Language and Communication: A Cross-Cultural Encyclopedia presents an exploration of how Western and non-Western traditions influence one another. In this illustrated, A-to-Z volume, readers will discover the sociocultural rules governing the use of language. Complete with cross-references and bibliographic citations, the entries in this volume, by examining how people from different cultural backgrounds rely on traditional and emerging cultural rules for social interaction, will lead readers to a greater sensitivity to many of the communication barriers that exist in the modern world.
More a dictionary than an encyclopedia because of its short entries, this volume does not live up to its claim of being cross-cultural. It seems instead to be a dictionary of language terms that incidentally refers to some non-Western ideas. The entry on "pidgins," for example, would be an important place to write about cross-cultural interactions, but instead readers are presented with a woefully short and inadequate definition that pays no attention to cultural issues. It is unclear who the intended audience for this book is; the introduction is written on a basic level, appropriate for high school seniors or a general reading public, but the references at the end of some entries and the bibliography contain mostly scholarly books and articles (Findlay's own dissertation and articles well-represented among them). The entries themselves are clearly written, although some of the information is so simplistic as to be wrong, and not much attention is paid to cross-cultural issues. The five maps at the beginning of the book are problematic. The maps are initially labeled as showing "approximate locations of the cultures mentioned in the text," but this is not repeated on the maps themselves. Readers who have not read the label will find it curious to see a map of North America listing only the names of twenty-one Native American tribes-plus "Sea Islanders (Gullah)," which is placed in California, not off the coast of South Carolina. It is as if no Europeans had ever reached America's shores. Likewise, the map of Europe and Asia labels only the following eight "cultures": British (Cockney-speakers), Chinese, Hindus, Hmong, Japanese, Koreans, Mien, and Panjabi. In an attempt to represent non-Westerners, Findlay has erased Europeans. (The entry on "Language Maintenance" includes the Celtic languages, "Cornwall [sic], Irish, Scot, and Welsh," yet none of these are placed on the map of Europe.) Libraries would be better served by purchasing a standard volume like the Longman Dictionary of Applied Linguistics (Longman, 1985) or Crystal's Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language (Cambridge, 1987). Although neither volume focuses on cross-cultural connections, the entries are broad enough to cover a variety of cultural issues, and they are respected by linguists who work across cultures. Intercultural Communication: A Reader by Samovar and Porter (Wadsworth, 1997) provides longer articles, designed for a general readership, and is another good source. Index. Illus. Photos. Maps. Biblio. Source Notes.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-An accessible, intercultural examination of verbal and nonverbal communication. The alphabetically arranged entries are well documented and cross-referenced. The text itself, while a little dry, is highly informative and unfamiliar terms are defined in context. Captioned black-and-white photographs are sprinkled throughout; short bibliographies are supplied at the end of many of the entries. The author presents a cross-cultural perspective on theories of language and communication, making his work unique. The encyclopedia will also be helpful for readers needing concise definitions of terms in the field of communications.-J. B. MacDonald, Milner Library, Illinois State University, Normal, IL