The term "unsaid" refers what is not explicitly stated, what is hidden and / or implied in the speech of an individual or a group of people.
The unsaid may be the product of intimidation; of a mulling over of thought; or of bafflement in the face of the inexpressible.
Sociolinguistics points out that in normal communication what is left unsaid is as important as what is actually said — that we expect our auditors regularly to fill in the social context/norms of our conversations as we proceed.
In ethnology, ethnomethodology established a strong link between unsaid and axiomatic. Harold Garfinkel, following Durkheim, stressed that in any given situation, even a legally binding contract, the terms of agreement rest upon the 90% of unspoken assumptions that underlie the visible (spoken) tip of the interactive iceberg.
Luce Irigaray has emphasised the importance of listening to the unsaid dimension of discourse in psychoanalytic practice — something which may shed light on the unconscious phantasies of the analysand.
Other psychotherapies have also emphasised the importance of the non-verbal component of the patient's communication, sometimes privileging this over the verbal content. Behind all such thinking stands Freud's dictum: "no mortal can keep a secret. If his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips...at every pore".
- Sherlock Holmes is said to have owed his success to his attention to the unsaid in his client's communications.
- In Small World, the heroine cheekily excuses her lack of note-taking to a Sorbonne professor by saying: "it is not what you say that impresses me most, it is what you are silent about: ideas, morality, love, death, things...Vos silences profonds".
- Robyn Brandenberg, Powerful Pedagogy (2008) p. 104
- R. Wardhaugh, An Introduction to Sociolinguistics (2011) p. 310
- J. P. Gee/M. Handforthed., The Routledge Handbook of Discourse Analysis (2013) Ch 10
- R. Mesthrie, Introducing Sociolinguistics (2009) p. 353
- A. Giddens, Positivism and Sociology (1974) p. 72
- Edward T. Hall, The Silent Language (1990) p. vii-viii
- S. Todd ed., Learning Desire (2013) p. 249
- M. Edelson, Language and Interpretation in Psychoanalysis (1984) p. 2
- Eric Berne, What Do You Say After You Say Hello? (1974) p. 314-7
- Fritz Perls, Gestalt Therapy Verbatim (1970) p. 57-8
- Quoted in M. Argyle ed., Social Encounters (1973) p. 133
- Edward T. Hall, The Silent Language (1990) p. 33
- David Lodge, Small World (1985) p. 265
S. L. Olnick, 'Meanings beyond Words', International Review of Psychoanalysis (1982) 9:461-72
|Look up unsaid in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|