Language and Communication Barriers
The way groups of people communicate widely varies not only between but also within cultures. One of the renowned aspects of communication is the use of language where some words and phrases are used differently. For example among the English-speaking people, the word Yes cannot be used to mean may be neither can it be used to mean I will consider it. Apart from language, non- verbal communication is also a major aspect of communication that includes facial expressions, gestures, sitting arrangements, personal distance, and science of time. Communication challenges results from differences in cultures because culture influences how we approach issues since it gives us direction on how we view the world (Frommer et al, 2004).
According to Barry (2005), communication is the human aggregate accompanied by frequent and regular interactions using body language. As for the Whorf (1974), language is the way speakers of the language perceive and understand the world. Ethnography of communication means competency during communication. Therefore, factors like knowledge of linguistics, and social rules for communication must be considered for communication to be successful. Language is the pronunciation of the chosen words. This therefore means that communication can only be successful when words to be pronounced are chosen carefully by the different groups from different cultures (University of Maryland University College, 1994).
For communication to be effective and successful, the groups communicating must ensure the language or gestures used in the process of communication is understood by both the parties. Avoiding considering the language or gestures used during communication might result to unsuccessful communication. Better still it can create a feeling of an insult since it can completely distort the intended meaning. A good example is in the case of the Americas who use thumb-up signal as a gesture to mean something positive but the same gesture has a different meaning among the Britons (Bentahila, 1983). In Britain, the thumb up signal means victory or jubilation whereas it is an Insult among the Americans. The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill used the thumb- up gesture but used the gesture carefully to pass his intended message by placing his hand facing outward (Frommer et al, 2004).
Language cannot be said to be universal since both verbal and non-verbal communication are seen as the main discriminative mark of humanity just like animals don’t produce similar sounds humanity also has different languages. Just as there are genetic variations in the world, it gives reasons for existence of various languages within a nation. This is a concept that describes differences and not similarities of people and the languages they speak. Bentahila (1983), Use of either two or more languages is ineffective to a common audience of different nationality like in the case of the Moroccans who expressed as great disapproval an d disgust to the practice of using different languages in the same communicative approach (Bentahila, 1983).
An individual responding to a question in different languages can also bring about Bentahila (1983), ineffectiveness in communication. For example, when a man is asked how he would spend money, he responded by saying he will buy good things but when the same question is asked but in Arabic, he answered helping the needy which is in contrast with the first answer he gave. Between the Chinese, there were many gender disparities where men were taught Chinese. As a result, girls started to write to their fellow girls expressing their feelings. Fellow girls, not the boys so therefore because of gender disparity boys and girls could not successfully communicate through writing (Cody 2004) could only read these girls’ writings. For communication to be successful, pronunciation and the accent used should be clear and understandable by both parties for example in the case of English, which considered, as a dominant language around the globe a time becomes a barrier (Eriksen et al, 2010).
Macneil (1986) asserts that an American trying to ask for direction from a cocky speaker will ask that repeatedly because of the distinctive accent that may be difficult. This is why some scholars refer to English as the concept of Englishness, which means several dialects. Apart from the concept of Englishness, there has also emerged contemporary English, which therefore means that it is a cultural language depending on where you come from. According to Barry (2005), language and communication are an important part of the culture. This is because where individuals representing different cultures are interviewed on a common area ability to analyze the meaning of their words and actions accurately becomes complex (Eriksen et al, 2010).
For communication to be successful, pronunciation and the accent used should be clear and understandable by both parties for example in the case of English that is considered as a dominant language around the globe a times becomes a barrier. Macneil (1986) asserts that an American trying to ask for direction from a cocky speaker will ask that repeatedly because of the distinctive accent which may be difficult. This is why some scholars refer to English as the concept of Englishness, which means several dialects. Apart from the concept of Englishness, there has also emerged contemporary English that is a cultural language depending on where you come from (Bentahila, 1983).
Different cultures have different meanings for a similar word, and this can result to be a communication barrier. Like in the case where a professor asked a German and another who was of a Spanish origin to describe the properties of a key where according to the German speaker the word key means masculine while the word key according to the Spanish meant feminine (Eriksen et al, 2010). He purports that people from other cultures not only speak different languages, but they also have different perceptions. Different languages are used in different setups what the linguist call code switching. This is applicable in areas like in bilingual families where a child learns when to use different languages, at the work place where you have to code switch in accordance to the kind of work you do and lastly while attending worship services.
Evolution of language can bring about communication barriers as same words are being adopted to mean the same thing but are being pronounced differently. For example, a Latin word Pater is pronounced differently in French by dropping “t” while Iberia people soften “t” to a “d”. Evolution of language can bring about communication barriers as same words are adopted to mean the same thing but are pronounced differently. For example, a Latin word Pater is pronounced differently in French by dropping letter “t” while Iberia people soften letter “t” to letter “d.” Among the Chinese-speaking people, writing has very many characters, this makes it complex and traditional as only the Chinese elites could read and write (Bentahila, 1983). As we speak vocabulary used and order of words makes a difference on how the statement will be understood. In the case of English, the statement sees spot run has a different meaning from run see spot. It is as in the case of Chinese dialects where tone brings a change of meaning. The same sound has different meanings depending on whether the tone goes up, down, rise and falls, or remains high.
Culture has great influence on the language spoken by a particular ethnic group or genders a community or a nation. Accent and pronunciation greatly affect the success of communication. Communication is not only spoke language but also gestures, which has influence impression on language as they are interpreted differently by different cultures. Success in communication also depends on gender, culture, and race, kind of job, which must be adhered to before and during communication.
Barry, D. (2005). Canada and the Middle East today: Electoral politics and foreign policy. 2(1),
23-23. doi:Pluto Journals
Bentahila, A. (1983). Language attitudes among Arabic-French bilinguals in Morocco
(Multilingual Matters: Vol. 4). Bristol, PA: Taylor & Francis
Cody, E. (2004, February 24). A language by women, for women. Washington Post,
- A1, A17.
Eriksen, T. H. (2010). An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology (3rd
Edition). London, GBR: Pluto Press, 2010. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 26 November 2015.
Frommer, P. R., & Finegan, E. (2004). Looking at languages: A workbook in
elementary linguistics. Boston: Wadsworth.
University of Maryland University College. (1994). BEHS 340: Outlooks in Anthropology,
Course Guide (1st ed.). Adelphi, MD: University of Maryland University College.