The three-year project is a comprehensive reference on the discipline that studies how humans communicate with those from other cultures and how culture influences and shapes communication.

“It’s like a scholarly Wikipedia on intercultural communication theories,” McKay-Semmler said. “The entries are often written by the originator of the theory.”

In addition to her editing duties, McKay-Semmler wrote two of the encyclopedia’s entries. She co-wrote an article on Latin American communication modes in contrast with those of people in the United States and Northern Europeans. As a single author, she also wrote about high and low context communication.

“This is one of the foundational theories in intercultural communication research,” she said. “We can place cultures on a continuum as to how much context you need in a message in order for the listener to understand. In Western cultures, we tend to need a lot of detail and we expect people to express themselves emotionally. In high-text cultures, it’s incumbent on the listener to figure out what the speaker is feeling and what they mean based upon their history together and their traditions.”

Scholars as well as professionals who work in settings where there is communication between different cultural groups will find resources in the encyclopedia, McKay-Semmler said. “This information will appeal to anyone who is trying to bring groups together or understand a group that is communicating in a way that is culturally different.”

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