• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

What it means to be a self — and a self communicating and being in a particular culture — are key issues interwoven throughout Min-Sun Kim’s impressive text, Non-Western Perspectives on Human Communication. Going beyond cultural descriptions or instructions on adapting to specific cultures, the author interrogates the very core assumptions underlying the study of human communication and challenges longstanding individualistic, Western models on which much intercultural research is based. Kim proposes a non-western way of conceptualizing identity, or the “self” — the cornerstone of cultural research — illuminating how traditional western and non-western views can be blended into a broader, more realistic understanding of cultures and communication. Grounding her work in a thorough knowledge of the literature, she challenges students and researchers alike to reexamine their approach to intercultural study.

Silence: Is it Really Golden?
Silence: Is it really golden?

Words, words, words: Fluttering drizzle and snow. Silence, silence, silence: A roaring thunderbolt.

— Zen expression

Speech is civilization itself. The word, even the most contradictious word, preserves contact—it is silence which isolates.

— Mann, The Magic Mountain, 1927, p. 518

In this chapter, I focus on a relatively neglected component of human communication—silence. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term silence refers to “abstaining or forbearing from speech or utterance (sometimes with reference to a particular matter)” (Simpson & Weiner, 1989, p. 465). Silence has typically been considered an out-of-awareness phenomenon—the ground against which the figure of talk is perceived (Tannen, 1985). The silent strategy is consistent with Brown and Levinson's (1978) don't do FTA strategies, which ...

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