Discussion on nonverbal behaviors

United States

Chong Woon Kim stood by the victim’s side in the courtroom, translating questions from lawyers and answers from her about rape and kidnap.

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The complaints started with a friend of the victim. Then a Korean-speaking observer in the audience spoke up as well. Something was being lost-or added-in the translation, they said.

Kim, 57, is a certified court interpreter. He was randomly assigned to this case. Kim was formally accused of diluting the woman’s story and trying to dissuade her from testifying.

Harland Braun, the attorney for the defendant in the rape case, said it is unfair to punish the interpreter for using his skills to make clear the cultural and linguistic differences between Korean and American society.

  • In your opinion, do you agree with Harland Braun? Explain AND draw upon one or more SPECIFIC theories to support your answer and explain that theory?

Author T. Jewis (1996) tells the story of how linguistic relativity “works.” He was interested in why the Zulu language has 39 words for “green,” whereas English has only one. So he asked a Zulu chief. The Zulu chief explained that prior to national highways the Zulu had to make long treks across the savannah grasslands. Because there were no signposts or maps, the lengthy journeys had to be described by those who had traveled the road before. The language changed to accommodate the need for “finely wrought, beautiful logical descriptions of nature, causation, repetition, duration, and results” (p. 16). Lewis describes the conversation:

“But give me some examples of different green-words,” 1 persisted.

My friend picked up a leaf. “What color is this?” he asked.

“Green,” I replied.

The sun was shining. He waited until a cloud intervened. “What color is the leaf now?” he asked.

“Green,” I answered, already sensing my inadequacy.

“It isn’t the same green, is it?”

“No, it isn’t.”

“We have a different word in Zulu.” He dipped the leaf in water and held it out again. “Has the color changed?”


“In Zulu we have a word for ‘green shining wet.’”

The sun came out again and I needed another word (leaf-green-wet-but-with-sunshine-on-it!).

My friend retreated 20 meters and showed me the leaf. “Has the color changed again?”

“Yes,” I screamed.

“We have another word,” he said with a smile.

He went on to indicate how different Zulu greens would deal with tree leaves, bush leaves, leaves vibrating in the wind, river greens, pool greens, tree trunk greens, crocodile greens … he got to 39 without even raising a sweat, (p. 160)

Relate what the text says about the Sapir Whorf Hypothesis to this example.

  • Summarizes the Sapir Whorf Hypothesis.
  • Describe to the firmer and softer versions of the theory.
  • Relate this story to what the text says about Variation in Vocabulary.

American Tongues

  • How does Hollywood support the stereotypes of US American dialects?
  • Give example from the video.

New Page 2

The Globe

Please check to see if the Image(s) you are being asked to review has a title. If there is a title, then I expect you to click on the title and read the corresponding document about the image and phrase your answer in a way that demonstrates your comprehension of this document as it relates to the theory in the text.

Go to The Globe. Locate Greece (in Europe). Take a look at the language links for Greek. Your text discusses the preference in other cultures on organization of language. This can be the organization of an entire essay, a paragraph or just a simple sentence. In English we know the word order is adjective + noun (red chair). In Spanish it is the opposite noun + adjective (silla roja).

  • What is the word order in Greek? Hint: go to the section on word order and look at how many different ways there are to say “life is beautiful” in Greek.
  • Summarize the link.
  • How does this relate to text?

Movie Clip

You just viewed a scene from the film “Gung Ho” starring Michael Keaton. Keaton’s character, Hunt Stevenson, is sent to Japan in hopes of convincing a Japanese company to open a car factory in his town. The Japanese company agrees and Keaton is given the position as “employee liaison” (a go between for the Japanese managers and the American workers). He soon realizes that the Japanese and the Americans have very different expectations that are apparent in their communication.

This is the scene at the beginning of the film, where Keaton tries to persuade the Japanese to invest in this empty factory.

  • Relate what the text says about the Value of Talk and Silence to this scene.
  • Summarize what the text says about the Value of Talk and Silence.
  • https://online.fiu.edu/videos/?vpvid=13dd5065-044e-48a7-ac1e-bb36c70364ef
  • World of Gestures

    Gestures often convey meanings that are unique to a given culture. For example, the American “OK” gesture is similar in many ways to gestures for “money” in Japan, “zero” in France, “homosexuality” in Ethiopia, “obscenity” in Brazil. Similarly, the American thumbs up gesture for “good luck” is a vulgar gesture meaning “screw you” in Iran. The potential for confusion, embarrassment or conflict is clear.

    • What nonverbal mistake was made by England’s former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher?
    • What type of Kinesic is thisemblem, illustrator, regulator, adaptor or affect display.
    • Summarize these 5 types of Kinesics.
  • 7.
  • The Globe

    Please check to see if the Image(s) you are being asked to review has a title. If there is a title, then I expect you to click on the title and read the corresponding document about the image and phrase your answer in a way that demonstrates your comprehension of this document as it relates to the theory in the text.

    Go to The Globe. Locate the Country of Afghanistan (in Asia). Take a look at the photographs. The text discusses Appearance and Attire as a category of nonverbal communication. One of the items listed in this category is clothing.

    • What is the traditional woman’s dress of Afghanistan?
    • Explain what the link says about it.
    • How is appearance a part of nonverbal communication?
  • Movie Clip

    Cultures vary greatly on the appropriate ways to greet another individual. Take a look at the links below and relate them ALL to what the text says about the Synchrony of Nonverbal Communication Codes.

    Summarize what the text says about the Synchrony of Nonverbal Communication Codes.

    • New Zealand
    • India
    • Greece
    • Japan
    • Philippines
    • https://online.fiu.edu/videos/?vivoId=5994e50a3cec4dc0983000313ee38b21
    • https://online.fiu.edu/videos/?vivoId=e4e0f3137bad442da23106681d3c8f87
    • https://online.fiu.edu/videos/?vivoId=fc24b38803e54007949e7e4a25f9d8f3
  • https://online.fiu.edu/videos/?vpvid=3193d9e0-3c5a-425d-b420-e727d309bced

Interesting Fact & Idea

Nepalis do not knock before they enter closed doors as it is assumed one will always be decently covered. I suppress a wave of indignation when someone bursts in unannounced. This whole experience is a challenge to the right of privacy we assume at home. In Nepal the need to be alone would be culturally aberrant and usually physically impossible. I think with some amusement now of the festering family argument that occasionally resurfaced because each of my sons felt entitled to a room of his own.

  • Relate what the text says about Cultural Differences in Space and Territoriality to this example.
  • Summarize what the texts says about Cultural Differences in Space and Territoriality.


The school day ended. Tired, Miss Larson took her classroom problems home with her and shared her concerns with friends at an informal cocktail party and her frustration over teaching English in the Ethiopian government school. “For three years, I’ve tired to get those dear little girls to behave like normal human beings, to have some pride, to hold up their heads, look me in the face, and answer a question in a voice I can hear without straining. They’re so bright; they learn as fast as the children back home, but they’re hopeless, absolutely hopeless. They just can’t seem to learn to behave with human dignity. For all the good I’ve done here, I might as well have stayed home in Iowa and taught there.”

The school day ended. Kebedetch walked swiftly home. She felt brave. Entering the gojo (small house or hut), Kebedetch was greeted warmly. Father asked the usual, daily question: “What did you learn today?” Kebedetch threw back her head, looked her father in the eye, and proclaimed in a loud, clear voice, “Ethiopia is composed of twelve provinces plus the Federated State of Eritrea&”

Momma and Poppa talked late that night about what had happened to Kebedetch. She was no longer behaving as a normal human being.

“Did you notice that she threw back her head like a man?” asked Poppa, “What has happened to her shyness, which is the best quality she could have as a woman?”

“And her voice,” added Momma, “How happy I am that our parents were not present to hear a daughter of ours speak with the voice of a foreigner.”

She showed no modesty. If she were normal, she would be ashamed to raise her head like that, being a girl-child, and to speak so loud as that,” Poppa added.

“Kebedetch has learned so much, “said Momma, “She knows more than I, and this has given me great joy. But if her learning’s are making her a strange, ungentle, beastlike person, I do not want her to learn more; she is my only daughter.”

Poppa pondered. Finally he shook his head and spoke. “You are right, Mebrat, our daughter must not return to school. The new education is not good, but only the strongest can survive. I had hoped Kebedetch could learn and remain normal and gentle; she would become a woman of dignity. The frightening behavior of hers tonight has convinced me. She has lost her sense of pride, lost her sense of shame, lost her dignity. She must never return to the school. We shall try to help her find herself again.”

  • What are the specific nonverbal behaviors of Kebedetch to which her parents are objecting?
  • What meanings are ascribed to these behaviors by Miss Larson?
  • Why is there an intercultural communication issue here?
  • Why do you think Miss Larson wanted to teach her students these nonverbal patterns?

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