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Dr. Sabine Krajewski Lecturer in International Communications The University of Nottingham Ningbo 199 Taikang East Road University park Ningbo 315100 China Sabine.Krajewski@nottingham.edu.cn I have been employed as lecturer in International Communications at the University of Nottingham, Ningbo since August 2005. Prior to this appointment, I taught English and Cultural Studies at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany, for a few years. During that time I completed my doctoral thesis at the faculty of cultural studies (Life goes on. And sometimes it doesn’t. 2001). My MA degree is in American Literature and Linguistics (Free University Berlin) and my first teaching position was as a DAAD lecturer for German language and literature in London (London Guildhall University) during the nineties. Dr. Sabine Krajewski University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China Abstract My paper would fit under the heading • Lost in Translation: Lessons from Cross-Cultural Communication Format: power point presentation. (Taboo) lessons from Cross-Cultural Communications Sociological literature stresses the protective function of taboos: they can prevent social conflicts and function to mark all those phenomena in a society which could be potentially dangerous for its members. Certain things which should not be said, done or thought are internalized from childhood on and facilitate “correct” behavior. The taboo protects the survival and the future of a community by simply fading out or covering things which could menace the identity of the group and its members: dark sides of history, death, illness, questions concerning the sense of life, bodily functions. Taboos should not be confused with prohibitions; they are in fact often more effective than direct bans. While direct bans or proscriptions are marked explicitly and consequences are known to those who disregard the rules, taboos seem to be self-evident and quite natural and they are more or less internalized; therefore we can say they are based on a silent consensus, of which the affected persons often are not even aware. Taboos are not ‘officially’ codified in a juridical way or like grammatical rules. The breaking of taboos results in shame, disgust, fury, and hatred etc. – the violation of bans, however, provokes rational reactions (as for example criticism, negative judgment, discussion or a punishment). When a taboo is broken, the sanctions are not predictable and irrational reactions are likely. Though taboos and the internalized knowledge thereof usually help us regulate social life, they can be obstacles in intercultural communications. I will use examples form everyday life to illustrate the complexity of taboos and their functions in a globalized environment by using examples from everyday life, business communications and university settings.
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