YOU DON'T SAY: How People Communicate Without Speech by Vernon Pizer

YOU DON'T SAY: How People Communicate Without Speech

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The subtitle notwithstanding, this is not another juvenilization of the trendy treatises on body language; instead, Pizer is concerned with misunderstandings resulting from ambiguous words and from language differences, and with attempts--from Esperanto to glyphs and pictographs--to get around them. But the author of Ink, Ark, and All That (1976) makes the discussion lighter and looser than the subject might suggest. His anecdotal text spreads out to cover all sorts of non-verbal messages--Canary Islands whistle language, African drums, Indian hand signs, and National Theater of the Deaf performances--and if some of the topics, such as the Rosetta stone, Braille, and the notation for zero, are overfamiliar in juvenile surveys of all sorts of subjects, diverting incidentals are just as frequently encountered. For example, even if you remember that Vice President Rockefeller was photographed by AP giving the finger to hecklers, were you aware that the gesture can be traced to Diogenes reacting to a Demosthenes speech? Had you heard that some children learn to read from teaching cards impregnated with the particular smells associated with the words garage (grease and oil), bacon, etc.? That pedestrian crossings in Saudi Arabia are marked with pictographs of headless walkers to avoid the Moslem taboo against human images? That sickly green Mr. Yuk has proved a more effective poison warning than the traditional but child-enticing skull and crossbones? Such bits give Pizer's potpourri something of the appeal of a well-stocked alphabet soup.

Pub Date: May 15th, 1978
Publisher: Putnam