The American marketing analysts and fragrance promoters had

³ 14 (249), 2012_______________

no idea of camellia scent meaning for representatives of Latin American cultures and, probably, were not acquainted with olfactics.

People across cultures have different attitude towards smells. Smells are used across cultures for seduction, healing, hunting, communication with the spirits, and even for differentiating people around.

By way of example, Colombian Desana Indians believe that each tribe scents according to their way of life. Tapuya smell of fish as they live by fishing. Tukano, who are agriculturists, smell of roots, tubers they grow. The stranger has a peculiar or foul scent, marking off the boundary of the group [4, p. 124125].

For the natives of Andaman Islands to breathe the odors of nature is to absorb the smell of time and life. They even have created their calendar, naming the different periods of their year after the balmy flowers blooming at different times [5, p. 97].

Americans consider natural smells offensive; that is why they mask personal odors by frequent bathing and fragrances. In the United States, a billion dollar industry has been created to mask disagreeable odors with what is perceived to be pleasant for Americans.

Some high-contact cultures, such as Arab, consider natural body odors as normal. It is usual for them to get close enough to smell their companion(s).

Saudi Arabian males often use the scent of each others breath to gauge one anothers health. If the scent of the breath is unpleasant, men often inform their companion that he may be unhealthy. Similar to Saudi Arabians, the Maori of New Zealand, in a ritual meeting practice, touch their foreheads and noses together so they can share the same breath [6].

The African Bushmen would probably regard the olfactory preferences of almost all other cultures, including our supposedly sophisticated Western tastes, as distinctly lacking in subtlety. For the Bushmen, the loveliest fragrance is that of rain [1].

Differences in preferences of smell perception can cause preconceptions and even lead to a conflict. For example, because of a few unpleasant experiences with Indians, that some representatives of different cultures had, some people have created a stereotype that Indians smell badly.

Numerous researchers have proved that, unfortunately, what goes in the mind often controls the smell that goes into the nose as well.

However, Indians do not smell any worse than anyone else in any other culture does. All of us come across people who smell badly, but it has nothing in common with their culture. Instead, it has to do with their hygiene habits, their living conditions, the foods that they eat, or the chemistry makeup in their body. It may also have to do with an addiction [7].

Communication is not only the act of talking but also a complex behavior influenced by all our senses. Scents and our sense of smell can help us identify familiar from unfamiliar. We tend to react to people based on their smell. For both men and women body smell is one of the most important subconscious factors of choosing a life mate. When communicating, body ³ 14 (249), 2012_______________

odor or too much fragrance can make even the most attractive person seem disgusting. Body smells also affect communication through revealing our emotional states. Depending on the culture, some smells can be and are associated with certain feelings, emotions, and experiences people have had.

Studying scent preferences across cultures will help us improve figuring our foreigners and avoid conflicts in communication.


1. The Smell Report [Electronic Resource]. Social Issues Research Centre. Mode of access : http://www.sirc.org/publik/smell_culture.html Title from the screen. 2. Csanyi C. How Smell Sends Nonverbal Communication [Electronic Resource] / Carolyn Csanyi. eHow. Mode of access : http:// www.ehow.com/facts_7361312_smell-sends-nonverbalcommunication.html 3. Ricks D. A. Blunders in International Business [Text] / David A. Ricks. Fourth Ed. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2006. 192 p. 4. Reichel-Dolmatoff G. Tapir Avoidance in the Colombian Northwest Amazon [Text] / Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff // Urton Gary (ed.) Animal Myths and Metaphors in South America. Salt Lake City, UT : University of Utah Press, 1985. 327 p. 5. Classen C. Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell [Text] / Constance Classen, David Howes, Anthoby Synnott. New York, NY. : Routledge, 1994. 248 p. 6. Reiman T. Do You Make Scents [Electronic Resource] / Tonya Reiman. http://www.

bodylanguageuniversity.com Mode of access :

http://www.bodylanguageuniversity.com/public/173print. cfm Title from the screen. 7. Why Do Indians Smell Bad? [Electronic Resource]. Methods of Healing. Mode of access: http://www.method sofhealing.com/why-doindians-smell-bad/ Title from the screen.

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