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HOW THE AMERICAN AND ARAB CULTURES DIFFER BY Mac Cooper Md. Sekhuddin Ali
INTRODUCTIONThis presentation seeks to bring thecultural differences of the Arab andAmerican styles into consciousawareness
THEORITICAL FRAMEWORK Hall’s Contextual ContinuumLow Context - American High Context - ArabTend to place more meaning Meaning is embedded more inon the language code and very the context rather than the code.less meaning in the context. People tend to talk around theCommunication becomes point and expect listener tospecific, explicit, and analytical. understand.Burden of meaning falls on Burden of meaning falls onspeaker. listener.
Levine’s Communication Styles Direct - American Indirect - Arab Clear and Direct Ambiguous, indirect andE.g. Common expressions emotionally rich. “Get to the point “ Omits specific factual and even “Don’t beat around the bush” technical aspects of a message. “Say what do you mean” Emotional resonance is more Accurately represents fact, technique, or expectation important than precision.
Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck’s value orientations Doing - American Being - Arab Activity orientation places Being orientation places importance to achievement, importance to individual’s visible accomplishment. birth, family background, age,E.g. Common Expressions and rank. “How are you doing ?” E.g. Common Expressions “What’s happening ?” “What he is ? “ Words should match actions. “What is your condition ?”
Oral vs. Literate dominant societies Literate - American Oral - ArabSocieties favors evidence, Societies favors less rational,reasoning, and analytical more intuitive approach.approach. Greater audience involvementHigher premium on accuracy affects the importance of styleand precision than on and devices that enhancessymbolism. audience rapport.
Carey Dodd’s Thought Framework Linear - American Non-linear - ArabLinear pattern stresses Simultaneous bombardment andbeginnings and ends of events. processing of variety of stimuli.Points and facts are presented Not necessarily one theme i.e.sequentially i.e. singular theme. multiple theme.Object – oriented. People & Event – oriented.
CULTURAL DIFFERENCES IN MESSAGE DESIGNRepetition vs. Simplicity Repetition in Arabic is very positive feature, where as for Americans negative. For the speaker, it implies statement was not heard or not taken seriously. For the listener, repetition implies that he was not paying attention or not mentally capable of comprehending.
Accuracy vs. Imagery Arab speaker uses metaphors that may seem outlandish to an American, e.g. “The mother of all battles” Americans may include facts and figures to illustrate a point, and Arab speaker may use one strong vivid example to convey a point.
Exaggeration vs. Understatement Exaggeration can be instrumental in constructing powerful imagery, it is often used by Arabs. Statements which seem to Arabs to be mere statements of fact will seem to Americans to be extreme or even violent assertions.
Words vs. Action From Arabic perspective, words do have power and sometimes more power than actions. Americans preference for “words matching the deeds” is evident Common Expressions: - “Practice what you preach” “Do what you say” “Walk the walk, talk the talk” “Actions speak louder than words” “Keep one’s words”
Vague vs. Specific Arab cultural preference stems from the function of language as a social lubricant aimed at promoting social harmony. American preference is for direct, frank, and open communication which they tend to associate with honesty.
SUMMARYSeveral frameworks for viewing cultural variations wereused to develop a study on “Cultural CommunicationPreferences” for Americans and Arabs.
CONCLUSIONWhen intercultural difference are not perceived asdifferent, they are perceived as right and wrong.This is especially true when cultural differences arehidden below the level of awareness