European Integration Studies, Miskolc, Volume Number (2005) pp. 73-96



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European Integration Studies, Miskolc, Volume 4. Number 1. (2005) pp. 73-96.


DIFFERENCES OF Language FROM A CROSS-CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE

Eszter Pethő

Institute of Economic Theories, University of Miskolc

3515 Miskolc-Egyetemváros, Hungary

pethoeszter@hotmail.com

Field of research: rhetorical economics


Balázs Heidrich

Institute of Management Sciences, University of Miskolc

3515 Miskolc-Egyetemváros, Hungary

szvhebal@uni-miskolc.hu

Field of research: corporate cultures, cross-cultural management
Abstract: Cultural differences are best reflected in languages spoken by native speakers. We have to be aware of the precise interpretation of culture, the determinants of culture and identity. This paper aims to show differences of thought from a cross-cultural perspective by three aspects: anthropological and linguistic points of view and the appearance of shared values in business life. The anthropological approach can be best illustrated in Florence R. Kluckhohn’s Values Orientations Method, which aims to compare and contrast the underlying ‘orientations’, or world views. The linguistic approach gives the bedrock of the paper by analyzing whether different ways of describing the world leads speakers of different languages also to have different ways of thinking about the world. Through Trompenaars' and Hampden-Turner's cultural factors, Hofstede’s cultural dimensions and in Hall’s classic models the appearance of cultural differences in business life is focused on.

1. Defining culture

For clarifying the meaning of the word ‘culture’, we have to go back to history and philosophy for seeking different interpretations of the word. In the early stages of the philosophical debate about what 'culture' is, the term often refers to the opposite of 'nature', something constructed willingly by man, whereas 'nature' was given in itself. The word 'culture' comes from the Latin ‘colere’, which can be translated as to cultivate, to build on or, to foster. Leibnitz, Voltaire, Hegel, von Humbold, Kant, Freud, Adorno, Marcuse, etc. have reflected on the meaning of the word in different versions of its use (Dahl 2001).

Later on, the word 'culture' emerged more in the sense of 'products that are worthy': somewhat reduced to Dürer, Goethe and Beethoven. The term was used to describe elite and high-culture concepts, particularly in continental Europe in the 18th century. This definition of culture is still vivid; Rickert, in Kulturwissenschaft und Naturwissenschaft (The science of culture and the science of nature), defines culture, following the elitist approach, as: “Gesamtheit der realen Objekte, an denen allgemein anerkannte Werte oder durch sie konstruierte Sinngebilde haften und die mit Rücksicht auf die Werte gepflegt werden” (The totality of real objects, to which the general values, or sense constructions of those, are related, and which are cared for with regards to the values.) (Rickert, in Maletzke 1996:16.).
Equally, during the mid-nineteenth century, the concept of mass culture and popular culture emerged, fueling the critical theory of the Frankfurt School and the Birmingham School. In the words of Stuart Hall, of the Birmingham School, ‘culture’ is “both the means and values which arise among distinctive social groups and classes, on the basis of their given historical conditions and relationship, through which they ‘handle’ and respond to the conditions of existence” (Hall, in McQuail 1994:100.).

According to Geert Hofstede, culture is ‘the collective programming of the mind’ (in Victor 1992:6.) This view of culture focuses on culture as a set of values and attributes of a given group, and the relation of the individual to the culture, and the individual's acquisition of those values and attributes: in the words of Fisher, quoted in the same work, who defines culture as: ‘It is shared behavior, which is important because it systematizes the way people do things, thus avoiding confusion and allowing co-operation so that groups of people can accomplish what no single individual could do alone. And it is behavior imposed by sanctions, rewards and punishments for those who are part of the group’ (Fisher 1988).

Culture will be understood in the context of this paper “as a collectively held set of attributes, which is dynamic and changing over time”. (Dahl 2001:9.) Culture will be defined as the totality of the following attributes of a given group (or subgroup): shared values, beliefs and basic assumptions, as well as any behavior arising from those, of a given group. The term ‘group’ not only refers to a nation, but to supranational and international groups, which are clearly distinguishable as well. Finally, as Dahl states (2001) it is important to consider the individual’s role in a culture. On the one side, the individual determines its culture, on the other, it is determined by its culture. As the individual contributes to the culture around him, it will be part of the cultural change.
2. Anthropological approach: the value orientations method
In order to increase understanding within and between cultural groups in the United States and abroad, anthropologists with the Harvard Values Project (Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck, 1961) developed a model labeled as ‘The Value Orientations Method’. This method serves as a tool that allows groups to examine, compare and contrast the underlying ‘orientations’, or world views, which shape how they perceive one another and the issue at hand.

The model is based on three primary assumptions:

(1.) There is a limited number of common human problems for which all people at all times must find some solution”, including the character of innate human nature, the relation of man to nature, the temporal focus of human life, modality of humankind's relationship to other people and the modality of human activity. The answers to these five concerns are called ‘value orientations’ and can be interpreted as ‘core values’. (2.) While there is variability in solutions of all the problems, it is neither limitless nor random but is definitely variable within a range of possible solutions. (3.) All alternatives of all solutions are present in all societies at all times but are differentially preferred. (Kluckhohn Center 2001).

By means of individual oral interviews, the value orientations of each group could be identified. In a series of workshops which follow, the groups come together to discuss the similarities and differences in their orientations. During this process, the participants develop effective communication skills, trust, and cooperative action plans which integrate new cross-cultural understanding into their working relationships.
All the five concerns were put in question forms to the participants of the personal interviews. According to the responses, the patterns of preference which guide the life of a population were drawn out. These orientations, while culturally held as what is "most true and right", are often unvoiced, and may not even be consciously articulated.


Concerns/ orientations

Possible Responses

Human Nature: What is the basic nature of people?

Evil. Most people can't be trusted. People are basically bad and need to be controlled.

Mixed. There are both evil people and good people in the world, and you have to check people out to find out which they are. People can be changed with the right guidance.

Good. Most people are basically pretty good at heart; they are born good.

Man-Nature Relationship: What is the appropriate  relationship to nature

Subordinate to Nature. People really can't change nature. Life is largely determined by external forces, such as fate and genetics. What happens was meant to happen.


Harmony with Nature. Man should, in every way, live in harmony with nature.

Dominant over Nature. It is the great human challenge to conquer and control nature.  Everything from air conditioning to the "green revolution" has resulted from having met this challenge.

Time Sense: How should we best think about time?

Past. People should learn from history, draw the values they live by from history, and strive to continue past traditions into the future.

Present. The present moment is everything.  Let's make the most of it.  Don't worry about tomorrow: enjoy today.

Future. Planning and goal setting make it possible for people to accomplish miracles, to change and grow. A little sacrifice today will bring a better tomorrow.

Table 1. Description of Five Common Human Concerns and Three Possible Responses based on Kohls, 1981

Most studies of the dominant Euro-American culture in the United States find that it is future oriented, focused on doing, emphasizes individualism, aspires to be dominant over nature, and believes that human nature is mixed, some people are good and some are bad (e.g., Carter 1990). By contrast, most studies show that Native cultures are past oriented, focused on being, emphasize collateral (group) relations, aspire to be in harmony with nature, and believe that people are fundamentally good (e.g., Russo 2000a). Furthermore, each culture will express all three possible responses at some time. While it is common for Euro-Americans to have a ‘doing’ orientation during the workweek but to have a ‘being’ orientation on weekends and while on vacation. The VOM theory recognizes that there is diversity within a culture - both among subgroups and individuals - and that degree of acculturation matters (Gallagher 2001.).

3. Linguistic approach: does language shape thought?
Languages differ dramatically from one another in terms of how they describe the world. Each language differs from the next in innumerable ways: from obvious differences in pronunciation and vocabulary to more subtle differences in grammar. It is interesting to analyze whether having different ways of describing the world leads speakers of different languages also to have different ways of thinking about the world.

Experiments suggest that the relevant issue is not so much thought (a static notion) as thinking, i.e. the specific task one is performing (a more dynamic notion). In particular, when you are expressing thoughts in a particular language, you necessarily have to respect the important categories of that language, but if you wish you can include whatever extra information you want to (Slobin 1996).


3.1. The Whorfian theory

The roots of the current Whorfian hypothesis go back to the German educator Wilhelm von Humboldt’s study of linguistic relativity and determinism early in the last century (Slobin 1996:70). According to Humboldt, languages differ from one another; thought and language are inseparable; and, therefore, each speech community embodies a distinct world-view. Benjamin Whorf extended this doctrine of linguistic determinism to describe the roles of language and thought in human development. Bringing the idea to a new and heavy mix of empiricist epistemology, Whorf placed emphasis on the unconscious influence of language on habitual thought.

The Whorfian hypothesis can therefore be summarized as follows (Gumperz and Levinson 1996:25):

(1) “Different languages utilize different semantic representation systems which are informationally non-equivalent (at least in the sense that they employ different lexical concepts);

(2) semantic representations determine aspects of conceptual representations;


therefore

(3) users of different languages utilize different conceptual representations.”


3.1.1. Whorfian hypothesis on a personal level

Observing and recording the ongoing speech of a group of children between the ages of 5 and 10, cultural linguists Bivens and Berk made an experiment. They discovered that the incidence of private speech increased when the child was alone and trying to perform some difficult task. In subsequent studies, the researchers learned that those children who made the greatest numbers of self-directed comments were the ones who mastered the tasks best. Hence, Bivens and Berk concluded that self-directed speech is a crucial cognitive tool that allows us to highlight the most puzzling features of our environments (Clark 1997:195.). The Whorfian hypothesis can therefore be argued to exist on a personal level.

3.2. Cross-cultural wordplay

Let us take the following statement: ’the elephant ate the peanuts’. We must include tense in English for showing that the event happened in the past. In Indonesian and Mandarin, indicating when the event occurred would be optional and could not be included in the verb. In Russian, the verb would need to include tense and also whether the peanut-eater was male or female (though only in the past tense), and whether the peanut-eater ate all of the peanuts or just a proportion of them. In Turkish, one would specify (as a suffix on the verb) whether the eating of the peanuts was witnessed or if it was hearsay. It appears that speakers of different languages have to attend to and encode strikingly different aspects of the world in order to use their language properly (Sapir 1921; Slobin 1996:70-96.).

Cultural linguist Franz Boas catalogued a great diversity of obligatory grammatical categories across languages in the introduction to his Handbook of American Indian Languages (Slobin 1996:71.). For example, Boas discussed the English sentence, The man is sick, and noted that in Siouan one would have to indicate, grammatically, whether the man is moving or at rest. (Slobin 1996:71.) In Kwakiutl one would have to indicate whether the man in question is visible or non-visible to the speaker. In Eskimo, one would simply say, "man sick," with no obligatory indication of definiteness, tense, visibility, or location. Boas’s concept can be extended to other languages such as Spanish where one must indicate whether the man is temporarily or chronically sick. In many other European languages one cannot indicate definiteness apart from gender (Slobin 1996:71.).

3.3. The Metaphor TIME as SPACE across languages

In the way languages describe spatial locations, dramatic cross linguistic differences were noted. Whereas most languages (e.g. English, Dutch) rely heavily on relative spatial terms to describe the relative locations of objects (e.g. left/right, front/back), Tzeltal (a Mayan language) relies primarily on absolute reference (a system similar to the English north/south direction system). Spatial locations that are north are said to be downhill, and those south are said to be uphill (Lenvinson 1996).

Languages also differ from one another on their descriptions of time. While all languages use spatial terms to talk about time (e.g. ’looking forward to seeing you’, falling behind schedule’), different languages use different spatial terms. We will look at the following dimensions of space and their metaphorical mappings on time: orientation of the time-line, shape of the time-line, position of times relative to the observer, and time as motion.


3.3.1. Dimensionality of the time-line

In metaphorising time as space we have to take into consideration that while time is usually illustrated as one-dimensional line, the time-line, space has three dimensions with 3 axes: a longitudinal, a vertical and a left-to-right axis. The preference for the longitudinal axis may be due to our spatial experience of motion, which is almost invariably directed to the front. The front-back orientation of time appears in expressions such as ’the weeks ahead of us’ or ’the worst is behind us’. In Western cultures, the front-back orientation predominates in temporal scenes. We do not see a vertical or lateral movement underlying temporal expressions such as ’this coming week’ or ’the days gone by’, or ’the following week’, i.e., we do not visualize a month approaching from above or from the left side.


In Chinese, the vertical axis commonly applies conceptualizing time. Earlier times are viewed as ’up’ and later times as ’down’. Thus ’shànyuè’ (up.month) means last month and ’xiàyuè’ (down.month) means next month. Western cultures may conceptualize earlier times as ’up’ and later times as ’down’. The older generations of the family tree are at the top and described as ’ascendants’, while the younger generations are at the bottom and described as ’descendants’ (Radden 2003:227-229.).

3.3.2. Shape of the time-line

If we are looking for spatial shapes of the time-line, we will soon find out that there are only two geometrical gestalts in use: a straight line and a full or partial circle. A circle, as a two-dimensional form is ideally suited to represent recurrent, cyclic time. The notion of cyclic time is often associated with exotic languages, but it is far from uncommon in Western languages. This is well reflected in the proverbial expression ’History always repeats itself’. The only time unit which is readily understood as circular in English is the year while days require specific wordings: ’Guided tours are offered year-round’, ’Unser Geschäft ist geöffnet rund um die Uhr’ (Our shop is open round the clock), or ’he slept round the day’. The circular understanding of a 24-hour day is iconically motivated by the round shape of the clock, although it normally goes round the clock twice in 24 hours. As we can observe, “a full circle suggests the repetition of the same time or event, a sector suggests taking new direction away from a line or circle. This is the case with expressions like ’turn of the century’ or ’to turn twenty’ (Radden 2003:229.).

3.3.3. Position of times relative to the observer

As in the world of space, the ego occupies a prominent role as the temporal reference point. The predominant view of time as a time-line allows a distinction between three times: present, past and future. The idea of ’present time’ may also be elaborated by descriptions of the ways humans experience things in their immediate vicinity, as in the Chinese expressions for ’present time’: ’on hand.existing’, ’just at.front’, ’eye.front’, ’eye.below’, ’eye.underneath’, ’eye.face.front’ and ’foot.under’ (Yu 1998:95). The pattern predominantly found across languages is that of the horizontal time axis and, especially in Western languages, of the future as being in front of an imaginary observer. The following descriptions of static situations illustrate our standard arrangement with the future in front of us and the past behind us: ’I can’t see the future’, ’troubles lie ahead’, or, ’I am looking forward to seeing you’. As for the past: ’that’s all behind us now’ or ’that was way back in 1900’.

The future may also be seen as lying behind and the past as lying in front of the observer. The logic of this arrangement is that we can ’see’ or know the past but not the future. Miracle and Moya (1981) and Klein (1987) found this model in Indian languages Aymara and Toba which are spoken in Peru and Bolivia, respectively. In Aymara, the past is rendered as ’nayra timpu’ (eye time, i.e., ’the time before my eyes’) and tomorrow as ’q’ipi uru (back day, i.e., ’the day at my back’). Similarly, past events in Malagasy are described as ’in front of the eye' and future events as ’behind’.

3.3.4. Time as motion

People usually use expressions of motion like time passes, goes by, flows for explaining the notion of time. The perception of motion requires a background which allows us to notice the spatial changes resulting from the motion of the object. If the background is fixed, it may also be in motion itself provided that it moves at a different speed as in ’We are trying to catch up with the time’ or moves to another direction, as in ‘we are racing against time to finish our homework’. We can observe two models of time as a motion that are summarized in Table 1. The spatial-temporal orientation characterizing the moving-time model is the opposite of that of the moving ego model. In the moving-time model, time ’comes’ from the future and ’goes’ into the past. Such examples as ’coming week’, ’past week’ or ’following week’ are good illustrations. In the moving-ego model, the observer ’goes’ into the future and has ’come’ from the past. This model is well reflected in expressions such as ’we are approaching golden times’ and ’we have left the worst behind us’.



The new year is coming.

Moving time: come = future

The old year has gone by.

Moving time: go = past

I am going to do it.

Moving ego: go = future

Je viens de le faire.

(I come from it do, =

’I have just done it’)


Moving ego: come = past

Table 2. Two models of time as a motion

(Radden, 2003:236.)


3.4. A picture worth thousands words

The picture was taken out from a storybook that was used by Slobin and his colleagues to assess the Whorfian hypothesis on a cross-cultural perspective. The picture represents a pair of events that you can understand immediately, probably without talking to yourself at all (Slobin 1996:72). Something happens to the boy in the tree, and something happens to his dog. An owl and some bees are involved; the location is most likely in a forested area.


Figure 1. A picture from a storybook

(Pinker 1995 in: Language, Culture and Thought 2002)

If we examine the grammatical categories interpreted by different nations, we will arrive at very interesting conclusions. The English speaker interprets the activity of the dog as durative, or extended in time, in comparison to the activity of the boy (Slobin 1996: 72-73). In a typical English sentence, dedicated to English learners, we might say: „The boy fell off the tree, and the dog was running away from the bees.” English marks a progressive aspect on the verb, seeming to correspond to an obvious temporal component of the „complete concept” or „mental image” (Slobin 1996:73). A Spanish-speaker will recognize the durativity of running as well, because Spanish also has a progressive aspect, as well as an imperfect aspect. Nonetheless, this speaker might also note that the falling of the boy is punctual or completed, since Spanish makes a contrast between perfective and imperfective aspects.

There is a group of languages having no grammatical marking of perfective/imperfective or of progressive, such as German or Hebrew. These two languages lack distinctive marking of either pole of aspectual contrast (Slobin 1996:79.). Hebrew has no grammaticized aspect at all; verbs are simply inflected for past, present, or future tense. German has a simple past and present. Neither language has grammatical marking of either progressive or imperfective. For the original sentences and their English translation see Table 3.


Language

Picture description

English translation

English

The boy fell off... and the dog was being chased by the bees.

He's [the dog is] running through there, and he [the boy] fell off.



-

Spanish

Se cayó el niño y le perseguían al perro las avispas.

Se cayó... El perro está corriendo.



"The boy fell and the wasps were chasing the dog."

"The boy fell... The dog was running."



German

Der ist vom Baum runtergefallen und der Hund läuft schnell weg.

Er rannte schneller und immer schneller.

Der Hund rennt rennt rennt.

"He fell off from the tree and the dog runs away quicky"

"He ran faster and faster"

"The dog runs runs runs"


Hebrew

Hu nafal ve hakelev barax.

Hayeled nafal... ve hakelev boreax.




"He fell and the dog ran away"

"The boy fell... and the dog runs away"”



Table 3. Picture description by different speakers.

(Pinker 1995 in: Language, Culture and Thought 2002)


As Slobin states, "the events of this picture book are experienced differently by speakers of different languages in the process of making a verbalized story out of them" (Slobin 1996:88). For example, there is nothing in the pictures themselves that leads English speakers to verbally express whether an incident is in progress or Spanish speakers to note whether it has been completed. In addition, there is nothing in the figure to encourage German speakers to formulate elaborate descriptions of trajectories or to make Hebrew speakers indifferent to conceiving of events as durative or bounded in time. In acquiring each of these languages, children are guided by the set of grammaticized distinctions within their language to attend to such features of events while speaking (Skotko 1997). As Slobin concludes, "Each (language) is a subjective orientation to the world of human experience, and this orientation affects the ways in which we think while we are speaking" (Slobin 1996:91).

3.5. Germanic prepositions

According to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis different cultures also have different linguistic properties. But quite similar cultures can also have significantly different linguistic properties, in which case it is rather implausible that the thought processes of the speakers are so different. Let us take into consideration some spatial prepositions from three West Germanic languages. English, German and Dutch are linguistically and culturally closely related. These prepositions should express some of the relationships seen in these drawings (Figure 2) in Table 4.

Figure 2. Illustration to Germanic prepositions

(Pinker 1995 in: Language, Culture and Thought 2002.)


Language

Preposition

Examples

English

on




German

auf = horizontal surface

cup on a table

spider on a ceiling

band-aid on shoulder

an = vertical surface, or no clear orientation


picture, poster on a wall

band-aid on leg

raindrops on a window

fly on a window

leaves on a twig

Dutch

aan = attached by a fixed point; prevented from manifesting tendency toward separation


clothes on a line

coat hook on a wall

picture on a wall (hanging from a nail)

apple on a twig

icicles on a roof

handle on a pan


dog on a leash

pull-toy on a string

balloon on a string


op = supported from underneath (i.e. horizontally), or broadly on flattish surface, or living creature; seen as essentially stable


cup on a table

bandage on a leg or shoulder

poster on a wall (glued tight)

sticker on a refrigerator

paint on a door

raindrops on a window

fly on a window

spider on a ceiling

snail on a wall

Table 4. Germanic prepositions

(Pinker 1995 in: Language, Culture and Thought 2002)


From Table 4 we can see that German uses two prepositions depending on the orientation of the surface to which something is attached (or in contact) that would be rendered by English “on”. In Dutch, the related prepositions are chosen depending on the method of attachment. Although the cultural and scientific traditions of Germany, Holland, and Britain are closely related and very similar, English uses only one preposition, “on” for all of these relations. If these fundamental spatial distinctions do not indicate differences in thought, it is doubtful that any more ‘exotic’ distinctions indicate anything significant about thought processes. Speakers of German or Dutch have to attend to these issues of orientation or attachment when choosing a preposition, but speakers of all languages understand the underlying concepts.

3.6. Categorizing the world

The idea is easily refutable that the vocabulary of a language traps its speakers into thinking only in those terms. For example, in English animal terms, there is a different range of details available for various animals. After the basic scheme (see Table 5) and the categorization of humans, let us consider first an animal of cultural importance, the horse.



species

immature

mature

male

female

male

female




person, human, man

child

adult

boy

girl

man

woman




horse

foal

horse

colt

filly

stallion

mare

Table 5. Categorizing the world I.

(Pinker 1995 in: Language, Culture and Thought 2002)

The word horse is thus polysemous: it can mean ‘adult horse’ or just ‘horse’ regardless of age. This is the general pattern for English animal terms. Other animals have just one term for the immature animal, regardless of sex. Does that mean that speakers of English think sheep have no sexual differences until maturity? No, it just means the language does not bother to express a notion that is nevertheless understood.

For most animals, such as the elephant, only one basic term exists. Adoption of terms from other species is necessary to create distinctions when necessary, such as cows. Again, this shows awareness of the concepts even in the absence of special vocabulary. Unfortunately, the most general category is not actually very well handled in English for cows.


sheep

lamb

sheep

ram

ewe




elephant

elephant

elephant calf

elephant

bull elephant

elephant cow




cattle, cow*

calf

cattle, cow*

bull

cow

Table 6. Categorizing the world II.

(Pinker 1995 in: Language, Culture and Thought 2002)

There are two possibilities for the general term:


  1. cow: ranchers generally use this term only for the female, but it is typically the general term for the layperson.

  2. cattle: this is a non-count noun, so it is not possible to say a cattle; instead one has to count head of cattle, which means that general term ends up being the quite non-specific head.

So for this animal we lack the simple equivalent of horse, but we can still understand the difference between cows (or cattle) in general and specifically female animals of the species (Pinker, 1995. in Language, Culture and Thought 2002).
3.7. Semantic distinction

It is not a very hard task to find examples for semantic distinction concerning any pair of languages. For example, given any pair of languages, it is always possible to find a semantic distinction that is made in one but not in the other. Take, for example, the Russian distinguishes two kinds of blue, darker and lighter, without a common term for them. English has to use a longer phrase to make a similar distinction. But it is done by modifying the general term in Russian and English (see Table 7).




English

Russian

blue

sínij

golubój

English

Russian

dark blue

sínij


light blue

golubój

Table 7. Sematic distinction I.

(Pinker 1995 in: Language, Culture and Thought 2002)


Conversely, Russian uses the same word for hand and arm. Table 8. shows the characteristics of ruká in various expressions



Russian

English

ruká

hand




arm




Russian

English

v ruké

"in one's hand"

zá ruku "

"by the hand

brat' ná ruki

"lift up in one's arms

idtí pód ruku

"walk arm in arm"

rukáv

"sleeve"

rukavítsa

"mitten"

Table 8. Sematic distinction II.

(Pinker 1995 in: Language, Culture and Thought 2002)

3.8. Color perception

In order to demonstrate that Whorf’s theory can be applied to a cross-cultural study, several psycholinguists have focused on lexical items, especially ones for colors. In one of the most famous of these studies, Brown and Lenneberg tried to show that certain colors were more ‘codable’ than others in English (Lucy 1996:45.). Subjects assigned them shorter names and tended to agree more on the application of those names to color samples. The more codable colors were recognized and remembered more readily than the other colors (Lucy 1996: 45.).


Extensions of the early color work by anthropologist Berlin and his collaborators generated the first broad multilanguage comparative framework actually applied to the relativity question (Lucy 1996:46.). Zuni, a language of the American Southwest, for example, exhibits two terms that we might translate as ‘yellow’ (Lucy 1996:46.). Closer analysis reveals that one term is verbal and refers to things that become yellow by ripening or aging, whereas the other is adjectival and refers to things that have had yellow substances applied to them. The customary approach in Zuni would select one term as "basic" and ignore the aspect of its meaning (i.e., the manner of becoming colored) for which there is no English equivalent (Lucy 1996:46.). Hanunóo, a language of the Philippines, has four terms that seem to refer to what we would call white, black, green, and red, but which under further analysis turn out to mean roughly "lightness, darkness, wetness, and dryness" (Lucy 1996: 46.).

A useful experiment about the possible effect of color vocabulary on perception was done with speakers of English and Tarahumara, a native language of northern Mexico (Kay and Kempton, 1984.).While English has the two words green and blue among its eleven basic color terms, Tarahumara, like many languages, has a single term that covers this range of color, siyóname. (Sometimes such words are translated as ‘grue’, from green+blue. Here it is labeled ‘green’.). It would be interesting to know whether speakers of the two languages in some way perceive the difference between these colors differently.

Although this work has been highly criticized for its assessment of relativity, the study has shown that cultures interpret colors differently as a result of their languages. While some cultures may associate color names with tactile touch, others link the color names to internal development (aging, ripening, etc.). Hence, the cross-cultural pinwheel of color linguistics has demonstrated that the grammatical structure of language can influence our thoughts and interpretations.



Figure 3. Color perception

(Pinker 1995 in: Language, Culture and Thought 2002)
4. The appearance of cultural differences in business life
4.1.1. Trompenaars' and Hampden-Turner's cultural factors

Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1997) classified cultures along a mix of behavioral and value patterns. Their research focuses on the cultural dimensions of business executives. They identified seven pairs of value dimensions: universalism versus particularism; communitarianism versus individualism; neutral versus emotional; defuse versus specific cultures; achievement versus ascription; human-time relationship and human-nature relationship.


In this paper, ‘The Seven Cultures of Capitalism’ (Hampden-Turner and Trompenaars 1994) will be discussed, which are based on the original pairs of value orientations mentioned above.



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