Connecting cultures #cck11

Bruegel_Toren_Van_Babel

In Connected Knowledge and the language barrier Apostolos Koutropoulos mentions the problem of languages as a barrier in understanding knowledge.
I would like to mention another barrier behind this language barrier. It is the cultural barrier. A blogpost in a non English language often comes from members from other cultures with different views.

Students only reading English language posts do miss a lot of the ‘weak ties’ and challenging information from foreign people. They miss the fine differences and nuances of cultural richness and cultural differences.

Culture (1) is: An integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning.
Culture (2) is: The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group.

Both kinds of culture as mentioned above are different in different groups and countries.

Even education and science in non-English countries differs from that in English countries. The education system and the content of education differs.

In Anglo-Saxon education various forms of creative and critical writing is important in English lessons. In the Netherlands the lessons in Dutch Language  are different with less writing and more time for learning to understand language. The goals are different.

In USA far more people seem to believe constructivistic philosophical views on epistemology than in continental Europe.

It is not only a language barrier, it is a very high and almost invisible cultural barrier.

The cultural barrier often is invisible because of the language barrier.

I agree with Apostolos Koutropoulos, reading blogs and posts in other languages and from other countries in this MOOC is a great experience.

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6 thoughts on “Connecting cultures #cck11

  1. Good points.

    Forums like this one are temporary communities. Or feel like it, and I tend to rush around reading everything possible before the “holiday” is over and the tents come down. To streamline the process I usually do the exact opposite of why I began participating: I sort and limit the voices I listen to. If “listening” requires a translator, that voice gets tuned out.

    This sort of silent marginalization might be why participants who aren’t native in the dominant language of the discussion seem to drop from the group first? It might be also that because the computer enables us to talk we assume, as you suggest Jaap, that we ARE talking when in fact all we are doing is exchanging messages (like the way fortune cookies would talk to each other).

    Quality of message exchange seems awfully important to connectivism–many voices and perspectives are the quality that pushes it beyond the model of “networking” as a conversation between acquaintances who gather because they know nothing unexpected will emerge.

    Then there’s being miss-understood…

  2. I agree to some extent that English has taken up the position of de-facto language for Global communication, but that does not mean that it is value-free. English (which is a product of a specific culture) does impose its own values, at least to some degree, on the people that use it. On the other hand, just because two people speak the same language, doesn’t really mean that they are communicating. English is spoken in a number of countries that come from a common cultural background (think USA, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand – just as a couple of examples). Because of this cultural commonality it’s somewhat easier to understand your interlocutor, however once you take English (words and grammar) and superimpose it on another culture, you could come out with some misunderstandings 🙂

    See Whorfian Hypothesis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_relativity

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