The culture in which a person grows into plays a major role in shaping their verbal communication. This is because of the fact that some of the major properties and characteristics of comminutes and which define them, include their way of communication. Every community or society has a unique, authentic form of communication which it uses. This is what distinguishes one community from another.
The distinctions in comminutes among communities is a cultural tenet that not only define them, but also gives them an identity. Apart from the verbal communication, there is a different form of communication that is also used in every community or society. This is the non-verbal form of communication. Similar to verbal communication, non-verbal communication is authentic, unique and different across communities. In most cultures, factors and aspects such as facial expressions, body language, hands signs and movement of body parts among others are some of the aspects that have been used as tools of communication (Jay, 2012. p.34).
As a result of these differences affecting communication, there are several results and consequences that are attributable to these differences. These include the fact that people find it hard to adjust in their new environments and cultural settings. A good example is the case of people immigrating into the United States. The African American culture, for example, is one of the most advanced and developed cultures in the United States, among other cultures. My respondent (name withheld), is from the Arabian culture and ethnic group, and immigrated into the United States from Dubai, United Arabs Emirates, in the year 2001.
One of the greatest challenges that he has faced after the immigrating into the United States include adjusting into the American culture, especially based on the fact that the African American culture is very different from the Arabian culture. At the same time, considering the fact that the African American culture is largely a Christian culture while the United Arab Emirates culture is Arabic and Muslim, this has created a lot of differences, not only in the verbal and non-verbal communication, but also in the lifestyle. Therefore, there are several differences that this paper will look at, that we established between the Arabian and the African American cultures (Matsumoto, 2012, p. 98).
There are several challenges that my respondent has faced, when adapting into the African American culture. One of the challenges that he faced was the African American phonemes, whereby he faced challenges with the African American linguistic arrangement (having settled among the African American community). He, for example, experienced a lot of verbal construction, with the differences between ‘K’ and ‘H’, especially in pronunciation. An example of these challenges included the pronunciation of the noun ‘skill’. At the same time, he faced semantic challenges, whereby he had problems with understanding the meaning of various terms, phrases and idioms in the African American community. Thirdly, construction of sentences was another challenge that he faced, especially, considering the fact that he had grown up in an Arabic-speaking environment, and this presented a syntactic challenge in his communication. Lastly, my respondent had a pragmatic linguistic challenge, especially, considering that he failed to understand various meanings in conversations. In some cases, the environment in which a statement is made contributes to the meaning, and this is one of the challenges that he faced, considering the fact that some he did not understand some synonyms, and where or when to use them.
At the same time, there are several idioms that have been in the African American society for long, and these are some of the linguistic structures that made it problematic from him to adopt and communicate effectively with the American people. Some of these idioms include ‘breaking a leg’, which means that one should leave if they don’t want harm to befall them. Considering the fact that this idiom is used in agitated debates, this was a challenge to him. Other idioms include cold turkey, which means with immediate effect, and burning bridges. One of the most essential things to note concerning idioms is the fact that the only people who are conversant with them are those that have lived in or are living in the region where the idiom is used. This is the reason why many people have had problems with the idioms used here in the United States, especially, the immigrants.
Finally, kinetics is yet another essential thing that we observed, and we conducted this observation in the restaurant, there are several things that we observed, especially, by observing body movement and it was evident that there is a lot of similarity between the American and the Arabic body communication. For example, nodding one’s head, as we observed at the restaurant, was equivalent to approval. Raising hands, with a sad look on one’s face, was equivalent to frustration or despair. At the same time, a blank facial expression represents lack of understanding on something in the Arabian society, just as it is in the American society (Jay, 2012, p. 212).
Jay, H. (2012). Non-Verbal Communication - Body Talk (Advice and How To). New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Matsumoto, D. (2012). Nonverbal Communication: Science and Applications. New York: McGraw-Hill.