Silence is the relative or total lack of audible sound. By analogy, the word silence may also refer to any absence of communication, even in media other than speech. Silence is also used as total communication, in reference to non verbal communication and spiritual connection. Silence is also referred to no sounds uttered by anybody in a room and or area. Silence is a very important factor in many cultural spectacles, as in rituals.

In discourse analysis, brief absences of speech mark the boundaries of prosodic units used by speakers. Silence in speech can be the result of hesitation, stutters, self-correction, or the deliberate slowing of speech for the purpose of clarification or processing of ideas. These are short silences. Longer pauses in language occur in interactive roles, reactive tokens, or turn-taking.

According to cultural norms, silence can be interpreted as positive or negative. For example, in a Christian Methodist faith organization silence and reflection during the sermons might be appreciated by the congregation, while in a Southern Baptist church, silence might mean disagreement with what is being said, or perhaps disconnectedness from the congregated community.

Deaf people function in a completely silent culture.

Placing the index finger in front of closed lips is the most widely recognized gesture of silence. The gesture can be used to demand silence without raising one’s own voice. The rose, sometimes depicted clasped by or on top of closed lips, is another well-recognized symbol of silence stemming from various mythologies.

In Western cultures, it is sometimes difficult to interpret the message being sent by a person being silent (i.e. not speaking). It can mean anger, hostility, disinterest, or any number of other emotions. Because of this, people in Western cultures feel uneasy when one party is silent and will usually try their best to fill up the silence with small talk.

Music inherently depends on silence in some form or another to distinguish other periods of sound and allow dynamics, melodies and rhythms to have greater impact. For example, most music scores feature rests denoting periods of silence.

Argumentative silence is the rhetorical practice of saying nothing when an opponent in a debate would expect something to be said. Poorly executed, it can be very offensive, like refusing to answer a direct question. However, well-timed silence can completely throw an opponent and give the debater the upper hand.

An argument from silence (Latin: argumentum ex silentio) is an argument based on the assumption that someone’s silence on a matter suggests (“proves” when a logical fallacy) that person’s ignorance of the matter. In general, ex silentio refers to the claim that the absence of something demonstrates the proof of a proposition.

The right to silence is a legal protection enjoyed by people undergoing police interrogation or trial in certain countries. The law is either explicit or recognized in many legal systems. Violation of the right to quiet enjoyment is a common law tort.

Joseph Jordania suggested that in social animals (including humans) silence can be a sign of danger. Many social animals produce seemingly haphazard sounds are known as contact calls. These are a mixture of various sounds, accompanying the group’s everyday business (for example, foraging, feeding), and they are used to maintain audio contact with the members of the group. Some social animal species communicate the signal of potential danger by stopping contact calls and freezing, without the use of alarm calls, through silence.

Many religious traditions imply the importance of being quiet and still in mind and spirit. In Christianity, there is the silence of meditation

Perkey Avot, the Jewish Sages guide for living, states that “Tradition is a safety fence to Torah, tithing a safety fence to wealth, vows a safety fence for abstinence; a safety fence for wisdom….. is silence.”

In some traditions of Quakerism, silence is an actual part of worship services and a time to allow the divine to speak in the heart and mind. Eckhart Tolle says that silence can be seen either as the absence of noise, or as the space in which sound exists, just as inner stillness can be seen as the absence of thought, or the space in which thoughts are perceived.

A common way to remember a tragic incident and to remember the victims or casualties of such an event is a commemorative moment of silence. This usually means one or more minutes of silence, in which one is supposed to not speak, but instead remember and reflect on the event. A commemorative silence may be held at a workplace, a school, and similar institutions. Sometimes a government will advertise a commemorative silence for a specific period at a specific time, which everybody is encouraged (but not forced) to honor. One such example is after the events of 9/11, and on its anniversary several years afterward, when many governments around the world announced 3*minutes of silence in respect of the victims of the event.

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