Language and Culture in Context - A Primer on Intercultural Communication
Robert Godwin-Jones, Virginia Commonwealth University
Copyright Year: 2020
Publisher: Virginia Commonwealth University
Conditions of Use
Overall, this presents as a uniquely organized Introduction to Sociology Text. However, upon further examination, it does seem to be missing key aspects of culture – such as religion, stratification, and politics. While these aspects, as well as... read more
Overall, this presents as a uniquely organized Introduction to Sociology Text. However, upon further examination, it does seem to be missing key aspects of culture – such as religion, stratification, and politics. While these aspects, as well as others, are sprinkled in, they lack a depth that would require an instructor to use another book or two in addition to this one. For a higher level more focused course on language and culture, this text is fairly comprehensive, shy some issues noted below.
Overall, the context is accurate and does a solid job of addressing multiple cultures and providing unbiased portrayals of said cultures. I find some issue in how they defined identity. Or, more specifically, how they failed to define identity. They provide discussion of cultural identity and social identity, but only on the surface. And they do not provide a general discussion of the term as a whole. These two important parts of culture are relevant but leaves out other key aspects. For the remainder of the book, I found myself fixated on this omission and wanted to see it more fleshed out.
I think this text is solid when it comes to relevance. It utilizes current sources that can easily be swapped out. I especially liked how they included a disclaimer that some of the material they share may be outdated but is included to inspire discussion. It let me, as a reader, know that the material provided is part of an ongoing and continual dialogue both within academia and beyond.
The material is easily understood. It uses field specific language where necessary. Overall, it provides a clear understanding of nearly all relevant terms.
This text maintains consistency throughout. The pedagogy applied is unique and centered around one aspect of culture and then expanded out, relating back to that central point. While it does leave out some deeper aspects of certain parts of the cultural context, as noted above, this may be purposeful. If using it for Introduction to Sociology, just take note that additional material may be needed.
The sections of the course are easily separated into clear divisions. While they build on each other, they can stand on their own, complete with their own references and expandable material.
I am not sure about this organization. While it does follow a logical path, it wasn’t until Chapter 3 that we are even introduced to language. If the book is about language and culture – then language should be brought up first. The preface, that seemed odd coming before the table of contents, started seemingly in the middle of the story in a way that left me confused. In fact, I read it a second time before I moved on, as I wasn’t sure what it was preparing me for.
In many places the in-text offset materials and images were not laid out in a pleasing manner. In fact, some were split across pages in an unnecessary manner. In the end, this is simply a layout and design problem and should be fixable. A note – I downloaded and reviewed offline. This may have caused the distortion. However, it should be laid up in a manner to not have this happen no matter the format.
I did not notice any glaring grammatical issues. I was focused on content, so there may have been something small I missed, but it wasn’t relevant enough to warrant notice, let alone mention.
The text makes a good faith effort to be inclusive and address as many varying examples as possible.
Overall, I think this is a good text, though I think it needs a clearer path as to what its intended use is.
Table of Contents
- 1: Broadening Horizons
- 2: Building Identities
- 3: Using Language
- 4: Conversing and Relating
- 5: Communicating Nonverbally
- 6: Contextualizing Intercultural Communication
- 7: Encountering Other Cultures
About the Book
The text introduces some of the key concepts in intercultural communication as traditionally presented in (North American) courses and textbooks, namely the study of differences between cultures, as represented in the works and theories of Edward Hall and Geert Hofstede. Common to these approaches is the prominence of context, leading to a view of human interactions as dynamic and changeable, given the complexity of language and culture, as human agents interact with their environments.
About the Contributors
Robert Godwin-Jones, School of World Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University