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Applied Linguistics

Tth Sra Krisztina

Cross-Cultural Communication
1.) Introduction - The Importance of Cross-Cultural Communication
- Central to both theoretical and applied linguistics

- Examines the causes of misunderstandings in cross-cultural communication

- It is crucial for nearly all public and private human encounters
- To accomplish any public or private goals, people have to talk to each other from more or less

different cultural backgrounds

Definition of cross-cultural: speakers of different language from different countries,
speakers from the same country of different class, region, age, gender

2.) Paralinguistic Signals in Communication

- Paralinguistic and prosodic features or communicational devices: tone of voice, pitch,
loudness, pacing, pauses.

-Contextualisation cues: how one means what one says. We encode and decode this automatically
-Indirectness: people usually do not come out and say what they mean, we negotiate - to get an
idea what the other might think, and be ready to adjust or take back.
Two benefits of indirectness:
- Rapport: close and harmonious relationship in which people or groups understand each

others feelings or ideas and communicate well.

Defensive: in case ones intentions are not received well, one can avoid outright
disagreement by not having gone on record.

-There are cultural differences with respect to how much and what type of indirectness is expected in
particular settings.

-Indirectness makes misunderstandings a danger in any conversation, but they are even more likely
to when people come from different cultural backgrounds.
3.) Examples of Cross-Cultural Differences
- speed: faster speaker usually takes the floor

- pause: there are cultural and subcultural differences in how much pause one expects speakers to

allow within turns and between turns. Whichever party expects less pause will repeatedly and
predictably be the first to interpret a turn-taking pause as an uncomfortable silence, an indication
that the other has nothing to say. What is intended as a friendly act of keeping the conversation
going is interpreted as an unfriendly act of not giving the other person a chance to talk.
overlap: more than one person talking at a time, could be: to show of understanding by
talking at the same time as the speaker, to finishing sentences with or instead of the speaker to

Applied Linguistics

Tth Sra Krisztina

show that the listener knows where the sentence is going, to asking questions, the answers to
which were obviously about to come.
machine gun questions: fast, overlapping and expressive speakers likely to ask a series of
questions that are typically personal, high in pitch and can throw the other speaker off his topic.

4.) Effects of Cross-Cultural Differences

- when conversationalists share expectations about how conversational devices are used

communication is smooth
when conversationalists have different habits of using these devices conversation becomes

tricky even hard to interpret and understand.

cross-cultural communication can lead to:

- Positive outcome: when a phrase or a common expression of a language is translated into


another, can seem charming, novel or creative.

Negative outcome or stereotyping: New Yorkers are often called pushy for the way they
stand close, talk loud or talking at the same time from a non-New Yorkers point of view.
In contrast, New Yorkers expecting these expressions of rapport, find many non-New
Yorker cold and dull.