The handbook of intercultural discourse and communication

The handbook of intercultural discourse and communication. Ed. by Christina Bratt Paulston, Scott F. Kiesling, and Elizabeth S. Rangel. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012. Pp. 552. ISBN 9781405162722. $174.95 (Hb).

Reviewed by Abby Forster, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

This book is composed of twenty-three chapters that provide a theoretical and practical overview of the field of intercultural discourse and communication (IDC). The book is divided into five parts organized from the theoretical to increasingly practical.

Part 1 (1–60) contextualizes the field historically. Ingrid Piller’s chapter provides a critical discussion of the field centered on the problematic ‘culture’ concept. Leila Monaghan describes the origins of and connections between related approaches in anthropology, linguistics, intercultural communication, and discourse analysis. John Edwards gives a review of typologies that have been developed for the analysis of language contact and presents his own typological framework.

Part 2 (61–132) contains the richest theoretical chapters of the book. These include John J. Gumpertz and Jenny Cook-Gumpertz’s chapter on interactional sociolinguistics, Scott F. Kiesling’s chapter on the ethnography of speaking, Ryuko Kubota’s chapter on critical approaches, and Suresh Canagarajah’s chapter on postmodernism and world Englishes. These four chapters touch on methodological issues and overlapping topics while covering the most influential theoretical perspectives in IDC.

Part 3 (133–228) provides a rich survey of key discourse phenomena that have been the focus of much study in intercultural discourse contact. It is comprised of chapters on turn-taking, silence, indirectness, and politeness, written by Deborah Tannen, Ikuko Nakane, Michael Lempert, and Janet Holmes, respectively.

Part 4 (229–364) contains five chapters exploring specific cases in which IDC analyses have been performed. Eirlys E. Davies and Abdelali Bentahila offer a critical analysis of the literature on Arab-Anglo communications. Steven Brown, Brenda Hayashi, and Kikue Yamamoto present a study of communication between Standard Japanese speakers in Japan and Standard English speakers in the United States. In a chapter on stereotyping, Lars Fant explores the discursive construction of self-and-other identities in interviews with Latin Americans and Scandinavians. Building on this theme, Maria Sifianou and Arin Bayraktarogul argue for the importance of historical and situational aspects of communicative problems in their analysis of Greek and Turkish communication in a Turkish serial drama. Language policy and vocational language learning among students of healthcare and law in South Africa is addressed in Russell H. Kashula and Pamela Maseko’s chapter. In the final chapter of the section, Rocio Fuentes provides a critical discourse analysis of market interactions between indigenous and mestizo groups in Mexico.

The final section of the book, Part 5 (365–495), moves beyond the geographical and cultural categories to focus on specific domains in which IDC has been practically applied. The chapters cover translation, business communication, law, medicine, education, and religion. The chapters are written by Eiryls E. Davies, John Hooker, Diana Eades, Claudia V. Angelelli, Amanda J. Godley, and Jonathan M. Watt.

The handbook is largely successful in striking a balance between a theoretical and historical overview and practical applications. While it does succeed in showing range, however, it lacks the depth that more advanced students may be looking for. Researchers and students looking for starting points, on the other hand, will benefit from this book.