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Language and Cultural Differences


Language and culture have a heavy impact on how people from different cultures communicate with other people and how the cultural differences impact their effectiveness at communicating effectively. (Hybel &Weaver, 23)

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Language and culture are closely inter-related. As such ones language is heavily influenced by his or her culture. This effects and differences between people of various cultures are most evidently shown when people of diverse cultures intermingle or attempt to communicate. We find that language and meaning pose the greatest barrier in such instances. For example, in the 1960’s the United States government learned the quagmire of culture and language when the Alliance for Progress attempted to stop the influence of communism in Latin America.

The Alliance for progress printed bumper stickers with the message, “La Alianza Para El Progreso.” They learnt that the word “para” can mean both “for” or “stops” in Spanish. After learning this opposing communists put a strategic comma. This made the posters read “La Alianza, Para El Progresso,” which means, “Alliance, Stops Progress.” This taught the US government a humiliating lesson in language and culture. (Hybel and Weaver, 56)

In the Japanese culture worldview they usually have a motto known as ‘Uchi-Soto’ meaning “Us and Them.” It is within this teaching that the Japanese have a worldview that depicts them as an individual group and the rest of the world as a different group. Japanese people think of themselves as a unit that is always engaging with other units. When one who is not Japanese deals with the Japanese they are always treated as an outsider regardless of how well the know the Japanese or how long they have lived among them. Japanese are extremely sensitive about what others think about them. The worst thing that can happen to a Japanese person is to become separated from their community. (Hybel and Weaver, 67)

Japanese people are said to have an attribute called the Gaijin or outsider complex. As such it is difficult for a non-Japanese to get an apartment or loan in Japan because they are regarded as outsiders and Japanese people are wary of them. There is no logical or rational explanation for this. It can be attributed to the differences in communication between Japanese and non-Japanese but this is not always the case. If one takes a look at Japanese advertisements they will notice that there are westerners in about a third of them. There are also outsiders who are constantly recycled on television shows because of their fluency in Japanese.

These serve to strike a connection with the Japanese public so that they will want them back. These westerners only real talent is that they speak Japanese well. The question of whether Japanese are cold or racist can thus not be answered so easily since there are a lot of factors that must be taken into account. Japanese do not scream epithets and insults at outsiders as compared to other people such as Americans hence they cannot be described as openly hostile. (Yashimoto, 2)

Japanese people are strange in their language and culture as they are known to insult and compliment a person at the same time. For example as one enters Japan from an airport one can encounter a poster that tell him or her that his Japanese is good but the thing to note is that the poster says it in a somewhat mocking fashion. This is an unusual trait of the Japanese language and culture. (Hybel and Weaver, 97)

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Japanese generally prefer diplomatic language to direct language. They prefer to talk about things as the way they would like them to be compared to the way things are. In formal conversations they avoid giving a direct “No” and prefer more subtle alternatives. A Japanese man might tell you to, “come over to my place sometime” when what he really means is “I hope we can one day get along.” When an American tells you the same it is actually an invitation. (Hybel and Weaver, 110).


Language and culture are highly integrated and it is obvious to an outsider that there are inherent differences in the communication between people of different cultures. (Hybel & Weaver, 123)

Works Cited

Hybels, Saundra. & Weaver II, Richard. Communicating effectively, Eighth Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishers (23-123). (2006).

Yashimoto Nogota. “Japanese culture – a primer for newcomers.” 2010. The Japan FAQ. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, January 27). Language and Cultural Differences.

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"Language and Cultural Differences." StudyCorgi, 27 Jan. 2022,

1. StudyCorgi. "Language and Cultural Differences." January 27, 2022.


StudyCorgi. "Language and Cultural Differences." January 27, 2022.


StudyCorgi. 2022. "Language and Cultural Differences." January 27, 2022.


StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Language and Cultural Differences'. 27 January.

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