Intercultural Communication for week 5(简倩桢,2019级硕士)
发布时间: 2019-12-11 浏览次数: 21

Topic for today’s course is ‘Language and Culture’. Before getting straight to the point, two students shared their experience of intercultural adaptation in China. Student from Benin mostly talked about culture shock including: people drinking hot water; old people still working hard; people usually don’t greet an unknown person. The other student from Zambia basically talked about his life in our univerisity since he’d first come to China in 2014. From their presentation we could tell how their lives and attitudes in China had been changed gradually. They started their life here in low spirits due to culture shock. It happened that both of them are black. Some people might have never seen any black people in their lives so these people just took photos of them whenever they met one, which made both of them uncomfortable and unadaptable. It is indeed weird and distressing being aimed by cameras constantly. Thankfully, they soon befriend with amiable Chinese who helped them adapt their lives in China.

Hereto all groups have presented their experience about intercultural adaptation, among which three things are most frequently mentioned: hot water, toilet and language. In my opinion, hot water and toilet belong to culture shock from the cognitive perspective. Foreign students might never know that Chinese believe hot water is good for our health and that we use squatting toilet, but they must know that we speak Chinese. As far as I observe, language plays an essential role in accelerating their process of intercultural adaptation in China. For example, student from Benin who just gave his presentation seems like he has already adapted to his life here. I talked to him after class, and was surprised to find out that he speaks really good Chinese. He said he had been in China for five years. I assume that he speaks French, Chinese and English in order of fluency. During the conversation, I really had a feeling that he was calm, confident and pleased with himself and his life here in Guangzhou. Communication is the most direct and efficient way to solve problems. If you don’t understand what people are talking about around you, you might fail to accquire the lastest information which will exacerbate the stress and loneliness. One interesting thing is that I seldom pay attention to other students instead of those who are active during the class. However, the other day when I was having a French class, it suddenly occurred to me that some students from our intercultural communication class might speak French, thus leading to this conversation. Sometimes a simple thought may contribute to those changes in your life. Like this time, I finally talked to someone who speaks native French.

Back to today’s topic, language and culture, this is the chapter that I have been interested in since the first class. Me along with students from another three countries prepared for the introduction for this chapter which took us several weeks. Despite that I live in another campus and it takes me over two hours going back and forth each time, our meetings are no less than any other groups’. During the presentation, I was too nervous to check whether my part about taboo had been successfully and thoroughly explained. Anyway, the presentation is over and the groupmates now all have our own experiences about intercultural cooperation. There is another group that presents this chapter too. Since most of them major in Chinese, they couldn’t speak English well, which is totally understandable. They each presented related language point about their culture.

Professor An gave us a comprehensive explanation of the whole chapter, using vivid examples like pig and Internet language to expound the differences between linguistic meaning and speaker’s meaning. The part when all classmates were discussing about the different meanings pushed the atmosphere into a new high. For Chinese, we were thinking about how to explain those phrases in English; for international students, they tried to understand those Chinese characters and the meanings conveyed as hard as they could. Then Professor An raised a question: which view do you prefer, language ‘determines’ culture or language ‘reflects’ attitudes. From my perspective, as mentioned in the presentation, the relationship between language and culture is tightly integrated. Language is restricted and influenced by culture; culture is the foundation of language formation and development; language and culture would interact and complement each other. The other day I was preparing for the presentation for An Introduction to Translation, which mentioned the relationship between language and culture. We were discussing the translation views of cultural school. Susan Bassnett was a representative of the cultural school. She had a famous comparison between language and culture, as quoted:

Language, then, is the heart within the body of culture, and it is the interaction between the two that results in the continuation of life-energy. In the same way that the surgeon, operating on the heart, cannot neglect the body that surrounds it, so the translator treats the text in isolation from the culture at his or her peril.


Therefore, I hold the view that language reflects attitudes.

I have been interested in Chinese network language since ages ago. I searched CNKI and failed to find any paper relating network language to intercultural adaptation. Since the popularization of the Internet and mobile terminal technology are highly prosperous in China, network language has become one of the most important tools in communication, which might contribute to accelerating the adaptation process. On second thought, network language is part of language. Researchers have done many researches about how language level influence intercultural adaptation. In consideration of my research direction, I thought about translating Chinese network language or just collecting the translation then summarizing the translation techniques and characteristics, but I am worried about whether the range of readers is limited. It seems to me that the readers could only be foreigners who try to study Chinese and teachers who teach international students Chinese. Furthermore, maybe we can think about this in another way, for example, for volunteers in Confucius Institutes in different nations, will learning local network language have a positive effect on their intercultural adaptation? Maybe I should think deeper.

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