3.3 Intercultural Studies
Intercultural studies refer here to studies where interaction is the focus. These studies are often linguistic or ethnographic, and research approach is qualitative. Culture-specificity is emphasized as well as contextual factors which may influence communication considerably.
Culture is manifested in communication, or as Bernd Müller-Jacquier puts it:
"... all cultural differences are "hidden" in linguistic manifestations. These expressions are found in all languages and they can be classified in different grammatical and lexical categories or even expressed nonverbally. They are presented in culture-specific explicit or implicit forms by both speakers and listeners" (2003:53).
Müller-Jacquier (2003) talks about "Linguistic Awareness of Cultures" and has elaborated the following "check-list" for looking at cultural differences:
- lexicon/social meaning
- speech acts/speech act sequences
- organization of conversation/conventions of discourse
- choice of topic
- paraverbal factors
- nonverbal means of expression
- culture-specific values/attitudes
- culture-specific behaviour (including rituals) and behaviour sequences
Ethnographers look at communication practices in specific cultural communities. According to Donal Carbaugh (1996),
- communication is patterned in culturally distinctive ways
- rules for producing sociable speech vary from cultural communicative system to cultural communicative system
- use of particular linguistic devices varies in culturally distinctive ways
- each of these differences can be the source of miscommunication and negative cultural stereotypes.
The exploration of cultural speaking patterns makes it possible to hear cultures in linguistic, and non-linguistic, action. It also develops understanding of people's cultural conduct and the dynamics that transpires when one cultural system of expression contacts another (Carbaugh 1996).
(original text by Liisa Salo-Lee, 2006)