Intercultural Communication Barriers

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Humans have been communicating since four million years. On the other hand, the birth of culture is estimated to have token place about 35,000 years ago. Today, both culture and communication have evolved considerably and have become interdependent of one another, to the point that communication is considered to be a product of culture. Thus, our own culture has a deep impact on our thoughts and behaviors. Since each culture has its distinct aspects, intercultural communication can be the cause of conflict and disorder. There are three main issues which are at the root of the problem of intercultural miscommunication : language as a barrier, cultural diversity and ethnocentrism. I will analyze these three notions in situations in which intercultural communication is frequent such as : the workplace, the classroom and vacation trips.

The way people communicate varies widely between, and even within, cultures. One aspect of communication style is language usage. Language has always been perceived as a link between people but it can also constitute a barrier. Across cultures, some words and phrases are used in different ways. For example, even in countries that share the English language, the meaning of "yes" varies from "maybe, I'll consider it" to "definitely so," with many shades in between . Furthermore, communication between cultures which do not share the same language is considerably more difficult . Each culture, has its distinct syntax, expressions and structure which causes confusion in intercultural communication. For example , in Asian countries the word "no" is rarely used, so that "yea" can mean "no" or "perhaps". Therefore, an American traveling to Japan might be considered impolite if he ignores this rule. Furthermore, individuals who are not comfortable with a certain language may not be taken seriously. Such is the case in the classroom, where a student who has a perfect knowledge of the subject in question may have difficulty

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