What is Intercultural Communication?

December 27th, 2015

Ting-Toomey stated that intercultural communication is a process of symbolic exchange where individuals from at least two communities of different cultures negotiate shared meanings in an interactive environment.

What is Intercultural Communication? | One Hour Translation

Ting-Toomey stated that intercultural communication is a process of symbolic exchange where individuals from at least two communities of different cultures negotiate shared meanings in an interactive environment. When speaking about websites, this symbolic exchange is often limited to what the site communicates through its content, and it’s for this reason that the purpose of the site must be clearly communicated, because often this is the only channel through which the target audience can be reached. By this we mean that it can’t be backed up with face-to-face meetings.

And that’s why it’s vitally important that the message is conveyed correctly, because it’s not only content that communicates: there are various other elements involved in the process of communication and these can be even more decisive than the actual content.

Below We’ve Listed Some Factors That Have Implications on Websites –

  • Dialects;
  • Spatial Orientation;
  • Navigation Modes:
  • Colors;
  • Translation Equivalence;
  • Length of Text.

Dialects

Dialects refer to variations within a language, which can also mean that a message will be received in different ways by different cultures and subcultures. There are linguistic variations, like jumper or sweater; terminology used by a certain sector, specialization or niche; and many other examples of regional slang.

Spatial Orientation

This refers to the direction and distribution of text on the pages of a website. In general, Asian languages such as Chinese, Korean and Japanese have a vertical orientation and justification; while other languages such as Hebrew and Arabic are horizontally organized from right to left. And then we have Romance languages which are horizontally arranged, from left to right.

Navigation Modes

Also known as ‘browsing’, the navigation mode is related to the way reading is so closely connected with spatial orientation; meaning that the distribution and direction of scroll bars and tabs should be made comfortable for that specific culture.

Colors

We know that color has a very communicative quality: it can either move you closer to or further away from the people you’re trying to communicate with. Color is also a culturally acquired concept; meaning that black is not the color of mourning in all cultures, nor is white always synonymous with purity.

Translation Equivalence

When a website is being translated, not only must the focus be on the literal translation of the content but it must also be ‘located’ to become effective with the target audience. We know that it’s not just the content that’s crucial when delivering a product, service, or message, so it shouldn’t be modelled on the original translation; rather, a more creative message should be communicated to the culture being targeted.

Text Length

Sometimes the size of characters on websites can become a hindrance. Because you need to concentrate on delivering the concept in a clear and concise manner, and (for example) not exceeding a line, this could well influence the number of pages and the distribution of tabs and/or buttons.

So when a website is being created or localized, we must remember that we’re not only translating the site – we must consider all factors involved in the communication process. If these factors are ignored, or the translator is unaware of these factors, it can have a negative effect on the message being delivered by the website.

You might also like: