Cross cultural languages

Cross cultural languages

  1. Describe all SIX of Hofstede’s various dimensions, with examples
  2. Power distance

The most important thing here is how a society handles and distributes power. The less powerful expect that power is distributed unequally. Large degree of power distance leads to a hierarchical order where everybody has a place whereby lower power distance makes people to demand for justification for inequalities of power. The less powerful in the society accept power that is distributed unequally. An example here is fundamentalism where high power distance is witnessed.

  1. Individualism verses collectivism

Hofstede describes individualism as preference for a loosely knit framework where individuals do the work of only taking care of themselves and their family members. It is the higher side of this dimension. The lower side is termed as collectivism and is a situation where the individual pledges unquestioning loyalty to the relatives and other members of a particular in-group so that he can be looked after. An example is libertarianism and survivalists in the US.

  • Masculinity versus feminity

Masculinity depicts achievements, heroism and other values like assertiveness and material rewards due to success and achievement in the society. In this situation the society is more competitive as everyone wants to outdo the others to get these rewards. On the lower side, feminity has to deal with a situation where there is cooperation and modesty. Feminity values the art of taking care of the weak and striving at achieving quality of life. Such a society becomes consensus oriented. Examples here are fundamentalism seen in competition and pluralism seen in cooperation.


  1. Uncertainty avoidance

This tries to express the degree in which the society members express uncertainty and ambiguity. What is important in this dimension is how the society tries to deal with uncertainty. In this situation, the societies that strongly exhibit this dimension often try to maintain strict codes of beliefs and cannot tolerate unorthodox behaviors and ideas. Those that express it weakly are more relaxed and to them, practice is more important than principles.

  1. Long term versus short term orientation

When the society searches for virtue, then one is dealing with long term orientation dimension. To these people, truth depends on situation, context and time and therefore they show ability to adapt to changing conditions and have a stronger propensity to save and invest with goals of achieving results in whatever they do. On the other hand, societies that have short term dimensions have a stronger concern of establishing the absolute truth and are always normative in the way they think. These societies strive at saving the future with focus at achieving quick results.

  1. Indulgence versus restraint

Indulgence is used in a situation where the society freely gratifies basic natural human drives leading to enjoyment of life and having fun while restraint stands for exactly the opposite and has strict social norms.




  1. What are Edward Hall’s main contributions to the study of intercultural communication?

Edward Hall was an American anthropologist who did a lot of work with the Hopi and Navajo tribes. In his research and work with these communities and tribes, he came up with observations that cultures of different tribes position themselves in space and time differently. He also created concepts like proxemics that talks about how people judge distances as either by sound, visually or by smell and concluded that media alters human sense ratios.

He wrote many books after a thorough research to help in understanding the intercultural communication. In one of his books, The Silent Language, he coined the term polychromic which simply describes the ability to attend multiple events or do multiple tasks at the same time. This contrasts monochromic cultures where events are handled sequentially. These principles he gave the name chronemics.

In another book titled The Hidden Dimension, he talks about temporal and spatial dimensions that surround each individual and are culturally specific like the physical distances that people maintain between themselves.

  1. Discuss cultural identity theory, with examples

Cultural identity is the sense of what or who one is. It is constructed socially and is a product of nurture and not necessarily nature. In cultural identity theory, there are two parts. The first one is early cultural identity theory while the second one is contemporary cultural identity theory. In early cultural identity theory, the individual’s messages during interaction often contain multiple types of identities that are cultural and they differ in salience and importance. They also have varying visibility. The identities can also be produced through avowal versus ascription. Here, all communication involves constructing aspects of you e.g. “I did not buy the textbook”. Managing expressions is also crucial as people around make assessment about one based on the massage that he communicates. Contemporary cultural identity theory is much more influenced by critical perspectives. Here, identity is fluid, continually changing and not fixed. Another example is political beliefs that are ever changing in a person’s life time. This theory also focuses on fixed identities and is contextual. There is continual dance between self avowal and other-appraisal as depicted in being a good student.

  1. Discuss (1) micro cultures and co-cultures and (2) muted group theory, providing examples of each.
  2. Micro cultures and co-cultures can be used similarly although micro-cultural groups can become dominant while co-cultures are not dominant. Micro-cultures are said to share a large number of cultural beliefs while still maintaining a world view of their own. These types of cultures have physical and cultural traits as in race and sex. They often have involuntary membership and must marry within the in-group. In other instances, members must be aware of their status in the group and there is unequal treatment from the groups that dominate.
  3. In mutated group theory, micro groups within a bigger group end up being forced to communicate within the dominant mode of expression since the dominant group does not provide the micro-culture’s perceptions and perhaps experiences. In such a case, the broader culture is the one that define the standards for communication and co-cultures are stereotyped. Examples are seen in the case of Gagana Samoa that become a language only after the 1960s, and also the BBC English Accents.
  4. Discuss (1) the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis; and (b) Bernstein’s language/speech codes, providing examples of each.

Sapir-Whorf hypothesis states that people who speak particular language possess some thoughts in their minds which individuals from other different languages cannot always understand.  In addition peoples native languages has a strong connection to what they have in mind, that is, it influences their actions and thoughts.  The theory further states that how well an individual understands or comprehend a particular language is dependent on how the language itself is structured. Some languages are complex in the composition of letters while others are simpler and easier to understand. Further the theory believes that there are no constraints to the sematic how various types of languages are spoken.

This implies that all languages however their organization, comprehend certain things the same way. According to Saphiere (2005), “communication style is our ticket to more accurately interpret the sights, sound, smell, tastes and feelings.”For example, the structure and composition of a particular language may just determine how individuals from different languages distinguish various colors. Moreover people who live in winter-prone areas have a better perspective of the snows around them because what they speak about on daily occasions is just composed of different forms of snows.

  • Bernstein talked about elaborate and restricted codes. Elaborated code is the language that well educated people use. The vocabulary is detailed, more extensive and yet articulates. It is the language that scholars use and can be found in formal settings and in text books. Any well-structured sentence that is formal can be used here as an example, e.g. “May I have that manuscript please?”

Restricted code on the other hand is the language used in informal setups. It is used by families and friends and can sometimes contain slang or be grammatically incorrect. It is a very basic language and can be used even by working and middle class in their social day to-day life. An example can be “dude, let’s go get some rum.”

  1. What are the various cross communication styles discussed by Gudykundst and Ting Toomey? Provide examples of each one

Gudykundst and Ting Toomey talk about four communication styles which are discussed in brief in the paragraphs below.

Direct vs. Indirect Style

Direct style is used by a speaker when he wants to express his own needs. It is used when he wants to show his true intentions. It is commonly used in individualistic and low context cultures and corresponds best to the values of such cultures. The language is straight forward and precise and has emphasis in it. In such a situation, words like “no”, absolutely and certainly can be used. On the other hand, high context cultures prefer using indirect language. This involves imprecise and ambiguous words that are aimed at inferring the listener’s skills at understanding the speaker’s meaning. One may say that it is cold when he just wants somebody to close the window.
4.2 Elaborate vs. Exacting vs. Succinct Style

These styles are used when describing the quality of speech. The elaborate is rich and expressive with use of idioms, proverbs and metaphors. The enacting style is in low context cultures. The speaker uses exact words that describe his intentions. In the succinct style, there are use of pause, understatements and silences to communicate.

Personal Vs. contextual style

Under personal style, societies composed of members who are selfless and individualistic always view each other as their equals and this is also shown in how they speak/their language. Here factors such as difference in income levels, status in the society, age, sex and occupations do not come between individuals to disrupt how they use certain language styles. In their speeches, both audience and the speaker pose equal rights and no one is above the other. On the other hand, in contextual style, certain factors affect how people use different types of languages in their relations. Characteristics like age difference, education levels and occupational status greatly influence language styles. In addition it is believe that individuals who use the most appropriate language are the learned ones in the society.

Instrumental vs. effective styles    

The instrumental style is an objective oriented style in which the speaker and audience are completely different. The main aim is to make listeners understand the message and it involves multiple steps of thorough explanations. It is affected but the attitude of the speaker towards his listeners in which case confrontational style is used in persuading the listener. Irrespective of whether the audience is listening or not, the speaker wills definitely speaking just to try and change listeners’ attitude towards the information. On the contrary, the effective style applies a listener-oriented style. The objectives of both speaker and listener are brought together and the speaker concentrates not only on the message, but also on how listeners feel.

  1. Discuss the major components of nonverbal communication.

“Nonverbal behavior refers to actions as distinct from speech.” (Mehrabian 1977).The major components of nonverbal communication include the following: the environment, body language, prosodic and paralinguistic voice features. These four components determine the type of language as well as enhancing the communication. To begin with, the environment where the speech is being carried out determines the seriousness. In a hospital environment for example, doctors are meant to be serious people who speak about important and weighty matters. Therefore in a hospital situation one expects a very formal language.

The body language is very important. One can use gestures in communicating. A grinning face means happiness or joy while a grim face means seriousness. Other body language signs like just sitting down while the elders are lacking seats might just mean disrespect. Again, shaking hands is important in different contexts and might have different meanings.


Mehrabian, A., (1977). Nonverbal Communication. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.

Saphiere, D, et al., (2005). Communication Highwire: Leveraging the Power of Diverse

CommunicationStyles. Yarmouth: Interllectual Press.




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