Languages & Cultures of East Asia

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

Previous Lecture | Next Lecture | Lecture Index

Lecture Outline, 10/11/00 - Cross-cultural Communication (2)

Cross-cultural (mis)communication

Review American vs. Japanese

Trouble spots

Conversational style:
Unspoken assumptions:
     How invitations are done
     Asians are quiet
Judging differences:
     from own perspective

Chinese vs. American
1. Language
     parking permit
2. Language and unspoken assumptions
     milk vs. beer
3. Culture differences
     Let’s go see the princess

Korean vs. American

Tutoring session
Tutor Non-native speaker
Student Native speaker

     35 minutes
          8 minutes of transcripts
     playback session

Game = 10 frames

strike: 10 points + points from 2 rolls
spare: 10 points + points from 1 roll

Perfect game: 10 frames + 2 balls
     300 points

Things to consider:
1. What roles do the two people have?
2. Assumptions? Interpretations?
3. Assumptions reflected in conversation?


Initial clash
Line 3
     Student: asks a direct question
     Tutor: "Yeah, approximately"

To S: Tutor is not fully knowledgeable
To T: Rude to state one is an expert

Tutor’s perspective
     Yes, I know a little >> Yes, I know a lot
     formulaic hedge
     polite modesty

Different interpretations

T: thinks he has asserted his knowledge >> his status
S: thinks tutor has only claimed partial knowledge

Unspoken assumptions
     No access to the other’s knowledge
     But assume they share

More mismatches
Line 4-6
     S: reveals no full knowledge
     T: surprise followed by silence

     To S: Silence means no experience in bowling
     To T: 1) Avoid embarrassment
               2) Already asserted expertise
               3) Another attempt to be polite

Where they stand
     Both interpret the other as denying knowledge
     Both believe he/she has asserted claim to higher status

Student behavior
     Line 7 "That has to do with the bowling game"
     Repeatedly challenges T’s interpretation of procedure
          Line 21, 27-30,32-33
          Line 52-58

Final outburst
     Line 60-61

Tutor behavior
     Repeatedly rejects S’s version
          Line 24-27, 30-31, 34-36, 43-46

Cultural background-Korea

Teacher-student relationship
     governed by ‘jen’--benevolence
     no negotiation over status
     T avoids making S look foolish
     expects S to listen, not to challenge

Cultural background-US
     If tutor doesn’t fully know, then status is open for negotiation

Organization styles
     T: uses inductive method
     starts with shared knowledge,
     builds step-by-step
     applies it 7 times

     To S: a waste of time
          "the guy was playing with my head"
          Rejects 7 times

     What has happened?
     What caused the miscommunication?
     Why do they have different assumptions?

A case of conflict in the perception and negotiation of status