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See what I mean? Essay

There are many different aspects of culture. For instance; values, traditions, religion, art, food, and even types of clothing can all play a role in the different types of culture. These cultural behaviors and values are taught to us by our parents from the minute we are born. It’s only natural that deaf people would adapt their own culture that differs from hearing cultures. Not only do deaf people communicated in a completely different language, but they also have their own set of communication skills, values, and behaviors because of their culture. In the video, “See What I Mean?”, the narrator talks about two different types of cultures: collectivists and individualists. Collectivists cultures have a larger emphasis on family and work together as a group, rather than focusing on individual wants or needs, for example, China and Japan. Individualists on the other hand, like the United States, emphasize personal growth and achievement despite how it may affect the goals of a group. American hearing culture is considered an individualist culture because we tend to act and do things based on our own desires, rather than working together and helping others to achieve a larger goal. The American Deaf culture is considered more of a collectivist culture because they work together in their efforts to communicate and bring their society together. One of the skits in the video showed a deaf man approach his hearing neighbor while he was cleaning off his new car.

The deaf man notices his car is new, and asks him in sign language how much he paid for his new car. The hearing man can’t understand sign language so the deaf man proceeds to write down, “how much you pay?” on a piece of paper. After the hearing man reads the paper, he gives the deaf man a disapproving look and walks inside his home. The deaf man is left confused, wondering what it was he had done to make this neighbor walk away, considering he thought they were friends. This is one perfect example of the differences between deaf and hearing cultures. Deaf people tend to share more information with their friends than hearing people do. Since hearing americans have more of a competitive outlook on things, the hearing man felt as though it wasn’t polite to ask how much he paid for something whereas a deaf person would be happy to share this kind of information if it means it might help other deaf people to get good deals on cars.

Another way hearing and deaf cultures vary is by the way they give and receive feedback. Since a lot of what hearing people say to others involves a certain tone or attitude when it’s said, there can be some confusion on what you’re trying to say, especially when it’s indirect. With deaf people, their main focus is on their facial expressions, body language, and body movement. They tend to be more direct in their feedback, if something is wrong they will tell you what it is, or what you did. whereas, in a hearing culture we used the “sandwich approach” in order to spare the other person’s feelings. Which means we say something positive, then negative, and then positive again. This approach can be prefered by some, but to the deaf people this can come off misleading or confusing. Deaf people have a view of “if you can see it, you can comment on it”, this is completely opposite to american hearing culture where we would most likely ignore it or pretend it’s not apparent. This is shown in the skit where two women run into each other outside a grocery store. Overall, hearing and deaf cultures vary, from the way they communicate, view privacy, share information, as well as the way they make comments and give feedback to others. American deaf culture emphasizes a more collectivist approach to life, whereas hearing Americans prefer a more individualist approach.


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