Development of transport and communications contributed to intensification of the contacts of all kind among the members of different cultures. Raising numbers of cross-cultural relationships is one of the consequences of this internationalization of life. The communication of cross-cultural couples is important for both scientific and societal reasons. The research on this kind of unions could contribute to the knowledge about the international communication in general as well as it could serve as a basis for a system of counselling for the growing number of this kind of couples.
This area of study remains until now, largely unexplored, mainly due to the difficulties with the data collection. The existing research concerns mostly married couples having children. Thus, I decided to examine the communication patterns of young unmarried couples. In this study, my aim is to find of which languages the young people use as a means of communication and in which contexts they use particular languages. Furthermore, I would like to find out which factors influence this choice. Finally, I wanted to know if the couples from my sample elaborate any strategies concerning their language practice.
The research in the form of an online survey was conducted on 18 heterosexual couples between 21 and 30 years old. It revealed that majority of partners use English as lingua franca while communicating with each other. Habit and high proficiency in this language have the biggest impact on this choice. However, while communicating with relatives having no skills in English, they tend to use the mother tongues. The mother tongues are used to express emotions as well: the couples see a foreign language unsuitable for sharing the feelings. A few couples, however, manage to communicate in their mother tongues, none of them being English. The strong personal determination and the influence of the local community are the main reasons, next to the fact that they started to use their mother tongues soon after meeting, what prevented them from getting used to communicate in English.
A surprising outcome consists of the fact that the couples still want to learn the partner’s mother tongues, even though they do not communicate in them. This can be connected with the fact that the respondents treat the language skills as a benefit and investment. Hence, majority of participants of the study would like to raise their children bilingually to make them able to communicate with both families and know the culture of both countries, and to increase their chances of personal and professional success.
In the last few decades, the world became a global village. For this reason, transnational relations of all kinds, between people of various origins and speaking different languages are more and more present in different aspects of life. Easy mobility, fast communication, abundance of international study programs and exchanges, internship and job offers...