Intercultural Blog Carnival: The Relationship Between Language and Culture


Welcome to the Intercultural Blog Carnival, hosted this month by Headbloom Cross-Cultural Communication! Gathered here are 10 terrific articles from intercultural professionals from across the globe. The articles provide insight, tips, and even a little humor on the inter-relationship of language and culture. If you have worked or lived in a foreign country, you may share some of the experiences discussed by our panel of experts. Whether you are looking for ways of seeing culture through a new lens or hoping to discover new stories for your colleagues and clients, this is the place for you!


1. Is there a culture where speakers are so closely attuned that they exchange few words between themselves and yet fully understand each other? Rochelle Kopp looks at the Japanese concept of Ichi ieba ju wo shiru or “Hear one [word], understand ten.” Click here for her article. A recognized authority on Japanese culture, etiquette, and business practices Rochelle Kopp works between American and Japanese businesses who need to understand each other. Author of over 20 books, she is Managing Principal of Japan Intercultural Consulting in San Francisco.


2. From deep personal experience, Jonathan Barrera Mikulich looks at language through the lens of cultural identity. In this thought-provoking piece, he asks if one can be Latino without speaking Spanish. Click here to read his article. Based in West Michigan, USA, Jonathan is the owner of Latino Branding Power, providing strategies within Hispanic marketing communications through graphic design, marketing, brand management, advertising, and public relations.


3. A wise person once quipped that learning a language without learning its culture was setting oneself up to be a fluent fool. Valérie Berset-Price sits on a flight next to an international businessman who is learning to say all the right things in his second language but is doing and thinking all the wrong things. Click here to read her article. A dual citizen of Switzerland and the USA, Valérie is a consultant, cross-cultural educator, speaker, and trainer who blogs for the Huffington Post and bridges global business cultures through her Professional Passport® curriculum.


4. Joe Lurie loves to look at the world through the most common human denominator: food. In this piece, he examines Chinese culture through the food they eat and the words they use to express it. Click here to read the article. Joe is a cross-cultural communications trainer, consultant, university lecturer, certified Cultural Detective facilitator, and Executive Director Emeritus at University of California Berkeley’s International House; he is a popular contributor to the Cultural Detective blog.


5. Deanna Shoss takes a quirky view on the ages-old problem of communicating across the foreign-language divide in “3 Things Guaranteed to Alienate When Speaking Across a Language Barrier.” Read her article here. With over 25 years’ experience in an “Anthropology Meets Marketing” approach to communications, Deanna works with government, not-for-profit, and corporate clients to provide branded communications for web, print, and social media, multicultural marketing, intercultural skills training, and leadership coaching for cross-cultural communication and community building.


6. What difference do a few fingers make among global friends? Lauren Gawne reminds us that gestures, even though wordless, do not translate from one culture to another. Read her article here. A PhD student in Linguistics, Lauren comprises half of the blogging partnership of Superlinguo (along with Georgia Webster) from Melbourne, Australia. In addition to doing research on Tibeto-Burman languages and LOLcats, Lauren also knows how to make insulting gestures across a range of cultures.


7. Lindsay McMahon offers a glimpse into the ways in which U.S. American culture is deeply embedded in the sayings of American English. In her contribution, she addresses six common proverbs and the interconnected themes of hard work and self-sufficiency. Click here to read her article. Lindsay is the founder of English and Culture, based in Boston, Massachusetts. She works with international professionals to help them succeed through English and cross-cultural training.


8. Christopher Wright gives a few tips on when to talk about personal topics and when to discuss business when working across cultures. Click here to read his article. A cross-cultural management consultant and trainer, Christopher Wright is also Director at The Practice Office in Madrid, Spain.


9. It takes special skills to communicate with people who do not share a common culture. In this contribution, Margarita Gokun Silver shares tips for listening when your conversation partner is from a different language background. Read her article here. Creator of the Culture Mastery 4 C’s Process™, Margarita is a certified expatriate and cross-cultural coach who offers coaching and virtual learning resources through the Global Coach Center Online Academy.


10. Alan Headbloom has always been curious about how a culture declares itself through the expressions it employs. This post looks at the prevalence of guns in the United States and how this triggers so many sayings in American English. His observations can be read here. See Alan’s bio below.

Alan Headbloom

Alan advises Americans how to be global citizens and expats how to fit in to Michigan culture without annoying their native coworkers and clients. He also tweets and blogs at the intersection of language and culture. Over decades, he's traveled, studied, or lived on six continents, putting strange foods into his mouth and emitting strange sounds from it. His use of English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Swedish, Hausa, and Japanese all improve with alcohol use. He gives invited public presentations on culture and unsolicited private advice on English grammar and usage; the latter isn't always appreciated. Visit his website for information on consulting, coaching, or speaking engagements.