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Cultural misunderstanding

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Cultural misunderstanding

  1. 1. Politeness in Other Cultures Cultural Misunderstanding
  2. 2. Which way of greeting are you more comfortable with?
  3. 3. Cultural misunderstanding Cultures differ in what they think politeness is People think that politeness equals good manners and good character People assume that othercultures are polite in the same way
  4. 4. Which is the more serious mistake? A: Would you like to come over for dinner on Friday? B: Sorry I working that night. A: Would you like to come over for dinner on Friday? B: I can’t.
  5. 5. Appropriate speech behavior Native speakers are more forgiving of grammatical mistakes than inappropriate speech Fornative speakers, appropriate speech behavior– being polite – is unconscious Language learners do not have unconscious knowledge of what is appropriate speech behavior
  6. 6. Types of misunderstanding Direct translation Differences in appropriateness Different cultures have different ways of expressing politeness and interacting
  7. 7. Direct Translation Language learner translates what they want to say from their first language Creates a misunderstanding because the rules for politeness are different
  8. 8. Are these the same? Can you play the piano? Can you run fast? Can you speak French? Can you pass the salt?
  9. 9. “Can you pass the salt?” This is a request in English. It is not asking about the other person’s ability to pass the salt However, if directly translated into Russian, it is a question for information Thus, the English-speaking learner of Russian would fail to communicate his or her meaning
  10. 10. Telephone conversation P: Hello, is Mr. Simatapung there please? S: Yes. P: Oh…may I speak to him please? S: Yes. P: Oh…are you Mr. Simatapung? S: Yes, this is Mr. Simatapung.
  11. 11. Telephone conversation The foreign student fails to understand that the professor’s first question Is not asking if he is there or not Is a request to talk to him
  12. 12. Differences in Appropriateness This type of misunderstanding is directly related to cultural differences What is appropriate in one culture is not always appropriate in another culture
  13. 13. American invitations Americans often end invitations with a phrase like “Come if you want to.” Americans do not want to force people to accept unwanted invitations
  14. 14. Japanese reactions Japanese expect that the person who invites another will urge the potential guest to accept the invitation When Japanese hear expressions like “Come if you want to,” they feel hurt and are uncertain about the sincerity of the invitation Other cultures, e.g., Arabs, also have the same difficulty with American invitations
  15. 15. What’s the difference? It was nice talking to you. I’ve got to go, but let’s get together Friday night. It was nice talking to you. I’ve got to go, but let’s get together sometime.
  16. 16. American offers If you go to an American’s home, you will probably be offered something to eat or drink If you refuse the first time, you will probably be offered again. You will probably not be offered more than three times.
  17. 17. American offers Guests who refuse may or may not be seen as rude Guests will be taken at their word. If they refuse a third time, the host will assume that they have refused because they do not want something to eat or drink
  18. 18. Reactions by people from other cultures Arabs are taught to refuse again and again. When they visit American homes, they often leave confused and hungry An Arab visited an American home and was served some delicious sandwiches. The hostess offered him seconds, but he refused. The hostess didn’t repeat the offer and so he had to sit there looking at the delicious
  19. 19. Reactions by people from other cultures Malaysians feel that offers of food or drink are inappropriate. A host should serve something whether the guest wants it or not.
  20. 20. Offers in other cultures In the Ukraine the host will offer food or drink to the guest seven or eight times. For Americans who really don’t want anything, they are in a difficult situation because they will run out of ways to refuse before the Ukraine host runs out of ways to offer. Both guest and host will feel upset.
  21. 21. Topics In the Ukraine, income, politics, religion, marital status are all acceptable topics in talking to strangers In the US and Britain, they are not acceptable at all and would be regarded as taboo
  22. 22. Cultural values Individualism Priority to individuals High powerdistance Hierarchical Quantity of life Value competition High uncertainty Avoid uncertainty Long term Focus on future Collectivism Priority to group Low powerdistance Equal treatment Quality of life Value on relationships Low uncertainty Comfortable with uncertainty Short term Focus on present
  23. 23. Japan and the US Individualism US Japan Collectivism High Power Japan US Low Power Quantity of Life Japan & US Quality of life High uncertainty Japan US Low uncertainty Long term Japan US Short term
  24. 24. Cross-cultural differences Each culture will have values that are more important than others In one culture hierarchy may be more important In another individualism may be more important In yet another avoiding uncertainty may be more important
  25. 25. Status Status in Japan depends to a large degree on the prestige of the organization one belongs to Independent businessmen may have less prestige than a manager in a large well-known company
  26. 26. Wrong impressions An American businessman created a bad impression because at a business meeting he paid more attention to a man who started and developed his own company than to the middle level executives of a big Japanese corporation
  27. 27. American & Japanese businessmen Japan value hierarchy Hierarchy is very strong in business American have a sense of hierarchy, but it is not as strong Americans value individualism Americans respect people who have made it on their own, e.g., Bill Gates & Steve Jobs Japanese respect individuality, e.g., Morita Akio & Matsushita Konosuke
  28. 28. Eliminating misunderstandings Values that are important will often be reflected in speech in speech behavior Misunderstandings can work both ways Have to have open mind When learners of a language make inappropriate questions, do not apologize when they should, give compliments to the wrong person, offer something too frequently, etc. they are not necessarily being impolite.
  29. 29. Have an open mind When learners of a language  Make inappropriate questions  Do not apologize when they should  Give compliments to the wrong person  Offer something too frequently They are not necessarily being impolite. They using their own culture’s values for being polite.

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