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ERIC Number: ED359773
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1993
Pages: 27
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
The Trap of Generalization: A Case of Encountering a New Culture.
Iino, Masakazu
Working Papers in Educational Linguistics, v9 n1 p21-45 Spr 1993
This study investigated how the relationship between "individual" and "institution" is constructed in people's perceptions about other cultures, and manifested in conversation. The potential for inappropriate generalization and misunderstanding of situations and cultures was examined. A videotape recording of a Japanese family and two guests, one American and one Japanese, was analyzed, focusing on one awkward conversational exchange involving racially discriminatory remarks. Analysis included review of the videotape with the American guest, mother, daughter, four Japanese graduate students, and four American graduate students. Subsequently, interviews were conducted with the American guest and an American college student with experience in Japanese culture. Interview emphasis was on how experiences in Japan affected perceptions of Japan, with particular attention paid during analysis to use of personal pronouns as a measure of the speaker's identification with the world. Analysis identified some cultural differences in behavior that could lead to misunderstanding and some commonalities (e.g., in gestures) that led to common interpretation. Dynamics of co-membership or identification with the culture during the conversation were also examined. It is concluded that generalizations in speech can create misunderstanding, and that "hedges" such as "I think,""it seems,""it might," etc., although considered sociolinguistically powerless in the United States, may help prevent conflict. (MSE)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Journal Articles
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A