Lost in Translation Analysis- Interpersonal Communication

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A reflection on “Lost in Translation”
In everyday life, communication is constantly and subconsciously used. The importance of human connection in life is often overlooked. The Film “Lost in Translation” is focused on two main characters: Bob and Charlotte. They are Americans who have come to Tokyo for an extended stay. During each of their trips, the significance of human communication is brought to light. In the first half of the film, the characters do not meet which intensifies the communication concept of Culture Shock. Many forms of intercultural and inter-relational communication are imbedded in the progression of the characters’ experiences with Culture Shock.

Beyond simply being in a foreign place, Bob and Charlotte have made the transition from a Low Context culture to a High Context Culture (America to Japan). High context cultures favor collective groups of people who share similar experiences and knowledge of their cultural content. More emphasis is placed on inferences to experience in high context communication. Often when groups communicate within a high context culture, messages are transmitted nonverbally: The culture itself does most of the talking. This poses a problem for an outsider, especially coming from a Low context culture. Low context cultures put emphasis on words which have concrete and absolute meanings; Most words have a specific meaning that is translatable to its listener. In a High Context Culture, words may require an understanding of a wide range of emotions and experiences. This immense transition of cultural context may intensify the effects of a Culture Shock.

Kalvero Oberg, a renowned anthropologist, first coined the term ‘Culture Shock’ in 1960. Olberg used this term to express the anxiety that is felt from the exposure to a new culture. He noted that the phenomenon was comparable to a symptom producing ailment. Thus, Olberg developed a Disease Model to analyze the effects of Culture shock. “The disease model (or the medical model) was developed to deal with emotional disorders which originate with Sigmund Freud. The model suggests that an emotional disorder is actually an illness or disease which one can catch like a cold.” (Donfeng) In the event of an exposure to a foreign environment, one is left to reevaluate themselves as a person, their new surroundings, and their own culture. “Most if not all descriptions of culture shock indicate a progression of attitudes regarding one's self and others from a lower to a higher level of development.” ( Pederson 1995) Culture Shock is comprised of four different stages: The Honeymoon, The Crisis, The Recovery, and The Adjustment. Although this provides a guideline for the progression, each feeling does not always transition in this particular order. For instance, a characteristic of the adjustment stage may be experienced during the crisis stage.

The Honey Moon Stage is marked by initial excitement, curiosity, and an overwhelming of the senses. It is uncommon to be self-reflective or concerned with any sort of consequences in this phase. One is temporarily unaware or less aware of forms of danger including potential psychological, physical, or emotional harm. Upon Bob’s arrival to Tokyo he is immediately bombarded with bright lights, signs in foreign languages, and people speaking in an unfamiliar language. He is gazing up from his limo in wonder as he processes the onslaught of new information. This same reaction of awe and marvel is also seen as Charlotte first explores Tokyo. She is fascinated by the culture of the young Japanese teenagers as they intensely play games in an arcade. Charlotte absentmindedly gawks at a teenager without any regard of her self or other surroundings. As each of the characters are in the first stage of a culture shock, they express a lack of self-awareness.

The second stage of Culture Shock is known as The Crisis. At this point, the initial luster of a new setting has disappeared. Problems with...
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