Stereotypes In Intercultural Communication

Submitted By xiyili
Words: 1470
Pages: 6

Recently, as a result of globalization perhaps, researchers have become more and more interested in stereotypes. In their original work, ‘a stereotype is an inflexible mold used to print the same image over and over again. That is to say, stereotypes assume that everyone from a group has certain characteristics and allow no room for individual differences’ (Ren &Wang, A Study of Cultural Stereotype in Intercultural Communication, 2006, vol 3, p.44). Piller (2011) and Yong (2009) have done the research into the function of stereotypes in human condition and economic activities respectively. This short paper will look at, first, the similarities and differences in the ideas mentioned in the two texts. Secondly, how much the two texts agree that national and cultural stereotypes are not a good way of looking at ways of thinking, acting and doing business. Finally, my own opinions about stereotypes connected with my own experience. There are two similarities in the two texts. First of all, in spite of globalization, national and cultural stereotypes do exist in our life. Piller (2011) finds that ‘commodified culture and linguistic symbols and imagery rapidly circulate around the globe and turn up in unexpected places’ (Appadurai (1996), Hannerz (1996), cited in Piller (2011) p.96). For example, Hakone station that represents Japan is dominated by Swiss imagery (Piller, 2011, p.96). In the same way, Yong (2009) discovers that a stereotype that ‘Easterners have a holistic world view while westerners think more analytically’ (Yong, 2009, p.18) is popular. This is shown by Nisbett’s (2004) research (cited in Yong, 2009), animated video of underwater scenes are described by American and Japanese students, Americans focus on the main objects such as fish or aquatic plants, while Japanese care more about the context and background such as the color of water or the scene of stream (Yong, 2009, p.18). Secondly, national and cultural stereotypes have negative effect. That is to say, stereotypes may cause racism. For instance, the Mexican restaurant uses Mock Spanish in Barrett’s study, where the staff members with customer contact were Caucasian Americans and the kitchen staff was migrant workers from Latin America (Barrett (2006), cited in Piller (2011)). When the Spanish speakers misunderstand Mock Spanish and fail to fulfill directives, the manager does not consider that directives might be wrong but to blame Spanish speaker instead (Piller, 2011, p.101). Although the two texts have similarities, many differences are discovered from the two researches. Piller (2011) focuses on the advertising and commercial language associated with cultural stereotype to sell products. According to Piller’s (2011) research, in the past, borrowings and loanwords in advertising were not admired. However, the taboo meaning of borrowed words is amusing to attract all different attention. Many companies use this linguistic insensitivity and mistranslate advertisements deliberately to appeal people to buy products. Conversely, Yong (2009) concentrates on how people act and think linked with national stereotype. Easterners and westerners have different worldviews. When categorizing objects, easterners tend to group things according to the relationship and westerners tend to group things through the inner features. For example, a monkey, a panda and banana, westerners choose the monkey and panda because they are animals, but easterners group the monkey and banana since one eats the other (Nisbett (2004), cited in Yong (2009) p.19). Except for the difference of concentration on stereotype, Yong (2009) is negative towards stereotypes, but Piller (2011) is negative only partly towards stereotypes. Yong (2009) points out that the national stereotype is too simplistic, both easterners and westerners can think holistically and analytically. For example, Nisbett’s (2004) research (cited in Yong, 2009), compared three types people of Turkey’s Black Sea