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4. Principles of Intercultural Communication

The lessons learned from the above sections teaches us to take up certain principles for being effective and successful in future intercultural interactions. The  basic principles of intercultural communication are as follows.


4.1. Language, culture, linguaculture


The process of gobalization is characterized by growing frequency of intercultural encounters, which gives rise of communication failures. Analysis of failures sheds light on the following facts: 1) national languages are full of so far unspecified culture bound features, 2) verbal communication is accompanied by culture-specific nonverbal signals, often misundestood by the unprepared counterparts. By these reasons the dialogue between the representatives of different cultures might change into a „mine field" of communicative failures. That is why during the period of gobalization the concept and discipline of intercultural communication becomes prevalent. The growing number of communication failures gives also importance to research of nonverbal channels. As a result, there must be a change from  teaching / learning foreign laguages into teaching / learning foreign linguacultures. From the viewpoint of ICC a linguaculture is seen as a superior semiotic system including and governing verbal and nonverbal sign systems. In the light of the above discussed cultural dimensions,  these elements constitute the semiotic frameworks of  different linguacultures.


4.2. Intercultural Mediation


  All kinds of interaction between the representatives of different linguacultures are treated as intercultural mediation. The prototypical forms of intercultural mediation are translating and  interpreting. Translators and interpreters mediate between different linguacultures and their representatives. When foreign  (e. g. Hungarian and American) speakers communicate in a shared language (e. g. English) it is also a form of intercultural mediation, since the interlocutors are the mediators between their own linguacultures. The same applies to tourist guides conducting tours for foreigners. Since speaking in lingua francas means mediating between linguacultures, speakers have to provide explicite and relevant utterances for adequate perception.


4.3. Channels of communication


            The verbal channel is mostly conscious (but sometimes uncoscious) way of communication. Verbal communication refers to the the form of communication in which message is transmitted by word of mouth and a piece of writing. The objective of every communication is to have people understand what we are trying to convey. When we talk to others, we assume that others understand what we are saying because we know what we are saying. But this is not always the case. Usually people bring their own attitude, perception, emotions and thoughts about the topic and hence creates barrier in delivering the right meaning. So in order to deliver the right message, you must put yourself on the other side of the table and think from your receiver's point of view (see: Business-Communication).

            The non-verbal channel is mostly uncoscious (but sometimes coscious) way of communication, called by E- Hall „The Silent Language". Nonverbal communication is the sending or receiving of wordless messages. Communication other than oral and written, such as gesture, body language, posture, tone of voice or facial expressions, is called nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication is all about the body language of speaker. Nonverbal communication helps receiver in interpreting the message. Often, nonverbal signals reflects the situation more accurately than verbal messages. Sometimes nonverbal response contradicts verbal communication and hence affect the effectiveness of message. Nonverbal communication have the following three elements:  the speaker's appearance: clothing, hairstyle, neatness, use of cosmetics;  surrounding: room size, lighting, decorations, furnishings; facial expressions, gestures, postures, voice tone, volume, speech rate (ibid).

            People express meaning not just in what they say but in the way they say it. The nonverbal  features employed by a speaker provide nuanced meaning, communicate attitudes and convey emotion. Nonverbal features alert the listener as to how to interpret the message. Many of these features are culturally coded and inherent in verbal communication, often at a subconscious level. For example, a normal volume of speaking in the United States is perceived as aggressive in many other societies. Often, though, people consciously utilize paralanguage. For example, when someone is saying something sarcastically, he or she may adjust the intonations used (see: Business-Finance).


4.4. Subconscious elements in communicative behaviour


            Chileans greet each other with hugs and kisses as a step to shorten the distance between them and foreigners. However, this style of greeting is very uncommon in India or China. So that Chilean found it easier to greet fellows from US-America or Germany in their common way.  Indians might have not a to Germany comparable person to person conversation and that Indians may not exchange as much pleasantries as Germans do. In China persons of every age but with the same gender are walking embraced and hand in hand at the streets together, what would be uncommon in some of the other MF countries (see: Cultural Influences).

            When people speak to people in other cultures, sometimes language is one of the barriers to communicating. However, even when people are speaking the same language, cultural differences may affect the way they communicate. These differences may be seen in people's verbal and nonverbal communication styles. Culture can affect the facial expressions that people use as well as the way they interpret the facial expressions of others. In the United States, for example, smiling can indicate that people are friendly and approachable. In Japanese culture, however, people are expected not to smile because smiling at strangers is seen as inappropriate -- particularly for women.

        The way people speak may be determined by whether they are a high context culture or a low context culture. In high context cultures, people explain everything that they're talking about and assume that others don't have it any information on a certain topic. In low context cultures, on the other hand, it is assumed that people understand what's being said to them and as a result, they do not explain everything that they're talking about.

        Eye contact can show an interest in another person and attentiveness to a message. In some cultures, making a lot of eye contact conveys honesty, while avoiding eye contact is seen as shifty and dishonest. Other cultures, however, have the opposite view of eye contact. These cultures believe that making a lot of eye contact is insulting and a sign of aggression; people in these cultures will show that they're paying attention to another person by glancing at them only occasionally.

        Speaking can be formal or informal depending on cultural norms. Informal cultures assume that everyone is equal, so people in these cultures speak the same way to everyone. In more formal cultures, it is assumed that there is a hierarchy among people and they are expected to a follow certain protocols depending to whom they are talking.

        The way people touch one another may depend upon whether they are a contact culture or a noncontact culture. In contact cultures, people are expected to touch each other when they're speaking and stand close to each other. In noncontact cultures, this type of touching is seen as inappropriate, pushy and aggressive. In these cultures, people rarely touch one another and tend to stand farther apart (see: Communication Styles).