COMMUNICATION, LANGUAGE AND MEANING: Psychological Perspectives by George A. -- Ed. Miller


Email this review


In this collection of brief articles based on 30-minute talks, Miller -- a distinguished student of communication at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study -- has assembled ""a short, trustworthy introduction."" But it is often a short-circuited and pedestrian one. In outlining questions of grammar and meaning, several contributors do manage to sketch the approach which has superseded the old building-blocks notions of language: an emphasis on ""deep structures"" and ""transformational rules."" But, as in Jerrold Katz's piece on ""The Realm of Meaning"" which practically bypasses metaphor, the writers miss the excitement and creativity of language which Noam Chomsky, in his way, has stressed. Roger Brown, for instance, simply seems to deck out his old behaviorist disposition with a new jargon. The essays on the biology of language, however, are valuable in their pursuit of processes ""invariant"" to particular tongues, specifically learning processes. But communication -- small-group, non-verbal, persuasive -- receives quite flabby and condescending treatment (""The mass media are potent tools"" sort of thing), and one is driven to quote Shakespeare: language is ""too excellent/ for every vulgar paper to rehearse.

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 1973
Publisher: Basic Books