HOW METACOMMUNICATION CAN INVOLVE CULTURE TALKING ABOUT ITSELF: A RESEARCH LITERATURE ON CULTURAL TERMS FOR COMMUNICATION, AND THE ACTIONS THEY REFERENCE
by Donal Carbaugh, Professor
Department of Communication
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003
Fax: 413 545 6399
Abstract: In 1989 a comparative study of communication was published
which examined 50 "terms for talk" in 17 different societies. The
purpose of the study was to explicate a theoretical position which
embraced, at once,culturally diverse views about communication while
providing a general framework for such study. Since the publication of
this study, several researchers have used this framework in order to
study cultural forms of communication in Colombia (Fitch, 1998), Israel
(Katriel, in press), Japan (Hall and Noguchi, 1995), China (Garrett,
1993), Finland (Wilkins, 2001), Denmark (Rudnick, 2003), and in several
communities of the United States including Native America (Carbaugh,
1999), work organizations (Hall and Valde, 1995), academic life
(Baxter, 1993), and its students (Baxter and Goldsmith, 1990; Goldsmith
and Baxter, 1996).
These studies have examined a variety of beliefs and
values in kinds of communication including the channels of writing
versus speaking (e.g., Baxter, 1993), speak ng versus
listening (Carbaugh, 1999), and verbal versus nonverbal forms of
communication (Scollo, 2003).
The purpose of this workshop is to
introduce the general perspective at work in this kind of communication
research, to explicate the specific theoretical stance taken, to
illustrate the perspective, and to discuss its utility in studies of
The original Comparative Study (with bibliography of central studies by
Abrahams and Bauman, Katriel, Katriel and Philipsen, etc.):
Carbaugh, Donal. (1989). Fifty terms for talk: A cross-cultural study.
International and Intercultural Communication Annual, 13, 93-120.
A Sample of Published works using the (1989) framework:
Baxter, L. (1993). "Talking things through" and "putting it in
codes of communication in an academic institution." Journal of Applied
Communication Research, 21, 313-326.
Baxter, Leslie and Daena Goldsmith. (1990). Cultural terms for
events among some American high school adolescents. Western Journal of
Speech Communication, 54, 377-394.
Carbaugh, Donal. (1999). "Just Listen": "Listening" and Landscape Among
Blackfeet. Western Journal of Communication, 63(3), 250-270.
Fitch, Kristine. (1998). Speaking Relationally: Culture, Communication,
Interpersonal Connection. New York, London: The Guildford Press.
Garrett, M. (1993). Wit, power, and oppositional groups: A case study of
"pure talk." Quarterly Journal of Speech, 79, 303-318.
Goldsmith, Daena and Leslie Baxter. (1996). Constituting relationships
talk: A taxonomy of speech events in social and personal relationships.
Human Communication Research, 23, 87-114.
Hall, Bradford "J" and Mutsumi Noguchi. (1995). Engaging in "kenson": An
extended case study of one form of common sense. Human Relations, 48,
Hall, Bradford "J" and Kathleen Valde. (1995). "Brown nosing" as a
resource in American organizational speech. Research on Language and
Interaction, 28, 131-150.
Katriel, Tamar. (In press). Dialogic moments: From soul talks to talk
in Israeli culture. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press.
Philipsen, Gerry. (1992). Speaking Culturally: Explorations in Social
Communication. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Michelle Scollo Sawyer. (2003). Nonverbal ways of communicating with
A cross-case study. Environmental Communication Yearbook, 1.
Dissertations using the framework:
Rebecca Townsend. (2003). "Speaking to the issue": An act and event of
political deliberation in a town?s governance. Doctoral Dissertation.
University of Massachusetts, 2003.
Wilkins, Richard J. (1999). "Asia" [Matter-Of-Fact] Communication: A
Cultural Term For Talk In Educational Scenes. Doctoral Dissertation,
University of Massachusetts, 1999.
Conference Papers using the framework:
Carbaugh, Donal. (2002). One visual portraint, two verbal portrayals:
through cultural terms. Presented at the University of Washington?s
Institute on Making Communication Research Matter, July 9-12.
Rudnick, Lisa. (2003). "Janteloven" and the Communication of Danish
Identity. Paper presented at the International Communication
San Diego, California, May 23-27.
Richard Wilkins. (2001). Infocentrism: An interactional code in some
educational scenes. Presented at the National Communication
summer conference, Rhetoric and Communication in the 21st Century,
Jyvaskyla, Finland, June 14-16.
Related Comparative Study:
Goldsmith, Daena. (1989/90). Gossip from the native?s point of view: A
comparative study. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 23, 163-
Related Theoretical Works:
Philipsen, Gerry. (1997). A theory of speech codes. In G. Philipsen and
Albrecht (eds.), Developing Communication Theories (pp. 119-156).
NY: State University of New York Press.