Background of Problem
Cross-cultural communication (also frequently referred to as intercultural communication, which is also used in a different sense, though) is a field of study that looks at how people from differing cultural backgrounds communicate, in similar and different ways among themselves , and how they endeavour to communicate across cultures. This assumption of cross-cultural communication will directly lead us to a state of the level of understanding and misunderstanding in interpreting the messages delivered by the communicant. There are four levels of these listed below.
'Cross Cultural Knowledge' is critical to basic cross cultural understanding. Without it cross cultural appreciation cannot take place. It refers to a surface level familiarization with cultural characteristics, values, beliefs and behaviours.
'Cross Cultural Awareness' develops from cross cultural knowledge as the learner understands and appreciates a culture internally. This may also be accompanied by changes within the learner's behaviour and attitudes such as a greater flexibility and openness.
'Cross Cultural Sensitivity' is a natural by-product of awareness and refers to an ability to read into situations, contexts and behaviours that are culturally rooted and be able to react to them appropriately. An suitable response necessitates that the actor no longer carries his/her own culturally determined interpretations of the situation or behaviour (i.e. good/bad, right/wrong) which can only be nurtured through both cross cultural knowledge and awareness.
'Cross Cultural Competence' is and should be the aim of all those dealing with multicultural clients, customers or colleagues. 'Competence' is the final stage of cross cultural understanding and signifies the actor's ability to work effectively across cultures. Cross cultural competency is beyond knowledge, awareness and sensitivity in that it is the digestion, integration and transformation of all the skills and information acquired through them, applied to create cultural synergy within the workplace.
In the real communication, there are many misunderstandings happened naturally. Misunderstanding among the members of communication is often happened in various causes and responses. Most computational accounts of dialogue have assumed that once listeners have interpreted an utterance, they never change this interpretation. However, human interactions routinely violate this assumption. This is because people are necessarily limited in how much in- formation they can make explicit. As a result, misunderstandings might occur and discourse participants might differ in their beliefs about the meaning of what has been said or about its relevance to the discourse. To address this possibility, participants rely in part on their expectations to determine whether they have understood each other. If a speaker fails to notice any- thing unusual, she may assume that the conversation is proceeding smoothly. But if she hears something that seems inconsistent with her expectations, she may hypothesize that there has been a misunderstanding and attempt to reinterpret part of the discourse, initiating a repair.
In other words, speakers' inferences about discourse are non-monotonic, because speakers may learn things that convict with their earlier reasoning and cause them to reevaluate what happened before. Because their utterances can only make a limited amount of information explicit, discourse participants' can only surmise adduce each other's intentions. They must reason from observed utterances to causes or goals that might account for them.
Finally, in this paper will present several examples of misunderstanding in term of speech and analyze them. The examples are the speech and interpretation errors of English speaker in several different cultures. On the other hand, the analysis will cover several aspects of the importance or impacts might happen.
Formulation of Problem
1. What error is the speaker of English likely to make in the new language?
2. What is this relative seriousness of these errors in the new culture?
1. To know what error the speaker of English is likely to make in the new language?
2. To know what this is relative seriousness of these errors in the new culture?
The phenomena of language
Language serves as a bridge between the biological and cultural aspects of life. Malinowski dealt with seven key biological needs of human life: metabolism, bodily comforts, safety, growth, reproduction, movement, and health. Human beings responds to these biological needs, form and perpetuate social structures and institutions designed to fill these needs.
Language serves the social group by providing a vital avenue of communication among the group's members as they establish and perpetuate the institutions designed to meet their biological needs. Of course, communication is far more than simply verbal or even written language usage. It involves the sum total of message sent within the social context: organizational messages, positional and relational messages, as well as verbal and language source messages. By linking the past with the present, it assures the group that needs are being met, or it indicates that some reorganization of society is necessary.
A student suffering in a stuffy, overheated classroom has several courses of action. The student can simply squirm uncomfortably. This will not accomplish much because he will probably be ignored. He could raise his hand (a nonverbal signal) and then say nothing. This might attract some attention, but no doubt he would be considered odd or foolish. If he tries nothing else, the heat will remain excessive. Language is needed. The situation can be remedied for the present and future if the student speaks to the teacher, and the teacher speaks to the maintenance department. The person assigned to the problem will also use speech to remedy the situation.
Speech begins in the brain. The size and complexity of the brain allows complex speech. Numerous experiments have attempted to teach the higher apes to communicate with humans using speech. Although the apes can speak and be understood in limited ways, they will never duplicate human speech due to their limited vocal mechanisms as well as the limited complexity of their brains. This limitation affects their ability to form sounds, to develop complex sentence types, to correlate expression with meaning, and to transmit and teach this complexity to their offspring.
Evolutionists have tried to explain language as a development from simple to more complex forms, or according to Otto Jespersen, from complex to more simple and thus more efficient expression. Perhaps their major pitfall was that they distinguished between "primitive" languages and "true" languages. "Primitive" languages did not qualify as fully developed languages. "True" languages were basically the European languages.
In reality, all known languages are adequate expressions of the cultures in which they function. All languages have a regularity of structure, potential to express abstract concepts, and characteristics generally associated with "true" languages. It is significant to consider that some languages are more advanced than, but not superior to, others in the areas of technological and philosophical expression. The less advanced languages can be termed "local" and the more advanced, "world" languages. Even though all languages have the resources to express the same things, languages directly associated with industrial and urban growth have developed additional vocabulary and syntactic flexibility.
Early attempts to explain language in more scientific ways assumed there had been a transition or development from unsystematic forms of communication to language proper (from grunting to actual words, for example). Linguists worked at trying to see how such a transition could have taken place. Edward Sapir deals with the transition of language from the expressive to the referential function. He felt that language had begun as a spontaneous reaction to reality. From there, it had developed into a highly specific symbolic system representing reality.
The well-known linguist Noam Chomsky feels that primitive languages have never existed. He noted that language, wherever it is found, is full-blown and adequate for its usage by the social group.
Language in culture
Language changes through time. As a result there are historical and comparative linguistic studies. Language also varies from location to location, resulting in the study of dialectology. The result of such language change and variation can be (a) a dialect -- when a smaller group has language varieties not common to the majority of speakers of the language -- or (b) an idiolect -- when a person has developed his own peculiar usage of the language.
Dialects of languages can vary in pronunciation. For example, Central American speakers of Spanish pronounce c before e and i and z as the English c in city while in most of Spain they are pronounced like the English th in thin. Variation may also come in the grammar, when structures are changed by addition, replacement, or subtraction of grammatical units.
Dialects may also vary in vocabulary. Those variations serve as reference points in dialect geographies. Certain social dialects of English use the term "pancake" for a very thin cake made of batter poured onto a hot greased surface and cooked on both sides until brown. Other English speakers call the same thing a "flapjack." Still others use the word "griddlecake" or "flannel cake." The reality -- the thin brown cake -- is the same even though dialects have developed different terms.
Distinct sociocultural groups will also assign differing qualities to objects, animals, or people. In the United States, the dog is considered "man's best friend." In the Hebrew culture of Old Testament times, the dog was a despised animal.
It becomes necessary, therefore, to shift from a concept of language as an expression of a culture, to one of communication through the use of language. Language is the servant of the culture that gave it birth. There is no sacredness of language apart from the large context of meaning established within a culture. Therefore, students in more traditional foreign language courses are often unable to speak that language when they enter the normal cultural setting of the language. The students have learned the language in relation to their own sociocultural values and perspectives, not those of the people who speak the language as their mother tongue. Fluency in a second language is often hindered by previously learned incorrect habits. Relearning of language skills takes a long time. Some never break the bad habits, and so, never gain fluency.
Because language is learned behavior, it is therefore part of culture. Adaptation to one's cultural setting begins even before birth. Time schedules, for example, are cultural. The fetus is subject to his mother's time schedule before birth. After birth, feeding, sleeping, and other activities are some of the baby's first lived experiences. Each culture has its own time schedule. People in some cultures rise early; people in others retire late. The power of this routine is felt only when one leaves his own culture or subculture and moves into another with a clashing routine. The schedule is so internalized that forced change of schedule, or clash with another schedule, is emotionally disturbing and disrupting.
Cultures vary in the values, qualities, or characteristics they assign to things, animals, or humans. Cultures, or sociocultural groups, also divide the entire universe in their particular pattern. Assignment of characteristics and categories is made to fit that pattern. Each society has its own division of the color spectrum. There are languages with only three vowels while others have twelve or fifteen vowels. In the same way, some societies have a limited inventory of colors while others have a much larger inventory. North American housewives can usually recognize and name more colors than can their husbands. Women working with fabrics can usually distinguish and name more fabrics than can the average housewife. However, any North American -- male or female -- probably distinguishes far more colors than will a Mayan Indian of Central America. To the Mayan, the color spectrum is divided into only five parts plus a sixth quality of "no color." Their language reflects this division of the color spectrum, assigning only six words to colors. Introduction of a color shade not recognized as one of these six calls for the creation of a new term, the borrowing from a language having more color categories, or the modification of the color word with such concepts as very light or dark, or some reduplication of the stem word to indicate intensity of color.
Sapir and Whorf claim human beings are enslaved to their own cultural process of dividing the universe into categories. Thought patterns are based on language. The says that linguistic categories are not the result of a process of thinking. Rather, the thought is dependent on already existing, arbitrary linguistic categories.
H. Douglas Brown says their hypothesis can be demonstrated by the way various languages divide the color spectrum. All humans, with normal vision, see the same range of color. They all differentiate the same wave lengths of light. If language or linguistic categories were the result of thinking, we would expect the color spectrum to be divided into the same color bands in all languages. However, this is not true. In English, the color spectrum is divided into seven basic categories: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, and purple. In Shona, a language of Rhodesia, the color spectrum is divided into three basic categories: cips uka (reds and purples at the two ends), citema (blues running into greens), and cicena (greens and yellows). In Bassa, a language of Liberia, the color spectrum is in two basic categories: hui (the blue-green end of the spectrum) and ziza (the red-orange end of the spectrum). The Zuni Indians of the American Southwest see yellows and oranges as a basic category, and the Taos Indians of New Mexico see blues and greens as a basic category. In Madagascar, Malagasy speakers distinguish over one hundred basic categories of color.
A. Some Examples of American Speech Misunderstandings
1. "U.S. - India Diplomacy"
A 1954 episode in U.S.-India diplomacy illustrates the damage which can result from culturally based misunderstandings. In 1954 the U.S. decided to grant military aid to Pakistan. India strongly opposed this move. In an attempt to reassure India, U.S. ambassador Allen delivered a presidential letter to Prime Minister Nehru explaining the American decision. In the letter American President Eisenhower reassured Nehru that the decision was in no way directed against India, that America would intervene if necessary to prevent Pakistan from using the aid against India. He also said that Indian requests for military aid would be heard with sympathy.
Generally India is proud of its independence, and is sensitive to perceived slights to its national status. Nehru's personal style was very dignified and restrained. After Nehru read the letter, he indicated to ambassador Allen that he did not doubt that America harbored no ill-will toward India. Yet Nehru did explain very calmly India's concerns regarding the consequences of the U.S. action.
Allen mistook Nehru's restraint for acceptance and considered the matter closed. In fact, India was deeply offended by the patronizing tone of the American letter, and remained gravely concerned about the arming of their adversaries. This episode continues to color U.S.-India relations to this day.
Source: "U.S. - India Diplomacy," Selection from: Raymond Cohen, Negotiating Across Cultures: Communication Obstacles in International Diplomacy, (Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1991), pp. 119-120.
2. "U.S.-China Miscommunication"
Cultural differences can sometimes mean that signals are missed, which can cause delays and missed opportunities. For example, many such signals were missed by American diplomats in the early days of U.S.-China reconciliation. Cohen points out that "U.S. observers entirely missed the most significant Chinese signal of reconciliation of all in the 1970-71 period." In October 1970 Chairman Mao invited an American author and journalist to stand next to him atop the Gate of Heavenly Peace. While this gesture seems obscure to American diplomats, and hence they did not respond to it, the symbolism was clear to the Chinese, who expected a significant response.
Source: "U.S.-China Miscommunication," Selection from: Raymond Cohen, Negotiating Across Cultures: Communication Obstacles in International Diplomacy, (Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1991), pp. 126
3. " U.S.-Japan"
The 1971 U.S.-Japan monetary crisis illustrates the effectiveness of taking differing cultural communication styles into account. In 1971 the U.S. was trying to persuade a reluctant Japan to revalue its currency. Japanese political decision making values consensus building. Culturally their negotiating style is low key and relationship based. Japanese negotiators do not react well to aggressive pressure tactics.
Secretary of the Treasury John Connally accommodated the Japanese style. His first visit was devoted to building relationships. "Wisely, Connally made no attempt on this visit to negotiate, let alone put pressure on his hosts, but insisted that his aim was to exchange opinions and, picking up a phrase used by Japanese diplomats, 'to improve mutual understanding.'"[p. 52] As he visited various Japanese officials, Connally explained American desires for currency revaluation, being careful to present them as interests rather than as demands or positions. This low key approach gave Japanese officials a better understanding of American needs, and made it easier for them to compromise without losing face.
Source: "The 1971 U.S.-Japan Monetary Crisis," Selection from: Raymond Cohen, Negotiating Across Cultures: Communication Obstacles in International Diplomacy, (Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1991), pp. 52
4. "The Astoria Affair"
The Astoria affair demonstrates that even expert diplomats can become caught in miscommunications arising from cultural differences. In 1938 the Japanese ambassador to the United States died in Washington. At that time relations between Japan and the U.S. were strained. The U.S. strongly opposed Japanese aggression against China and Japan had infringed on other American interests.
Basic diplomatic respect dictated that the ashes of the late ambassador be returned to his home country. President Roosevelt, led apparently by his great enthusiasm for the Navy, ordered the ashes to be conveyed to Japan on the Navy cruiser Astoria.
Respect for the dead and ancestor reverence play an important role in Japanese culture. The Japanese interpreted the use of a Navy cruiser as a signal honor, a mark of profound respect and gesture of friendship. By using such dramatic means to return the late ambassador's ashes, the U.S. gave the mistaken impression that they were motivated by deep friendship and respect. In fact the U.S. was deeply opposed to Japanese actions and policies. This gaffe caused significant difficulties for American diplomats, as they tried to minimize the significance of the event without gravely offending the Japanese.
Source: "The Astoria Affair," Selection from: Raymond Cohen, Negotiating Across Cultures: Communication Obstacles in International Diplomacy, (Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1991), pp. 4- 6.
B. PRINCIPLES OF AMERICANS VERBAL SPEECH
There are five principles of American behavior:
1. The expression “Thank you” is the automatic response which done by American.
When we listen to people speak a foreign language that we understand, the native speaker of that language use words and phrases in a manner different from what we are used to. In American English, people say “thank you” frequently. Words for “thank you” exist in almost every language.
2. The rules of speaking are different from the rules of grammar or spelling. For American, it is not usually studied in a formal manner.
Acquiring a second language demands more than learning new words and another systems of grammar. It involves developing sensitivity to aspect of language that are not usually taught in language textbooks.
3. American English strongly emphasizes directness in verbal interaction.
Many expression exemplify this tendency: “Don’t beat around the bush ”,” let get down to business ”and“ get to the point .all indicate impatience with avoiding issues. Directness is also seen when information is requested from stranger or from people who are not well-known to you.
4. In English someone might say something that sounds like an invitation but that never result in an actual meeting with another person.
5. Interrupting someone who is speaking is considered rude in the United States.
You should wait until has finished a sentence before contributing to a discussion. You can’t break into the middle of someone’s sentence.
C. POINT OF SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES (AMERICAN AND INDONESIAN)
• Directness is seen when information is requested from stranger or from people who are not well-known to you.
For example: When passing a professor office a student may say,” Excuse me, I’d like to ask you a couple of question”. And her professor may response, “Sure, go right ahead”.
• People unconsciously expect others to use the same modes of expression as they do.
For example: When people angry, they express the same expression.
• The meaning of the expression “Thank you”.
In our language, people thank for trivial as well as important or unusual favors but for Americans, this expression is used as a polite response to different kinds of favors and compliments, and is often automatic.
• Many Americans interpret silence in a conversation to mean disapproval, disagreement, or unsuccessful communication. They often try to fill silence by saying something even if they have nothing to say. On the other hand, in Indonesia, silence means agree.
• Offer and response are honest and direct.
For example: There are two Americans, the host doesn’t repeat the offer more than once. The host may offer food twice but usually not more than that. And the guest response is just say “Yes, I’d like some more, thank you”. Or the guest say “No, thank you”. It means that the guest refusal is honest and direct. But, in Indonesia, people like to response the opposite to answer the offer. They like to be insisted then they want to do something.
D. SIGNIFICANT EFFECTS OF SPEECH ERRORS (POINTS OF TROUBLE)
Cohen argues that cross-cultural differences have significant effects on diplomatic negotiations. Failure to understand and appreciate theses differences can have serious consequences for negotiations. In this text Cohen explores the role cultural differences play in shaping the content, process, and style of negotiations.
"Diplomatic negotiation consists of a process of communication between states seeking to arrive at a mutually acceptable outcome on some issue of shared concern."[p. 7] This process of communication can be profoundly affected by differing cultural conventions, norms, meanings, assumptions, ideals and perceptions. The problems of inter-cultural communication have received increased attention in recent years, and Cohen reviews briefly some of the main theorists working in this field. Cohen's own approach is to combine these theoretical frameworks with analyses of case studies, focusing particularly on cases of negotiation between Western and non-Western states.
Cohen rejects the notion that a single international diplomatic culture has developed, which makes diplomats' native cultures largely irrelevant. He finds that seasoned diplomats reports that cultural differences have a significant impact. Theoretic studies show that culture plays a large role in shaping the individuals' character. This constitutive impact of culture cannot be erased by mere exposure to other cultures.
Cohen draws primarily on Lorand Szalay's theory of inter-cultural communication. Szalay begins by distinguishing between the form and content of a message. The form of the message serves to encode its meaning. Understanding a message is a matter of the receiver correctly decoding it, so that the receiver's intention matches the sender's meaning. Szalay says, "Since the encoder and the decoder are two separate individuals their reactions are likely to be similar only to the extent that they share experiences, that they have similar frames of reference. The more different they are, the less isomorphism there will be between encoded and decoded content."[p. 20] Cultural similarity provides a shared frame of reference, while individuals from divergent cultures are more likely to have different experiences and frames of reference. Cohen draws on this model to identify several very basic, very general differences between cultures. First is the contrast between cultures with an individualistic ethos and cultures which emphasize interdependence and collective identity. In collectivist cultures, communication tends to be very context-sensitive. Communication forms emphasize politeness, relationship-building, tact, and even indirectness. Individualistic cultures de-emphasize the communication context and personal relationships. Communication is direct and explicit, with little patience for rhetoric, allusion, or complex etiquette.
Another important contrast is between cultures with polychronic and monochronic concepts of time. Monochronic cultures tend to regiment time. Schedules and timetables are given great weight. Haste is a virtue. Such cultures are future-oriented; the past is important only insofar as it affects present and future plans. Polychronic culture take a more leisurely view of time. Time moves in greater and lesser cycles, independent of human wants. Patience and steadiness are virtues. Polychronic cultures tend to have a richer sense of the past; past events live on in the present. Cohen calls collectivist, polychronic cultures high-context cultures. Individualistic, monochronic cultures are then low-context.
Cohen suggests that supposedly universal models of negotiation may instead reflect an individualistic, monochronic culture. Models which take an instrumental approach to negotiation, which emphasize separating people from issues, and which prioritize creating efficient, maximally beneficial outcomes, may seem foreign to cultures that place primary value in human relationships and have a less urgent sense of time. Not every issue is negotiable. Which issues are considered to be open to negotiation and which are not often depends upon cultural factors. National pride and the necessity of equal treatment are non-negotiable issues for most countries. Often a reaffirmation of national pride or status is required in order to bring a nation into negotiations. Collectivist cultures may be especially sensitive to perceived slights or insults.
Most cultures will be extremely reluctant to negotiate sovereignty issues. However different cultures focus their need for sovereignty in different areas. Often past events come to symbolize wounded national pride. Being associated with such events can provoke stiff resistance. Many nations' senses of sovereignty rest in maintaining their cultural traditions. States which were once under colonial rule are often sensitive to anything reminiscent of colonialism. The presence of foreign military, for example, may be a non-negotiable issue to such states. North American and Northern European nations tend to treat matters of human rights as non-negotiable issues. Many of the other nations do not attach such basic importance to human rights. The list of human rights set forth in the UN Declaration of Human Rights has been criticized as reflecting the individualistic cultural bias of the West. Some people have argued that these individualistic rights are less applicable or appropriate to collectivist cultures.
In short, we can see two points of trouble of American and Indonesian speech misunderstanding. They are:
• Many Americans interpret silence in conversation to mean disapproval, disagreement, or unsuccessful communication. Then often try to fill silence by saying something even they have nothing to say.
There are limits to degree of directness a person is allowed to express especially with people with higher status such as teacher and employers.
• A frequently misunderstood area in American verbal interaction is that of extending, accepting, and refusing invitations.
The written “rules” are confusing and create misunderstanding even for native speakers.
1. Stages of Negotiation
Cohen explores the effects of cultural differences in the four different phases of the negotiation process. The phases Cohen identifies are the preparation phase, and the beginning, middle and end phases of negotiations. Cohen notes that the various ways in which the negotiation process is described and divided are themselves culturally loaded. Cohen's divisions are made simply for the sake of convenience, and are not meant to refer to necessarily distinct stages.
For high-contrast negotiators, the preparatory stage focuses on building personal relationships with the other side. Accustomed to acting within a rich network of interdependent relations, high-context negotiators start by attempting to build such a network with the opponent. Low-context cultures see issues as separable from personal relations, and prefer to act in relatively anonymous ways. High-context cultures also tend to take a long term view, focusing on cultivating and improving the parties' relationship. Low-context cultures tend to have a more short term focus on the issue at hand.
Maintaining face (reputation or honor) is generally more important in high-context cultures than in low-context. Because of the importance of maintaining face, high-context negotiators generally try to minimize uncertainty and to prevent crises, confrontations, and surprises. Being caught by surprise is likely to result in a loss of face for someone. Similarly someone is likely to lose in a confrontation, with the attending loss of face. Low-context cultures are less concerned with issues of face, and so are more open to uncertainty, competition and confrontation. The beginning phase of negotiations can be complicated by differences between hierarchical and egalitarian cultures. Egalitarian cultures assume negotiations will proceed by the parties taking turns presenting their concerns, and reciprocating initiatives in kind. Low- context negotiators tend to open negotiations by first setting forth their position, assuming that the other side will respond by stating their opposing position. Low-context cultures view declaring a opening position to be risky and confrontational. The opening positions reveal the party's interests. When this statement of positions is not reciprocated it gives the reticent party an advantage. Hierarchical cultures may view the parties' relationship as that of supplicant to superior, and so be "quite happy to demand one-sided concessions in payment of a supposed moral debt or as the duty of the stronger party."[p. 84]. Cultures also differ in their preference for agreement on specifics or on general principles. Low-context negotiators are likely to rely on the factual-inductive mode of persuasion, which focuses on examining the facts at hand and crafting a conclusion to fit those facts. High context negotiators may prefer the axiomatic-deductive mode of persuasion, which seeks agreement on general principles and then applies those principles to the case at hand.
Different cultures may have different expectations as to what should occur during the middle phase of negotiations, and how much time this phase should take. Low context cultures such as the U.S. expect that the middle phase will be a period of bargaining, a process of trade-offs and concessions in which the parties gradually converge on a shared position. Many high context cultures see such a process of "haggling" as appropriate to price negotiations, but inappropriate to matters of principle. High status individuals do not lower themselves to haggle over small points. Polychronic cultures are usually willing to draw out the middle phase. Monochronic cultures are usually in more of a hurry to reach an agreement. Monochronic cultures are often at some disadvantage when negotiating with polychronic cultures, since their greater sense of urgency will prompt them to make greater concessions in order to close the deal quickly.
Different cultural approaches to authority can also complicate the middle phase. Collectivist cultures tend to base authority relations on the father-child model. Authority is centralized, hierarchical, and tends to be absolute. Individualist cultures tend to disperse power and authority, and to encourage questions and even challenges to authority. The American system of governmental checks and balances is typical of a individualist culture. Difficulties have often arisen as negotiators from collectivist cultures over-estimate the power and domestic authority of the U.S. President. Japan is an anomaly among collectivist cultures, in that political decision-making relies on consensus.
Different cultures favor different means of negotiation and persuasion. The emphasis on personal relationships and group harmony in high context cultures means that persuasion focuses on cultivating a close, trusting relationship with the other side. High context cultures are generally uncomfortable with overt aggression, confrontation, and adversarial styles of interaction. Low context cultures find facts and reasoned arguments to be more persuasive, and tend to favor a more direct, explicit and even aggressive style of communication.
Low context cultures prefer direct communication, while high context cultures are generally more indirect, relying on strong personal relationships to support mutual understandings. Cohen notes that "a striking feature of collectivistic, high context speakers...is their dislike of the negative; a direct contradiction is invariably avoided."[p. 113] When pressed for a direct answer, high context negotiators may resort to expressions of polite agreement which are without substance. Or they may offer ambiguous answers. Misunderstandings often result from such politeness being mistaken for substantive agreement. Nonverbal communication also varies widely from culture to culture, as does the acceptability of displays of emotion. High context cultures employ, and may be particularly moved by, symbolic gestures.
As noted above, monochronic cultures, with their perpetual sense of urgency, tend to rush the end phase of negotiations. In particular, low context negotiators tend to overlook the importance of presenting face-saving alternatives when high context parties are involved. For a proposal to be acceptable in a high context culture, it must not only meet the parties material interests, it must also be presented in such a way as to preserve the prestige and status of each party. High context negotiators may reject even materially favorable proposals if agreeing would involve a significant loss of face. Conversely, symbolic gains may make a materially unfavorable proposal acceptable. One way to save face is to rely on informal, unwritten agreements, since these can be repudiated should they become too embarrassing. This however runs counter to the low context preference for specific, explicit, written agreements.
2. The importance of detecting misunderstandings
Failing to monitor for differences in understanding can lead to trouble. Listeners expect that a speaker's utterances will have some coherent relation to the discourse so far. So, when they consider the many possible interpretations of an utterance, they may rule out alternatives that are inconsistent with the discourse. Misunderstanding can lead to a breakdown in the conversation in which one participant cannot interpret some utterance. Misunderstanding can also cause participants to form different judgments about what they have accomplished; this problem is illustrated by Example 1 (Raudaskoski 1990).
The example involves an interaction between an experimental speech-recognition system and its user. The user is left with the mistaken impression that her message for Eve has been successfully recorded, although it has not; the system has failed to understand the user's utterances T2, T4, and T6 and is desperately trying to get the user to perform a repair, because it cannot. The user was misled because the system did not produce repairs. For example, the system's reply T7 is consistent with the user's interpretation of T5 as a request for the message and her reply, T6, as compliance with it. And, after the user began a new request in T8, the system failed to generate a repair in T9, even though it presumably has expectations from the previous request that are unresolved.
Example 1 An unrepaired misunderstanding
T1 S: So you want to leave a message for Eve, is that right?
T2 U: A message for Eve that's correct.
T3 S: What is it that you want to do then?
T4 U: Can you say that Judy is at home?
T5 S: Do what?
T6 U: Judy is at home.
T7 S: You can leave messages or listen to messages--select either.
T8 U: I want to leave a message for Fred.
T9 S: So you want to leave a message for Fred, is that right?
T10 U: Yes, for Fred that's correct.
T11 S: Please give the message.
The problem underlying this example is that the system fails to use expectations. When people speak, they expect to receive a coherent response and, when they respond, they expect to have their action taken as evidence of understanding. Misunderstandings can occur when people form different expectations. To recognize and repair them, discourse participants must be able to detect that their expectations have been violated.
3. The defeasibility of interpretation
Participants in a dialogue bring to it different beliefs and goals. These differences can lead them to make different assumptions about one another's actions, construct different interpretations of discourse objects, or produce utterances that are either too specific or too vague for others to interpret as intended. These problems may in turn lead to misunderstandings. Some of these can be circumvented, for example, by a hearer's identifying and correcting others' apparent misconceptions about objects or concepts mentioned
in the discourse or by a speaker's adding disambiguating information to her own descriptions before uttering them (Goodman 1985; McCoy 1985; Calistri-Yeh 1991; Eller and Carberry 1992; Zukerman 1991). Not every misunderstanding can be avoided, however, because no speaker ever has enough information, by herself, to know how her utterance will be understood, even if perfectly cooperative and considerate of the context. Nor can she know whether she herself has understood. Maxims for cooperative behavior are insouciant, because in general neither participant can know ahead of time what will be informative or relevant for the other.
Discourse participants compensate for this limitation by using the evidence provided by their utterances to verify and revise their understanding of the conversation (Clark and Schaefer 1989; Brennan 1990). If either participant disagrees with the other's interpretation, they can challenge it. Alternatively, participants may accept an interpretation and respond with an utterance that shows their understanding and acceptance of it. In effect, speakers negotiate the meaning of utterances. This is illustrated by Example 2 (Gumperz 1982) where a repair is used to make the negotiation explicit. In this exchange, H intends T1 as a request for the location of the newspaper, whereas W takes it as a request to fetch the paper even after being told that he just wants the information. Alternatively, H might have accepted her interpretation by simply saying \Thank you".
Example 2 A repair
T1 H: Do you know where today's paper is?
T2 W: I'll get it for you.
T3 H: That's okay. Just tell me where it is. I'll get it.
T4 W: No, I'll get it.
4. Misunderstanding and repair
It is useful to divide speech act misunderstanding into two types: misunderstandings that are made and detected by oneself, self-misunderstanding, and misunderstandings that are made by one participant, but detected by the other, other-misunderstanding. The first type arises when a hearer finds that he cannot incorporate an utterance into the discourse consistently, unless he interprets one of the speaker's utterances differently. The second type occurs when a hearer recognizes that if one of his own acts had been interpreted differently, the speaker's utterance would have been the expected response to it. The hearer might then attempt to change the speaker's interpretation, by performing a repair. For example, he might restate his intended goal or explicitly tell the speaker that she has misunderstood. Alternatively, the hearer might choose not to make the misunderstanding public, because certain forms of third-turn repairs can easily be mistaken for a challenge (Schegloff et al. 1977).
After a speaker detects a misunderstanding by either participant, she may produce a repair. Conversation analysts have identified three important types of discourse-level repair, distinguished by the number of turns between the misunderstood turn and the start of the repair (Schegloff 1992). The most common type is second-turn (or next-turn) repair. These repairs occur immediately after the problematic turn, before there has been any other reply to it, as in the following example:
Example 3 A second-turn repair
T1 B: Do you know where Mr. Williams is?
T2 A: What?
The next most common type of repair involves correcting another speaker's interpretation of the discourse. In the simplest case, a speaker makes an utterance displaying her misunderstanding in the turn immediately following the one she misunderstood. If the other speaker then recognizes the misunderstanding and initiates a sequence to resolve the misunderstanding, this is a third-turn (or third-position) repair, so called because the repair is initiated in the third turn of the top-level sequence, counting from the misunderstood utterance.1 Consider Example 4 from Courtyard and Brazil (1984). In this example, B has responded to T1 with an acknowledgement, interpreting T1 as an inform.
Example 4 A third-turn repair
T1 A: So the meeting's on Friday.
T2 B: Thanks.
T3 A: No, I'm asking you.
However, A intended T1 to be yes-no question (presumably with an inform as the expected reply). Recognizing B's misunderstanding, A produces a third-turn repair in T3, telling B what action A had intended in T1. A could have also told B the intended goal (e.g., \No, I want you to tell me.")
The third type of repair involves producing a new reply to a turn that one has apparently misunderstood. Although there is a preference for repairing one's own misunderstandings (Schegloff et al. 1977), these repairs are deprecated because the number of potential targets for the repair increases with each intervening exchange, making locating the target increasingly difficult (Scheglo_ 1992). If a conversant hears an utterance that seems inconsistent with her expectations (perhaps because she has misunderstood some previous utterance) and the inconsistency leads her to reinterpret an earlier utterance and produce a new response to it, this is a fourth-turn (or fourth-position) repair (Schegloff 1987). Such repairs not only display the alternative interpretations, but also indicate some of the information that may underlie a participant's decision to favor one of them over another. Consider the fragment of conversation shown in Example 5 (Terasaki 1976).
Example 5 A fourth-turn repair
T1 Mother : Do you know who's going to that meeting?
T2 Russ : Who?
T3 Mother : I don't know.
T4 Russ : Oh. Probably Mrs. Mc Owen and probably Mrs. Cadry and some of the teachers.
In this dialogue, Russ initially interprets T1 as expressing Mother's desire to tell, that is, as a pretelling or preannouncement, but finds this interpretation inconsistent with her next utterance. In T3, instead of telling him who's going (as one would expect after pretelling), Mother claims that she does not know (and therefore could not tell). Russ recovers by reinterpreting T1 as an indirect request, which his T4 attempts to satisfy. This example also demonstrates agents' reluctance to repair the problems in the utterances of others (Scheglo_ et al. 1977); although Mother might have produced a third-turn repair at T3, the manifestation of a misunderstanding provided her with an expectable option that allowed her to avoid having to produce an explicit repair.
5. The need for both intentional and social information
Any dialogue system must account for the detection and repair of misunderstandings as well as the interpretation and production of utterances. To consider possible misunderstandings in addition to intended interpretations would explode the number of alternatives that an interpreter would need to consider, unless there were adequate constraints. However, predominant computational approaches to dialogue, which are based on intention, already have difficulty constraining the interpretation process. Proposed sociological accounts are more constrained, but none are computational. Some synthesis of intentional and social accounts of discourse is required.
In intentional accounts, speakers use their beliefs and goals to decide what to say; when hearers interpret an utterance, they try to identify goals that might account for it. This sort of reasoning is difficult to constrain because, although beliefs can narrow the search for an interpretation, there is no principled way of constraining the depth of the search. For each motivation that a hearer considers, he must also consider any higher-level motivations that it might support. To make such an approach workable, many simplifying assumptions have to be made, including the assumption that previous parts of the conversation have been understood correctly. However, there is another way to address misunderstanding that avoids this unconstrained inference of goals: use expectations deriving from social conventions (rather than intention) to guide interpretation.
In sociological accounts provided by Ethno methodology, both coherent discourse interactions and repairs of misunderstandings are normal activities guided by social conventions (Garfinkel 1967; Schegloff 1992). There are conventions regarding the expected range of responses to every action, for example. People then can assume that others are behaving as expected, unless they have reason to believe otherwise. In this way, the conventions give speakers a guide to possible interpretations. Reasoning is also limited, because conventions do not depend on the psychological characteristics of particular participants. What these accounts lack that computational accounts provide is an explanation of how people can identify the convention that is relevant, especially when there is no pre-existing expectation.
6. A possible synthesis
In our work (McRoy 1993; McRoy and Hirst 1993) we have developed a model of communicative interaction that supports the negotiation of meaning discussed in Section 1. According to the model, speakers form expectations on the basis of what they hear, and thus monitor for differences in understanding. If necessary, they also reinterpret utterances in response to new information and generate repairs. Beliefs about the discourse context and conventions for interaction are used to select speech acts that are appropriate for accomplishing the speakers' goals. Interpretation and repair attempt to retrace this selection process abductively when speakers attempt to interpret an observed utterance, they try to identify the goal, expectation, or misunderstanding that might have led the other agent to produce it.
The model uses both intentional and social sources of knowledge. Intentional information is captured by two relations: one between utterances (input forms) and speech acts, and one between utterances and the attitudes that they express. These relations are the basis for deciding whether a set of utterances is consistent. To capture socially-derived expectations, the theory includes a relation on the speech acts|for each act, which acts are expected to follow. It also contains an axiomatization of speakers' knowledge for generating appropriate utterances and for detecting and repairing misunderstandings. The model demonstrates how these decisions depend on interactions among discourse participants' beliefs, intentions, previously expressed attitudes, and knowledge of social conventions.
The key features of the model that distinguish it from previous ones are the following:
_ An account of the detection and repair of speech act misunderstandings and its relation to generation and interpretation. Although there has been work on identifying potential sources of misunderstanding, none of it addresses the problem of identifying and repairing actual misunderstandings. Also, unifying these tasks requires that linguistic knowledge and processing knowledge be kept distinct, improving the clarity of the model and permitting general knowledge about language to be reused.
_ An integration of the socially-determined, structural conventions that have been identified by Ethnomethodology with the use of belief and intention that has been popularized within Artificial Intelligence. As a result, the model does not do extended inference about goals when it is not necessary.
_ An account of the nonmonotonicity of discourse reasoning. In particular, the interpretation of utterances and the detection of misunderstandings are both characterized as abduction problems; speech act generation is characterized as default reasoning. As a result, all three processes can be speci_ed within a single theory of communicative interaction.
_ A reification of expectation. According to the model, agents form expectations on the basis of social conventions. They filter these expectations by considering the consistency of the Grecian intentions that they have expressed. By contrast, previous models of discourse attempt to eliminate interpretations by using some (necessarily incomplete) set of felicity conditions.
_ An axiomatization in Prioritized Theorist (Poole etal. 1987). Theorist is a declarative framework for default and abductive reasoning. Thus, linguistic knowledge and processing knowledge are kept distinct.
• Individuals in every culture have similar basic needs but, express them differently. In daily life, we all initiate conversation use formal and informal speech, give praise, express disagreement, some information, and extend invitations.
• Misunderstanding in speech among different cultures is often happened. It is caused by many different factors and consequences many different responds among those members of communication.
• The importance of those differences is varying. It is depended on the level or the seriousness of the misunderstanding occurred. The bigger the seriousness is, the bigger the problem will be occurred, and the lower the level of seriousness is, the more little problem will be occurred.
• In several patterns of speech at different cultures, sometimes there are several similarities pattern that will make understanding is easier.
• The negotiation among the member of the communication is needed in order to extinguish misunderstanding might occur.