© 2013 Cengage Learning
Outline
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The Co-Evolution of Language and Human
Culture
 Cultural Influences on Verbal Language

The Structure of Language
 Culture and Language Acquisition
 Language Differences Across Cultures
 Language And Thought – The Sapir Whorf
Hypothesis
Outline (cont’d.)

Cultural Influences on Nonverbal
Communication

Culture and Gesture
 Culture and Gaze
 Culture and Voice
 Culture, Interpersonal Space, and Touch
Outline (cont’d.)

Intracultural and Intercultural Communication
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Bilingualism and Culture
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Cultural Influences on Encoding and Decoding
Intracultural and Intercultural Communication
Improving Intercultural Communication
Psychological Differences as a Function of Language
Perceptions of Bilinguals
Monolingualism and Ethnocentrism
Conclusion
THE CO-EVOLUTION OF
LANGUAGE AND CULTURE
The Co-Evolution of Language
and Culture
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Evolution of human cultures associated with
evolution of ability for verbal language
Language facilitates creation of shared
intentionality
Human cultures exist because of the ability to
have language
Language is the universal psychological ability in
humans
Each culture creates its own unique language
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Reflects differences and reinforces cultures
CULTURAL INFLUENCES ON
VERBAL LANGUAGE
The Structure of Language
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Lexicon: words contained in language
Syntax and grammar: system of rules governing
word forms and how words should be strung
together to form meaningful utterances
Phonology: system of rules governing how
words should sound
Semantics: what words mean
Pragmatics: system of rules governing how
language is used and understood in social
contexts
Culture and Language Acquisition

All humans have ability to acquire language
 Infants produce same range of phonemes
across cultures
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Elemental sounds become associated with
meanings (morphemes)
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Through interactions with others, infants’ sound
production is shaped and reinforced
Gradually combined into words (lexicons) and
sentences
Culture provides rules for phonology and how
words are put together to form meanings
Language Differences
Across Cultures
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Culture and lexicons:
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Culture influences self-other referents (what we call
ourselves and others)
 American English: simple use of self-other referents
 Japanese: more complex self-other referents
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Culture and pragmatics:
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Culture influences pragmatics (rules for how language
is used and understood in different social contexts)
High-context vs. low-context cultures
Honorific speech: denotes status differences
Language and Thought: The Sapir–
Whorf Hypothesis
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Sapir–Whorf hypothesis (linguistic relativity):
speakers of different languages think differently
because of differences in their languages
 Challenges to Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis:
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Berlin and Kay (1969): 11 basic color terms form a
universal hierarchy
Pinker (1995): thought can be formed without words
and language
Fishman (1960): Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
ordered by levels of complexity
* Least sophisticated
** Most sophisticated
CULTURAL INFLUENCES ON
NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION
Cultural Influences on Nonverbal
Communication
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Nonverbal behaviors:
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Facial expressions, nonverbal vocal cues, gestures,
body postures, interpersonal distance, touching
behaviors, gaze and visual attention
Bulk of messages conveyed nonverbally:
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Nonverbal channels more important in understanding
meaning and emotion states
Most people consciously attend to verbal language
Culture and Gestures
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Gestures: hand movements used to illustrate
speech and convey verbal meaning
 Speech illustrators: movements directly tied to
speech; illustrate or highlight what is being said
 Cultures differ in both amount and type of
various illustrative gestures
 Emblems: culture-specific gestures convey
meaning without words
Culture and Gaze
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Gaze: powerful nonverbal behavior with
evolutionary roots in animal behavior
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Gaze associated with dominance, power, aggression,
affiliation, and nurturance
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Cultures create rules concerning gazing and
visual attention
 “Contact cultures” vs. “noncontact cultures”
 Gaze often used as nonverbal sign of respect
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Look at person: sign of respect in U.S.
Look away: sign of respect in other cultures
Culture and Voice
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Voice contains many characteristics that go
beyond speech in communicating messages
 Paralinguistic cues:
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Tone of voice, intonation, pitch, speech rate, use of
silence, and volume
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Emotional states universally conveyed through
voice include anger, disgust, and sadness
 Cultures differ in facilitating voice and verbal
style to illustrate and amplify speech
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Expressive cultures vs. less expressive cultures
Culture, Interpersonal Space,
and Touch
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Proxemics: use of space in interpersonal
interactions
 Cultures differ in interpersonal spaces they allot
to intimate, personal, social, and public
situations
 Interpersonal distance helps to regulate intimacy
by controlling sensory exposures
 Haptics: non-verbal behavior involving touch
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“Contact” culture vs. “noncontact” culture
Violations of space and touch produce aversive
consequences
INTRACULTURAL AND
INTERCULTURAL
COMMUNICATION
Intracultural and Intercultural
Communication
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Messages: information and meanings
exchanged when people communicate
Encoding: process by which people select,
imbed messages, and send signals to others
Signals: observable behaviors carrying
messages encoded during communication
Channels: specific sensory modalities by which
signals are sent and messages retrieved
Decoding: process of receiving signals and
translating signals into meaningful messages
Cultural Influences on Encoding
and Decoding
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Decoding rules develop with encoding rules and
are part of development of communication skills
 Cultural decoding rules involve:
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Cultures share encoding and decoding rules
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Ethnocentrism, filters, emotions, value judgments,
stereotypes/expectations, and social cognitions
People of same culture develop set of expectations
about communication
Decoding rules, with emotions/value judgments,
form basis of “filters” used in viewing world
Intracultural and Intercultural
Communication

Intracultural communication: communication
among people of same cultural background
 Intercultural communication: communication
between people of different cultural backgrounds
 Potential obstacles to effective intercultural
communication:
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Assumptions of similarities, language differences,
nonverbal misinterpretations, preconceptions and
stereotypes, tendency to evaluate, high anxiety or
tension, uncertainty and ambiguity, and conflict
Improving Intercultural
Communication
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Mindfulness:
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Uncertainty reduction:
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Allows for focus on content of signals and messages
Face:
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Allows for ethnorelativism
Important to be mindful of appearances and potential
shame associated with threat to those appearances
Emotion regulation:
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Controlling negative emotions will allow for more
constructive intercultural process
BILINGUALISM AND CULTURE
Psychological Differences as a
Function of Language
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Majority of individuals who speak English also
speak at least one other language fluently
 Bilinguals have two mental representations of
culture encoded in their minds
 Bilinguals show different personalities
depending on if responses are in first language
 Code frame switching: navigating back and forth
from one cultural meaning system to the other
when accessing one language or another
Perceptions of Bilinguals
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Perception that bilinguals lack intelligence :
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Foreign language processing difficulties:
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Takes time to respond in second language and thus
appearance of having cognitive difficulties
Arise due to lack of fluency in speaking language, and
because of uncertainty or ambiguity about intended
meaning of messages
Foreign language effect:
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Temporary decline in thinking ability of people who
use second language
Monolingualism and Ethnocentrism
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Americans are notoriously ignorant of languages
other than English
 Ignorance of other cultures often accompanied
by ethnocentric view rejecting need to learn,
understand, and appreciate other languages,
customs, and cultures
 Americans are most monolingual of all peoples
of world
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Thus, language is intimately tied to culture
CONCLUSION
Conclusion
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Language plays critical role in transmission,
maintenance, and expression of culture
Culture influences language, and language
symbolizes what culture deems important
Understanding culture–language relationship is
important step for intercultural communicators
Understanding nonverbal behavior important for
appreciating cultural communication differences
Emotion regulation and mindfulness enhances
intercultural sensitivity