Issue 49, March 2019

Syarizan Dalib, Minah Harun, Norhafezah Yusof & Mohd Khairie Ahmad

Connecting with culturally diverse others - The case of Malaysian students’ social interactions on campus

Connecting with culturally diverse individuals require in-depth understanding and knowledge of intercultural competence. This paper focuses on the Malaysian students’ intercultural competence in the Malaysian campus to gain insights into their social interaction. Specifically, we highlight the Malaysian students’ reflection of intercultural competence based on their encounters with the international students in the Malaysian university environment. Using a qualitative approach, we collect data from in-depth interviews with the selected Malaysian undergraduate students from three universities in Northern Malaysia. The findings draw attention to two emerging themes: self-other awareness and interlingual communication strategies. The paper contributes to enhancing awareness of self and other, and language-related accommodation strategies in embracing intercultural communication.

Keywords: Intercultural competence, intercultural communication, self-other awareness, interlingual communication strategies, Malaysia

Ganfu Yang

Problematic encounters between Chinese nationals and black South Africans in the building industry in Johannesburg, South Africa - An intercultural communication analysis

China’s increased engagement with South Africa presents serious challenges to Chinese construction companies because of allegations about unfair labour practices. This study aimed to identify cultural differences between black South Africans and Chinese and explore the roles of the differences in their problematic encounters in the building industry in Johannesburg. The study concluded that cultural dimensions should receive due consideration when addressing contentious labour relations between Chinese companies and African employees instead of simply observing labour laws, as broadly claimed in political and economic circles.

Keywords: cultural dimensions, problematic encounters, building industry, labour laws, Chinese, black South African

Linda Jean Kenix

Exploring national culture through international media - The publication of a viral pro-LGBT image compared against a nation’s wealth, level of religion, and democracy

Gay marriage is now legal in 22 countries around the world. However, homosexual acts remain punishable by death in 10 countries and are now illegal in a further 65 countries. Thus, there appears to be very clear national cultural distinctions in how local cultures consider the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. In 2016, an image of a 12-year-old boy who stood against a sea of anti-LGBT marriage protesters in Celaya, Mexico went ‘viral’ around the world as an icon for LGBT rights. This research will examine newspapers from a sample of 17 countries to see where this particular pro-LGBT image was used. This research asks the question, what is the relationship between the publication of this image and a country’s level of democracy, wealth and religion – socio-economic factors that have been found to be correlated to the acceptance of LGBT rights. The findings of this research could potentially suggest the presence of ideological biases at the national level in regards to how international news stories are told and also which news stories are even addressed. These factors may help to coalesce into a cultural perspective unique to each country examined

Keywords: Viral image, democracy, wealth, religion, ideology, international news

Mayra Rodriguez Ruiz & Neusa Olinda Varela Spínola

Improving the Intercultural Communicative Competence of English Language Students

Nowadays intercultural communicative competence (ICC) is an important tool in foreign language teaching and learning. The main goal of this article is to propose some tasks to improve the intercultural communicative competence in the English Language Course at Universidad Central “Marta Abreu” de Las Villas, Santa Clara, Villa Clara, Cuba. In so doing, the article provides some theoretical foundations of concepts related to culture, communicative competence, intercultural communication and intercultural communicative competence. The tasks proposed can be adapted to different contexts, taking into account learners’ needs and interests. They apply the four language skills at the same time, combining communicative competence and intercultural communicative competence, the two aspects that make a learner a perfect mediator within the teaching and learning process of a foreign language.

Keywords: Culture, intercultural communication, foreign language teaching, intercultural communicative competence

Milica Savić

Relational practices in Norwegian students’ e-mail requests in English - A focus on openings and closings

The paper explores relational practices in openings and closings in Norwegian students’ e-mail requests in English. It investigates the range of opening and closing sequences and the frequency of their occurrence as well as their variation depending on the level of request imposition and social distance between the e-mail writer and the lecturer. The very high frequency of occurrence of openings and closings, considered to be optional e-mail elements, in a small corpus of 109 authentic e-mails demonstrates a clear orientation to interpersonal aspects of communication. An orientation to familiarity was identified in the openings while a slight preference for deference was found in the closings. Social distance appeared to affect relational practices to a greater extent than the level of imposition.

Keywords: Norwegian students’ e-mail requests in English, relational practices, e-mail openings and closings, request imposition, social distance

Santa Stopniece

Language as a site of search for common ground and power positioning in Chinese-Finnish negotiation

This paper explores some language-related aspects in investment negotiation between Finnish and Chinese partners, such as language choices, the role of interpreters, and overcoming misunderstandings. These are seen as sites of both search for common ground in terms of positive politeness (affiliation) and power positioning in terms of negative politeness (autonomy) (Brown and Levinson 1987). This study is based on data obtained by interviewing individuals who work for state investment attraction agency and local governments in Finland and observation in delegation meetings. While misunderstandings occur, overcoming linguistic, contextual and cultural differences in understanding is possible. Common ground is more easily achieved when using English, however changing power relations with China render the use of the Mandarin Chinese necessary as well.

Keywords language, power, negotiation, China, Finland, co-operation

Yachao Li & Jennifer A. Samp

Communication Efficacy as a Mechanism for the Chilling Effect on Complaint Avoidance - A Cross-cultural Comparison of American and Chinese Romantic Relationships

Complaint avoidance is a common response to relational conflict; yet, it can cause adverse personal and relational consequences. This study examined cultural (i.e., U.S. versus China) and relational (i.e., relational power, communication efficacy) factors predicting complaint avoidance. Hypothesizing that Americans engage in less complaint avoidance than Chinese (H1), relational power negatively predicts complaint avoidance via communication efficacy across cultures (H2), and culture moderates how power and efficacy predict avoidance (H3), we surveyed 392 college-aged dating individuals (194 Americans, 198 Chinese). Results confirmed H1 and H2. H3 was partially supported: after controlling for relational and conflict characteristics, as communication efficacy increased, there were greater decreases in complaint avoidance in Americans than in Chinese. Implications for cross-cultural studies on relational conflict are discussed.

Keywords: Dependence Power, Communication Efficacy, Complaint Avoidance, The Chilling Effect, Cross-Cultural Comparison

Copyright by the authors.
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