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Inr. J. Ink-rculfural

Rel. Vol 21, No. 3, pp. 345-378, 1997
I$) 1997 Elsevier Science I.!d
All rights reserved. Printed in Great Britain
0147-1767/97 $17.00+0.00

Pergamon

PII: SO147-1767(97)00005-9

ARAB CULTURAL

COMMUNICATION
ELLEN

PATTERNS

FEGHALI

Beirut, Lebanon
ABSTRACT.
In response to Shuter’s (Shuter, 1990) call.for the examination of communicative phenomena in particular societies worldwide, this article critically reviews the existing and, in some cases, contradictory research on cultural communication patterns in the Arab world. The articleJirst clarifies the term “Arab” and provides boundaries for discussing communicative phenomena in the region. It then reviews recent investigations of Arab cultural communication patterns from an interdisciplinary perspective. More specifically, it focuses on several themes evident and available in the literature: (a) basic cultural values, (b) language and verbal communication, and (c) nonverbal andparalinguisticpatterns. Following each theme are directionsforfuture research. Finally, the article proposes strategies to overcome barriers to research in the Arab region and concludes with an extensive bibliography qfresources. It is a hope that this article will stimulate scholarly interest in the Arab world and serve as a catalyst for the inclusion of Arab communication patterns in the teaching of intercultural communication, as well as in future research and theory. development. 0 1997 Elsevier Science Ltd

KEY WORDS.

Arab, values, language, nonverbal communication, paralinguistics

Although intercultural scholars have clearly concentrated research efforts on a limited number of world regions, the opportunity exists more than ever to seek a comprehensive and valid conception of intercultural communication. As Shuter (1990) suggests, global conditions require us to refocus on intracultural communication patterns. Such an alteration of research agendas will: (a) provide a conceptual framework for analysing interaction within a society and world region; (b) demonstrate the inextricable linkage between communication patterns and sociocultural forces;

The author would like to express thanks to Antoine Feghali, Judith Martin, and Charles Braithwaite for their valuable comments.
Requests for reprints should be sent to Dr. Ellen Kussman Feghali: Director of Research & Development,
TimezerO s.a.r.l., Abou Jaoude Street, near La Tour Building. Baouchrieh, Beirut, Lebanon or e-mail: timezero@sodetel.net.lb

345

E. Feghali

346

and (c) provide a conceptual basis for making intercultural comparisons between dissimilar societies (p. 243).
The intent of this article is to critically review the existing limited and, in some cases, contradictory research on cultural communication patterns in the Arab world. Published investigations of communicative phenomena in this region have been largely absent in the field of intercultural communication (cf. Adelman & Lustig, 1981; Gudykunst & Nishida, 1989; Shuter, 1990). For instance, Speech Communication Association @CA) publications throughout the 1980s printed only five articles related to communication in the Middle East (Shuter, 1990). None of the articles addressed Arab cultural patterns but rather focused on non-Arab groups in Israel (Frank, 1981; Griefat & Katriel, 1989; Hopper & Doany, 1989; Katriel, 1987) and in Iran (Heisey & Trebing, 1983).

While descriptions of Arab communicative patterns do not adequately capture the dynamic nature of human interaction, the meta-analysis and general evaluation which follows should serve as a catalyst for more extensive, inclusive, and valid intercultural research. More specifically, this article will:

1. Clarify the term “Arab” and the boundaries for discussing communicative phenomena in the region; 2. Review recent descriptive and empirical investigations of Arab cultural communication patterns from an interdisciplinary perspective; and 3. Conclude with...
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