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Posted December 30, 2012
This book was instrumental in helping me to understand all of the varying motives of communication. The author did painstaking research into conversational analysis and does an excellent job of summarizing the different theories that are out there with regard to this topic. Anyone interested in the millenium-long "Language-Thought" debate will appreciate this discussion on the different theories of communication; of which "talk" theory has largely and sadly been left out (in the US).
On a personal level, I found it not only extremely interesting to read, it also helped me to see how communication develops and is used. It is one thing to experience conversation, it is another to read it and see logged how paralanguage is used in conversation and how both paralanguage and language direct the flow of meaning and interpretation of meaning. Politeness theories and discussions of turn-taking patterns and how we change what we say to accommodate others to maintain our relationships is very interesting. I would recommend this to anyone interested in the study of language theory and it should not be left out of the topic of linguistics if meaning is not only derived by what you say but also by how you say it and in what context you say it.
I would not recommend the book to anyone looking for easy answers, though it is insightful and gives practical information which can help us communicate better. It is scientific research but not unreadable to the serious student. It is for the serious language and psychology of language evaluator.
In short, to me as a language teacher who saw the influence of culture and context on language learning and conversational patterns from living overseas a good amount of my life, it is a jewel of a book.
(c) Laura Beth Hattersley
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