Communication Theory at the Center: Ventriloquism and the Communicative Constitution of Reality


François Cooren; e-mail:


In this article, I first propose to reinterpret R. T. Craig's (1999) call for a dialogue between communication perspectives as a formulation of design specs to which any constitutive model of communication should respond. I then propose to answer this call by metaphorically conceiving of communication as a form of ventriloquism, which translates our capacity to make other beings say or do things while we speak, write, or, more generally, conduct ourselves. Finally, I show to what extent this ventriloqual model of communication responds to the design specs of each of the 7 traditions Craig identified (rhetoric, semiotics, phenomenology, cybernetics, sociopsychology, sociocultural theory, and the critical approach), while maintaining a certain ontological and epistemological coherence.