This paper seeks to present a detailed outline on the topic Intercultural Communication in Contexts. The main objectives of the paper include the following: discuss the components of language; explain the different position concerning language and perception; describe the function of metaphor in gaining awareness about intercultural communication; recognize cultural variations in the different style of communication; understand the different challenges related to multilingualism; explain the distinction between interpretation and translation; and understand the occurrence of interlanguage and code switching.
Point 1: Social science perspective is focused on the use of language including the components, perception and thought, and the way cultural group make use of language in diverse ways.
- According to Martin and Nakayama (2012), the nominalist position states that perception is not formed by the language people speak but by arbitrary external form of thought. This implies that thought can be expressed in different languages even though some may have more words or fewer words.
- According to the relativist position, the language people speak is specifically the structure of that language, which determines the perceptions of reality, thought patterns, and significant cultural components (Martin and Nakayama, 2012). This can be evaluated through the application of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.
- In keeping with the first area of research used in examining the hypothesis, language and thought in children’s language achievement are so closely related that it is difficult to conclude that one precedes the other.
- Research has proven that cross-cultural differences in language do not affect the way people perceive things.
- Martin and Nakayama (2012) know the fact that metaphors do not influence people’s understanding of everyday speech.
- In Perlovsky’s journal article titled Language and emotions: Emotional Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, Perlovsky (2009) hypothesizes language as a device for communicating conceptual information.
- Language is a very powerful tool that affects peoples’ lives. Martin and Nakayama (2012) claim metaphor as an expression used outside of its conventional meaning to state a similar concept.
- Pragmatics become very important since they help people understand how and what is communicated by others affects the way recipients understood it. For instance, communicating informally in a formal context, though an acceptable communication style in our culture may be insulting to others.
Point 2: Communication style incorporates both language and nonverbal communication.
- In the journal article titled Verbal and nonverbal communication: Distinguishing symbolic, spontaneous, and pseudo-spontaneous nonverbal behavior by Buck and Vanlear (2002), a big portion of people’s communication is considered nonverbal.
- Martin and Nakayama (2012) differentiate high-context and low-context communication as follows:
- A high-context communication has all information either in the physical framework or internalized within the individual
- In a low-context communication, the information and meanings are directed in the verbal code (Martin and Nakayama, 2012).
- Martin and Nakayama (2012) made a comparison between direct and indirect style of communication.
- According to Martin and Nakayama (2012), “A direct communication style is one in which verbal messages reveal the speaker’s true intentions, needs, wants, and desires.
- An indirect style is one in which the verbal message is often designed to camouﬂage the speaker’s true intentions, needs, wants, and desires” (Martin and Nakayama, 2012).
- Martin and Nakayama (2012) also made a comparison between elaborate versus understated styles of communication.
- The elaborate style uses rich and expressive language in daily conversation.
- The understated style places emphasis on succinct, basic assertions, as well as silence.
- In the journal article titled a cross-cultural analysis of websites from high-context cultures and low-context cultures by Wurtz (2005), the communication style of humans differs from one context to the other. For example, communication style differs depending on the location such as at home, at work or in school.
Point 3: Language is reliant not merely on the context but likewise on the social relations between those involved.
- In learning how communication works with various co-cultural groups, three general orientations were identified namely assertive, non-assertive, and aggressive (Martin and Nakayama, 2012).
- According to Martin and Nakayama (2012), assertive assimilation strategies include handling stereotypes; assertive accommodation strategies involve educating others, communicating self, and using connections.
- Aggressive assimilation includes strategies such as mocking oneself and mirroring; aggressive accommodating includes confrontation; and aggressive separation includes attacking or sabotaging others (Martin and Nakayama, 2012).
- Co-cultural individuals may focus on accommodation, incorporation, and separation in relation to the dominant group (Martin and Nakayama, 2012).
- Labels can be signifiers that distinguish certain aspects of social identity. Too often, these labels are spoken in the absence of understanding the meaning of the origin of language or even the current connotations. This may result to hurtful feelings.
Point 4: Multilingualism faces the challenge of having to engage in language negotiations. Multilingual people have to choose which language they need to use in a certain situation.
- Bilingualism and multilingualism is encouraged by the conditions of business expansion and movement of people to other countries where people learn other languages to free themselves from an unfavorable social system.
- Multilingualism is being able to speak more than two languages fluently while on the other hand bilingual people are those who speak only two languages.
- Multilingual people also experience a problem of interlanguage which is a situation where parts of language of the native language overlap those of the second language.
- Rudaitytė, in his book titled Inter-cultural Translation as Interpretation and Communication, claims that in order to understand how to move between languages it is important to identify with translation and interpretation.
- In the journal article titled What Is Translation by Schulte (2012), he defined translation as the process of producing a written text that pertains to something said or written in another language. On the other hand, interpretation pertains to the process of verbally expressing what is said or written in another language (Martin and Nakayama, 2012).
- Interlanguage pertains to a type of communication that emerges when speakers of one language are speaking in another language (Martin and Nakayama, 2012). The native language’s syntactics, pragmatics, semantics, and phonetics extend beyond the second language and form a third way of communicating.
Point 5: When considering why people speak other languages other than their native language, the correlation between language and culture becomes more complex.
- The interconnections between language and cultural identity are very strong. For example, many people would assume that people who look Asian or are of Asian origin should be able to speak Chinese.
- With some languages from indigenous communities facing extinction, the loss of their language poses a great threat and their culture and identity also becoming extinct. Though, some people might think that those speaking such languages do so to create an intercultural communication barrier, it is necessary to understand language as a part of any culture’s identity.
- In the book titled The handbook of bilingualism and multilingualism by Bhatia and Ritchie (2012), the authors believe that with such challenge of extinction of some languages, most people have resulted to code switching.
- Despite the fact that it is a difficult process, a lot of communities have resulted to code switching so as to avoid accommodating other speakers, to communicate another feature of their cultural identity, and to accommodate others.
Point 6: In an event where a country has people who are multilingual, circumstance of language politicking as well as policing arises.
- Nations can approve laws acknowledging an official language, such as Irish in Ireland as or French in France (Martin and Nakayama, 2012). Other countries have several official languages. Language policies are established to ascertain which language should be spoken where and when (Martin and Nakayama, 2012).
- Language policies are caught up in politics with the state controlling the choice of language. For example, Wales instituted Welsh as a national language with the government aiming to protect the language.
- Other language policies are ruled by site. In Belgium, Dutch is the country’s official language. Flanders is the official language in the northern part of the country while French is the official language in Wallonia in the South.
- With the world becoming more globalized, people and ideas are able to move around the world more easily forcing extinction, development and spread of languages (Martin and Nakayama, 2012).
- The stability and spreading of a language depends on how much it is accepted by speakers with those with more recognized and accepted languages such as English having easier intercultural communication.
Bhatia, T. K., & Ritchie, W. C. (Eds.). (2012). The handbook of bilingualism and multilingualism. John Wiley & Sons.
Buck, R., & VanLear, C. (2002). Verbal and nonverbal communication: Distinguishing symbolic, spontaneous, and pseudo-spontaneous nonverbal behavior. Journal of Communication, 52(3), 522--541.
Martin, J. N., & Nakayama, T. K. (2012). Intercultural communication in contexts. New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
Perlovsky, L. (2009). Language and emotions: emotional Sapir--Whorf hypothesis. Neural Networks, 22(5), 518--526.
Rudaitytė, R. Inter-cultural Translation as Interpretation and Communication. Vertimo Studijos 3, 53.
Schulte, R. (2012). What Is Translation?. Translation Review, 83(1), 1-4.
Würtz, E. (2005). A cross-cultural analysis of websites from high-context cultures and low-context cultures. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11(1), article-13.