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Tradition and Innovation in Language and Linguistics

A Coserian Perspective

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Cristinel Munteanu

This volume consists of twelve studies thematically grouped into three parts: (1) Linguistics and Philosophy of Language, (2) Hermeneutics and Text Linguistics, and (3) Lexicology and Phraseology. The phrase «tradition and innovation» characterizes almost all the texts included here, since tradition and innovation are present both at the level of the object (language) and at the level of its research (linguistics). The dominant theoretical perspective is the «Coserian» one, since the author borrowed from Eugenio Coseriu’s linguistic theory a series of essential concepts and distinctions regarding language and culture.

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IV. Prolegomena to a Better Definition of Intercultural Communication: The Concept of Culture

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1. In a famous and influential American handbook of intercultural communication, Communication between Cultures, written by Larry A. Samovar and Richard E. Porter, it is stated, from the very beginning, the fact that “intercultural communication involves interaction between people whose cultural perceptions and symbol systems are distinct enough to alter the communication event” (Samovar / Porter 2004: 15). The two authors do not forget to add that their book “is about the role of culture in communication”. However, when dealing with the notion of culture, Samovar and Porter deplore “the elusive nature of the term”, observing that “culture is ubiquitous, multidimensional, complex, all-pervasive, and difficult to define” (ibid.: 32), also quoting the opinion of authorities such as L.E. Harrison and S.P. Huntington (the editors of the volume Culture Matters. How Values Shape Human Progress, published in 2000), according to whom “the term ‘culture’, of course, has had multiple meanings in different disciplines and different contexts” (apud Samovar / Porter 2004: 32). What is more, they also mention A.L. Kroeber and C. Kluckhohn’s book from 1952, Culture. A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions, in which are listed 164 definitions of culture found in the anthropology literature. The conclusion is the following: “Definitions of culture range from those that are all-encompassing (‘it is everything’) to those that are narrow (‘it is opera, art, and ballet’).” (Samovar / Porter 2004: 32).

2. Eventually, Samovar and Porter will choose only one recent definition of the many given to culture,...

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