Unit 1Communication Across CulturesReading IIntercultural Communication：An IntroductionComprehension questions1. Is it still often the case that “everyone‟s quick to blame the alien” in the contemporary world? This is still powerful in today„s social and political rhetoric. For instance, it is not uncommon in today„s society to hear people say that most, if not all, of the social and economic problems are caused by minorities and immigrants. 2. What‟s the difference between today‟s intercultural contact and that of any time in the past? Today„s intercultural encounters are far more numerous and of greater importance than in any time in history. 3. What have made intercultural contact a very common phenomenon in our life today? New technology, in the form of transportation and communication systems, has accelerated intercultural contact; innovative communication systems have encouraged and facilitated cultural interaction; globalization of the economy has brought people together; changes in immigration patterns have also contributed to intercultural encounter. 4. How do you understand the sentence “culture is everything and everywhere”? Culture supplies us with the answers to questions about what the world looks like and how we live and communicate within that world. Culture teaches us how to behave in our life from the instant of birth. It is omnipresent. 5. What are the major elements that directly influence our perception and communication? The three major socio-cultural elements that directly influence perception and communication are cultural values, worldview (religion), and social organizations (family and state). 6. What does one‟s family teach him or her while he or she grows up in it? The family teaches the child what the world looks like and his or her place in that world. 7. Why is it impossible to separate our use of language from our culture? Because language is not only a form of preserving culture but also a means of sharing culture. Language is an organized, generally agreed-upon, learned symbol system that is used to represent the experiences within a cultural community. 8. What are the nonverbal behaviors that people can attach meaning to? People can attach meaning to nonverbal behaviors such as gestures, postures, facial expressions, eye contact and gaze, touch, etc. 9. How can a free, culturally diverse society exist? A free, culturally diverse society can exist only if diversity is permitted to flourish without prejudice and discrimination, both of which harm all members of the society.Reading IIThe Challenge of GlobalizationComprehension questions1. Why does the author say that our understanding of the world has changed? Many things, such as political changes and technological advances, have changed the world very rapidly. In the past most human beings were born, lived, and died within a limited geographical area, never encountering people of other cultural backgrounds. Such an existence, however, no longer prevails in the world. Thus, all people are faced with the challenge of understanding this changed and still fast changing world in which we live.
2. What a “global village” is like? As our world shrinks and its inhabitants become interdependent, people from remote cultures increasingly come into contact on a daily basis. In a ―global village‖, members of once isolated groups of people have to communicate with members of other cultural groups. Those people may live thousands of miles away or right next door to each other. 3. What is considered as the major driving force of the post-1945 globalization? Technology, particularly telecommunications and computers are considered to be the major driving force. 4. What does the author mean by saying that “the „global ‟ may be more local than the „local‟”? The increasing global mobility of people and the impact of new electronic media on human communications make the world seem smaller. We may communicate more with people of other countries than with our neighbors, and we may be more informed of the international events than of the local events. In this sense, “the‘ global’may be more local than the ‘local’” 5. Why is it important for businesspeople to know diverse cultures in the world? Effective communication may be the most important competitive advantage that firms have to meet diverse customer needs on a global basis. Succeeding in the global market today requires the ability to communicate sensitively with people from other cultures, a sensitivity that is based on an understanding of cross-cultural differences. 6. What are the serious problems that countries throughout the world are confronted with? Countries throughout the world are confronted with serious problems such as volatile international economy, shrinking resources, mounting environmental contamination, and epidemics that know no boundaries. 7. What implications can we draw from the case of Michael Fay? This case shows that in a world of international interdependence, the ability to understand and communicate effectively with people from other cultures takes on extreme urgency. If we are unaware of the significant role culture plays in communication, we may place the blame for communication failure on people of other cultures. 8. What attitudes are favored by the author towards globalization? Globalization, for better or for worse, has changed the world greatly. Whether we like it or not, globalization is all but unstoppable. It is already here to stay. It is both a fact and an opportunity. The challenges are not insurmountable. Solutions exist, and are waiting to be identified and implemented. From a globalistic point of view, there is hope and faith in humanity.Case StudyCase 1In this case, there seemed to be problems in communicating with people of different cultures in spite of the efforts made to achieve understanding. We should know that in Egypt as in many cultures, the human relationship is valued so highly that it is not expressed in an objective and impersonal way. While Americans certainly value human relationships, they are more likely to speak of them in less personal, more objective terms. In this case, Richard„s mistake might be that he chose to praise the food itself rather than the total evening, for which the food was simply the setting or excuse. For his host and hostess it was as if he had attended an art exhibit and complimented the artist by saying, What beautiful frames your pictures are in. In Japan the situation may be more complicated. Japanese people value order and harmony among persons in a group, and that the organization itself －be it a family or a vast corporation－is more valued than the characteristics of any particular member. In contrast, Americans stress individuality as a value and are apt to assert individual differences when they seem justifiably in conflict with the goals or values of the group. In this case: Richard„s mistake was in making great efforts to defend himself. Let the others assume that the errors were not intentional, but it is not right to defend yourself, even when your unstated intent is to assist the group by warning others of similar mistakes. A simple apology and acceptance of the blame would have been appropriate. But for poor Richard to have merely apologized would have seemed to him to be subservient, unmanly. When it comes to England, we expect fewer problems between Americans and Englishmen
than between Americans and almost any other group. In this case we might look beyond the gesture of taking sugar or cream to the values expressed in this gesture: for Americans, ―Help yourself; for the English counterpart, ―Be my guest. American and English people equally enjoy entertaining and being entertained but they differ somewhat in the value of the distinction. Typically, the ideal guest at an American party is one who ―makes himself at home, even to the point of answering the door or fixing his own drink. For persons in many other societies, including at least this hypothetical English host, such guest behavior is presumptuous or rude.Case 2A common cultural misunderstanding in classes involves conflicts between what is said to be direct communication style and indirect communication style. In American culture, people tend to say what is on their minds and to mean what they say. Therefore, students in class are expected to ask questions when they need clarification. Mexican culture shares this preference of style with American culture in some situations, and that„s why the students from Mexico readily adopted the techniques of asking questions in class. However, Korean people generally prefer indirect communication style, and therefore they tend to not say what is on their minds and to rely more on implications and inference, so as to be polite and respectful and avoid losing face through any improper verbal behavior. As is mentioned in the case, to many Koreans, numerous questions would show a disrespect for the teacher, and would also reflect that the student has not studied hard enough.Case 3The conflict here is a difference in cultural values and beliefs. In the beginning, Mary didn„t realize that her Dominican sister saw her as a member of the family, literally. In the Dominican view, family possessions are shared by everyone of the family. Luz was acting as most Dominican sisters would do in borrowing without asking every time. Once Mary understood that there was a different way of looking at this, she would become more accepting. However, she might still experience the same frustration when this happened again. She had to find ways to cope with her own emotional cultural reaction as well as her practical problem (the batteries running out).Case 4It might be simply a question of different rhythms. Americans have one rhythm in their personal and family relations, in their friendliness and their charities. People from other cultures have different rhythms. The American rhythm is fast. It is characterized by a rapid acceptance of others. However, it is seldom that Americans engage themselves entirely in a friendship. Their friendships are warm, but casual, and specialized. For example, you have a neighbor who drops by in the morning for coffee. You see her frequently, but you never invite her for dinner --- not because you don„t think she could handle a fork and a knife, but because you have seen her that morning. Therefore, you reserve your more formal invitation to dinner for someone who lives in a more distant part of the city and whom you would not see unless you extended an invitation for a special occasion. Now, if the first friend moves away and the second one moves nearby, you are likely to reverse this --- see the second friend in the mornings for informal coffee meetings, and the first one you will invite more formally to dinner. Americans are, in other words, guided very often by their own convenience. They tend to make friends easily, and they don„t feel it necessary to go to a great amount of trouble to see friends often when it becomes inconvenient to do so, and usually no one is hurt. But in similar circumstances people from many other cultures would be hurt very deeply.Unit 2Culture and CommunicationReading IWhat Is CultureComprehension questions1. Which of the definitions given above do you prefer? Why? Some may prefer a short definition, such as the one given by E. Sapir or R. Benedict, for it is highly generalized and easy to remember. Some may prefer a longer one, such as Edward T. Hall„s definition of culture, because it provides us with a more comprehensive understanding of culture and points out the all-pervasive impact of culture on human life in different dimensions.
2．What have you learned from those definitions about culture? Many things can be learned from those definitions, for each definition, though not without its limitations, tells us something very important about culture or certain aspect(s) of culture. 3. Do you agree that our lower needs always have to be satisfied before we can try to satisfy the higher needs? Even though this is generally the case, there will still be some exceptions. Sometimes people might prefer to satisfy higher needs, for instance, esteem needs, before their lower needs, such as certain physiological needs or safety needs are satisfied. 4. What examples can you give about how people of different cultures achieve the same ends by taking different roads? For example, everyone has to eat in order to live and this is universally true. However, to satisfy this basic need, people of various cultures may do it in very different ways: what to eat and how to eat it vary from culture to culture. 5. What behaviors of ours are born with and what are learned in the cultural environment? Instinctive behaviors are behaviors that we are born with and ways of doing things in daily life, such as ways of eating, drinking, dressing, finding shelter, making friends, marrying, and dealing with death are learned in the cultural environment. 6. What other cultural differences do you know in the way people do things in their everyday life? We can also find cultural differences in ways of bringing up children, treating the elderly, greeting each other, saving and spending money, and many other things people do in everyday life. 7. In what ways are the Chinese eating habits different from those of the English-speaking countries? We Chinese may enjoy something that is not usually considered as edible by the English-speaking people. Generally we prefer to have things hot and lay much emphasis on tastes. We tend to share things with each other when we are eating with others.Reading IIElements of CommunicationComprehension questions1. What are the aspects of context mentioned above? One aspect of context is the physical setting, including location, time, light, temperature, distance between communicators, and any seating arrangements. A second aspect of context is historical. A third aspect of context is psychological. A fourth aspect of context is culture. 2. In what ways would your posture, manner of speaking or attire change if you move from one physical setting to another, for example, from your home to a park, to a classroom, to a restaurant, to a funeral house, etc? One„s posture, manner of speaking or attire change from being casual to formal gradually from home to a park, to a classroom, to a restaurant, to a funeral house, etc, according to different formalness and seriousness of these situations. 3. How do people acquire communication norms in their life? People acquire communication norms from their experiences in life. 4. What examples can you give to describe some Chinese norms in our everyday communication? For example, it seems to be a norm in China to address one„s boss by his or her title and never to express one„s disapproval directly to him or her. 5. How can we play both the roles of sender and receiver in communication? As senders, we form messages and attempt to communicate them to others through verbal and nonverbal symbols. As receivers, we process the messages sent to us and react to them both verbally and nonverbally.6. Does the sender plays a more important role than the receiver in communication? No, they are equally important for both of them are essential in the process of communication.
7. In what ways do the differences between participants make communication more or less difficult? Three especially important variables affecting participants which are relationship, gender, and culture make communication more or less difficult. 8. What is a symbol and what is a meaning? The pure ideas and feelings that exist in a person„s mind represent meanings. The words, sounds, and actions that communicate meaning are known as symbols because they stand for the meanings intended by the person using them. 9. How can meanings be transferred from one person to another? What problems may arise in this process? A message from one person is encoded into symbols and then decoded into ideas and feelings to another person. In this process of transforming include nonverbal cues, which significantly affect the meaning created between the participants in a communication transaction. 10. When are unintended or conflicted meanings likely to be created? Unintended meanings are created when the decoding person receives a meaning unrelated to what the encoder thought he or she was communicating. Conflicting meanings are created when the verbal symbols are contradicted by the nonverbal cues. 11. Which channels do you usually prefer in communication? Why? Of the five channels, some may prefer sight. As the old saying goes, words are but wind, but seeing is believing. 12. What examples can you find to show that one channel is more effective than others for transmitting certain messages? For example, when asking a lady for a date, a young man may wear an immaculate suit and spray some perfume to show that he highly values this date with her. In this case, sight and smell are definitely more effective than words for conveying that particular message. 13. What are the things that can create noises in the process of communication? Sights, sounds, and other stimuli in the environment that draw people„s attention away from intended meaning are known as external noise. Thoughts and feelings that interfere with the communication process are known as internal noise. Unintended meanings aroused by certain verbal symbols can inhibit the accuracy of decoding. This is known as semantic noise. 14. What should we do to reduce the interference of noise in communication? When communicating with others, we should pay undivided attention to communication itself, avoiding being distracted by any external or internal noise. Besides, we should make sure that what we say is correctly understood by others and vice versa to prevent semantic noise from generating. 15. Why is feedback a very important element of communication? Feedback is very important because it serves useful functions for both senders and receivers: it provides senders with the opportunity to measure how they are coming across, and it provides receivers with the opportunity to exert some influence over the communication process. 16. What will you usually do when you receive negative feedback in communication? Open.Case StudyCase 5In China, it is often not polite to accept a first offer and Heping was being modest, polite and well-behaved and had every intention of accepting the beer at the second or third offer. But he had not figured on North American rules which firmly say that you do not push alcoholic beverages on anyone. A person may not drink for religious reasons, he may be a reformed alcoholic, or he may be allergic. Whatever the reason behind the rule, you do not insist in offering alcohol. So unconscious and so strong are their cultural rules that the Americans equally politely never made a second offer of beer to Heping who probably thought North Americans most uncouth.
However, what we have to remember is that cultures are seldom a strict either-or in every instance for all people and there are always individual differences. Probably this young Chinese nurse was very different from Heping or, unlike Heping, she may have known something about the American cultural rules and was just trying to behave like an American when she was in an American family.Case 6When a speaker says something to a hearer, there are at least three kinds of meanings involved: utterance meaning, speaker„s meaning and hearer„s meaning. In the dialogue, when Litz said ‗How long is she going to stay?„ she meant to say that if she knew ho w long her mother-in-law was going to stay in Finland, she would be able to make proper arrangements for her, such as taking her out to do some sightseeing. However, her mother-in-law overheard the conversation, and took Litz„s question to mean ―Litz does not want me to stay for long‖. From the Chinese point of view, it seems to be inappropriate for Litz to ask such a question just two days after her mother-in-law„s arrival. If she feels she has to ask the question, it would be better to ask some time later and she should not let her mother-in-law hear it.Case 7Keiko insists on giving valuable gifts to her college friends, because in countries like Japan, exchanging gifts is a strongly rooted social tradition. Should you receive a gift, and don„t have one to offer in return, you will probably create a crisis. If not as serious as a crisis, one who doesn„t offer a gift in return may be considered rude or impolite. Therefore, in Japan, gifts are a symbolic way to show appreciation, respect, gratitude and further relationship. Keiko obviously has taken those used items from Mary, Ed and Marion as gifts, for she probably doesn„t know that Americans frequently donate their used household items to church or to the community. Mary, Ed and Marion would never consider those used household items given to Keiko as gifts. No wonder they felt very uncomfortable when they received valuable gifts in return.Case 8As the Chinese girl Amy fell in love with an American boy at that time, it seems that she preferred to celebrate Christmas in the American way, for she wanted very much to appear the same as other American girl. She did not like to see her boyfriend feel disappointed at the ―shabby‖ Chinese Christmas. That„s why she cried when she found out her parents had invited the minister„s family over for the Christmas Eve dinner. She thought the menu for the Christmas meal created by her mother a strange one because there were no roast turkey and sweet potatoes but only Chinese food. How could she notice then the foods chosen by her mother were all her favorites? From this case, we can find a lot of differences between the Chinese and Western cultures in what is appropriate food for a banquet, what are good table manners, and how one should behave to be hospitable. However, one should never feel shameful just because one„s culture is different from others„. As Amy„s mother told her, you must be proud to be different, and your only shame is to have shame.Unit 3Cultural DiversityReading IDifferent Lands, Different FriendshipsComprehension questions1. Why is it comparatively easy to make friends in the United States? Because few Americans stay put for a lifetime. With each move, forming new friendship becomes a necessity and part of their new life. 2. Do people from different countries usually have different expectations about what constitutes friendship and how it comes into being? Yes. The difficulty when strangers from two countries meet is their different expectations about what constitutes friendship and how it comes into being. 3. How is friendship in America different from friendship in West Europe? In West Europe, friendship is quite sharply distinguished from other, more casual relationships,
is usually more particularized and carries a heavier burden of commitment, while in America the word ―friend‖ can be applied to a wide range of relationship and a friendship may be superficial, casual, situational or deep and enduring. 4. In what country does friendship have much to do with one ‟s family? And in what country does it not? In Germany, friendship has much to do with one„s family as friends are usually brought into the family, while in France it doesn„t as, for instance, two men may have been friends for a long time without knowing each other„s personal life. 5. What is friendship like when it is compartmentalized? For instance, a man may play chess with a friend for thirty years without knowing his political opinions, or he may talk politics with him for as long a time without knowing about his personal life. Different friends fill different niches in each person„s life. 6. What are friendships usually based on in England? English friendships are based on shared activity. Activities at different stages of life may be of very different kinds. In the midst of the activity, whatever it may be, people fall into steps and find that they participate in the activity with the same easy anticipation of what each will do day by day or in some critical situation. 7. Do you think friendship shares some common elements in different cultures? If you do, what are they? Yes. There is the recognition that friendship, in contrast with kinship, invokes freedom of choice. A friend is someone who chooses and is chosen. Related to this is the sense each friend gives the other of being a special individual, on whatever grounds this recognition is based. And between friends there is inevitably a kind of equality of give-and-take. 8. What do you think is the typical Chinese concept of friendship? Is it similar to or different from any of the Western friendships? It seems that the typical Chinese concept of friendship lays great emphasis on personal loyalty and also has much to do with family. It may be similar to Germany friendship to some extent and quite different from other Western friendships.Reading IIComparing and Contrasting CulturesComprehension questions1. How is the mainstream American culture different from the Japanese culture? Americans believe that human nature is basically good and man is the master of nature. They are future-oriented and ―being‖-oriented. Their social orientation is toward the importance of the individual and the equality of all people. However, the Japanese believe that human nature is a mixture of good and evil. Man is in harmony with nature. They are both past-oriented and future-oriented. And they are both “growing-”and “doing-”oriented. They give emphasis to authorities and the group. 2. Can you find examples to support the author‟s view of traditional cultures in different value orientations? For example, the traditional Indian culture believes that man is subjugated by nature and it is being-oriented (which can be exemplified by its caste system). Also, traditional Chinese culture is past-oriented, for emphasis has long been given to learning from the old and past. 3. Why do Americans tend to equate “change” with “improvement” and regard rapid change as normal? Concerning orientation toward time, Americans are dominated by a belief in progress. They are future-oriented. They believe that ―time is money‖ and have an optimistic faith in the future and what the future will bring. So they tend to equate ―change‖ with ―improvement‖ and consider a rapid rate of change as normal. 4. What does “Electric Englishman” mean when it is used to describe the American? As for activity, Americans are so action-oriented that they tend to be hyperactive. That„s why
that they have been described as ―Electric Englishmen‖, who always keep themselves busy. 5. How would you explain the fact that contradictory values may exist in the same culture? As time changes faster and faster and there is more contact between cultures, it is more likely to find contradictory values existing in the same culture. This is especially the case in a society that is being transformed from a traditional one into a modern one. For example, in the Japanese culture, some people may still be very past-oriented and some are rather future-oriented, and even the same people may be sometimes past-oriented in certain situations and sometime future-oriented in other situations. 6. What can we get from models of this kind about cultural differences? Models of this kind are quite useful in giving rough pictures of striking contrasts and differences of different cultures. However, such a model only compares cultures on some basic orientations. It does not tell us everything about every conceivable culture. We have to recognize that models of this kind are over-simplifications and can only give approximations of reality. 7. Do cultural values change as time changes? Yes, the values may be in the process of marked change due to rapid modernization and globalization. However, they have a way of persisting in spite of change. The evolution of values is a slow process, since they are rooted in survival needs and passed on from generation to generation. 8. How is communication influenced by differing cultural values? Putting people from one culture into another culture with radically different value orientations could cause stress, disorientation, and breakdowns in communication.Case StudyCase 9Hierarchy is significant in the Japanese culture. This structure is reflected everywhere in Japanese life, at home, school, community, organizations, and traditional institutions such as martial arts or flower arrangements. In this case, the young chairman must have had his own ideas about how to manage the company; however, when encountered with his grandfather„s dissenting opinions, he dared not to take a stand against him. This may manifest the rigid hierarchical structure in the Japanese society. In the Japanese society, how hierarchy is formed depends mainly on seniority, social roles, and gender. As a respectable senior member of the family and the former leader of the company, the grandfather obviously overpowered the inexperienced young chairman. In other words, the grandfather seemed to be an absolute authority for the young chairman. In Japanese culture, challenging or disagreeing with elders„ opinions would be deemed as being disrespectful and is often condemned. People in lower positions are expected to be loyal and obedient to authority. That„s why the young chairman didn„t say anything but just nodded and agreed with his grandfather. But Phil seemed to know little about the Japanese culture in this aspect. In many Western cultures, particularly American culture, seniority seldom matters very much in such situations, and young people are usually encouraged to challenge authority and voice their own opinions. Unfortunately, his outspoken protest could easily offend the grandfather and he might be regarded as a rude and ill-bred person by other Japanese.Case 10In Japan, a company is often very much like a big family, in which the manger(s) will take good care of the employees and the employees are expected to devote themselves to the development of the company and, if it is necessary, to sacrifice their own individual interests for the interests of the company, from which, in the long run, the employees will benefit greatly. But for the French, a company is just a loosely- knit social organization wherein individuals are supposed to take care of themselves and their families. Moreover, the way the French make decisions in the family might also be different from the typical Japanese one, which may not often involve females and the power to decide usually lies with the dominating male. As there are such cultural differences between the Japanese and the French, Mr. Legrand„s decision made Mr. Tanaka feel dumbfounded.Case 11
Incidents such as these can point to possible cultural differences in so-called ―polite‖ behavior, and at the same time highlight the tendency for people to react emotionally to unexpected behavior. People in most cultures would probably agree that an apology is needed when an offence or violation of social norms has taken place. However, there may be differing opinions as to when we should apologize (what situations call for an apology) and how we should apologize. To many Westerners, Japanese apologize more frequently and an apology in Japanese does not necessarily mean that the person is acknowledging a fault. To many Japanese, Westerners may seem to be rude just because they do not apologize as often as the Japanese would do. In this case, for instance, the attitude of the Australian student„s parents is shocking to the Japanese but will be acceptable in an English-speaking society, for the student is already an adult and can be responsible for her own deeds.Case 12In this case, it seems that the Chinese expectations were not fulfilled. First, having two people sharing host responsibilities could be somewhat confusing to the hierarchically minded Chinese. Second, because age is often viewed as an indication of seniority, the Chinese might have considered the youth of their Canadian hosts as slight to their own status. Third, in China, it is traditional for the host to offer a welcome toast at the beginning of the meal, which is the reciprocated by the guests; by not doing so, the Canadian might be thought rude. The abrupt departure of the Chinese following the banquet was probably an indication that they were not pleased with the way they were treated. The Canadians„ lack of understanding of the Chinese culture and the Chinese ways of communication clearly cost them in their business dealings with the visiting delegation.Unit 4Language and CultureReading IHow Is Language Related to CultureComprehension questions1. What can we do to avoid attributing a very different meaning to the phrase or interpret it much more literally? We have to be aware of the cultural implications of the phrase. 2. What are the other functions of using question forms apart from asking for information? It serves as a lubricant to move the conversation forward. A question that has this function can be called a ―social question. 3. Why are those Germans getting stiffer and more reserved all the time when visiting Ingrid Zerbe? They are confused about how to address her, for she introduces herself by first and last name rather than by last name and professional title. 4. How does the environment influence the use of language? Language reflects the environment in which we live. We use language to label the things that are around us. 5. Does the author think there are exact equivalents in dictionaries that have the same meanings in different cultures? No. According to the author, there are no such equivalents between languages; therefore, to communicate concepts effectively, cultural knowledge is as important as linguistic knowledge. 6. How does the language change over time? Words and phrases that are used commonly at one time may be discontinued or their meaning may change over time. 7. Does the author think it is possible for countries such as France and Iceland to keep their language pure by implementing language policy to ensure the use of standardized language? The author does not think so, because, for instance, the Academie Francaise may insist on certain rules, but other French-speaking groups may make their own rules and consider their Frenchjust as correct. 8. What are the possible language barriers in classroom teaching? In some cases the professors actually may have a poor command of the language; however, in
most cases the problem is not the language but different intonation patterns and different cultural signals. .Reading IILanguage-and-Culture, Two Sides of the Same CoinComprehension questions1. What is the author‟s view of the relationship between language and culture? Language and culture are clearly fused; one reflects the other. 2. In which ways does language reflect the culture? Language embodies the products, perspectives, communities, and persons of a culture. Members of the culture have created the language to carry out all their cultural practices, to identify and organize all their cultural products, and to name the underlying cultural perspectives in all the various communities that comprise their culture. 3. How can we use the right language in the right way according to the author? It is based on direct experience in the culture and interactions with members of the culture, in all the complexity this entails. 4. Is there any cultural product that consists entirely of language? Can you give an example? Many cultural products, such as literature, tax codes, telephone directories, operating instructions, passports, consist entirely of language. Another example is folklores. 5. What is the meaning of “language is a cultural product in and of itself”? When spoken and written, language takes on tangible and perceptible forms. These tangible forms, as with any cultural product, can be described through language. We constantly use language to discuss language itself. 6. Can you give an example of how words lead to cultural perspectives? For example, as we have already learned, the kinship terms specifically used in Chinese lead to a cultural perspective that is different from that of the English-speaking people in this aspect. 7. What did the Chinese teacher find from her in-depth study of “the bumper sticker”? The perspectives are indeed embodied in words, phrases, and sentences, but they are not always immediately obvious, especially to outsiders. 8. Are there any particular norms made by different communities for their language use? Yes, there are. Communities define norms for appropriate use of language. Within groups, roles, relationships, and other social factors influence who speaks, what they say, and how they say it. The language forms we use in one set of social circumstances with certain communities are not necessarily the ones we use in others.Case StudyCase 13This example vividly illustrates that failures in intercultural translation may probably lead to very serious consequence, or even disasters to human beings. Definitely, translation is not such a simple process as rendering a word, a sentence or a text literally, but rather a far more complex one than most people assumed. For example, once a Chinese cosmetic manufacturer wanted to promote their products into the international market. The slogan of the advertisement was: ―sweet as Jade‖, since in Chinese ―jade‖ was always employed to compliment woman„s beauty; but unfortunately, it was not an appropriate word to describe the beauty of a lady in Western cultures. In English, ―jade ‖ in its use of referring a woman had the connotations such as vulgar, rude, immoral, or skittish. Undoubtedly, the sales in European countries were not satisfying. The seeming equivalents between languages may have very different connotations in different cultures, thus the translator should be cautious in the process of doing the translation so as to avoid misunderstandings.Case 14“杨” refers to Yang Kaihui w h o w a s Mao Zedong„s deceased wife and ― 柳‖ refers to Liu
zhixun who was Li shuyi„s deceased husband. They can be translated in different ways, but it seems to be very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve equivalence in translating from Chinese into English. Adopting the literal translation strategy, version 1 appears to be faithful to the original but may easily confuse the readers in the target language. Version 2 employs the liberal translation strategy with an attempt to convey the original meaning as precisely as possible. However, the original poetic flavor is lost as the rhetoric device — pun — is not reproduced.Case 15The translation seems to be faithful to the original, but it may not be really good for the purpose of intercultural communication. Foreign readers of the translation may find it strange and inappropriate. The following is what a friendly American journalist has commented on the translation: My first reaction was unfortunately laughter because it is so full of mistakes. It omits some necessary information about the Dragon-Boat Festival, including its historical origins and when it actually takes place. These things are important… The copy seems to try to ―snow‖ the reader with fanciful, overblown assertions about how terrific it all is, but in unintentionally hilarious language that leaves the reader laughing out uninformed… The brochure also suffers from lack of background material, the taking-if-for-granted that the reader already is familiar with many aspects of Chinese history and culture„ It doesn„t tell you where to go, how to get there, when things are open and closed, how much they cost, and so forth. All these are things people visiting an area want to know. Why is it that many Chinese travel guides read basically the same, no matter what region is being written about, and are so packed with indiscriminate hyperbole? Less exaggeration would actually be more convincing.Case 16Comparing the two English versions, we can see that in Yang„s version more culturally-loaded meanings are conveyed from the original while Hawkes„ version may be easier for English -speaking readers to comprehend. Look at some of the differences between the two versions of this extract: 贾母The Lady Dowager / Grandmother Jia 老祖宗 Old Ancestress / Granny dear 凤辣子 Fiery Phoenix / Peppercorn Feng 二舅母王氏 Lady Wang, her second uncle„s wife / her Uncle Zheng„s wife, Lady Wang 学名叫做王熙凤 the school-room name His-feng / the somewhat boyish-sounding name of Wang Xi-feng 黛玉忙赔笑见礼，以“嫂”呼之 Tai-yu lost no time in greeting her with a smile as ―cousin. ‖/ Dai-yu accordingly smiled and curt-eyed, greeting her by her correct name as she did so. 竟不象老祖宗的外孙女儿 She doesn„t take after her father, son-in-law of our Old Ancestress / She doesn„t take after your side of the family, Ganny. 怨不得老祖宗天天嘴里心里放不下 No wonder our Old Ancestress couldn„t put you out of her mind and was for ever talking and thinking about you. / I don„t blame you for having gone on so about her during the past few days 现吃什么药？ What medicine are you taking? / Not translated And there are some culturally-loaded expressions in the text that seem to defy translation: 琏二嫂子 内侄女 以“嫂”呼之 外孙女儿 嫡亲的孙女儿 妹妹 By comparing different translations of the same text, we can achieve a better understanding of cultural gaps and differences and then learn to employ proper strategies to bridge those gaps in translating across languages for intercultural communication.Unit 5
Culture and Verbal CommunicationReading IUnderstanding the Culture of ConversationComprehension questions1. What made the author feel learning to converse in Mexico City was easier for him/her in one way, more difficult in another? It's easier because Mexicans service the relationship and they care about everyone in the conversation. But their conversation doesn„t move in a straight line, drifting around both in t he topic and in the way they use words. 2. Why did the Mexican customer slide into the topic of the full eclipse of the sun? For the Mexican, the conversation starts with one topic, but if another interesting topic seeps in he or she will ride it around for a while. Sticking to the first topic is less important than having an interesting conversation. 3. What did the American businessman feel about the Mexican ‟s way of conversation? For the American, a conversation should have a topic, and he wants to take a straight line through it from beginning to end. So he felt very impatient about the Mexican„s way of conversation. 4. What “conversational ideal” was represented by the example of a championship skier who was interviewed on TV? The Swedish conversational ideal is to response in a concise manner without elaborating specific details, especially those for self-promotion. . 5. What problems are likely to occur if an American talks with a Swede? The American may feel totally lost in the conversation since he or she would not get as much information from the Swede as he or she has expected. 6. What are the differences between Anglos and Athabaskans in conversation? There are a lot differences between them. For instance, at the beginning of a conversation, Anglos almost always speak first. Athabaskans think it is important to know what the social relationship is before they talk with someone. There is another difference in how long one should talk. Athabaskans tend to have longer turns when they talk with each other, but Anglos expect shorter turns. 7. Is it enough just to learn to speak in grammatically correct manners when one learns a foreign language? What else does he or she also need to know? It is far from enough just to learn to speak in grammatically correct manners when one learns a foreign language. One also has to know about the culture of using the language in social life, things like who talks first, who talks next, who opens and closes conversations and how they do it, in order to be able to use the language in culturally appropriate manners. 8. In what ways are Chinese similar to or different from the Americans, Mexicans and Swedes ? It seems that we Chinese are somewhat similar to Mexicans in the way we are having a conversation. Unlike Americans, we do not usually move in a straight line in a conversation and may also care much about the other„s feeling.Reading IIThe Way People SpeakComprehension questions1. Why didn‟t the American openly disagree with the Italian? In general, the American did not enjoy verbal conflicts over politics or anything else. 2. What are the differences between “high involvement” style and “high considerateness” style? Many people from cultures that prefer ―high involvement styles tend to: (1) talk more; (2) interrupt more; (3) expect to be interrupted; (4) talk more loudly at times; and (5) talk more quickly than those from cultures favoring ―high considerateness styles. On the other hand, people from cultures that favor ―high considerateness styles tend to: (1) speak one at a time; (2) use polite listening sounds; (3) refrain from interrupting; and (4) give plenty of positive and respectful
responses to their conversation partners. 3. How do New Yorkers and Californians perceive each other because of their differences in conversational style? To some New Yorkers, Californians seem slower, less intelligent, and not as responsive. To some Californians, New Yorkers seem pushy and domineering. 4. What does the author think is the reasonable way to react to cultural differences? We should know that the way the other speaks may be different from our way of speaking because he or she must have had a different cultural upbringing. We shouldn„t judge the other according to our own standards of what is an acceptable communication style. 5. How to determine whether a culture favors a direct or indirect style in communication? One way to determine whether a culture favors a direct or indirect style in communication is to find out how the people in that culture express disagreement or how they say, ―No. 6. On what occasions do American women tend to be more direct than men? When talking about emotional issues and feelings, American women tend to be more direct than men. 7. What are the goals of indirect communication? Indirect communication aims not to be angering, embarrassing, or shaming another person. Instead, it aims to be saving face and maintaining harmony in general. 8. How is “Ping-Pong” conversational style different from “Bowling” style? In an American ―Ping-Pong‖ conversation, one person has the ball and then hits it to the other side of the table. The other player hits the ball back and the game continues. Each part of the conversation follows this pattern: the greeting and the opening, the discussion of a topic, and the closing and farewell. However, in a Japanese ―Bowling‖ conversation, each participant waits politely for a turn and knows exactly when the time is right to speak. That is, they know their place in line. In Japanese conversation, long silences are tolerated. For Americans, even two or three seconds of silence can become uncomfortable.Case StudyCase 17When these two men separate, they may leave each other with very different impressions. Mr Richardson is very pleased to have made the acquaintance of Mr Chu and feels they have gotten off to a very good start. They have established their relationship on a first-name basis and Mr Chu„s smile seemed to indicate that he will be friendly and easy to do business with. Mr Richardson is particularly pleased that he had treated Mr Chu with respect for his Chinese background by calling him Hon-fai rather than using the western name, David, which seemed to him an unnecessary imposition of western culture. In contrast, Mr Chu feels quite uncomfortable with Mr Richardson. He feels it will be difficult to work with him, and that Mr Richardson might be rather insensitive to cultural differences. He is particularly bothered that, instead of calling him David or Mr Chu, Mr Richardson used his given name, Hon-fai, the name rarely used by anyone, in fact. It was this embarrassment which caused him to smile. He would feel more comfortable if they called each other Mr Chu and Mr Richardson. Nevertheless, when he was away at school in North America he learned that Americans feel uncomfortable calling people Mr for any extended period of time. His solution was to adopt a western name. He chose David for use in such situations.Case 18Even if the American knew Urdu, the language spoken in Pakistan, he would also have to understand the culture of communication in that country to respond appropriately. In this case, he had to say ―No at least three times. In some countries, for instance, the Ukraine, it may happen that a guest is pressed as many as seven or eight times to take more food, whereas in the UK it would be unusual to do so more than twice. For a Ukrainian, to do it the British way would suggest the person is not actually generous. Indeed, British recipients of such hospitality sometimes feel that their host is behaving impolitely by forcing them into a bind, since they run out of polite refusal strategies long before the Ukrainian
host has exhausted his/her repertoire of polite insistence strategies.Case 19Talking about what„s wrong is not easy for people in any culture, but people in high -context countries like China put high priority on keeping harmony, preventing anyone from losing face, and nurturing the relationship. It seems that Ron Kelly had to learn a different way of sending message when he was in China. At home in Canada he would have gone directly to the point. But in China, going directly to the problem with someone may suggest that he or she has failed to live up to his or her responsibility and the honor of his or her organization is in question. In high-context cultures like China, such a message is serious and damaging. In low-context cultures, however, the tendency is just to ―spit it out, to get it into words and worry about the result later. Senders of unwelcome messages use objective facts, assuming, as with persuasion, that facts are neutral, instrumental, and impersonal. Indirectness is often the way members of high-context cultures choose to communicate about a problem.Case 20It seems that the letters of request written in English as well as in Chinese by Chinese people are likely to preface the request with extended face-work. To Chinese people, the normal and polite way to form a request requires providing reasons that are usually placed before the requests. Of course, this is just the inverse of English conventions in which requests are fronted without much face-work. In the view of the English-speaking people, the opening lines of Chinese requests and some other speech acts do not usually provide a thesis or topic statement which will orient the listener to the overall direction of the communication. Worst of all, the lack of precision and the failure to address the point directly may lead to suspicions that the Chinese speakers are beating around the bush. To them, the presence of a clear and concise statement of what is to be talked about will make the speech more precise, more dramatic, and more eloquent. However, the Chinese learning and using English in communication may find it difficult to come to terms with the common English tendency to begin with a topic statement. In the Chinese culture, stating one„s request or main point at the beginning would make the person seem immo dest, pushy, and inconsiderate for wanting things. If your speech gives others the impression that you are demanding something, you would lose face for acting aggressively and not considering the others. Thus you„d be hurting people by claiming something f or yourself. In such a situation, it is usually considered a smart strategy if you carefully delineate the justifications that will naturally lead to your request or argument. Therefore, instead of stating their proposition somewhere in the beginning and then proceeding to build their case, Chinese people often first establish a shared context with which to judge their requests or arguments. Only after carefully prefacing them with an avalanche of relevant details, as if to nullify any opposition, will they present the requests or arguments.Unit 6Culture and Nonverbal CommunicationReading IAn Overview of Nonverbal CommunicationComprehension questions1. 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 IIGender and Nonverbal CommunicationComprehension questions1. 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 21Sometimes our best intentions can lead to breakdowns 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 and touching someone with it is highly offensive. Therefore, in Vernon„s eyes, Kenneth was actually an extremely offensive message to him.Case 22In 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 23Just 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.