Cover image for Language and communication : a cross-cultural encyclopedia
Language and communication : a cross-cultural encyclopedia
Findlay, Michael Shaw, 1951-
Publication Information:
Santa Barbara, Calif. : ABC-CLIO, [1998]

Physical Description:
xx, 229 pages : illustrations, maps ; 26 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
P29 .F47 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



People have been concerned with fundamental questions about language and communication for thousands of years. How did human language originate? Why are there so many different languages? Are features of language and communication arbitrary or do universal patterns prevail? By introducing readers to these kinds of questions, this alphabetically arranged volume presents a complete and detailed picture of how Western and non-Western traditions influence one another.

Author Notes

Michael Shaw Findlay teaches cultural anthropology at California State University Chico, Chico, CA and at Butte Community College, Oroville, CA.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

The purpose of this volume in ABC-CLIO's Encyclopedias of the Human Experience series is to explore Western and non-Western traditions and sociocultural language conventions in an effort to deemphasize the Indo-European approach often used in the past. Findlay, a social scientist, defines 151 terms from an anthropological, ethnographic, and sociolinguistic point of view. Entries range from one or two paragraphs to several pages depending upon the topic. Discourse analysis and gender differences, for example, are among the longest. The author presents complex concepts in cross-cultural communication in thoughtful, clear terms. Some entries feature brief bibliographies. There is a lengthy bibliography in an appendix. Cross-referencing is adequate, and there are simple line-drawn maps in the front matter showing location of language groups mentioned in the text. The index leads the reader to individual ethnic groups (Apache, Hmong, Yanomamo), to individuals (Chomsky, Noam), and to topics (Black English, ethnographic methods, etc.) This is a compact volume that is easily held in the hand for quick referral and is a reliable source of information. It complements, but does not replace, David Crystal's Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language (2d ed., Cambridge, 1997), which is still the leader in the field of linguistics for the lay reader. Rather than using the alphabetical arrangement of Findlay's book, Crystal's work is divided into 11 thematic sections, allowing the author to explore topics more fully. One of these sections deals with language and communication. Another, which deals in depth with the origin of language, includes the following theories: Bow-wow, Pooh-pooh, Ding-dong, Yo-he-ho, and La-La; Findlay discusses only the last three. In the Cambridge volume, the maps accompany the text along with photos and illustrations and are, therefore, easier to follow. Many topics, such as pidgins and Creole, are treated more fully. Nonetheless, Findlay's work is valuable, informative, and very browsable, offering a concise approach for undergraduate, high-school, and popular linguistics collections.

Library Journal Review

This latest installment in the "Encyclopedias of Human Experience" series includes 151 entries pertaining to the study of "language and communication from a cross-cultural perspective." Findlay, a cultural anthropologist, aims to avoid European ethnocentrism by showing how Western and non-Western traditions influence one another. Of the 126 cultures from five continents cited in this encyclopedia, only one is European: British Cockney-speakers. Throughout, Findlay focuses on "communicative competence," the cultural and social rules an individual must know in order to use a language. Each entry is written with great clarity and followed by bibliographic information and cross references. An especially helpful feature is the author's practice of defining technical terms within parentheses following the terms themselves; another is the excellent bibliography. Both the geographical range and the richness of the subject matter are to be applauded. While one might have wished for an explanation of how the cultures discussed were selected, this encyclopedia is a laudable accomplishment and belongs in high school, college, and public libraries.‘Joan W. Gartland, Detroit P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Findlay's encyclopedia will be most useful for high school, junior college, and four-year college or university undergraduates who need ready information about a field variously termed anthropological linguistics, sociolinguistics, or ethnography of communication. It may be distinguished from other encyclopedias about language (e.g., International Encyclopedia of Linguistics, ed. by William Bright, CH, Sep'92) or communication (e.g., International Encyclopedia of Communications, ed. by Erik Barnouw et al., CH, Nov'89) by its brevity, its single authorship, and the fact that each article provides cross-cultural examples for a topic, whether theoretical or practical. The encyclopedia covers the globe with examples from tribal (e.g., Lakota), religious (Hindus), and language or national groups (Japanese). Continental maps indicate where groups are located. Each brief article contains a definition with examples, see also references, and for most of the entries, a very brief two- to five-item bibliography. A general bibliography at the end combines all the citations. Photographs are used occasionally to illustrate concepts. There are some surprising disparities in the length of articles: for example, "Tattooing" takes more than two full pages and "Avoidance" two and one-half, while "Oral Tradition" occupies only one paragraph. Recommended for college or university libraries. S. G. Williamson; University of Pennsylvania