- From: LFS <laura@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sat, 30 Apr 2011 08:22:20 +0100
Jerry Friedman wrote:
On Apr 28, 11:16 pm, LFS <la...@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:Jerry Friedman wrote:On Apr 28, 8:29 am, LFS <la...@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:I'm not sure that I've fully grasped the concept as two people were
Goodness, that's two things I've learned today then. The other insightCan you explain "high context" to me, so I can learn something today
was into different approaches to writing in high contextand low context
cultures. "The Chinese write through a fine mist", I was told. By that
stage I had made such a nuisance of myself that I didn't dare to ask
what sort of mist...
(or tomorrow)? A former colleague, a bilingual Hispanic man who'd
been part of the U.S. "intelligence community" (I was told), informed
me several times that Spanish was a high-context language and English
was a low-context one. I've never understood what he meant.
competing to explain it to me at the same time - a North American
facilitator and a Polish anthropologist, both of whom were desperate to
show off their knowledge. No-one else in the group seemed to have heard
of the distinction, although I was the only person who dared to reveal
her ignorance. I'd be interested to know whether it's a familiar concept
to aue readers.
As it was explained to me in the context of the workshop discussion
about academic writing, in a high context culture writers expect the
reader to do more of the work in uncovering their meaning, whereas in a
low context culture writers will be more explicit and not assume that
readers share their understandings of meaning.
Thank you for an admirably low-context explanation. The terms mean
the exact opposite of what I'd guessed.
I suppose I could have looked it up for myself. The Wikipedia article
was quite comprehensible after I read your explanation. It also
confirms that Spanish and Latin American cultures are considered low-
I am very suspicious of generalisations of this sort and it seems to me
that different genres of writing would cut across cultures - academic
writing, for example, would probably be high context in whatever
language. (Cross-thread alert: chartered accountants probably exist in
their own high context culture, too.)
The wikiparticle says the distinction applies to "routine
communication", so originally it would have been more about speech
I could imagine that academic writing in any culture is higher-context
than most other communication, but also that academics from high-
context cultures tend to higher-context writing than academics from
low-context cultures. But around here the word "measure" starts to
occur to me.
But without reading the work of Hall, the anthropologist who originated
the term in the 1970s, I can't be sure if the explanation I was given
bears any relationship to his ideas.
/Beyond Culture/ isn't at GooBoo, but Hall's /Understanding Cultural
Differences/ (written in collaboration with Mildred Reed Hall) is.
Anyone interested can see
I'm pleased that his field work included my neighbors in northern New
Mexico, but I've noticed much less contrast between my Anglo
"monchrony" and their Hispanic "polychrony" than he did. He said his
interviews in homes and offices were constantly interrupted when
friends or family members dropped by, but most of my conversations in
offices haven't been interrupted. No doubt he did his work before I
got here, maybe a generation before.
Thanks for the link.
The book was published in 1990 but he says they've been doing the research for thirty years. My entirely subjective impression is that he and Mildred (his wife?) have successfully parlayed a bit of fieldwork into a lengthy series of publications. Henry Mintzberg managed something similar. So did a former colleague of mine who wrote a PhD thesis on innovation in the Soviet aircraft industry and managed to spin that out for more than twenty years. Maybe I'm just envious but it looks lazy to me.
I'm also deeply suspicious of classifications of culture.
I also get the impression that the Halls think high context is good
and low context is bad.
There was certainly an element of that distinction in the explanations I was given, which worried me.
(emulate St. George for email)
- Prev by Date: Re: McVitie's
- Next by Date: Re: Kitsch
- Previous by thread: Re: McVitie's
- Next by thread: Re: McVitie's