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62Rocky Mountain Review HEIDI BYRNES, ed. Contemporary Perceptions of Language: Interdisciplinary Dimensions. Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics, 1982. Washington: Georgetown University Press, 1982. 245 p. This particular Round Table centered on issues which are largely on the periphery of linguistic studies; in Heidi Byrne's words "the theme of the conference [is] . . . 'human linguistics'" (xii). She also states that "There continues to be no substitute for detailed empirical work ..." and then makes a promise: "I am fully satisfied that the papers in this volume bear this out" (x). The promise is unfortunate since the first paper by John R. Ross is not empirical and gives reference to only one empirical work, that of Victor H. Yngve. The whole article focuses on Maslow's statement: "It is the work of art that creates the human perspective in which information turns to truth" (29). If Ross had quoted this statement first, he could have saved 29 pages of print for he has little else to say. Fortunately, Judith Irvine's paper, "Language and Affect," offers empirical evidence on how the Wolof people mark affect within the language, touching on signals that are used to mark the sincerity of the speaker and the reliability of the statement. Similarly, the A. Cicourel paper on the use of language in medical practice focuses on the interchanges which occur between a physician and his patient who has cancer of the cervix. This study is empirical and of theoretical interest since it shows that the linguist can obtain "a glimpse of the way participants of discourse employ multiple frames in order to understand . . . sources of information and courses of action" (72). L. Szalay's study on shared information in psychological meanings attempts to define meaning. Such an attempt manages only to view meaning as responses on free association tests. Szalay, by looking at the association made by Koreans and Anglo, Black, and Hispanic-Americans is able to show empirically the way in which the different groups map certain areas of meaning. M. Shapiro, in his study of the autotelic sign, revives a Prague school concept dealing with the sign that signifies itself. The paper is not empirical in the strictest sense and thus does not fit within the editor's promise for empirical studies. But it does call attention to matters which are of importance to those who would approach poetry through an empirical linguistics. Samuel Levin's paper is not empirical at all. It is pure speculation based on the classical rhetoric of Quintillian with polite nods in the direction of Ross, John Searle, and Austin. Levin states his purpose: "Here I have tried to show that figures of thought make their point through some deviousness in the performance of the speech act" (121). The paper owes its inclusion largely to the fact that some linguists count Searle and Austin among their number and have counted Ross as one of them in the past. As an empirical study, A.L. Becker's fares no better than Levin's. In many respects, Becker's work on translation and esthetics is an attempt to revive John Dewey's esthetics. But although he expresses thanks to Kenneth Pike for his linguistic concepts, he does not make Szalay's mistake of identifying Pike as "a leading anthropologist " (81). Neither does he make the mistake that Szalay does in thinking that "the etic approach . . . uses the researcher's own frame of references . ..." He is content to report Pike as viewing language "as interlocking actions ..." (136). Mary L. Pratt's article on discourse is composed of a detailed analysis of Book Reviews63 sections from Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and is empirical only in a very loose sense. Her discourse might have an ideological basis in the guilt of Western human beings but it has no theoretical basis at all. Benjamen Hrushovski's study on an understander's theory of meaning attempts to establish a theory of semantics. The author starts by attempting two-sentence demolition arguments of the work of Austin, Noam Chomsky, Sydney Lamb, and others. He tries to incorporate situational meaning into his model and to focus on that in terms of the frame of reference in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-2833
Print ISSN
1948-2825
Pages
pp. 62-63
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-06
Open Access
No
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