Question Synthesis Essay

863 words - 4 pages

Gestures vary from culture to culture. However, the role they play in cultural adaptation is dependent on whether or not an individual is aware of the appropriate use of them during enculturation. If an individual enters an unfamiliar culture and is unacquainted with the speech community’s gestural standards it is very easy to misinterpret gestures or insult someone. If newly exposed to a foreign culture’s gestures, the use of them may serve as a hindrance to successful adaptation and communication.
In a study comparing English-Canadian to Parisian-French infants from approximately nine to fourteen months one can see how differently each culture’s caretaker utilized gestures in raising their children. For example, English-Canadian infants differed in having more protest gestures while Parisian-French infants showed more emotion and request gestures. This study concludes that different cultures value different gestures more than others, concluding that each culture interprets gestures differently (Blake & Dolgoy 1993). Looking at another study done with European and American He was able to give many examples which all concluded that there is a miscommunication between people of two different cultures when gestures are involved, especially if at least one of them does not understand that not only does the verbal language need to be learned but also the nonverbal. Overall Kirch’s research was able to give the answer of a resounding no one’s own gestures does not help them in culturally adapting, but if they were to learn that culture’s gestures than yes they would be able to adapt much easier. (Kirch 2002)…….This research tells us the non-verbal differences in just two cultures can make it very difficult to have a conversation because of the way we communicate. Nonverbal gestures worldwide are different and if used improperly they can highly offend someone. These nonverbal differences can vary from culture to culture in chronemics, proxemics, time orientation, silence, touch, eye contact, and facial expressions. If used inappropriately in another culture then you could accidentally cause offense to someone by sending them the wrong message (Guo & Hu 2013).
Although a particular gesture may represent one message intraculturally, employing the same gesture during a cross-cultural interaction may lead to misinterpretation from the party receiving the message. This misuse of gestures hinders cultural adaptation by obstructing successful intercultural communication, a large part of the enculturation process. The results of several studies have shown that one gesture may be subject to represent several different meanings across cultures. For example, in a 1979 study conducted by students from Oxford University, the meanings of 20 different gestures...

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