Language Obstacles

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Part 1
The video assigned in this unit’s Studies, Verbal Messages and Intercultural Communications, shows how verbal messages can be misconstrued, causing obstacles to intercultural communication. Do you believe that differences in language create the single biggest obstacle in intercultural communication? Why? Have you ever been in a situation where language has created a communication barrier? Explain.

Part 2
Consider that the United States is comprised of multilingual groups, and language ties people to a culture. If we look at the United States as having many different cultures, the reason we need to develop intercultural competence is to be civil to those around us.
For this discussion, consider how regional dialects, speech patterns, and idioms can separate people by making communication between groups more difficult or challenging. For example, people who live in the South can usually easily determine where in Texas someone is from, whereas someone from the Midwest would only “hear” Southern. Similarly, someone from the city of Boston is actually segregated by language; those who have lived in Boston for generations speak considerably differently than do those who arrived more recently. These situations can lead to stereotyping.
Although there is no “right or wrong” regarding these practices, such differences can hamper understanding.
Whether aware of it or not, each of us views the world based on the language stereotypes we have grown up with or been exposed to. How has this affected your perception of others based on their language use? (For example, what would come to mind when meeting or hearing someone from Louisiana’s bayou country? Or New York, New Jersey, Canada, or northern Minnesota? Would meeting someone from Great Britain lead you to assume that the person is haughty?) Write about your own experiences or those of someone you know. How has language created stereotypes or internal biases in your own life?

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