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REVIEWS959 munication; and they propose reformulations of concepts central to sociolinguistic theory. Gumperz surely remains one of a handful of scholars able to do linguistic research that is substantively insightful, socially applicable, and theoretically challenging. REFERENCES Goffman, Erving. 1969. Strategic interaction. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. ------. 1976. Replies and responses. Language in Society 5.257-324. Hymes, Dell. 1974. Foundations in sociolinguistics. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Labov, William, and David Fanshel. 1977. Therapeutic discourse. New York: Academic Press. [Received 20 September 1983.] Language and social knowledge: Uncertainty in interpersonal relations. By Charles R. Berger and James J. Bradac. (The social psychology of language , 2.) London & Baltimore: Arnold, 1982. Pp. viii, 151. £6.50. Reviewed by Aaron Cicourel, University of California, San Diego A key theme of this book is the way that thought and communication influence the development of interpersonal relationships. Berger & Bradac want to clarify both the way persons form impressions and think about each other, and the role of social cognition and language in this relational process. B&B describe the advantages and disadvantages of four approaches to the study of interpersonal communication. They combine two of them (functional and developmental) as a way of recommending their own views about the function of communication in the development of interpersonal relations. The particular communication function of interest to B&B is the notion of 'uncertainty reduction'—the role ofcommunication in gaining knowledge and understanding of ourselves and others. The role of language in reducing or increasing uncertainty , and hence in mediating the development of relations, is the chief focus. A considerable part of the book is devoted to traditional topics in social psychology: the knowledge needed to know others and develop a relationship; the attribution of social and psychological qualities or characteristics to others; the way social knowledge guides communicative activities; and the creation of impressions of others, to name a few. In Chap. 2, B&B describe experiments on topics in social psychology—e.g. on the way participants ofsocial interaction become concerned with the reduction of uncertainty. One study cited used measures of 'a number of speech characteristics like accent, dialect and speech rate' to gauge how persons show their attractiveness or differences to each other, or to indicate when they want to exchange rewards. The key notion here is how people come to possess 'confident estimates ofothers' dispositions and how persons evaluate the causes of their own and others' actions' (28). In Chap. 3, B&B refer to the role of language when participants of social interaction, acting as 'naive scientists', 'attempt to reduce their uncertainties by assigning causes to behavior.' In particular, they examine the way speech provides information about speakers. They note that variations within a person's speech have the potential of signaling changes in affect or mood, and can also be linked to changes in the situation. Variations between speakers are said to provide information about psychological traits or personality differences, as well as information about group membership. 960LANGUAGE, VOLUME 60, NUMBER 4 (1984) Language, according to B&B, allows us to make judgments about a speaker's psychological make-up and group affiliations, permitting us to reduce uncertainty. Four models of this process are proposed—all of which assume that hearers use spoken language to categorize speakers along psychological dimensions, and that judgments of speaker similarity become the mediating variable here. A number of 'rich language variables' are identified, e.g. 'familiarity and goodness.' Familiar terms convey similarity; they are said to be related to 'lexical "goodness"', and rated positively. Immediacy and intensity are other variables said to reflect speakers' affect about the referents of their discourse; e.g., intensity signals magnitude of feeling, as in saying It was an extremely devastating earthquake as opposed to // was a sort of nasty shake. B&B cite experimental research on elaboration or verbal fluency, and on the significance of repetition in particular contexts. In the former case, perceptions of competence and effectiveness or dissimilarity were studied; in the latter, the persuasiveness and attractiveness ofcommunicators. Language thus becomes the basis for making social psychological attributions; but it assumes a somewhat passive status, in thatjudgments of its use by respondents, subjects, or researchers are assumed to be fairly clear indicators of 'communicator competence and effectiveness, low anxiety...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 959-960
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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