Challenges of Communication across Cultures

Superficial American and silent Finns are remarks Donal Carbaugh collected after spending several months in Finland. Carbaugh learned the implicit rules behind a “small talk” in Finland is very different from the rules guiding a small talk in the US. In Finland, the following rules should be respected:

1. one should not state what is obvious;

2. if speaking, one should say something worthy of everyone’s attention;

3. one should not invoke topics or themes that are contentious or conflictual (or more positively, one should keep present relations on harmonious ground);

4. one should b personally committed to or invested in what one says;

5. what you say properly—-the un-obvious, socially worthwhile, non-contentious, personally involving statements—-forms a basis for subsequent interactions and social relations (Carbaugh, 2005, p. 42).

We will use this list of rules in Finland to open our discussion this week. Please address the following:

1 [claim] among the four maxims of verbal communication set forth by Grice, which one do you think can be best used to explain the different rules regarding “small talk” in Finland and the US, hence the distinction between “superficial American” and “silent Finns”?

2 [definition] what are the four maxims usually used to analyze verbal communications styles in an intercultural context, according to Grice?

3 [example] what can be an example from Donal Carbaugh’s account in Finland that reflects one end of your chosen maxim or dimension, and why? what can be an American example from your daily communication experience that may also resonate with this dimension?

4 [explanation] why do you think both examples demonstrates the cultural differences reflected through your chosen frame?

Word Count 300-500

You may use two books

page 139-144 Hall, Bradford (2005). Among Cultures: Challenges of Communication across Cultures, 2nd ed, Cengage learning: Wadsworth.

Page 223Carbaugh, Donald (1995). Linguistic Patterns: A Cultural Comparison, the Federation of Foreign Language Teachers in Finland. Reprinted by per- mission of the publishers and author Donal Carbaugh teaches at the University of Massachusetts

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