THROUGH THE COMMUNICATION BARRIER: On Speaking, Listening, and Understanding by S. I. Hayakawa

THROUGH THE COMMUNICATION BARRIER: On Speaking, Listening, and Understanding

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Hayakawa may stride right through the communication barrier--he is a precise, fluent writer--but this collection of tired themes doesn't go far enough. Short, unremarkable, and undated, the pieces (some previously published as newspaper columns) concern communications with children and between men and women; the uses and abuses of language; education and media issues, such as the similarities between advertising and poetry or the limitations of commercial television--all familiar stuff. Hayakawa emerged as a conservative spokesmen/symbol in the late Sixties when, as a college president, he stood up to campus radicals and defended traditional beliefs. Some of those ideas also appear here (the difference between race pride and obsession) as well as a view of WW II relocation camps which concludes that Japanese internment served a positive function by dispelling suspicions and accelerating Americanization. There is a moving appreciation of his retarded son, a quick dispatch of pretentious usage (""Eschew Obfuscation""), and a lesser discussion of ""Why Some Children Cannot Spell."" The one light moment comes when, as a U.S. senator, he gets to Washington and finds his Budget Committee assignment less intimidating than expected; a poor math scholar but nobody's fool, he discovers, ""You don't even have to know subtraction."" Smoothly argued but no pizzazz.

Pub Date: April 25th, 1979
Publisher: Harper & Row