Exploring a Communication in Arabic Lingua Culture
Exploring a Communication in Arabic Lingua Culture
Conversation is the most basic form of communication and human beings rely on conversation to exchange information and maintain social relationships (Gardner 1994: 97). Human interactions rely on conversation for simple chatting as well as work related tasks, political discussions and educational decisions (Gardner 1994: 98). Conversation is at the heart of the human ability to interact with one another in everyday life. Communicative events typically involve definable boundaries and a joint effort at interaction (Orr 2008: 317).
A communicative event that occurs within its social boundaries becomes an engagement between two people (Orr 2008: 317). In other words, a communicative event between two friends results in an engagement that has meaning to both parties involved. In contrast, a communicative event that is between two strangers, such as a shopper and salesperson, cannot be considered an engagement because when the encounter is over it holds no meaning to those involved (Orr 2008: 317).
Further, a communicative event is only successful when both parties involved contribute to the process of understanding as the conversation takes place (Aune, Levine, Park, Asada, & Banas 2005: 358). In a communicative event between friends, each friend is responsible for contributing something to the conversation that will make the interaction meaningful for both people. When both friends are not contributing to the communicative event equally, then the encounter fails to have meaning and makes the person who is contributing view his or her friend negatively (Aune, et al 2005: 358).
An analysis of a communicative event that occurred between two friends in Saudi Arabia is offered. This analysis includes a discussion of the eleven components that Saville-Troike identifies. The Communicative Event Cultural analysis is an important part of discussing linguistics and communication. However, linguistics is not typically associated with a cultural analysis even though the conversation styles and traditions of different cultures are an essential component to communicative events (Wierzbicka 1997: 1). In fact, there is a very close link between culture and the lexicon of the language spoken as part of that culture.
This is why many cultures rely on special words for important aspects of their culture such as food (Wierzbicka 1997: 1). Additionally, many cultures, such as the Arabic culture, rely on special greetings and phrases as part of their communicative events. These special greetings and phrases add depth to the communicative events and allow them to have meaning to the people involved. The conversation analyzed for this paper occurred between two friends and included a special greeting as well as common phrases used in Saudi Arabian culture.
These components of the communicative event allowed the interaction to mean something to the two friends and resulted in positive feelings from both. The definition of a communicative event and a consideration to cultural differences is particularly useful for language teachers because it gives them insight into the importance of specific aspects of communicative events that differ across cultural boundaries. Language teachers are most successful when they are able to incorporate aspects of native language into new language acquisition.
Changing the way that language teachers instruct is a constant part of the job of language teachers (Jacobs & Farrell 2003: 5). At the same time, it is important that a language teacher give students the tools necessary for learner autonomy, understanding the social nature of learning, the ability for curricular integration, a focus on meaning, attention to diversity, thinking skills, assessment and utilizing the teacher as a co learner (Jacobs & Farrell 2003: 5). These eight skills are essential for language teachers to implement in order to allow students to rely on their native language while also learning a new language.
Further, sensitivity to cultural differences in language style will allow the language teacher to provide students with authentic opportunities to engage in meaningful communicative events. At the same time, language teachers cannot choose to only implement one or two of these components. They are all necessary components to successful language instruction. Classroom language instruction is an important part of the job of a language teacher. However, the type of language instruction has an impact on how well students acquire language skills (Spada 1987: 137).
A study of three separate language classrooms over a period of sixty observation hours shows that students are sensitive to the communicative orientation of new language acquisition (Spada 1987: 137). The reason behind this observation is the different communicative styles utilized by different cultures. For example, the special greeting and phrases used the in conversation to be analyzed here differ from the style of communication in other cultures. Therefore, sensitivity to different communicative styles may result in better instruction and higher levels of learning.
The ability to improve in the speaking, listening and discourse areas of language learning seem to be related to classroom instruction style (Spada 1987: 137). When a language teacher begins to work with a specific location, the first step is to study the community that will make up the instructional population. This is important so the language teacher is able to gather important information about the social organization and important aspects of the culture in order to relate that information to the culture (Saville-Troike 1989: 107).
At the same time, it is important for language teachers to discover the way that native speakers structure their communicative events in order to gain insight into the importance of different communication components important to that specific culture (Saville-Troike 1989: 107). Ultimately, the goal of a language teacher would be to make many careful and thorough observations of native speakers engaging in a variety of different communicative events so a complete understanding of communication can be gathered.
Once this job is completed the language teacher should be able to model communicative events after the communicative events of native speakers (Saville-Troike 1989: 107). To this end, Saville-Troike introduces eleven components that will each be commented on as they relate to the communicative example used in this paper: type of event, topic, purpose or function, setting, key, participants, message form, message content, act sequence, rules for interaction and norms for interaction (1989: 138).
Type of Event, Topic, Purpose and Setting The type of event, topic, purpose and setting make up the scene of the communicative event (Saville-Troike 1989: 139). The type of event analyzed is an informal conversation between two university friends who have not seen or spoken to one another for a week. The topic of the conversation is the time that has gone by without speaking or seeing one another and includes a discussion about why so much time has passed as well as plans to spend time together in the near future.
The purpose of the communicative event is time for the friends to catch up with one another and make plans to engage in further conversation. Finally, the setting for the communicative event is Abha City in the Southern Province of Saudi Arabia. These four components of this specific communicative event make up the whole scene. While only the setting can be directly observed, the type of event, the topic and the purpose of this communicative event are equally as important for gathering information about the cultural aspects of Arabic linguistics and conversation style (Saville-Troike 1989: 139).
Further cultural information can be obtained by observing the traditions and customs of a specific culture with regards to communication. This communicative event occurred between two friends and included the special greeting, “Peace be upon you” and “peace be upon you too. ” This greeting is an essential aspect of Arabic communicative events and means that there is goodwill among the two friends. If this greeting would have been omitted from the conversation it would indicate that the friends were angry with one another.
When analyzing components of a communicative event that are not directly visible it is important to be watching for important information regarding the sacred nature of communication and what that looks like for different cultures (Saville-Troike 1989: 141). For example, in this communicative event between two friends, an observer cannot see what the type of event or what the purpose of the event is. However, listening to the conversation and watching for customs and traditions provides valuable insight into the nature of cultural differences and what is important (Saville-Troike 1989: 141).
These observations will allow an observer to discover what is sacred to a culture with regards to communication as well as what types of beliefs are important to them. Further, an observer can learn what behaviors are unacceptable, what the purpose of particular behaviors are and see external signs of participation in ritual parts of a communicative event (Saville-Troike 1989: 141). Key The key of a communicative event is introduced in order to provide the tone, manner or spirit of the encounter (Saville-Troike 1989: 141).
This can take the form of teasing versus seriously discussing something, being sincere versus sarcastic, being friendly versus hostile or being sympathetic versus threatening (Saville-Troike 1989: 141). The type of key that is present in a communicate event relies on the type of relationship the people involved in conversation have. In this case, the communicative event was informal, but respectful and was a sincere and friendly exchange between two friends.
However, if the conversation took a sarcastic key, the sarcasm would have overridden the sincerity of the interaction thus making the conversation far less meaningful than it was (Saville-Troike 1989: 142). In this way, the strongest key takes center stage and is determined by who the participants of the communicate event are, what their relationship as well as the nature of the conversation. Further, the key of the communicative event may be determined through the use of nonverbal cues in addition to the dialogue.
For example, if one person winks at the other this may suggest some teasing during the conversation while a stiff posture may indicate that a serious conversation is occurring (Saville-Troike 1989: 142). Observing the communicative event that is analyzed here, the nonverbal cues may have included changes in facial expression when the friends began to discuss why one friend had been to busy to spend time with friends. Watching these facial expressions would lend insight into how serious or friendly the communicative event really was. Participants The participants are the most important component of a communicative event.
Without participants, conversation would never happen. The participants in this communicative event were two young male university friends. The absence of females indicates the nature of gender roles in the Saudi Arabian culture. In the Arabic culture, males are not permitted to meet with females and are only allowed to converse with other males. This information provides important information regarding the role relationship of conversation in Saudi Arabia as well as information about sex and social status (Saville-Troike 1989: 143). The absence of females provides a great deal of information about the Arabic culture.
It shows what the rights of each member of society are as well as the attitudes, expectations and behaviors toward others. It also shows who has authority over whom (Saville-Troike 1989: 143). This communicative event shows that males are the dominant gender in Saudi Arabian culture and this prevents them from openly conversing with females. Further, it gives insight into the attitudes, expectations and behaviors expected from males versus females. Finally, the culture dictates the formality or informality of a communicative event (Saville-Troike 1989: 144).
This exchange between two young male friends was informal as compared to a conversation that may take place between a young Arab male and an older Arab male. In other words, the participants engaging in conversation have a direct influence over the nature of the communicate event and dictate what type of interaction will take place. Message Form Message form, message content and act sequence are determined by various social, cultural and situational constraints on communicative behavior. Each of these components can be presented vocally or non vocally (Saville-Troike 1989: 144).
Many cultures rely on non vocal sounds to represent meaning in conversation and these make up the message form. These vocal and non vocal sounds make up the verbal and non verbal components of conversation style. For example, the verbal vocal relationship includes spoken language while the non verbal vocal relationship includes such things as laughter. Similarly, the non vocal verbal relationship is comprised of such things as written language or sign language while the non vocal non verbal relationship includes such things as silence and eye behavior (Saville-Troike 1989: 145).
Although these different aspects of language vary across cultures, they are important aspects of any communication style. This communicative event example used here relies on these different relationships in order to allow the participants to engage in a conversation that has meaning to both parties. The two friends engaged in the verbal vocal relationship simply by exchanging spoken dialogue. At the same time, they engaged in the non verbal vocal relationship by relying on laughter to become part of their conversation.
They also relied on the non vocal verbal relationship through the use of hand gestures and facial expressions that lent support to the nature of the conversation and also injected meaning into the exchange. Finally, the two friends showed the non vocal non verbal relationship through their use of appropriate silences and eye contact while speaking to one another. Message Content The message content is closely related to message form and cannot be separated for appropriate analysis to occur (Saville-Troike 1989: 150). Message content refers to what communicative acts are about and what meaning they hold.
The dialogue and silences of a communicate event make up the message form while the meaning and implications derived from the communicative event make up the message content (Saville-Troike 1989: 150). The overall meaning of a communicate event rely on the verbal and non verbal messages being exchanged. However, meaning is also derived from extra linguistic context as well as information and expectations participants bring to the conversation (Saville-Troike 1989: 150). The physical content of a communicative event is important because it lends additional information to the exchange that allows for enhanced meaning.
In this way, people who do not even speak the same language are often able to find meaning in their exchange simply be relying on physical objects or other outside influences that inject meaning without words (Saville-Troike 1989: 151). Whatever type of physical objects, outside influences or even hand gestures that are used during a communicative event it is important that they convey meaning and allow for a successful conversation. The example of a conversation used here was successful because the two friends understood the location they were in as well as the gestures each person used during the course of the communicative event.
Act Sequence The act sequence component of a communicative event includes information about the ordering of the conversation. This is evident through the appropriate initiation of conversation by one person and the following of that initiation by the other person (Saville-Troike 1989: 152 – 153). The example provided here is a good example of appropriate initiation. One of the young men starts the conversation by saying, “peace be upon you” and the other man responded with, “peace be upon you too. ” In Saudi Arabian culture this is an important greeting and indicates friendship and goodwill at the start of a conversation.
Eliminating this greeting would suggest anger and would upset the natural ordering of conversations in Arabic culture (Saville-Troike 1989: 153). Regular patterns and recurring events are important cultural component of communicative events. When participants follow these patterns and recurring events it suggests that the nature of conversations is important and sacred within a culture. Further, the types of patterns that emerge from these patterns and recurring events allow for comparison across cultures (Saville-Troike 1989: 153 – 154).
The conversation between the two young Arabic students followed a natural progression and provided important insight into the nature of communicative events in Arabic culture. Rules for Interaction The rules of interaction dictate an explanation for the rules of speech which are applicable to communicative event in a specific culture (Saville-Troike 1989: 154). These rules refer to the way that the participants in the conversation are expected to behave based on the values of their culture (Saville-Troike 1989: 154). Again, the special greeting at the start of this conversation is one example of an expectation for behavior.
In Arabic culture, this is the standard greeting that comes at the beginning of a communicative event and Arabic males are expected to make use of it. These rules may not necessarily be dictated by law but are used based on values that are important within a specific culture (Saville-Troike 1989: 154). Arabic law does not require this greeting at the start of a conversation, but the values and beliefs of the Arabic culture make the greeting an expectation. Further, the use of this greeting indicates the role of turn taking in conversation within the Arabic culture.
The initial greeting is followed by a follow up greeting which allows the participants to take turns greeting one another and starting a conversation. At the same time, turn taking is important in this example of a communicative event because it allows each young man to have a turn speaking while the other young man listens. This injects meaning into the conversation because the interaction relies on listening skills as well as speaking skills to get the point across (Saville-Troike 1989: 155). Norms of Interpretation Norms of interpretation are important because they provide all of the other information about the culture.
These are essential for the overall understanding of the communicative event (Saville-Troike 1989: 155). For example, the different types of speech must be analyzed in order to fully understand cultural differences within a conversation. This example of the communicative event used here includes the use of the phrase, “old man. ” In some cultures this may a derogatory phrase but is included in this example to show respect. In Arabic culture using the term “old man” shows respect for one’s elders and the young men use it in reference to one of their fathers.
The understanding that this phrase shows respect is well known within the Arabic culture so it becomes a norm of conversation that is acceptable (Saville-Troike 1989: 155). Conclusion The development of communicative competence cannot take place without a relationship among these eleven components (Lock 1983: 253). Contexts rely on cultural information in order to provide an interplay of conversation as well as the self concepts of the participants and social structure acceptable within a society (Lock 1983: 253).
A relationship among these eleven components can lead to successful communicative competence based on the cultural implications of language and how this relates to self concept and social structure (Lock 1983: 253). This can be directly applied to the language teacher because communicative competence is a cornerstone of successful language acquisition (Lee 2006: 349). Further, successful communicative events are only possible if a language teacher is able to blend the cultural components of the native language with the cultural components of the new language (Holliday 1997: 212).
Therefore, an understanding of communicative competence is an essential part of successful language instruction (Lee 2006: 349). Communicative competence is the part of language knowledge that dictates which communicative system to use (Stalker 1989: 182). When the communicative system chosen is spoken language or conversation it is important to connect the goals and context of the situation in order to have a meaningful communicative event (Stalker 1989: 182).
A basic understanding of what communication abilities are necessary for successful conversation within a specific culture is necessary to function adequately in society (Wiemann & Backlund 1980: 185). Therefore, the eleven components applied to a specific conversation example provide evidence and insight into the importance of language teachers enabling students to gain the knowledge the learning necessary in order to successfully participate in communicative encounters (Wiemann & Backlund 1980: 185; Gardner 1994: 104).
To this end, it is important to provide students with knowledge pertaining to the use of key words within a particular culture (Wierzbicka 1997: 6) as well as analyze the importance of the relationship between the eleven components of language (Saville-Troike 1989: 156). Finally, the overall outcome of communication is to discover the unique events and recurring patterns within a specific culture (Saville-Troike 1989: 177). This can only be done through careful observation and analysis of communicative events within a particular culture (Saville-Troike 1989: 177). Aune, R. K. ; Levine, T.
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University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 29 December 2016
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