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Intercultural communication and Edward T. Hall approach to it

This article focuses on intercultural communication. It uses the theory of  Edward T. Hall who examines anthropological view of culture including communication.

Edward T. Hall was an anthropologist who made early discoveries of key cultural factors. In particular, he discovered and examined high and low context cultural factors, moreover. In a high-context culture, there are many contextual elements that help people to understand the rules. As a result, much is taken for granted. This can be very confusing for a person who does not understand the ‘unwritten rules’ of the culture. At the same time, in a low-context culture, very little is taken for granted. Whilst this means that more explanation is needed, it also means there is less chance of misunderstanding particularly when visitors are present.


When you understand the personal, national or organizational culture, then you can seek to align with them. Hence, you can gain greater influence that is to say.


Intercultural communication is interaction among people of different cultures. First study of intercultural communication has originated in the US in 1946 by establishing the Foreign Service Act by Foreign Service Institute, resident in Washington. It provides language and anthropological training for foreign diplomats (Jandt, 2014). The courses prepare American diplomats and other professionals to develop their professional skills. It helps them to build their relations to other countries and cultures. Lastly it helps them to promote the capabilities of US foreign affair community.

Besides, the study of IC is associated with the book The Silent Language written by Edward T. Hall in 1959. In addition, Edward T. Hall used anthropological concepts in practical world of Foreign Service. He extended the anthropological view of culture including communication. Hall defined culture as a communication process indeed. In fact, the hypothesis claims that new intercultural means of communication will present internet language.



Edward T. Hall


Intercultural communication competence

Moreover, intercultural communication competence presents “one´s skill in facilitating successful intercultural communication outcomes in terms of satisfaction and other positive assessments of the interaction and the interaction partner” (Kim, 2005 in Jandt, 2013). It is a skill of transformation from a monocultural person to a multicultural person. The person that respects cultures and has tolerance for differences (Jandt, 2013).

First, Chen identifies four skill areas of ICC: Personality strength – personal characteristics:

  1. a) self-concept: the way in which a person sees the self
  2. b) self-disclosure: willingness of individuals to openly and appropriately reveal information about themselves to their counterparts
  3. c) self-monitoring: using social comparison information to control and modify one’s self-presentation and expressive behavior
  4. d) social relaxation – ability to reveal little anxiety in communication

Individuals must express a friendly personality to be competent in intercultural communication, after all. With the spread of social networks on internet such as facebook or Twitter, people collect their “friends”.



what is a level of your self-concept like?




Without doubt, intercultural competence requires many skills. Here we clarify some of them:

message skills – ability to understand and use language and feedback. behavioral flexibility – ability to select an appropriate behavior in diverse contexts. interaction management – handling the procedural aspects of conversation such as the ability to initiate a conversation. social skills-empathy(ability to think the same thoughts and feel the same emotions as the other person). identity maintenance – ability to maintain a counterpart´s identity by communicating back an accurate understanding of that person’s identity. In other words, a competent communicator must be able to deal with diverse people in different situations. He must to acclimate to new environments known as psychological adjustment. Perhaps,internet can be an example of the new environment.

Nonetheless, to be a good communicator an individual must understand the social customs and social system of the host culture. He must be culturally aware. Therefore, Guo-Ming Chen and William J. Starosta (1996) define ICC as the ability to negotiate cultural meanings. It is an ability to execute appropriately effective communication behaviors that recognizes the interactants´ multiple identities in a specific environment.


Thus, Chen and Starosta introduce three perspectives:

  1. Affective or intercultural sensitivity – to acknowledge and respect cultural differences
  2. Cognitive or intercultural awareness – self-awareness of one’s own personal cultural identities and understanding how cultures vary
  3. Behavioral or intercultural adroitness – message skills, knowledge of appropriate self-disclosure, behavioral flexibility, interaction management and social skills (Jandt, 2013).



Communication skills




INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION ETHICS deals with the question of how we ought to lead our lives. Kale (1997) claims that peace is the fundamental human value.

He developed four ethical principles to guide intercultural interactions:

Ethical communicators address people of other cultures with the same respect that they would like to receive themselves.

Their goal is to describe the world as they perceive it as accurately as possible.

Furthermore, communicators try to encourage people of other cultures to express themselves in their uniqueness.

And they strive for identification with people of other cultures.

Western perspectives on Communication were introduced by theory of David Berlo. He claims that communication is a process of transmitting ideas to influence others to achieve their goals. Of course, it is a dynamic process, as the variables in the process are interrelated and influence each other. Overall, his conceptualization of communication can be labelled by machinelike or mechanistic. Communication was conceptualized as one-way, top-down, and suited for the transmission media of print, telephones, radio, and television (Griffin, 2006).





Components of Communication are:

Source – is the person with an idea he or she desires to communicate ,

Encoding – the process of putting an idea into a symbol ,

Message – the resulting object of encoding process ,

channel – medium

noise – anything that distorts the message the source encodes

receiver – person who attends the message

decoding – the opposite process of encoding

receiver response – anything that receiver does after having attended to and decoded message  feedback – is that portion of the receiver response of which the source has knowledge and to which the source attends and assigns meaning

context – environment in which the communication takes place.

Alfred G. Smith (1966) defines culture as a code that we share and learn, and consequently learning and sharing require communication. Godwin C. Chu (1977) claims that every cultural pattern and every single act of social behavior involve communication. We cannot know the culture without a study of communication. We can understand it only with and understanding of the culture it supports.





various types of media

THE MEDIA OF INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION came probably through significant changes. In the past centuries HUMAN COURRIERS AND INTERMEDIARIES mediated the communication between people. People use intermediaries instead of face-to-face confrontation. They tried to reduce risk of losing face or the value or the standing one has in the eyes of the others (Jandt, 2013).

People used to write letters and use  telephones instead  today they communicate via internet that has also its specific language. English language is the most used internet language (Pimienta, Prado, Blanco, 2009). In fact, speech-like forms of written English are proliferating on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere. As a result, this means that non-standard dialects (Hinglish, Singlish, southern white English, black American English) are being written more than they used to (R.L.G, 2012). Specifically, new words and phrases are being developed and used by young people from all over the world. For instance:

  • DBA for don’t bother asking
  • VBD for very big deal
  • FHO for friends hanging out
  • SNH for sarcasm noted here
  • YGTI for you get the idea
  • TLTR for too long to read.

Neverthless, linguist David Crystal claims that using internet language is “linguistic bonding mechanism”. It is unique to different social groups, from Facebook timelines to Youtube comments. He supports the idea that Internet speak enriches its users. It expands the modern language. On the contrary, the other linguists suggest that online culture and technology will destroy the language as we know it. In sum, language changes because people change. In the era of modernity we live in, it is ridiculous to avoid progress.


internet language
tool for communication in phase of modernity



Thank you for your attention 🙂 Hope you enjoyed the reading and do not forget to check other articles as well.


Kristina Haburajova





Desta, Yohanna. The Evolution of Internet Speak. 25th September, 2014.


Griffin, E. A first look at communication theory. McGraw-Hill, Inc. New York. 2006.

Jandt, Fred. An introduction to intercultural communication. SAGE Publications. 7th edition. 2013. 448.

Pimienta, Daniel. Prado, Daniel, Blanco, Alvaro. Twelve years in measuring linguistic diversity in the Internet: balance and perspectives. UN educational organization. 2009.

  1. L. G. Im in ur internets, creolizin ur english. Dec 18th 2012, New York





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