Language And Intercultural Communication Essay

Intercultural communication is a study of cultural difference through communication. It is a form of global communication throughout the country all over the world. It is used to describe the wide range of communication problems that naturally appear within an organization made up of individuals from different religious, social, ethnic, and educational backgrounds or other acceptable factors. Intercultural communication is sometimes used synonymously with cross-cultural communication which in instance also brings up the same meaning and discussing the same issues.

In this sense it seeks to understand how people from different countries and cultures act towards each other’s, communicate and perceive the world around them. Many people in intercultural communication such like in business management argue that culture determines how individuals encode and preserve messages, what mediums they choose for transmitting and broadcast them, and the way messages are interpreted and understood. It all depends on the characteristics and the component on the culture itself.

It is also affected by the communication skill from the group of people and how they interact with each other. Intercultural communication occur when in minimum two person with different culture come in contact with each other and exchange ideas in verbal and also nonverbal communication. Before understanding intercultural communication as whole, first we need to know what culture is. What are the definition, and how these words correlate with communication skills? Cultures have certain components and elements that build its character.

These components are symbol, language, value, norm and belief. Culture define as a complex system of knowledge, beliefs, values, customs, behavior and artifacts that are acquired, used and shared by the member of the group of people in their daily lives. In identifying how the complex system work we must know the important component in culture. Symbol is anything that meaningfully presents something that recognize by a culture. An example of a symbol is just like bald eagle that represents United States of America, or Kris represents Malaysia, Elephant represents Thailand folks.

Language is symbol system that used for people to communicate with each other in their country. But also certain language can be interpret by others which define whom that value and try to achieve a perfect concept of intercultural communication itself. Values are culture defined standards that people use as guideline in social interpretation, such as what to do is right and what they believe to be right in their daily practice. Norm is any establishment of rule and expectations that guides the behavior which means anything that a group of people usually do to maintain their behavior.

Beliefs are special thoughts or idea that people hold on trusting that it is true and never been wrong, and beliefs also clarify religion also make a culture different from he others. Culture also has the characteristics. There are seven characteristics of the culture and the first are culture is created and learned by group of people. In this group of people culture is shared between them. Culture can be transmitted from past and to the future means that culture can be passing down to generations. Culture is something dynamic and always changing by time following concept of how the world changes.

Culture prescribes behavior and attitude which means culture define and shape the behavior of the people in that group according to their prescriptions. Communication is a dynamic, systemic process in which meanings are created and reflected in human interaction with symbols. The process is ongoing and ever changing. It is contextual, always taking place in a specific location. Communication never takes place in a vacuum situation. When we do communicate with another human being, we can only infer what she or he is experiencing because no two human beings have the same experiences leading up to that specific communication event.

We are all born as white cloth. It is the culture we are born into that gives meaning to our experiences and helps us to define our world or how it is going to be. The meanings we give to events shape our world and fulfill our expectation. Our brain functions as an open system and we learn from each encounter and add to our system of knowledge from past and present events. Most of our culture is transmitted through unconscious communication acts and behaviors. These ideas are received by imitating, observing, and interacting with others, and we are not even aware we are receiving these messages.

We receive them first from our parents, then from siblings and others as the scope of our world broadens and as we meet more and more people each day. These events happened unconsciously and as we realized we already have it and learn it by heart. As a separate notion, it interprets situations where people from different cultural backgrounds interact to each other. Aside from language, intercultural communication focuses on social attributes, thought patterns, and the cultures of different groups of people.

It also involves understanding the different cultures, languages and customs of people from other countries. Intercultural communication plays a role in social sciences such as anthropology that, cultural studies, linguistics, psychology and communication studies. Intercultural communication maybe narrow its scope into cultural anthropology that is the comparative study of the manifold ways in which people make sense of the world around them, while social anthropology is the study of the relationships among persons and groups.

While cultural anthropology is more akin towards philosophy and arts, social anthropology leads towards sociology and history. Cultural anthropology itself presents intercultural definition by learning the culture in many obvious ways. As discussed before the culture is shared and through this sociocultural anthropology an example of sharing is by myth and legends. These stories have been told in narrative process by the elder people and spread towards the generation.

Myth is something that is more sacred and the actors were sometimes gods or demigods that were popular in western countries. Legend is something, someone or an event that believed by the narrator and believed by the people to be true such in Malaysia, there is a tales of Mahsuri or Hang Tuah. Everybody knows that they were exist but the legends was written in the form that it is embedded by culture of Malay people and transmitting some important values that need to be understood until today whether it is accepted or no longer remembered.

Linguistics in other hand is a study of human language and sometimes an ancient language and those that are no longer can be read. Linguistics additionally draws on and informs work from such diverse fields as acoustics, anthropology, biology, computer science, human anatomy, informatics, neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, sociology that also a branches of courses that play a very important role in intercultural communication.

These all component merely remarking that all subjects need to have communication skills as the core and intercultural quality to strengthen it’s as language is the component of the intercultural communication itself, the study of linguistics ultimately helps to understand culture that embedded in language and also allow us to communicate freely within this border. Psychology is an academic and applied discipline that involves the scientific study of mental functions and behaviors.

Psychology has the immediate goal of understanding individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases, and by many accounts it ultimately aims to benefit society and a group of people. In this last point the group of people specifically referring to different culture. Usually psychology component merge with social factors to narrow down the understanding and to apply the intercultural knowledge firmly.

These merge area known as psychosocial factors. Psychosocial factor comprises the social being of culture and how the psychological issues affect the exchange cultural idea throughout and ideal interactive communication. Psychologist explore concepts such as perception, cognition, attention, emotion, phenomenology, motivation, brain functioning, behavior and interpersonal relationships. Some of this concept are important and needed to unlock an intercultural communication successfully.

It is not about health only because the more you understand other culture social behavior with interpersonal skills and with added linguistics expertise, a complete form of intercultural communication is achieved. Intercultural communication is also referred to as the base for international businesses. There are several cross-cultural service providers around who can assist with the development of intercultural communication skills.

Research is a major part of the development of intercultural communication skills such as research needed to understand all the component of the culture itself. The course to assess this communication skills have been mention earlier and the most relevant part is the intercultural competency. Intercultural competence is the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately with people of other cultures.

With a perfect asset of component understanding and deep knowledge of all courses within behavioral science people must comprehend the intercultural competence whether appropriately valued norm, and expectations within a culture or effectively by accomplishing goals and then you will achieved cross cultural competence with a immaculate communication skills. As a conclusion, Intercultural communication is a field of study that become important as world expand. Living in the world without border actually tests your surviving skills with this valued asset.

The major perspective that was developed is traditional, interpretive and critical. 20th century shows that technology imperative cause people more frequently come to contact with each other that differ. The mobility around the world has become easier and changing demographic also increases the need of cross cultural understanding. By understanding this asset, a person might gain certain beneficence such as personal empowerment, a freedom from ignorance and also a productive relationship. This three benefits of intercultural apprehension not only bring success individually but also to an industry or the country itself.

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Humans have been communicating since four million years. On the other hand, the birth of culture is estimated to have token place about 35,000 years ago. Today, both culture and communication have evolved considerably and have become interdependent of one another, to the point that communication is considered to be a product of culture. Thus, our own culture has a deep impact on our thoughts and behaviors. Since each culture has its distinct aspects, intercultural communication can be the cause of conflict and disorder. There are three main issues which are at the root of the problem of intercultural miscommunication : language as a barrier, cultural diversity and ethnocentrism. I will analyze these three notions in situations in which intercultural communication is frequent such as : the workplace, the classroom and vacation trips.


The way people communicate varies widely between, and even within, cultures. One aspect of communication style is language usage. Language has always been perceived as a link between people but it can also constitute a barrier. Across cultures, some words and phrases are used in different ways. For example, even in countries that share the English language, the meaning of "yes" varies from "maybe, I'll consider it" to "definitely so," with many shades in between . Furthermore, communication between cultures which do not share the same language is considerably more difficult . Each culture, has its distinct syntax, expressions and structure which causes confusion in intercultural communication. For example , in Asian countries the word "no" is rarely used, so that "yea" can mean "no" or "perhaps". Therefore, an American traveling to Japan might be considered impolite if he ignores this rule. Furthermore, individuals who are not comfortable with a certain language may not be taken seriously. Such is the case in the classroom, where a student who has a perfect knowledge of the subject in question may have difficulty expressing his idea due to his inability to write properly and therefore he would not receive the grade he truly deserves. Similarly intercultural communication is dominant in the workplace. In the past, many companies and organizations could operate entirely within their country of origin and conduct their activities exclusively in their own native language. But now, due to an increasingly amount of intercultural business, some American companies require for their employees to have a good knowledge in languages such as Japanese, German, Italian…
Sociolinguists examine social and cultural influences on language behavior. Among the most important concepts to emerge are those relating to dialects and language standards. Sociolinguists have documented the presence of dialects in every language. These dialects, all of which are legitimate, are associated with educational, economic, social and historical conditions. Hence, even if an individual scrupulously studies all the possible dictionaries of a random language, he would still be somewhat of a stranger to that language since he is unaware of all the dialectal changes.
In addition to differences in pronunciation, vocabulary and grammatical structures among cultural groups, variations also exist in the rules for general discourse in oral communication, covering such specific acts as narratives and conversation. In communicating with one another, teachers and students naturally will follow the assumptions and rules governing discourse within their respective cultures. Discourse


rules govern such aspects of communication as: opening or closing conversations; taking turns during conversations; interrupting; using silence as a communicative device; interjecting humor at appropriate times and using nonverbal behavior. Once again, an American student studying in the middle east, who would constantly interrupt the teacher in order to clarify the professor"s opinion, would be considered to be extremely rude since he would be defying his authority.

Besides language other intercultural differences may be the cause of conflict. Hence, in this specific case, diversity is considered to be at the root of miscommunication. In comparison to verbal communication, non verbal communication takes a different form in different cultures. Gestures and facial expressions play a key role in communication. However, each culture incorporates different types of gestures and disregards others. For example, in most western societies , it is customary to shake one"s hand upon introduction. However, in most oriental countries shaking one"s hand is frown upon, since they believe bowing is the only acceptable type of introduction.
Non-verbal communication includes not only facial expressions and gestures; it also involves seating arrangements, personal distance, and sense of time. In addition, different norms regarding the appropriate degree of assertiveness in communicating can add to cultural misunderstandings. For instance, some white Americans typically consider raised voices to be a sign that a fight has begun, while some black, Jewish and Italian Americans often feel that an increase in volume is a sign of an exciting conversation among friends. Thus, some white Americans may react with greater alarm to a loud discussion than would members of some American ethnic or non-white racial groups.
Furthermore, many other diversities between cultures lead to miscommunication. Ideologies, values, traditions, habits, norms, beliefs and social relationships are all considered diverse within different cultures. Since there are an infinite amount of diversities, we will focus on only two : values and social relationships. Values correspond to the general states of affair which are considered which are regarded as desirable. We might perceive that values are regarded equally internationally, but it is simply not the case. Even though each culture condemns killing and embraces love, they do not value them in the same manner. For example, Szalay and Maday found that Americans rated love and friendship as their most important life concerns, health as 5th , while Koreans ranked these respective values as 12th , 14th and 19th . In some cases , values which are accepted in one culture, are totally dismissed in another culture. Similarly, the pattern of social relationships at work, at home and with friends differs between cultures. For example, in China great respect is paid to older generations : regular visits are paid, financial contribution … Therefore, a second generation Chinese-American visiting his grandfather in China would have trouble communicating with him, if he does not show the proper respect.
In addition to all theses differences, we must take into account three main issues that characterize a culture : religion, politics and economy. These three do not constitute small diversities that can be an obstacle to communication, but actually represent a total barrier to the ladder. For example, poverty-stricken will not interact with representatives of wealthy cultures.




Problems in communication do not only occur because of language differences or cultural diversities, but also because of our attitudes when confronted to these diversities. The notion of ethnocentrism is a sociological concept that states, that our customs, beliefs
and attitudes are of central importance and a basis for judging all other groups. Ethnocentrism derives from patriotism and an overwhelming pride of one"s culture. Basically, we become infatuated with our own culture, we tend to dismiss others without any sensible logic. For example, an American woman would find no reason why an Iranian woman wears a "tchador". Ethnocentrism is also linked to cultural exclusion which regroups all the different cultures into one: diversity is unacceptable. Ethnocentrism is quite normal and present in all of us, since we all take some type of pride in our culture.
However, ethnocentrism can lead to a stereotypical view on other cultures. According to sociologists the real issue is not whether the content of stereotypes is true or false, but the causal misperceptions that accompany them. An example is the belief held by many Whites that poverty of Blacks is due to their racial characteristics, ignoring the environmental circumstances that are real cause of their low income. Hence, this type of attitude is harmful to the communication process since one communicator has a premature judgement about the other.
Furthermore, ethnocentrism can also lead to chauvinism and racism. Chauvinism is related to an exaggerated sense of national glory. It can become harmful if a chauvinist believes that he is superior because of his race and culture. This form of behavior can become violent when put into action, as was the case during the Second World War in which nazis, who were convinced of their superiority, sent over six million Jews to their death.

In conclusion, we come to realize that intercultural communication encompasses many problems. Language represents one of the many obstacles, since each culture has its proper expressions, structure and grammar. Moreover, each language is linked to a specific dialect which is associated with educational, economic, social and historical conditions. Moreover, cultural variations also exist in the rules for general discourse in oral communication. Similar to verbal communication, there are also variations in non-verbal communication between cultures. Gestures, facial expressions, sense of time and personal distance take different forms in different cultures. Furthermore, there is an infinite number of cultural diversities which are at the root of intercultural miscommunication. Variations in values , social relationships, religion, economy and politics consist of only a few of these diversities. These differences can be the source of ethnocentrism, if one becomes over patriotic in regards to one"s own culture. Ethnocentrism, is the concept which states that we tend to judge other cultures through our own. Ethnocentric behavior, can cause racism and chauvinism, as in the case of the Second World War. However, intercultural problems can be avoided if we all develop mindfulness, a sense of flexibility and seek information about the other culture.
 

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