Silent Language

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Edward T. Hall

“The Silent Language”


Skopje, 2010

Edward T. Hall was born in Webster Groves, Missouri. He has taught at the University of Denver, Colorado, Bennington College in Vermont,Harvard Business School, Illinois Institute of Technology, Northwestern University in Illinois and others. The foundation for his lifelong research on cultural perceptions of space was laid during World War II when he served in the U.S. Army in Europe and the Philippines.

From 1933 through 1937 Hall lived and worked with the Navajo and the Hopi on native American reservations in northwestern Arizona, the subject of his autobiographical West of the Thirties. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1942 and continued field work and direct experience throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. During the 1950s he worked for the United States State Department, at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), teaching inter-cultural communications skills to foreign service personnel, developed the concept of "High context culture" and "low context culture", and wrote several popular practical books on dealing with cross-cultural issues. He is considered a founding father of intercultural communication as an academic area of study. 

Hall first created the concept of proxemics, or personal spaces. In his book, The Hidden Dimension, he describes the subjective dimensions that surround each of us and the physical distances one tries to keep from other people, according to subtle cultural rules.

In The Silent Language (1959), Hall coined the term polychronic to describe the ability to attend to multiple events simultaneously, as opposed to "monochronic" individuals and cultures who tend to handle events sequentially.

In 1976, he released his third book, Beyond Culture, which is notable for having developed the idea of extension transference; that is, that humanity's rate of evolution has and does increase as a consequence of its creations, that we evolve as much through our "extensions" as through our biology. However; with extensions such as the wheel, cultural values, and warfare being technology based, they are capable of much faster adaptation than genetics.

Admirers of Hall's style of grounding anthropological theorizing in concrete examples would probably also like the work of sociologist Stanislav Andreski. Robert Shuter, a well-known intercultural and cross-cultural communication researcher, commented: "Edward Hall's research reflects the regimen and passion of an anthropologist: a deep regard for culture explored principally by descriptive, qualitative methods.... The challenge for intercultural communication... is to develop a research direction and teaching agenda that returns culture to preeminence and reflects the roots of the field as represented in Edward Hall's early research."  He died at his home on July 20, 2009 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.[1]

The book Silent language is a book of intercultural communication between people. The book isn’t a translation of one language to another, but is some kind of analysis of nonverbal communication. Nonverbal behavior of different cultures is very different and complex and in successful communication with other cultures isn’t enough just to know the language of people, also is very important to know their nonverbal cultural behavior. While writing this book Hall was informed about Americans who was working in foreign countries. All these people were selected by their effectiveness. First they need to speak and read the language of the foreigners and then to informed of that foreign culture. So all Americans who are working in government and business in foreign countries have trainings for foreign language, history, foreign government and most important the nonverbal communication of that culture. Otherwise there would be misunderstandings where one side always blames the other side of the intercultural communicating. Like Americans and Greek people....
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