information flow, action chains
. I would deem them allrelevant for my work as a modern language teacher.
is the information that surrounds an event; it is inextricably boundup with the meaning of that event" (Hall and Hall: 6). Edward T. Hallpresents a scaling device in which all cultures can be compared in terms of high or low contexts. High context (HC) communication is marked by thefact that most of the information passing is already known by the involvedcommunicators, while low context (LC) communication is the opposite, "i.e.,the mass of the information is vested in the explicit code" (Hall and Hall: 6).Low-context cultures tend to "compartmentalize" their personal lives, whichin turns leads to the need for them to seek background information from thepeople they interact with. On the other end of the scale high-context culturesdo keep up to date on the events in the lives of people who are importantto them. Examples of high-context cultures include Japanese, Arabs andMediterranean while low-context cultures include American, German, Swiss,Scandinavian and other Northern European countries. Although this is arough generalization Hall and Hall are careful to point out that there existindividual differences in the need for
, meaning "the process of filling in background data" (Hall and Hall: 7). Perhaps the most notableinformation given in regards to context is that "any level of context is acommunication" (Hall and Hall: 7). This of course is relevant for a L2 user of English in an English-speaking culture, or for a L2 user of Japanse in Tokyo.There are tremendous differences in relationships and to what extent it is ahigh or low context communication which is taking place. "One of the greatcommunication challenges in life is to find the appropriate level of contextingneeded in each situation" (Hall and Hall: 9). This is
knowledge.Space. Hall and Hall defines space in the context of cultural differences asinvolving territoriality, the gradations of personal space, the multisensoryspatial experience and the unconscious reactions to spatial differences.Territoriality is basically a deeply rooted human characteristic related topossession and ownership. One's house, one's office or one's car are allexamples of places one might have a strong sense of territoriality. Again,there are considerably differences both on a cultural and individual level.Personal space do also have varying gradations, and people's 'bubbles',meaning the threshold of intimacy, tends to be large in Northern Europewhere people keep their distance to others while in Southern Europe thecommunication taking place can be very intimate and hardly any distancebetween the interlocutors. Interestingly, Hall and Hall mention the fact thatspace is perceived by all our senses, and there are great cultural differencesin the "programming" of the senses (Hall and Hall: 11). This multisensoryspatial experience include auditory (listening), thermal (touching), kinesthetic(muscles) and olfactory (smelling) space. An obvious example is theperceived 'noise' of Mediterranean conversations for a Scandinavian ear.