Unit 6 Culture and Nonverbal CommunicationReading I An Overview of Nonverbal CommunicationComprehension questions 1. Can you speak each of the following sentences in different ways to mean differently? 1) She is my best friend. 2) You‟ve done really good job. 3) Come here, please. 4) That‟s all right. Speaking the same sentence with the stress on different words may mean different things. For instance, if the stress falls on “she” in the first sentence, it means it is SHE, not you or somebody else, that is my best friend. But if the stress falls on “my”, it implies that she is MY, not your or somebody‟s best friend. 2. Speakers of British English use loudness only when they are angry, speakers of Indian English use it to get the floor, a chance to speak. So when an Indian speaker is trying to get the floor, what would the British speaker think of the Indian and what would the British behave in response? The British speaker may think that the Indian gets angry with him or behaves rudely towards him, so he may complain about the Indian„s rudeness or even return his rudeness as a response. 3. What differences in body language use have you noticed between your Chinese teachers and foreign teachers? There are really some differences between Chinese teachers and foreign teachers in their use of body language. For instance, Chinese teachers in general do not use gestures as much as foreign teachers do, and their facial expressions often seem to be less varied than those of many foreign teachers. 4. Do you know any gestures we often use that might be misunderstood by people from other cultures? For example, the way we Chinese motion to others to come over might be misunderstood by people from some Western countries to mean bye-bye. 5. How do we Chinese people use eye contact in communication? During a conversation between two Chinese, it seems that the speaker and the hearer would usually look at each other (not necessarily in the eye) from time to time. How much eye-contact there is may depend on the relationship between the speaker and hearer and the situation they find themselves in. 6. How will you eye them when you are communicating with people from the United States or people from Japan? While talking with Americans, we should look directly into the eyes of the person with whom we are talking. However; while talking with Japanese, we are not expected to look at them in the eye but at a position around the Adam„s apple.
7. Do you often smile at others? Why or why not? It depends. For instance, it seems that we Chinese, as well as people of other Eastern Asian countries, do not usually smile at strangers as much as Americans. 8. What function(s) may laughter serve in our culture? Does it sometimes cause intercultural misunderstanding? Laughter in our culture may serve various functions. Sometimes, it is used to express amusement or ridicule, and sometimes it is simply used to make one feel less embarrassed. 9. Do you often touch others while talking with them? Whom do you touch more than others? We Chinese generally do not often touch others while talking with them unless they are our intimate friends or younger children. 10. In small groups or in pairs, demonstrate all the possible ways you can think of to greet another person. Is touching always part of a greeting? No. Touching is not always part of a greeting in our culture as in some other cultures. 11. Will you apologize if you accidentally touch other people in public places? Why or why not? Many people will apologize if they accidentally touch other people in public places since in our culture people who are strangers to each other should not touch. However, whether people will apologize or not depends on the situations. If a person accidentally touches a stranger in a very crowded place, he or she may not apologize for it.Reading II Gender and Nonverbal CommunicationComprehension questions 1. What may often happen to those who do not conform to their culture‟s accepted gender “script”? There are often severe social penalties for those who act in violation of their culture„s accepted gender ―script. 2. Does touch have any connotation in different situations? Can you give some specific examples? Touch, like physical closeness, may be considered an expression of affection, support, or sexual attraction. For instance, in some cultures, it may be all right for women friends and relatives to walk arm-in-arm, dance together, and hug one another, but if men do so, they may be frowned upon, for it would be considered as having the connotation of being homosexual. 3. What will possibly happen to a woman who is appreciably taller than the man? Taller women may attempt to diminish themselves, to slouch and round their shoulders so as to retreat or to occupy as little space as possible. 4. Are men and women required to have the same facial expressions? Does smile mean the same things to both men and women?
Men and women are not usually required to have the same facial expressions. Smile may mean different things to men and women. For females smile functions as an expression of pleasure, pleasantness, or a desire for approval, while males may resist any nonverbal display of expression to others in order to appear more masculine, because being facially expressive is often seen as a marker of ―femininity. 5. Why are the African-American women less deferential than white women and less inclined to smile? African-American women are found to be less deferential than white women and, therefore, less inclined to smile, simply because it is expected of them to be so in their culture. 6. In what ways may direct eye contact between individuals be interpreted? Looking directly into another person„s eyes can connote an aggressive threat, a sexual invitation, or a desire for honest and open communication. 7. What was found in a study of nonverbal communication among Hispanic couples? In a study of nonverbal communication among Hispanic couples, it was found that many Puerto Rican wives never looked directly at their husbands. 8. How does clothing manifest and promote cultural definitions of masculinity and femininity? Through clothing and make-up, the body is more or less marked, constituted as an appropriate, or, as the case may be, inappropriate body for its cultural requirements. Males and females have to dress themselves appropriately according to their cultural definitions of masculinity and femininity.Case StudyCase 21 Sometimes our best intentions can lead to breakdowns ( 故 障 ) in cross-cultural communication. For example, one of the very common manners of touching --handshaking --- may result in conflict when performed with no consideration of cultural differences. Among middle-class North American men, it is customary to shake hands as a gesture of friendship. When wanting to communicate extra friendliness, a male in the United States may, while shaking hands, grasp with his left hand his friend‟s right arm. However, to people of Middle Eastern countries, the left hand is profane (亵渎的) and touching someone with it is highly offensive. Therefore, in Vernon‟s eyes, Kenneth was actually an extremely offensive message to him. Case 22 In Puerto Rican culture, as in some other Latin American and Eastern cultures, it is not right for a child to keep an eye-contact with an adult who is accusing him or her, while in the United States, failing of meeting other person‟s eye accusing him or her would be taken as a sign of guiltiness. As the principal knew little about this cultural difference in using eye-contact, he decided that the girl must be guilty. Generally speaking, avoiding eye-contact with the other(s) is often considered as an insult in some cultures, but may signify respect for authority and obedience in other cultures. Case 23 Just like smile, laughing does not always serve the same function in different cultures.
Interestingly, for us Chinese, laughing often has a special function on some tense social occasions. People may laugh to release the tension or embarrassment, to express their concern about you, their intention to put you at ease or to help you come out of the embarrassment. In this case, the people there were actually wishing to laugh with the American rather than laugh at her. Their laughing seemed to convey a number of messages: don‟t take it so seriously; laugh it off, it‟s nothing; such things can happen to any of us, etc. Unfortunately the American was unaware of this. She thought they were laughing at her, which made her feel more badly and angry, for in her culture laughing on such an occasion would be interpreted as an insulting response, humiliating and negative. Case 24 It is obvious that there exists some difference between the British and Germans in their use of touch. The lack of touch that seems to be natural in Britain may be considered strange by Germans. What is required (in this case, shaking hands with each other) in one country could be taken as unnecessary in another. The appropriateness of contact between people varies from country to country. Figures from a study offer some interesting insight into this matter. Pairs of individuals sitting and chatting in college shops in different countries were observed for at least one hour each. The number of times that either one touched the other in that one hour was recorded, as follows: in London, 0; in Florida, 2; in Paris, 10; in Puerto Rico, 180. These figures indicate that touch is used very differently in different cultures.