Languages & Cultures of East Asia

Trad 101, Sections 18-19-20-21   Fall 2000

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Lecture Outline, 10/9/00 - Cross-cultural Communication (1)

Conversational style

     Back-channel response


               Japanese:     nn, ee, soo, hai
               Korean:     ne, ung, uung
               Chinese:     uhm, a, ao, ai=, en=, eh
               English:     uh-huh, hmm, yeah, really, right

          Head movement, laughs, chuckles.....combination of these

     Japanese, Korean: produced within the sentence which is being produced
     English, Chinese: produced after the sentence is finished

     Back-channel response transfers across cultural boundaries
          Japanese style back-channel response in English
          English style back-channel response in Japanese

     Japanese - Mindless agreement; Inappropriate rushing?

          feelings based on the English conversation style

     Are Japanese speakers more attentive?

          English speakers are attentive - quietly but actively listening
          Japanese speakers are attentive - verbally marking it/overtly active

     English speakers more polite and less interactive/aggressive
     than Japanese speakers?
           Japanese people quiet (reticence)? Americans loud?

          Different in different areas of language

Trouble spots in cross-cultural communication

     Conversational style


     Unspoken/unrecognized assumptions

          Want to show modesty (complimenting)
          Don't confront people (complaining)
          Don't say no overtly (negotiating)
          Don't talk back to your superior


     Judging differences

How to fix the problems?

     Cultural evolution (modernization)?

     Cultural colonialism?

     Desire for communication

     Try to understand similarities and differences (both culture and language)

     Assume the best

     Be patient

     Look for other perspectives

     The right question: How to make it work?