Cross-Cultural Communication

What difficulties in communication do cross-cultural workers face? How can these best be addressed in various settings?

Posts tagged cross-cultural communication
Tsunami (the English Version)

by Anne Thiessen

(This article was originally published in Spanish.)

Native speakers of minority languages experience increasing pressure to abandon their languages and adopt the dominant trade language. Such pressure places the world’s minority languages under threat of extinction. This article explores the responsibility that cross-cultural workers have to value and learn minority languages, to recognize their own role in the displacement of these languages, and to offer help to indigenous communities in maintaining their languages through stable bilingualism. The author proposes ways that sending agencies can support cross-cultural workers in learning and championing minority languages.

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Negotiating Conflict: A Case Study Utilizing Face-Negotiation Theory in a Senegalese Context

by Brett Molter

Navigating conflict in light of varying intercultural communication experiences is a learned skill and looks very different depending upon the context in which it is manifested. A growing body of research has emerged concerning how individuals manage and negotiate conflict, including face-negotiation theory (“saving face”) to help explain and work through interpersonal conflicts.

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Opinion: Writing-Illiteracy amongst Pastors in East Africa

by Jim Harries

When a European language is used in East Africa for making decisions and setting courses of action, the ability to communicate in that language will be hampered by its rootage in non-indigenous contexts. The author suggests this is severely limiting to healthy indigenously-rooted growth of African Christianity.

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Evaluating Hiebert’s Hunch - Is Lack of Phenomenological Knowledge the Weakest Link in “Critical Contextualization”?:  the Case of the Mende People of Sierra Leone, West Africa

by Dave Datema

Paul Hiebert championed “critical contextualization” and identified phenomenology (“exegeting humans”) as the weakest link in its practice that often led to split-level Christianity. In this paper I evaluate this assessment by locating the practice of critical contextualization among the Mende people of Sierra Leone, West Africa. I show how split-level Christianity took place there historically, examine phenomenological data to better understand Mende culture and ponder contemporary attempts of critical contextualization in Sierra Leone by Sierra Leoneans - all to support my thesis that critical contextualization is not so much a knowledge problem as it is a control problem. Cross-cultural missionaries will never have enough local knowledge to be the best contextualizers and until real control of contextualization is relinquished and given to nationals, critical contextualization will remain as a good idea rarely accomplished.

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Interpreters and Champions as “Inside” Agents

by Jim Harries

As a champion for the Luo people, I am aware of sensitive information that outside speakers are not able to know about. To Interpret or Not to Interpret African Customs to Westerners? Sometimes I agonise over what to say or not say. Sometimes I am with other Westerners in African contexts. Should I tell other Westerners when they do things wrong? Are there even wrong ways of doing things? Why should I care whether they say or do silly things? Who am I to speak to them?

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