By Ruth Finnegan
In Communicating, the anthropologist Ruth Finnegan considers the numerous and sundry modes in which we people converse and the multisensory assets we draw on.
The publication uncovers the fantastic array of sounds, attractions, smells, gestures, seems, activities, touches and fabric gadgets which people use so creatively to interconnect either close by and throughout area and time - assets continually underestimated in these western ideologies that prioritise 'rationality' and referential language.
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Extra info for Communicating: The Multiple Modes of Human Interconnection
We can translate [our thoughts about the world] into language, make them ‘speak’, through the use of signs which stand for them – and thus talk, write, communicate about them to others’ (Stuart Hall 1997: 61–2, cultural studies). ‘Communication Studies is about how human meanings are made through the production and reception of various types of sign. It is about visual and verbal sign systems and the technologies used to articulate, record and convey them’ (Corner and Hawthorn 1993: 2, communication studies).
2) depict the gradual victory of modern western civilisation over inferior and less evolved forms elsewhere; the ‘fully human’ virtues of rationality, science and intellectual thought are again linked to linguistic communication systems, here principally writing and, in particular, alphabetic systems and (western-style) printing. Underpinning most of these accounts is a cognitively-led view of both language and humankind, dividing not only humans from animals but ‘pre-literate’ from literate. But this tale of the upwards move of humanity into its ‘true’ fulfilment of linguistically-explicit rationality is no longer unchallenged.
These assertions are less solidly-founded than often supposed. Debates still continue about the interpretation of the archaeological and biological record. One Communicating humans . . but what does that mean? 27 might also question how far this evaluation of human language is the result of direct evidence, how far shaped by other factors: pleasantly speculative ‘just-so’ stories, tautology (only humans can have human language after all), a touch of complacent humano-centrism, or even perhaps intellectuals’ unwitting privileging of their own linguistic expertise.