Ch. 13 Provided by Dana
What is the difference between a high and a low context language? Discuss some of the potential problems a person with a low context language may face when negotiation with a high context language people.
Edward T. Hall identified an important among the world’s languages based on whether communication is explicit or implicit. Hall focused on how different cultures use the context or situation in which communication takes place to understand what people are saying.
Low context (meaning explicit languages) – languages in which people state things directly and explicitly. The words provide most of the meaning. You do not have to understand the situation in which the words are used.
Most Northern European languages, including German, English, and the Scandinavian languages are low context.
People use explicit words to communicate direct meaning.
Most western cultures attach a positive value to clear and direct communication. This is particularly apparent in negotiations, where low-context languages allow clear statements concerning what a negotiator wants out of the relationship.
High context (meaning implicit languages) – languages in which people state things indirectly and implicitly. Communications have multiple meanings that one can interpret only by reading the situation in which the communication occurs. Cultures can be referred to as being high or low context.
Asian and Arabic languages are among the most high-context languages in the world.
Others include: Japanese, Latin Americans and Italians
In Asian languages, often what is left unsaid is just as important as what is said. Silent periods and the use of incomplete sentences require a person to interpret what the communicator does not say by reading the situation.
Arabic introduces interpretation into the language with an opposite tack. Extensive imprecise verbal and nonverbal communication produces an interaction where reading the situation is necessary for understanding.
Some potential problems for a low-context language would be translated words that have explicit meanings to a low-context speaker may have a multitude of meaning to a high-context speaker. When negotiating between a low-context and high-context speakers, an understanding and acknowledgement between parties that there may be communication errors is important. Translations may require contextual interpretations for effective communication.