Silence in Cultures

Topics: The dozens, Culture, Sociology Pages: 5 (1683 words) Published: September 29, 2010
The use of silence varies from one culture to another. Western traditional cultures perception of and use of silence are different from eastern cultures of the world. Countries which adapted much of the Greek culture and learned from Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato high value socializing and believe talking as an important activity. Some countires that view the perception of silence in this way are the United States, Germany, and France. However, Eastern cultures such as Japan and India find silence very appealing. Silence is not only developed in Asian cultures, but it is also found in many Scandinavian cultures and American Indian cultures.

The Japanese culture observed that silence can serve a variety of purposes. It can be seen as a way of talking among family members and it is linked with credibility (p.226).It is also a way for them to avoid conflict and embarassment, with proverbs such as “It is the duck that squawks that gets shot”. In India, silence is a very big part of their culture. Their religion, Hinduism, is based on silence, “The Hindu believes that ‘self-realization, salvation, truth, wisdom, peace, and bliss are all achieved in a state of meditation and introspection when the individual is communicating with himself or herself in silence” (p. 226). Scandinavian cultures also oppose the dominant western cultures. They think silence conveys interest and consideration.

Finally, the native Americans believe silence is a sign of a remarkable person. Silence is also the number one rule when interacting with another during important events such as meetings with strangers and periods of mourning. These four cultures show that their people have a lot of respect, proper etiquette, maturity, good manners, and great character towards others.

The Chinese philospher, Confucious left some remarkable provers which stuck in many of today’s silent Asian cultures. “Believe not others’ tales,/Others will lead thee far astray;” “Silence is a friend who will never betray” (p. 226). For the Indian Culture, their religion provided proberbs and are follwed by people of the Hindu religion. Lastly, Chief Joseph, a famous Indian leader, has been quoted by his people and his sayings have been passed down from generation to generation. “It does not require many words to speak the truth” (p. 227). These important figures left important sayings before their death and their proverbs stayed and still “teach” people in their cultures today.

Men and women are from two different cultures, and because of this, communication can sometimes be a problem. As children, boys tend to develop patterns of aggressiveness. A study done by Nicolopoulou, Scales, and Weintraub examine the symbolic imagination of four year old boys and girls. The stories that were told by girl were significantly different than the ones that the boys told. Girls tend to think of stories that include order and social realism. They use rational plots with stable characters, continuous plot lines, and social and familial relationships. Everday domestic life is emphasized along with romantic and fairy tale images of kings and queens. The boys however contain more conflict and disorder. Their stories typically don’t include a stable plot, clearly defined characters, and relationships. While girls tend to find resolution to conflicts before the story ends, boys tend to not be concerned with a resolution. Boys are more concerned with material excess, defiance and destruction to drive their plots.

Another study, conducted by Otnes, Kim, and Kim showed the communication differences in letters to Santa Claus. The results of the sudy confirms the expectations among the gender patterns. Girls usually wrote longer letters, they made more specific references to Christmas, they were more polite, used more inderect requests, and included more expressions of affetion. The boys however made more direct requests. There was no difference between the two on the amount of toys...
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