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Defining Culture Essay

How can you define culture? What is intercultural communication? How much does the same language used by native and non-native speakers vary? This paper would attempt to answer. Three sources on the subject matter will be used. These are: Jan Blommaert’s “How much culture is there in intercultural communication? ”, “Talking a Person into Interethnic Distinction: a Discourse Analytic Case Study” by Volker Hinnenkamp and “Rapport Management Theory and Culture” by Helen Spencer-Oatey.

In the first article, Blommaert focused on what theory or theories in the science of linguistic would be most useful to obtain an accurate analysis of intercultural communication as well as the role to the study of linguistics plays in the study of intercultural communication. The author began the article with the thesis that the study of intercultural communication will pose challenges in the science of linguistics due to two reasons.

One of these reasons is that each communication by two parties from two different cultures would have certain features that would make it unique that it would need a specific methodology and theory to be elaborated for every communication that occurs. The second reason is that the study of intercultural communication would need the knowledge of other branches of the social sciences such as social psychology and anthropology for it to be properly analyzed (13). Two concepts were used by the author in order to answer the questions stated in the article.

The first is that culture is fundamental in the study of intercultural communication, and the primary cause for communication conflicts that may rise in intercultural communication. The author coined this as the “culture collide perspective. ” This is because when two parties belonging to different culture groups meet, their cultures also come across and eventually collide with each other. One example provided by the author to support this is the conflict present in politics.

The author considered this perspective as a crude approach in understanding intercultural communication since this concept follows that intercultural communication only occurs when conflict is present in the process and in order for the communication to be successful; the culture of any one of the parties involved would need to be managed. The concept is also seen by the author as ethnocentric in nature in that it assumes that one culture in the intercultural communication process is more superior to the other.

Furthermore, it fails to take into consideration the fact that one or both parties involved will try to adjust to the situation prevent intercultural communication conflicts (Blommaert, 14, 17-20). The second concept analyzed in the article is that culture is incorporated into the communication process, depending on the circumstances surrounding the parties involved and represented clearly and without reservation during the process. This makes culture as not only a vital component to the identity of the parties involved, but the situation surrounding the communication in general (Blommaert, 21-22).

Based on the information obtained, Blommaert concluded that the non-objective approach is the most appropriate linguistic method to be used in the analysis for intercultural communication. Furthermore, the study of linguistics in intercultural communication should be able to represent a collaborative accord between parties from different cultures (30). The second article is a case study an intercultural communication scenario between a Turk and a German.

The case study aimed to show how communication problems arise when two parties communicate using a language which the native to one party and foreign to another as a result of on how the experiences of each party affect how they interpret the message being sent (Hinnenkamp, 91). According to Hinnenkamp, the culture of an individual affects various aspects of the communication process such as the degree of interaction permitted, how often will an individual will allow the other to respond, what topics to discuss, how direct he or she can be in addressing or questioning the other party, and their obligations in reference to their status.

Should any of these aspects are not met; one or both parties would attempt to “repair” the communication by neutralizing and restoring the normative order as dictated by culture who considers the language being used as its native language. This is most exemplified in intercultural communication when an individual speaks in a language that is not native to him or her where the individual tries various methods like mimicking in order to make himself or herself understood (106, 108).

The third article focused more on the reactions of the receiver of the message in a communication process. The article aimed to identify factors that affect the judgment of an individual involved interpersonal communication (Spencer-Oatey, 336-337). Spencer-Oatey defined culture as an indistinct collection of attitudes, beliefs, assumptions and values shared by a group of people which influence an individual’s behavior and how the individual views another’s behavior which has a major impact in scenarios where intercultural issues are present (338-339).

Contrary to Blommaert’s statement, the author believes that culture is not always manifested depending on the situation when intercultural communication is present. She stated that on some occasions, certain very deep-seeded cultural traits will manifest itself in the intercultural communication process regardless if the situation makes it conducive or not (340). This is because individuals have the freedom to choose whether to uphold, modify or abandon his or her cultural practices when communicating.

Culture, then is not manifested in a single encounter. Rather, it becomes only apparent when patterns in communicating develop (342). She did, however, agree that what goes on in an intercultural communication cannot be accurately predicted (345). In the article, John Gumperz specified the variation that occurs in intercultural communication between a native and non-native speaker are the “different conventions of communication, different speech styles, narrative patterns, in short, the deployment of different communicative repertoires” (qtd.

in Spencer-Oatey, 343). The author concluded the article stating that more research is needed in order to fully understand intercultural communication. Unlike Blommaert who recommended that further research must concentrate in being able to gain an agreement between parties in the communication process to occur (30), Spencer-Oatey stated that in order to understand the process, the research should be continuous since intercultural communication occurs in relationships that have spanned for a long period of time (346).

To summarize, intercultural communication refers to the interaction between two parties belonging to two different cultures where the culture of each party is manifested in the communication process depending on the length of time the interaction has been taking place and the situation surrounding the communication activity.

Culture was defined in the texts as a vague group of attitudes, beliefs, behavioral principles, assumptions and values shared by a group of individuals that influence their conduct as well as how they interpret the behavior another. Finally, certain variations occur in intercultural communication between a native to the language being used and a non-native using the same language in order to be understood by the other. These variations include mimicking, speech styles and narrative patterns. Works Cited

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