By Ruth Finnegan
In Communicating, the anthropologist Ruth Finnegan considers the various and sundry modes in which we people speak and the multisensory assets we draw on.
The publication uncovers the superb array of sounds, attractions, smells, gestures, seems to be, activities, touches and fabric items which people use so creatively to interconnect either within sight and throughout area and time - assets regularly underestimated in these western ideologies that prioritise 'rationality' and referential language.
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Additional info for Communicating: The Multiple Modes of Human Interconnection
The emotive overtones of touch, the subtle cadences of the heard voice, or the visual apperception of bodily gesture or material art – since the informative content is presupposed as central, all these come in as, at best, an afterthought. This often goes along with the assumed equation of ‘communication’ with language. 8 A standard reader on ‘communication theory’ explains its coverage as ‘understanding the “flow’’ of information’: its ‘uniting focus’ is the idea of ‘linguistic processes . . Linguistics provides the foundations and touchstone for communication theory .
He queries the ‘graphic-schematic depictions’ of speech communication that present the listener as passively receiving the spoken message: When the listener perceives and understands the meaning (the language meaning) of speech, he simultaneously takes an active, responsive attitude toward it. He either agrees or disagrees with it (completely or partially), augments it, applies it, prepares for its execution, and so on. . Of course, an utterance is not always followed immediately by an articulated response.
But what does that mean? 15 process is concluded by the successful receipt of the message. This basic idea has a long history, but the version commonly cited as starting off mid-twentieth-century ‘communication theory’ was formulated in an engineering context. Shannon and Weaver, working for the Bell Telephone Company, were interested in having messages transmitted fully and accurately over the wires. For them, the ‘fundamental problem of communication’ was that of ‘reproducing at one point either exactly or approximately a message selected at another point’ (Shannon and Weaver 1964: 31).