Effect of Culture on Communication Essay.
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There is a Greek saying that says “every tale may be told in a different way”, this saying may precisely clarify the influence culture has. It may also be viewed as a reflection of the things one might need to accomplish before communicating with people from diverse cultures – fathom the cultures before interacting with others. This elicits the first question, what is the role of culture in the daily life? And how might culture affect communication? These questions might be explained from the original aims and principles of communication. In the communication process, both the sender and the receiver constitute the two facets of a conversation. However, this role might not be limited to a single person; people are both senders and receivers. Whenever one says something expecting a feedback, they become the sender, however, when he or she is listening, they become the receivers. This way messages are conveyed. But can people convey messages without a language? Languages may be described as the tools for conveying messages; they form the different characteristics of culture. A language is like a magic code which is woven by the medium. The medium directs how to code the message, and the recipient uses similar principles to translate these codes into messages. From the communication process, it is easy to conclude that language is what causes the difference in communications (Wood, 02).
Now that is clear that language might affect the mode of decoding messages, one might seek to clarify whether culture affects communication. Well, it is impossible to separate the use of language from culture. In its basic nature, language comprises a set of symbols, and the rules that people from different communities use to combine these symbols so as to understand the language. The cultural influence of language might be exemplified in the theoretical perspectives of Sapir-Wharf hypothesis which views language as a guide to “social reality.” In this hypothesis, language is not only seen as means of reporting experience, but rather, and more importantly a way of defining experience (Wharf et al., 56). The theory implies that human beings may neither live only in the subjective life, nor exclusively in the realm of social activity, but are subject to a certain language which forms the medium of expression in their society. And this is the relationship between language and culture. On condition that language affects the way of decoding when conveying messages, one may safely draw the conclusion that culture does have influence on the way we communicate.
But which aspects does the influence reflect? And what will happen when the influence occurs in the communication? For example, Confusian thought rules the thoughts for thousands of years, and this fact determines the culture in High-context culture, but in western counties, they have the Low-context culture (Mortensen, 28). Then what’s the difference? In a Low-context communication, the mass of the information is normally vested in the explicit codes, while a high-context communication is just the opposite. In an intercultural conversation, regardless of the difference of context in different cultures, the conversation will be embarrassed and it may harm further relationship. Another example would be some cases when the meaning of the same words in language A happens to be totally different from the meaning in language B when translated directly. On one hand, the word “梅兰竹菊” in Chinese means a man who has a perfect personality, but when translated into English, it means nothing. On the other hand, “kick the bucket” may mean die in English, but the same word in Chinese has a totally different meaning. The same case may apply when the conversation is between Chinese and some other languages. This way, it is further clear the important role culture plays in communication.