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Hardcover | $27.95 Trade | £22.95 | 304 pp. | 5.375 x 8 in | 17 b&w illus. | August 2017 | ISBN: 9780262036313
eBook | $19.95 Trade | August 2017 | ISBN: 9780262340595
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Getting Through

The Pleasures and Perils of Cross-Cultural Communication


We can learn to speak other languages, but do we truly understand what we are saying? How much detail should we offer when someone asks how we are? How close should we stand to our conversational partners? Is an invitation genuine or just pro forma? So much of communication depends on culture and context. In Getting Through, Roger Kreuz and Richard Roberts offer a guide to understanding and being understood in different cultures. Drawing on research from psychology, linguistics, sociology, and other fields, as well as personal experience, anecdotes, and popular culture, Kreuz and Roberts describe cross-cultural communication in terms of pragmatics—exploring how language is used and not just what words mean.

Sometimes this is easy to figure out. If someone hisses “I’m fine!” though clenched teeth, we can assume that she’s not really fine. But sometimes the context, cultural or otherwise, is more nuanced. For example, a visitor from another country might be taken aback when an American offers a complaint (“Cold out today!”) as a greeting. And should you apologize the same way in Tokyo as you would in Toledo? Kreuz and Roberts help us navigate such subtleties. It’s a fascinating way to think about human interaction, but it’s not purely academic: The more we understand one another, the better we can communicate, and the better we can communicate, the more we can avoid conflict.

About the Authors

Roger Kreuz is Professor of Psychology and Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Memphis.

Richard Roberts, a Foreign Service Officer in the US Department of State, taught psychology in Europe and Asia with the University of Maryland University College.


“What a pleasure and surprise to read this wonderfully accessible volume on cross-cultural language use! The fact is that in this increasingly globalized and transnational world, nothing could be more important than knowing—more than what to say and when—what NOT to say and why not. The authors write about timely issues from the perspectives of their own cross-cultural and cross-linguistic lived histories.”
Diana Boxer, Professor and Distinguished Teaching Scholar, Department of Linguistics, University of Florida; author of The Lost Art of the Good Schmooze
“Kreuz and Roberts provide a thoughtful and engaging introduction to the challenges of interaction across language barriers, packed with insights that will be valuable to all who find themselves talking at times to people from other linguistic communities.”
Susan Fussell, Professor, Cornell University; editor of The Verbal Communication of Emotions