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Language Communication


Table of contents:
1. Introduction
2. Verbal communication in the USA, Japan and Indonesia
3. Non-verbal communication in the USA, Japan and Indonesia
4. Conclusion: Educational implications of language communication
5. References


Introduction
The language communication is an essential part of human life. In fact, it is even possible to estimate that the language communication is the unique feature that distinguishes humans from other species for it is only humans that are able to use verbal communication with such an efficiency. At the same time, the language communication is a broad concept which involves not only verbal but also non-verbal communication because the language, as a system, incorporates both verbal and non-verbal means, such as gestures, mimics, body movements, etc. On the other hand, in spite of the seeming similarity of the language communication, this concept is not absolutely homogeneous and identical among all the people inhabiting the Earth. What is meant here is the fact that the language communication is, to a significant extent, affected by various factors, including cultural norms and traditions, social standards of behavior, social hierarchy and interpersonal roles people perform in the community. In fact, the variety of factors affecting the language communication makes the communication original and unique. This is why the language communication of Americans differs consistently from that of Japanese people, but even cultures, which are similar in a way, such as Japanese and Indonesian, have also certain differences in the language communication. Hence, it is possible to view the language communication as a culturally differentiating factor or marker since each culture has its own language communication style and norms.
Verbal communication in the USA, Japan and Indonesia
On analyzing the verbal communication in the USA, Japan and Indonesia, it is important to underline that they differ consistently. The difference is particularly striking between the USA and Asian countries. In this respect, it should be pointed out that the American language communication is characterized by the high degree of liberalism compared to the language communication of Japanese and Indonesian people. In fact, American verbal communication tends to more liberal and democratic style. In practice, this means that Americans tend to communicate as equal and, what is more, they tend to use quite a democratic communication style even in the formal environment (Bovee and Thill, 2005). To put it more precisely, many American organizations admit the possibility of the development of interpersonal relations and verbal communication on the democratic and liberal ground that means that leaders of organizations or managers can communicate with their subordinates as equal. This situation is absolutely unacceptable in the Japanese society and, therefore, Japanese organization, where, in spite of the growing impact of western culture, the social relations and communication are regulated by the norms of the social hierarchy. In practice, this means that Japanese people do not admit the possibility of informal or simply friendly verbal communication between people that occupy a different position in the social or organizational hierarchy (Kotter, 2001). For instance, a Japanese manager does not communicate with an employee as equal, which may occur in American organizations and society at large. Moreover, in terms of the American society the verbal communication between people is even less formal than within organizations because Americans treat each other as equal a priori, while for Japanese people, the social status of an individual is of the utmost importance. At this point, Japanese culture and verbal communication are similar to Indonesian ones, where the status of an individual often defines his or her verbal communication style.
The difference between American, Japanese and Indonesian culture may be easily traced in the process of verbal communication. For instance, the general democratic and liberal verbal communication style is realized not only through the communication of Americans as equal, even though they have a different social status, but it is also realized through the possibility of the verbal communication. What is meant here is the fact that Americans can start the verbal communication when they have something to say, even if a person has a lower social status or takes a lower position in the organization (Bovee and Thill, 2005). In contrast, in the Japanese society and organization as well as in Indonesia, people occupying lower positions or having lower social status cannot start talking to a person who has a higher rank or social position. Moreover, in Japan leaders of an organization or people who take a higher social position do not even “descend” to the communication with people of the lower social level. The same trend can be observed in the verbal communication between genders. In the USA both men and women communicate as equal and women can start the conversation first, while in Japan and Indonesia such a situation is extremely seldom, especially in relation to Indonesia, where relationships between genders are regulated not only by cultural traditions, but also by religious norms, for Islam is very influential in Indonesia. As a result, Indonesian women are often very limited in their verbal communication. They cannot talk first and they cannot talk to strangers, especially if they are men. In Japan this trend is not so strong, but, as a rule, it is men who starts the conversation and plays the leading role in the conversation, while women perform a secondary role. In the US, women can converse as equal and, what is more, their personal judgments are not perceived as skeptically as they do in Indonesia and partially in Japan.
Furthermore, it is also necessary to pay attention to the amount of talking. In this respect, Americans are very talkative and the verbal communication plays a very important role in the USA for it is the main means of the communication. It is through the verbal language Americans share their opinions, ideas, express their position, etc. The situation in Japan and Indonesia is quite different in this regard. In fact, the verbal communication, being significant, is traditionally companied by meaningful and very important non-verbal communication which bears a considerable message between communicating people. At the same time, the importance of the maintenance of face in Japan and the importance of being serious and concrete in Indonesia makes people not as talkative as Americans. As a result, the amount of talking in Japan is consistently lower than in the US and is similar to the amount of talking in Indonesia.
Moreover, it is necessary to underline the fact that Americans often tend to verbal arguments and discussions, while in Japan and Indonesia the possibilities for arguments are limited because of the existing cultural or religious restrictions. In this regard, the conversation of younger people with older population is particularly noteworthy because in Japan and Indonesia the opinion and position of older people is practically unchallengeable and unarguable, while in the US, young people can openly express their disagreement and argue with older people that is perceived as a norm in the USA and does not evoke any opposition or repulsion within the community. In fact, social norms in Japan and Indonesia does not admit open and heat discussions, especially between people who have a different social status, or who are of a different age or sex, while in the US such a situation is a norm.
Non-verbal communication in the USA, Japan and Indonesia
On researching the language communication in the USA, Japan and Indonesia, it is impossible to ignore such an aspect of the communication process as the non-verbal communication. As it has been already mentioned above, the non-verbal communication plays a very important role in Indonesia and, especially in Japan (Faust, 2000). In fact, the importance of the non-verbal communication in these countries is determined by the historical and cultural traditions which regulate the behavior and communication of people. In such a situation, a gesture, a glance, a posture of an individual in the process of communication can be meaningful, especially in Indonesia and Japan.
On the other hand, the non-verbal communication is always present and, as a rule, it is perceived on the subconscious level. People perceive not only the verbal message but also the non-verbal messages sent through gesture, mimics and other means. In this regard, American language communication does not really differ from Japanese or Indonesia or any other language communication in the world. However, its distinguishable feature is its inferiority compared to verbal communication. In fact, Americans can vividly express their feelings and emotions through mimics and gestures, they actively use movements of their hands during the conversation. As a rule, all the gestures, mimics and movements accompany the verbal communication and serve as a second signal system which only supports the first signal system, i.e. the verbal communication.
As for Japanese and Indonesian non-verbal communication, it should be said that it is less vivid and emotional. To put it more precisely, both Japanese and Indonesian cultures does not admit the open demonstration of feelings and emotions in public. In this regard, Japanese culture pays a particular attention to the concept of face and its maintenance. In practice, this means that Japanese people do not express uncontrollably their feelings and emotions in order to maintain their face and keep their public image unchanged, while emotional reactions, for instance, active use of gestures in the process of verbal communication, may be interpreted by Japanese people as weakness of an individual and his or her inability to control his or her feelings, emotions and behavior at large. At this point, Indonesian culture is closer to Japanese one since Indonesian non-verbal communication is also deprived of brusque expression of feelings and emotions and it is possible to position Indonesian non-verbal communication between the American and Japanese non-verbal communication, because it is less strictly regulated by cultural norms and is not so rigid as in Japan but is more moderate and reserved compared to the USA (Littlejohn, 2002).
In such a context, it is quite natural that non-verbal communication in the USA, Japan and Indonesia differs consistently. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the fact that touches are quite widely spread in the US as a means of communication. For instance, various touches are widely used in the process of communication in the US, including shaking hand and even hugs, depending on the level of the formality of the communication. In stark contrast, Japanese and Indonesian communication styles do not admit touches in the process of communication. Instead, Japanese and Indonesian people prefer to keep distance between each other and touches and other physical communicative contacts are acceptable only between close people, either relatives or those who have intimate relationships, but these elements of non-verbal communication should not be public and exhibitive (Bovee and Thill, 2005). An interesting element of the non-verbal communication in the USA, Japan and Indonesia is a handshake. In fact, a handshake is a common greeting in the USA, which is used by all Americans both men and women. In this regard, this element of communication is practically not used in Indonesia, where any physical contact between and women in the process of communication is undesirable, while it is very seldom in Japan, though western influences contribute to changes in this regard in Japan making handshakes more widely spread on the highly formal level.
The cultural difference between the USA, Japan and Indonesia determine the difference in the proximity of people during the communication. At this point, Japanese culture is the most rigid and conservative and implies the largest distance between people in the process of communication. The proximity is a bit closer in Indonesia but not as close as in the USA (Hart, 2004). Through maintenance of the distance in the process of communication Japanese and Indonesian people demonstrate their status and their relationships, while Americans are mainly oriented on the extent to which their relationships are friendly or formal. At the same time, the eye contact is very important for Japanese and Indonesian since it can convey significant messages to conversing people, while in the US the eye contact is significant only to maintain the contact between communicating people and make the contact stronger and more personal.
Conclusion: Educational implications for language communication
Obviously, the language communication plays a very significant role in the process of education or training because the ability of an educator to choose the proper communication style defines the effectiveness of teaching and training. To put it more precisely, educators should choose more formal communication style while working with Japanese and Indonesian students. It is important to avoid the expression of strong emotions and maintain eye contact in the process of communication with these students. At the same time, the communication with American students should be more democratic and liberal and less formal. American students need an opportunity to express their opinion and even argue with an educator - the situation which is practically unimaginable in a Japanese classroom.
Thus, it is important to take into consideration the background of students to avoid problems in the process of communication provoked by the inappropriate communication style. On the other hand, the use of this knowledge of communication specificities opens huge opportunities for the development of effective communication because students need to study in a culturally friendly environment and communication is an essential element of culture. As a result, any problems in communication make the learning process uncomfortable for students.


References:
Bovee, C.L. and Thill, J.V. (2005). Excellence in business communication. Prentice Hall.
Faust, M. (Oct. 20, 2000). "Three tips for more powerful presentations." The Small Business Journal. Vol.12, p.221-254.
Hart, J.L. (2004). “Organizational communication in an age of globalization: issues, reflections, practices”. Business Communication Quarterly, Vol. 67, p124-147.
Kotter, J. (2001) “What leaders really do!” Harvard Business Review, Boston. Vol.79, p.93-115.
“Leadership and management skills”. (February 2001). Black Enterprise, Vol. 31, p.186-193.
Littlejohn, S. W. (2002). Theories of human communication. 7th edition, Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.


 
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