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Communication is an interactive and dynamic process. People are
constantly in contact with each other and with themselves. People react to each
other’s speech and actions and to the reaction of others. J.W.Neuliep (2012)
admits, that ‘most people would be miserable if they were not allowed to
communicate with others’ (Neuliep, J.W., 2012:9). He adds (2012), that
‘communication is the vehicle by which people initiate, maintain, and terminate
their relationships with others’ (ibid).

As defined by Berko, Wolvin D. and Wolvin R. (1992),
“Human communication is conscious and unconscious, intentional and
unintentional process in which feelings and ideas are expressed in verbal and
nonverbal messages” (Berko R. B., Wolvin A. D., Wolvin D. R., 1992: 5).

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            The process of
communication can be accidental, expressive or rhetorical. It occurs on
different levels, including intrapersonal, interpersonal and public.

             In his work, Neuliep (2012:11) identifies
eight dimensions and definitions of communication:


Table 1.1 Dimensions of Communication
(Neuliep, 2012:11)

1.   Process

“Communication theory reflects a process point of view . . . you
cannot talk about the beginning or the end of communication.”

2.   Dynamic

“Communication is a transaction among symbol users in which meanings
are dynamic, changing as a function of earlier usages and of changes in
perceptions and metaperceptions. Common to both meanings is the notion that
communication is timebound and irreversible.”

3.   Interactive-Transactive

“Communication occurs when two or more people interact through the
exchange of messages.”

4.   Symbolic

“All the symbols of the mind, together with the means of conveying
them through space and preserving them in time.”

5.   Intentional

“Communication has its central interest those behavioral situations in
which a source transmits a message to a receiver(s) with conscious intent to
affect the latter’s behavior.”

6.   Contextual

“Communication always and inevitably occurs within some context.”

7.   Ubiquitous

“Communication is the discriminatory response of an organism to a

8.   Cultural

“Culture us communication . . . communication is culture.”


Therefore, it must be admitted that the communication can be approached
in different ways and for different purposes.

In order to analyze written
jokes, it is fundamental to consider the concepts of written and spoken
communication. Therefore, a comprehensible list on characteristics of spoken
and written language by David Crystal should be considered (Table 1.2):


Table 1.2 Characteristics of spoken and written language (Crystal, 1995: 291)

Time-bound, dynamic, and
transient. The participants of the speech are both present.

Space-bound, static, and
permanent. The writer and the reader are usually distant.

The production and reception of
speech usually take place without any time-lag

Writing always takes place with
time-lag between production and reception, as it is difficult for the writer
to predict who will be the recipients of the writing.

Repetition, loose constructions,
rephrasing, and comment clauses (e.g. ‘you
know, you see, mind you’) can be observed due to
spontaneity of speech and its fast pace.

Text is carefully organised, and
the expression is compact, as writing allows to reread the text.

Due to face-to-face interaction, a
considerable amount of lexicon is often characteristically vague, as
participants use facial expressions and gestures to explain what is meant by
their speech; for instance, such deictic expressions as that one, in here, right now are used when referring to a
particular situation in a direct way.

Due to lack of visual contact
among participants, a recipient cannot rely on the context alone to
understand the meaning of the writing; therefore, deictic expressions are
mostly avoided, as they might be ambiguous.

Contracted forms (e.g. isn’t, won’t, can’t), nonsense
vocabulary (e.g. whatchamacallit),
and slang can be frequently observed in speech.

Multiple instances of
subordination and elaborately balanced syntactic patterns are characteristic
of writing.

Functions of speech: social or phatic. Can be employed for expressing
opinions, attitudes, social relationships, etc.

Functions of writing: fact
recording and an exchange of ideas and tasks.

One is given opportunity to rethink their
utterance during the process of listening to the other person. It is only
natural that spoken errors occur; however, due to the characteristics of
speech, once errors are uttered they cannot be taken back.

Any errors can be eliminated
further on without the recipient ever knowing that there was any error in the
first place.

Interruptions and overlapping are
essential parts of speech.

If any interruption occurred
during the process of writing, in the final product they are hidden.

Intonation, loudness, rhythm,
tempo, and tones of voice are considered to be unique features of speech.

Pages, lines, capitalization,
punctuation, and spatial organization are considered to be unique features of


The jokes nowadays are a symbiosis of written and
spoken languages, as they exist in and share features of both. For instance,
the jokes are often influenced by the abovementioned unique features – punctuations,
intonations and rhythms.

The dominance of English as a
lingua franca in business professional and organizational contexts continues to
be in evidence in both (multicultural) European and Asian contexts (Salvi and
Tanaka, 2011). However, in most of the international companies English language
has had to adapt to the needs of the majority of the workers. Although they
usually maintain use English as a working language, the changes are usually
brought in order to adapt the expressive needs of different cultures when using
English language, because of the differences in the cultures.

order to analyze the intercultural communication, Bargiela-Chiappini (2004)
introduced the Interculturality,
which she defines as ‘the process and the condition of cultures-in-contact’
(2004: 29). It can be described as ‘contextualized experience within which
processes of negotiation and accommodation dialogically realize three
overlapping interactional dimensions: the social, the linguistic and the
cognitive’ (Bargiela-Chiappini F., Nickerson C. and Planken B., 2013: 46).

A business discourse in the
present research paper is regarded on a micro level, ‘describing features of
language in use in workplace settings, especially fine-grained analysis of
interaction between two or a small number of people (Holmes and Stubbe, 2003;
in Bargiela-Chiappini, 2009: 34).

In regards of the humour use
in the intercultural working space, it is fundamental to mention that one of
the most important aspects of the successful joking is the understanding of the
concept of high-context and low-context cultures (E.T.Hall, 1976):

high-context communication or message is one in which most of the information
is either in the physical context or internalized in the person, while very
little is in the coded, explicit, transmitted part of the message. A
low-context communication is just the opposite; i.e., the mass of the
information is vested in the explicit code.” (E.T.Hall, 1976:91)


However, a speech remains to be the one of the most
influential vehicle for a culture spread, the relation between culture and
speech is obvious. Kramsch (1998: 90) points out that:

themselves are more or less orate, more or less literate according to the uses
their members make their spoken language in various contexts. Culture puts
imprint on the conversational and narrative styles of the members of a social
group. These styles are generally considered to form part of people cultural


Kramsch (1998: 90) adds that conversational speech is
a means of communication where the message delivered to a discourse participant
is perceived taking into account the context, situation that in contrast with
writing is basically ‘topic centered’, when no interaction occurs in the
writing between the deliverer and perceiver. Respectively, communication
process discloses context reality of each culture. Each party reproduces its
own culture.

The most pervasive yet complex
definition was given by F.E.Jandt (2004). Jandt claims that the culture refers
to the following:

community or population sufficiently large enough to be self-sustaining, that
is, large enough to produce new generations of members without relying on
outside people.

totality of that group’s thought, experiences, and patterns of behavior and its
concepts, values, and assumptions about life that guide behavior and how those
evolve with contact with other cultures. (F.E.Jandt, 2004:7)

In addition, he takes the classification of the
cultural elements by Hofstede (1994): symbols, rituals, values and heroes.
Symbols concern verbal and nonverbal language. Rituals are ‘the socially
essential collective activities within a culture’ (F.Jandt, 2004:7). Values are
the feelings and thoughts about what is good or bad, normal or abnormal within
one particular culture, and that are present in the majority of the culture
representatives. ‘Heroes are the real or imaginary people who serve as the
behavior models within a culture’ (F.Jandt, 2004:7).

DeVito presents a more
elaborate definition for culture: ‘culture consists of the specialized
lifestyle of a group of people: their values, beliefs, artifacts, ways of
behaving, and ways of communicating. Included in a social group’s ‘culture’ is
everything that members of that group have produced and developed – their
language; ways of thinking; art; laws; religion; and communication theories,
styles and attitudes’ (DeVito J., 2003:38).

Culture is transmitted from one generation to another
through enculturation, the process by which you learn the culture into which
one is born (one’s native culture).

A different process of learning culture is
acculturation. In this process, as DeVito states (2003), ‘one learns the rules
and norms of a culture different from one’s native culture’ (DeVito J., 2003:
38). In acculturation the native culture is modified through direct contact
with a new and different culture.

Hofstede (1980: 45) defined that there are 4
dimensions by which the cultures can be categorized: power of distance,
individualism/collectivism, masculinity/femininity and uncertainty avoidance.

·       Power distance – is defined as ‘the extent to which the less powerful
members of organization and institutions (like the family) accept and expect
that power is distributed unequally’ (ibid.).

·       Individualism/Collectivism – explores the ‘degree to which people in a
society are integrated into groups’ (ibid.).

·       Masculinity/Femininity – ‘a preference in society for achievement,
heroism, assertiveness and material rewards for success’ (ibid.).

·       Uncertainty avoidance – is defined as ‘a society’s tolerance for
ambiguity’ (ibid.).


 Thus, the
cultures can be divided by these categories into absolutely different groups
with different ways of world perception, attitudes and beliefs. Therefore, one
has to be aware of these categories applied to different cultures before
engaging the representatives, so that he will be able to recognize the traits
of certain cultures and adapt. Kramsch (1998: 5) adds to this idea: ‘The
expression of culture corresponds to various forms of socialization and
acculturation, as well as etiquette, expression of politeness, social dos and don’ts
that shape people into various cultural groups and categories.’ Thus it is
admitted that expression of culture in certain contexts remains the same for
one or another country.

It means that a person must be
aware of the one’s culture firstly, secondly he has to know the characteristics
of this culture, then he is able to decide which strategy to implement in order
to contact another person, which is either to tell an absolutely plain and
uncomplicated joke or a more abstract one, that would reflect on the person
itself, the setting, the mood and every other aspect that might be influencing
the current state of a person.

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