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BOOK NOTICES Communication strategies: A psychological analysis of second-language use. By Ellen Bialystok. Cambridge , MA: Basil Blackwell, 1990. Pp. viii, 163. Cloth $44.95, paper $14.95. Bialystok's book is the most significant contribution to the theoretical literature on communication strategies (CSs) since strategic behavior in a second language was first discussed by Pit Corder and Larry Selinker in the late 1960s. CSs are conventionally defined in second-language acquisition research as potentially conscious means that speakers ofa second language use in order to overcome communication difficulties due to their inadequate control of the second language. B takes issue with this view of CSs in a detailed and well-argued critique that occupies 83 pages of her book. In the remaining 63 pages of text she proposes a new theory of CSs based on cognitive processes that underlie strategic behavior, including a brief final chapter in which she discusses how CSs may be learned and taught. B's argument against conventional taxonomies of CSs rests on four observations. She points out that CSs are not unique to the speech of second-language learners but have also been found in first-language acquisition and adult language use. She maintains that 'all communication may be construed as problem-solving' (136), and that it is more insightful to view the linguistic struggles of second-language learners from this broader perspective. Second, B demonstrates that the definitional characteristics of CSs—problem-orientation, intentionality, and potential consciousness—are neither necessary nor sufficient for unambiguously identifying strategic behavior. Third, B demonstrates, with the help of newly-published data from Englishspeaking Canadian learners of French as a second language, that there is no one-to-one correspondence between an utterance and a CS. Often CSs appear to be embedded one in another , or the same utterance appears to reflect two different CSs. Her final observation, which derives from this lack of correspondence between form and function, is that the conventional taxonomic approach to CSs is based on observation of linguistic data, whereas strategies are in fact cognitive processes. Linguistic data alone, B maintains, can give only a partial and distorted picture of the underlying processes . In the second part of her book B proposes her own theory of CSs in terms of cognitive processes. She identifies two cognitive components underlying all language processing: analysis of linguistic knowledge and control over linguistic processing. CSs consist of enhancing either one or the other (or perhaps both; B does not make this clear) of these processing components. An analysis-based CS is thus an attempt to convey meaning by analyzing that meaning—that is, by invoking relations between the intended meaning and other meanings . CSs from the more traditional taxonomies which exemplify this enhanced analysis are circumlocution , paraphrase, transliteration, and word coinage. By contrast, a control-based CS involves manipulation ofthe form ofexpression, while maintaining the intended meaning unchanged . Thus, ostensive definition, mime, gesture , and language switch are all realizations of control-based communication strategies. B has done the field of second-language acquisition a great service by her cogent and tough-minded analysis of CSs. The theory that she proposes is a general theory of cognitive processing, not an ad-hoc attempt to explain research results. After B's shot in the arm, we can look forward to a productive period of research and theory testing. [Richard Young, Southern Illinois University.] Relevance relations in discourse: A study with special reference to Sissala . By Regina Blass. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990. Pp. xii, 284. Cloth $49.50. This book is primarily a study, based on fieldwork , of a number of discourse particles in Sissala , a Niger-Congo language spoken in the border area of Burkina Faso and Ghana. This review will concentrate on B's theoretical goal, as expressed in the title: to take a fresh look at the problem of textuality in light of the theory proposed by Dan Sperber & Deirdre Wilson in Relevance (Oxford: Blackwell, 1986). Ch. 1 (742 ) critically examines and rejects the notions 860 BOOK NOTICES 861 of cohesion, coherence, and topicality. I fully agree with B that 'cohesion is merely a surface symptom of some deeper relation which can exist independently of it...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 860-861
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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