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September 1997 - Issue No. #28 (p.21)


The Diplomat's Dictionary

United States Institute of Peace Press, Washington DC, U.S.A. (451 pp). ISBN: 1878379666

The Diplomat's Dictionary (TDD) consists of alphabetically arranged quotations with the author's comments (the core of the dictionary, with 321 pages), a 15-page section on Persons (with essential biodata), a 105-page Index (concepts, authors, key-ideas, organizations), and information on the United States Institute of Peace (goals, activities, structure).

The first edition of this book, published in 1994, sold out in a few months, attesting to the work's immediate appeal. The US Institute of Peace has now launched this revised 1997 edition, which features 80 new entries. In the biographical note, we are told that Freeman "has led a distinguished diplomatic career, including service overseas in India, Taiwan, China, Thailand and Saudi Arabia". Of special interest to Newsletter readers is the fact that the author is fluent in several languages, having been the principal interpreter during Nixon's visit to the People's Republic of China in 1972.

Freeman's advice to diplomats concerning the importance of interpreters is well worth quoting: "It is wise for a negotiator, even if he speaks the language of the other side well, to use an interpreter. This preserves the principle that he regards his own language as authoritative, assures that his statements reflect a full command of the nuances involved, maintains a record of discussion in his own language, reassures those on his own negotiating team who may not speak the foreign language as well as he, and gives him extra time to consider how best to conduct himself as discussion proceeds".

Given this Newsletter's focus on Global Issues, the following 10-item checklist was used to see how well TDD fared:

1. Cross-cultural(ism)
2. Democracy
3. Development
4. Environment
5. Human Rights
6. Global(ism)
7. Language
8. Peace
9. Understanding
10. War

A check of the above items shows that specific entries for 2, 7, 8, 9 and 10 are dealt with in varying degrees of explicitness. Conspicuously absent are Cross-culturalism, Development, Environment, Human Rights and Globalism. In fairness, it should be noted that there are entries for cross-cultural friendship, cultural differences in gestures and for language and culture in diplomacy.

Omissions notwithstanding, TDD features important concepts such as empathy (98-99), intelligence (138-139), morality (174-175), negotiation (182-184) and power (222-223). The author's commendable cultural pluralism is reflected in his inclusion of Arab, Dutch, English, French, German, Latin, Persian, Portuguese and Russian proverbs.

Since this is primarily a book of quotations, who does Freeman quote? Most-often-quoted thinkers are: Henry Kissinger (59 times), Adam Watson (31), Francois de Callieres (24), Harold Nicolson (23), Niccolo Machiavelli (21), William Macomber (19), Chester Crocker (18), and Talleyrand (17).

Freeman describes his book as a compilation of the lore of statecraft and diplomacy, and makes this important clarification: "I deliberately did not include terms like Third World that I thought were possibly stereotypes of our era rather than enduring factors in diplomacy. Nor did I include many topics of current diplomacy, including some important ones like ecology". He very humbly adds: "The book is by a practitioner, for practitioners".

A great deal can be said in praise of this brilliantly revealed lore of the fascinating profession of diplomacy. Language educators who wish to enhance their inter- (or trans-) disciplinary preparation, and to become enlightened on the conceptual-terminological wealth of the learned profession of diplomatic suasion will do well to add this work to their list of inspired and inspiring books. Both the author and publisher are to be congratulated on making TDD available. Although English is now said to be a global language (cf. David Crystal's new book, "English as a GlobalLanguage", Cambridge University Press, l997), translations of this work in other languages should be done, so as to more universally disseminate it. Freeman has succeeded in communicating his diplomatic wisdom and wit with clarity and grace.


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Kip A. Cates, Tottori University, Koyama, Tottori City, JAPAN 680-8551
E-mail: Work Tel/Fax: 0857-31-5650