Document Sample
9 Powered By Docstoc
					Handbook Intercultural Communication
Ed. by Helga Kotthoff and Helen Spencer-Oatey Series Handbooks on Applied Linguistics, de Gruyter 2007

In today‟s globalised world of international contact and multicultural interaction, effective intercultural communication is increasingly seen as a pre-requisite for social harmony and organisational success. This Handbook of Intercultural Communication, like others in the series, takes a “problem-solving” approach to the various issues that arise in real-life intercultural interaction. The editors, Helga Kotthoff and Helen Spencer-Oatey, have brought together experts from a range of disciplines, including linguistics, psychology and anthropology, to provide a multidisciplinary perspective on the field, whilst simultaneously anchoring it in Applied Linguistics. The various sections of the handbook not only provide a synthesis of current theories, concepts and frameworks in intercultural communication, but also present authentic interactional data and empirical findings from a range of contexts such as the courtroom, business and health. In addition, the book deals with key controversial issues, and has a section devoted to practical applications. The result is an authoritative and clearly written volume that will prove invaluable to professionals, researchers and students alike.

Here some abstract of chapters

2. Discourse, cultural diversity and communication: a linguistic anthropological perspective

John J. Gumperz and Jenny Cook-Gumperz


Language difference and cultural relativity

Anthropology‟s critical contribution to intercultural communication is the insight that language differences affecting interpretation in everyday life are not just matters of semantics and grammar. Speaking and understanding also depend on the social situations in which verbal exchanges take place. Over the past four decades the developing field of linguistic anthropology has refined these initial insights into a theory of communicative practice that accounts for both universals of contexts and cultural differences in interpretation. The early post World War Two research on intercultural communication was bedeviled by the commonsense assumption that since language shapes the way we classify our experiential worlds and therefore think, communicating across cultural boundaries becomes inherently problematic. Popular writings on this issue appear in many forms, from undergraduate term papers to political arguments for language and immigration policies and reflect a “language myth” of essentialized cultural difference that many scholars have attempted to argue

against e.g. Agar (2002); Bauer and Trudgill (1998).

While ideas akin to what we now call relativity have been debated at various times throughout history, particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries, it was not until the early part of the 20th century that the notion was systematized and integrated into then prevailing empiricist academic tradition of linguistic and anthropological analysis of Boas, Sapir, Whorf. In particular Whorf‟s popular writings (1956) and the striking examples he cited from his own professional experience as an insurance investigator, illustrated how semantic and grammatical inter-language differences may bring about potentially serious, sometimes fatal misunderstandings. This work brought linguistic and cultural relativity to the attention of a wider public. A second generation of scholars set out to test Whorf‟s findings by combining ethnographic fieldwork on culture with systematic linguistic research (Carol and Casagrande 1959). But as Lucy (1992) argues, these early attempts to validate Whorf‟s insightful and suggestive arguments through comparative analysis were theoretically and empirically flawed, and failed to come to conclusions. Following these failures, scholarly interest turned away from relativity to focus on universals of language and thought.

In their recent re-examination of the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis of linguistic and cultural relativity, Gumperz and Levinson (1996) argue that to the extent linguistic categorization reflects cultural codes, these codes must be treated as historically created conventional ways of referring which do not necessarily determine what people do or think at any one time. To show how language can affect thought and lead to action we need to take a different and more detailed perspective on communication, a perspective which distinguishes between grammatical and semantic structures and the historical knowledge they encapsulate on the one hand, and broader communicative processes that rests on language yet have special, often metaphoric, significance in evoking contexts and constructing social personae, on the other.

7. Intercultural communication and the relevance of cultural specific repertoires of communicative genres1 Susanne Günthner

1. Introduction As studies in Intercultural Communication reveal, „otherness‟ is not an objective relationship or a given entity between individuals or groups, but is the result of interactive accomplishments and interactive processes of attributions (Schuetz 1944/1972; Hahn 1994). But how is „otherness‟ constructed and made relevant in interaction? And what are the situative functions of interactively constructed „otherness‟?

In his phenomenological essay The Stranger, Alfred Schuetz (1944/1972) analyzes the typical situation in which „strangers‟ find themselves in their attempt to interpret the cultural pattern of a social group which they approach, and to orient themselves within it. In this situation the so far unquestioned and taken for granted schemes for interpreting the social world no longer function as a system of tested 'recipes at hand': The hitherto available recipes and their efficiency, as well as the typical attitudes required by them, are no an longer unquestioned 'matter of course' which give both security and assurance. Instead, the knowledge that has been taken for granted until now and has provided trustworthy recipes for interpreting the social world, becomes unworkable and a „crisis‟ arises. Strangers find that neither the schemes of interpretation and expression, brought from their cultural group, nor the underlying basic assumptions concerning the „thinking as usual‟ are any longer valid within the approached group (Schuetz 1944/1972: 104). Situations in which we are confronted with the limits of our taken for granted schemes of interpreting often lead to processes of categorizing into „us‟ and „them‟, and thus to the interactive construction of cultural „otherness‟. As research in Anthropological Linguistics has shown, the proper loci for the study of culture, cultural identities and differences – and thus, for studying the construction of cultural „otherness‟ – are „communicative practices‟ (Voloshinov 1929/1986; Hanks 1996; Günthner 2000a). Within the analysis of „communicative practices‟ the concept of „communicative genres‟ (Luckmann 1986; Bergmann and Luckmann 1995; Günthner and Knoblauch 1995; Günthner 2000a) plays a major role.

9. Ritual and style across cultures Helga Kotthoff

1. Introduction Ritual and style play an important part in the (re)construction of culture. Rituals are multidimensional, social performances of collective knowledge and sense making. In agreement with Geertz (1973) I see ritual performances as “meta-social commentaries” which can be interpreted in all their shades of meaning by producers and recipients within a community of practice. Various ritual theorists have emphasized that their social functions are more important than the instrumental ones (Leach 1976; Werlen 2001); they bind the group together, inspire joint action and structure the social reality. They have a beginning and an end and thus a time structure. By highlighting expressive and aesthetic dimensions they also stimulate emotional and metaphysical experiences of the participants (Knoblauch andKotthoff 2001). Style comes into play. Collins (2004: xi) suggests that we can see how variations in the intensity of rituals lead to variations in social membership patterns “not on the global level of „society‟ in the large sense but as memberships that are local, sometimes ephemeral, stratified and conflictual”. Hence, it is always important to identify how a ritual is carried out stylistically. Style

features indexicalize the social meaning of an event and they invite inferencing (see Gumperz and Cook-Gumperz in this volume; Eckert 2000).

In this chapter I will discuss a variety of rituals, from simple rituals such as gift presentation to complex ones such as toasting. I will primarily discuss examples from Germany and countries of the former Soviet Union, especially from Caucasian Georgia. We will take a close look at cultural specificities and the knowledge which is demanded for the performance of toasts at the dinner table. All stylistic shades are interpreted, which sometimes in crosscultural encounters leads to misunderstanding or astonishment. Some rituals are open to everybody; some are exclusive. Toasts are a genre known in many societies. In the former Soviet Union, however, toasting was of outstanding importance and it continues to be so. In Caucasian Georgia, especially, it is also a way to “do being Georgian” (as ethnomethodologists would put it, see Spreckels and Kotthoff in this volume) because it is often used to confess national values, which are communicated in a very emotional style.

10. Lingua franca communication in multiethnic contexts. Christiane Meierkord

Lingua francas are languages used for communication between speakers who do not share either of their mother tongues. It is characteristic of lingua franca communication that the constellations of speaker interacting in the lingua franca are ever changing. For example, English may be used for communication between a German and a Japanese, but also between a Xhosa and a white speaker of Afrikaans in South Africa. The community of lingua franca users is, thus, always a heterogeneous one, comprising of individuals from a vast number of different linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Against this definition, lingua franca communication has been established as one of three types of intercultural communication by Knapp (1991), alongside 'foreign language communication' interactions between native and non-native speakers, and "mediated communication" - interactions conducted with the help of an interpreter. Knapp discusses lingua franca communication as involving an increased number of communicative conventions and linguistic signs, and as, thus, resulting in the participants' heightened insecurity as to what constitutes appropriate behaviour in the interaction. Other scholars have chosen not to approach lingua franca communication as inherently problematic. Instead, they assume that these interactions result in the construction of a new, in-between, third culture (e.g. Koole and ten Thije 1994). The first part of this article relates lingua franca communication to intercultural communication, language contact, and multilingualism, pointing out the differences from, and similarities with, other forms of intercultural communication. This discussion will combine with an account of some of the languages used as lingua francas.

15. Intercultural communication in healthcare settings

Celia Roberts
Most of the literature on cultural issues in healthcare settings stems from medical anthropology and does not focus on the details of interaction. The sociological and sociolinguistic studies take a more interactional perspective but are concerned with asymmetrical encounters generally rather than with intercultural communication. The applied linguistic literature on intercultural communication in healthcare would make up only a slim volume, although it is growing. It is important, therefore, to make connections with the wider literature, not least because of the contributions anthropology and sociology have made to an understanding of discourse, identity and equality in healthcare settings. The work on healthcare discourse has concentrated on the health professional – patient interaction. Following Goffman, this is the “front stage” work of professionals. However, hospitals and other healthcare institutions are held together as much by “backstage” work: the talk and text between health professionals, managers and other staff in healthcare organizations (Atkinson 1995). And the institution of medicine and the professions within it are largely maintained by the education, training and selection work that prepares and develops health professionals. Much of this is carried out in high stakes gate-keeping encounters. So, this “backstage” work is also included in this chapter.

20. Communicating Identity in Intercultural Communication Janet Spreckels and Helga Kotthoff

When studying intercultural communication, the question automatically arises of the identities through which individuals encounter each other and how this encounter can be analyzed. When an Italian and a Swedish surgeon jointly perform an operation in Zurich, their national identities are not necessarily important. What is relevant under the given circumstances is that both are surgeons, can communicate with each other, and who has more experience in performing particular surgical procedures. In order to discuss, in the second part of the article, the various procedures which set cultural categorization as relevant, in the first part the conceptualization of “identity” will be outlined.1

Shared By: