JoLIE 12:2/2019


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                                               BOOK REVIEW




Marta Boguslawska-Tafelska and Małgorzata Haładewicz-Grzelak, Eds. (2017). Communication as a life process: Beyond human cognition. Pp. xi–152. ISBN: 978-14438-7321-5.



Reviewed by Encarnación Almazán Ruiz, University of Jaén, Spain




Communication as a life process: Beyond human cognition brings together papers which can be framed within the subject of ecolinguistics. As stated in the preface (ix) by one of the editors, Marta Boguslawska-Tafelska, this work is intended as the first of a new series of monographs entitled Studies in Ecolinguistics. It is divided into two parts with a clear organisational intent although the sections are not well-balanced in relation to the number of articles included. Part One, for example, is comprised of two wide-ranging articles under the title ‘New children – new teacher – new school: Communication processes across generational and paradigmatic planes’, whereas Part Two, ‘Communication mechanisms noticed and studied by contemporary multidisciplinary linguistics’, is composed of six chapters.

The first article, ‘Multimodal communication mechanism in school children: How to turn the assumed burden into a phylogenic blessing – Research hypotheses’, written by Marta Boguslawska-Tafelska, presents an account of a seemingly frequent situation in Western educational systems: children who behave differently due to diverse psychological problems such as Asperger’s syndrome, autism or ADHD. Teachers feel hopeless not only when teaching but also in engaging with these students. The author rejects the Newtonian paradigm in analysing these children’s cognitive/neurocognitive behavioural and educational profile and proposes the holistic post-Newtonian model. Accordingly, what has perhaps traditionally been considered a possible deficit or dysfunction can now be seen from a different perspective; that is to say that these behaviours can be perceived as a sign of the evolution of the human profile. The author claims that these children seem to be able to reside naturally in the abstract plane, which is reached by means of meditation or in other unconventional ways. Consequently, these youngsters assumedly communicate with the external background through different cognitive and noncognitive mechanisms and their community should be able to help them harness their inner potential. In sum, the chapter encourages the reader to think about certain patterns of behaviour from a different and novel perspective.

The second paper in Part One is entitled ‘Loans from foreign languages in the patois of secondary school students’, written by Anna Rajchel. She maintains that languages, in general, are suffering from changes introduced by young people. It is well known that today’s youth communicate with friends and acquaintances in short and uncomplicated language, and that much of their communication is influenced (virtually) by the English language. The author conducted an empirical study using survey data provided by 50 adolescents in 2015 and focused on the Polish language. The research outcomes show that young people prefer to borrow English words and expressions when talking or texting with their peers. As a matter of fact, these loans from other languages allow them to be fast and economical in their messages, overlooking grammatical rules. Moreover, the personal code created by teenagers makes them feel not only connected to each other, but also accepted by the rest of the group. However, it is also worth mentioning that foreign words and expressions are not used by adolescents when communicating with adults, in particular with their parents or teachers. The study demonstrates that this ‘linguistic trend’ is malleable and thus expressions which are used at present may no longer be used in a few years.

‘Linguistic typology and colonial policies: The classification of Nigerian languages in reports that originate from the 1921 census’ opens Part Two. In this chapter, Paula García-Ramírez and Ventura Salazar-García analyse books entitled Ethnographical Accounts, two texts with a clear common approach: providing dissimilar classifications of African languages, drawing on the 1921 Nigerian census. These Accounts differ in the expansion and accomplishment of the ideas expressed within. The authors of the chapter emphasise the efforts of Thomas and Talbot, who compiled the Accounts, in their research accomplishments and outcomes. The latter author’s linguistic research highlights the importance of Nigeria, regarded as the birthplace of Bantu and semi-Bantu languages. As far as Thomas’s study of languages in northern Nigeria is concerned, it is worth referring to the different grammatical issues stated by García-Ramírez and Salazar-García, who acknowledge the different grammatical features of the language presented by Thomas and stress his misinterpretation of the data. In the concluding section, the authors highlight the importance of Thomas and Talbot in providing a wide and rather complete list of many Nigerian languages. Nonetheless, the scholars also mention that currently these works can only be analysed from a historiographical stance. All in all, this article can be valuable for researchers of African languages given the authors’ careful review.

Elżbieta Karaś presents ‘The role of communication in the process of knowledge management in organization’. Departing from the premise that effective communication is essential, this chapter describes the role of the internal communication process and the distribution of knowledge and information in an organization such as an enterprise. The author states that communication is crucial to the accomplishment of managerial tasks. Good and effective communication is in fact the principle of management: it generally determines the success or failure of an organization. The third and fourth sections of the article are devoted to knowledge and its direct relationship to organization. According to Karaś, data can only be transformed into information after being selected, processed and properly interpreted, after which information may become knowledge and should be considered the main resource for the creation of additional enterprise value. Furthermore, the author explains that the competitiveness of an enterprise can be increased thanks to the good management of sources of knowledge. She not only distinguishes between two sources of knowledge and establishes four different categories to achieve success, but also explains the basic differences between explicit and tacit knowledge. The final section of the article presents the conditions for the dissemination of knowledge, providing a list with the different factors involved. Moreover, she highlights how a positive attitude expressed by knowledge managers is essential to achieve good results in an organization.

Zenona M. Nowak and Tadeusz Olewicz, in their chapter entitled ‘The irrelevance of utterance and inadequate understanding of the message as causes of the erosion of social trust’, state that the rule of relevance is extremely important for effective communication. Hence, the important role of trust in this process is highlighted. When we trust someone, we behave in a natural and spontaneous way, which assists the communication process. In fact, trust facilitates the functioning of the whole of society since social trust dictates the quality of the communicative community. The third section of the article is devoted to misunderstandings as trust can be lost due to misinterpretation. A close inspection of this section discloses a set of questions that the interlocutor should answer in order to comprehend the sender’s message; accordingly, the correct interpretation of a person’s utterance is stated to be crucial in the process of understanding. As a matter of fact, the authors determine three possible communicative situations in which the addressee may or may not understand the message correctly, or may have misinterpreted the message of the sender. In the final section of the chapter, the different guidelines are outlined to describe the communication process.

The fourth contribution to Part Two, ‘Emotional-reflective communication of my being through creative but logical thinking in colours and shapes’ by Hee Sook Lee-Niinioja, reports on a project devised to rehabilitate Indonesian prisoners. The article introduces the idea that creativity can transform our thinking and perception of the external environment. In this regard, creativity is related to both divergent and convergent thinking, both of which are deemed to be necessary for the innovation of creative products and their suitability. On the one hand, creative thinking reimagines problems as challenges. On the other hand, logical thinking permits us to interpret reality and predict consequences. The third section of the article starts with a description of the term emotion; from a philosophical point of view, emotions can be regarded differently. Likewise, colours can influence emotions since they generate a personal reaction. The author connects these assumptions with the Theory of Colours by Johann Wolfang von Goethe with the firm intention of implementing a research workshop with prisoners engaged in rehabilitation. The article proceeds with the description of the scholar’s research, giving numerous examples of the association of colours with certain types of feelings, followed by her own analysis. The study shows that connecting colours and feelings can help prisoners think about their past through logical thinking. Likewise, creativity can encourage them to prepare for their future.

Text and image in fragrance advertising based on a six-country comparison’ by Aneta Smolińska clearly focuses on cultural factors relevant to the communication process and, as the title of the article reveals, it establishes a six-country comparison of the influence of culture on both visual and verbal languages. Her work tries to elucidate whether advertising messages fulfil the requirements of effective communication. For this reason, two main contexts of communication are established, with which visual and verbal languages are associated. On the plus side, the study of the corpus includes a considerable number of print advertisements, as well as providing a magnificent contrast of the use of words and languages in Germanic, Romance and Slavic countries. However, it would have been appropriate to include an analysis of forms of address marked by gender. In the sections devoted to the analysis, there is a lack of charts and tables which would have presented the results more efficiently. Nonetheless, the article is an excellent tool for readers interested in how culture determines language and in what manner a certain language influences culture.

The monograph ends with Bartosz Cierach’s contribution entitled ‘The boundaries of objectivity in the communication process with a literary text as a message’. It begins with a brief introduction which presents the research questions, and contextualises the article. The established connection between a literary text and the communication process is clear and well developed, followed by an accurate description of the characteristics of metaphor. After presenting the theoretical aspects, the reader encounters the research upon which the chapter is based, which includes a short study excerpted from Psychology by Katherine Mansfield. In this section, the author puts theory into practice and tries to demonstrate that the border between subjectivity and objectivity is far from clear. Overall, the study concludes that the correct interpretation of a metaphor requires the support of semantics.

To conclude, the book reviewed is undoubtedly worthy of consideration by scholars and researchers interested in the ecolinguistic theory of language, and as a monograph which includes significant recent research on communication. As a matter of fact, the diverse chapters can be read as a series of separate articles since all of them offer diverse perspectives of the communication process.



How to cite this review: Almazán Ruiz, E. (2019). Marta Boguslawska-Tafelska and Małgorzata Haładewicz-Grzelak, Eds. (2017). Communication as a life process: Beyond human cognition. Pp. xi–152. ISBN: 978-14438-7321-5. Journal of Linguistic and Intercultural Education – JoLIE, 12(2), 147-150. DOI:



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