`Good Speech': An Interpretive Essay Investigating an African Philosophy of Communication

By Kelley, Venita | The Western Journal of Black Studies, Spring 2002 | Go to article overview

`Good Speech': An Interpretive Essay Investigating an African Philosophy of Communication


Kelley, Venita, The Western Journal of Black Studies


"The communication person is a relationship person, in the sense that relationships are meaningful, because they bind society and are also the source of harmony ... permanence resides in the maturity of the relationships we possess." (Asante, 1993, 183)

"... the human personality is to be elevated, exalted and healed in order for communicationists' roles to be fully realized" (Asante, 1993, 183).

"Relationship [harmonious] is the operative value in the communication person's view of the world." (Asante, 1993, 184)

Many scholars then go on to assume that since the word is not the thing, any discrepancy between words and things must necessarily be resolved in the direction of things and that words are to be discounted as misleading, trivial, or unimportant unless they stand in a close and accurate relation to things." (Bormann, 1971, 17)

Jack Daniel's groundbreaking edited volume Black Communication (1974), contained the lament that black studies, a new addition to "the academy" was engaged in the historically unfortunate task.... of developing ... in-depth understandings of the world of [B]lack experience, and of human experience [from a Black perspective]" (vii). Daniel et al undertook the task of providing those who would study, critique, and teach, Black studies with the tools to hear as they [Black people] hear and see as they see" (x). The scholars involved in the book project were trying to define and elaborate on the African worldview to give more clarity to communication norms and practices in the African Diaspora. It was necessary at the time to assert the humanity, intellect, and the existence of an African and African American legacy to the world and to Western education systems (vii-xiv). Daniel and his colleagues took up the call to provide theory, proofs, and directions for teaching the subject of African Diaspora communication styles and theories. Unfortunately, more than a quarter century later there is still a need to assert the legitimacy of African, Caribbean, and African American communication theory and practices. Not fully integrated into the field of Black Studies are African centered Communication Studies. Importantly, Communication Studies address the mechanisms of human interaction that reflect, shape, and build (rebuild?) society and societal structures. In this paper I shall try to extract the essence of an African traditionalist philosophy of communication and offer an explanation of how that philosophy shapes the African American's response to oppressive societal structures. In so doing, I operate from certain assumptions of Pan-African thought of the type that Williams (1976) documents, which states that the African continent was fully democratized twice and, therefore, shared philosophical beliefs have had a lasting and significant impact upon expectations both in countries on the continent and in the Diaspora. Diop has also argued that Africa had a cultural unity that included both moral and philosophical concepts. My argument follows this line of thinking as I posit that that cultural unity extends to Africans in the Diaspora. My argument includes, particularly, the philosophical aspects of African thought which I claim can be accessed through study of Ptah Hotep's writing regarding Good Speech. In short, there are three distinct areas of focus in this expansive investigation of Good Speech. First, this study advances that there is an African locus for African American shapings of rhetoric and communication expectations. Second, the study focuses on a philosophy of human behavior as the basis of a healthy functioning society that is wholly African centered. Third, a methodological tool for investigating African American approaches to lived experience is implied through the use of Good Speech criteria.

I am in agreement with the founding arguments that Daniel et al., put forth in the aforementioned text concerning the quality and type of communication that takes place for African Americans which is based on a primary set of assumptions that are derived from an African worldview. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

`Good Speech': An Interpretive Essay Investigating an African Philosophy of Communication
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.