Communication between cultures

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Ethnocentrism is universal:
Most people are ethnocentric, and a certain degree of ethnocentrism probably is essential if people are to be content with their lives and if their culture is to persist.”
Ethnocentrism contributes to cultural identity:
If people view their own group as central to their lives and as possessing proper behavioral standards, they are likely to aid their group members when troubles arise.
+ Avoiding ethnocentrism:
First, try to avoid dogmatism. Avoiding this problem requires that you be alert to intolerance and narrowness in any form. Second, learn to be open to new views. When we make a comparative judgment that our culture is in some ways better than another, we need to learn to follow this judgment with two questions: Is that really true? What is the objective evidence?”

  1. Functions of language

  • Social interaction

Language also serves important communicative functions other than directly expressing and exchanging ideas and thoughts with others.

  • Social cohesion

A common language allows individuals to form social groups and engage in cooperative efforts.

  • Expression of identity

Language plays an important role in the formation and expression of your identity, particularly national identity. Language plays a part in establishing and expressing ethnic identity. Language usage can categorize people into groups according to factors such as age and gender. Language has also been used to categorize people into varying social and economic levels.

  1. Language and culture

  • Language and culture are the indispensable components of intercultural communication. Together, they form a synergy, each working to sustain and perpetuate the other while creating a greater phenomenon - language allows the dissemination and adoption of culture, while culture gives rise to and shapes language. Combined, they enable societal organization and collective activities.

  • Cultures are also characterized by a number of internal linguistic variations. These differences are usually culturally influenced and frequently offer hints as to the nation or region where a person lives or grew up, their age, level of education, and socioeconomic status.

  • Examples of the synergy between language and culture: accent, dialect, argot, slang, taboos.

  1. Culture and translation

  • As interactions with people from other cultures speaking different languages continue to increase, the ability to work through an interpreter or translator becomes essential to ensuring your message is conveyed correctly and that you understand the other party’s meaning.

  • The process of translation and interpretation is much more complicated than merely taking a word from one language and replacing it with one from another language. There are numerous cultural considerations that come into play.

+ Some cultures rely on an indirect communication style and others use a straightforward, direct style.
+ There are language variations influenced by culture.

  • It is important to select an interpreter or translator that best suits your particular situation. The following are some of the more obvious considerations:

+ Language knowledge: The individual selected needs to be completely bilingual. Moreover, this knowledge should encompass contemporary usage which includes metaphors, slang, and idioms.
+ Dialect knowledge: In addition to language, the individual should also have a facility in any dialect that may come into play.
+ Specialized terminology: The specialized terminology used in different fields can be very confusing to an outsider. Therefore, it is essential that an interpreter or translator be well versed in the terms, jargon, and acronyms of the topic being addressed.
+ Cultural knowledge: There is a growing recognition that interpreters and translators must be culturally competent, and this requires knowledge of own culture as well as that of the target language culture.

  1. Technology and culture

  • The digital age has greatly enhanced the ability of people around the world easily and quickly to “connect” with others through a variety of media.

  • There are two rather obvious reasons for English being the principal language among Internet users: (1) the system was conceived and implemented in the United States and was, therefore, designed for English speakers, and (2) English “is the lingua franca of scientific and academic publishing.”

  • However, Internet usage statistics over the past decade suggest that other languages are gaining a greater presence.

  • Language can also play a role in the selection of which social media outlet a culture favors.

  1. Language and intercultural competence

  • Almost every intercultural communication interaction involves one or more individuals relying on a second language.

  • Below are some general measures relating to language use that can enhance your intercultural communication competence:

+ Be mindful:

  1. This is defined as creating new categories, being receptive to new information, and realizing that other people may not share your perspective.

  2. Being mindful can also entail being aware that using a second language is more physically and cognitively demanding than speaking one’s native language.

+ Speech rate:
Until the other person’s level of language competence is determined, you should speak a bit more slowly and distinctly than you normally do. By closely monitoring feedback from the second language speaker, you can adjust your speech rate accordingly.
+ Vocabulary:

  1. Until you are sure that the other person has the requisite second language ability, avoid professional vocabulary, technical words, and acronyms.

  2. Metaphors, slang, and colloquialisms can also impede understanding and should not be used.

+ Attend to nonverbal behaviors:

  1. You need to be alert to the individual’s nonverbal responses. This can provide cues about your speech rate, type of vocabulary, and whether the individual understands what you are saying.

  2. Also, you need to be aware of cultural differences in nonverbal cues.

  3. At the same time you should expect a second language speaker to exhibit unfamiliar nonverbal behaviors.

+ Checking:

  1. You should employ measures to help ensure your intercultural partner understands your messages.

  2. Also, while checking for understanding, try to do so from a subordinate position. This can be of considerable importance when interacting with someone from a culture where face is highly valued.

  3. Another means of checking is to write out a few words of the message you are trying to convey.

  1. Functions of nonverbal communication
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