Verbal Code in Cross-Culture Communication Essay Example

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Verbal Code in Cross-Culture Communication

The subject of the day covered three major areas which include the link between language and culture, language and perception and language issues in communication. The discussion began with an evaluation of the concept of verbal communication and its use in diverse cultures across the globe. The topic underscored the fact that verbal communication is a primary element of communication which forms the basis of the languages spoken in different parts of the world. Another major issue derived from the discussion was that language correlates with culture. This is because language acts as the medium of transferring and communicating culture. Also, the lecture disclosed that language influences people’s perception, for instance, it affects our world view. As argued by Fantini (1995), language affects and reflects one’s world view, by serving as a road map to how one thinks, interprets, and perceives the surrounding.

On the basis of the background provided, this paper seeks to examine the issue of verbal code in cross- cultural communication. The rationale behind selecting the area is based on the notion that verbal codes establish the rules of language in various cultures which is a significant element in cross-communication.

Theoretical Reflection

Verbal codes are guidelines set by a particular culture concerning the use of words in the process of communication (Orbe and Harris, 2013). A critical issue that arises from the integration of verbal codes in cross-cultural communication is that it promotes uncertainty and ambiguity. This is because the ground rules that are used in the communication process are not standard or similar. Consequently, misunderstanding is bound to arise. It can, therefore, be argued that verbal codes hinder effective cross-cultural communication. A big question that can be asked is; why do verbal codes hinder cross-cultural communication?

An interesting factor that should be noted is that verbal codes can powerfully influence behavior. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis propagates that the structure of language can result in production of thoughts (Schaefer, 2008: Whorf, 1940). Based on this analogy, it can be stated that the use verbal codes predispose an individual to think in a certain way. Our approach of thinking then influences our behavior. Also, Carroll (1963), in her modified Sapir‐Whorf hypothesis disclosed that people classify experiences differently on the basis of the rules of their language or their verbal codes, which further affects their conduct. For instance, Schaefer (2008) divulges that young African American men are deemed to be violent in terms of their behavior and verbal responses. Their demeanor is influenced by the ‘’ code of the streets’’ that demands violent responses to physical assault and verbal slights.

The theories such as Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and Carroll (1963), modified Sapir‐Whorf hypothesis are useful in understanding that the cultural variations in behavior are influenced by the verbal codes of the community. This implies that mistakes can easily occur in cross-cultural communication since the conduct displayed by one culture may be interpreted as suspicious by another culture. The limitation of the theories is that they do not provide advice concerning how people and managers in organizations can react or deal with the challenges that arise due to the integration of verbal codes in cross-cultural communication.

A practical approach that can be adopted is proposed by Chomsky (1976), who argues that in order to promote effective cross-cultural communication, it is important to tolerate ambiguity. It apparent that people from diverse cultural backgrounds cannot seize to use their verbal codes, therefore, the most effective approach is to embrace the vagueness that arises with the use of the set rules in a particular culture. The approach will promote effective management of cross-cultural communication.

Practical Reflection

The concepts presented by the topic can be applied in a practical setting to promote an understanding of why people use verbal codes and what influences their behavior. The information can further assist an individual to know how to respond to the challenges that arise due to the integration of verbal codes in cross-cultural communication especially when working with people from diverse cultures.

More often, I have witnessed scenarios in which confusion and misinterpretation arise in the communication process when dealing with people from a different culture. This reflection has assisted me to understand that the verbal codes in diverse cultures replicate their behavior. The analysis has assisted me to comprehend that it is imperative to embrace verbal codes by trying to appreciate how individual language choices communicate and how they influence human conduct. Also, it is important to fathom the fact that language determines how people think. Consequently, when communicating with people from diverse cultures, I intended to tolerate ambiguity as proposed by Chomsky. Also, it is essential to understand how people from low-context transactions and those from high context transactions use their verbal coding system. This will assist in differentiating behavior that arises from their interpretation of their verbal codes. I also think that it is useful to adopt non-verbal codes in the communication process as a way of facilitating clear communication.


I think that I have gained the answer to my main question which is; why verbal codes hinder cross-cultural communication. The answer was that the structure of language results in production of thoughts. Consequently, verbal codes incline people to think is a certain way which further influences their behavior. The manner in which they act can, therefore, affect cross-cultural communication. My take concerning cross-cultural management is that it requires acceptance of diversity in the use of verbal codes. In addition, it is imperative to be patient with people from diverse backgrounds instead of disqualifying them or passing wrong judgments. This is because the codes they use in their language can instigate challenges in the communication process, however; tolerance is necessary. I opine that with the advancement of technology, it is possible to improve cross-cultural communication and also our ability to interpret information from diverse cultures. In conclusion, I think that the topic of the day was informative and it changed my perspective concerning cross-cultural communication.


Carroll, J.B. (1963). Linguistic relativity, contrastive linguistics, and language learning. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 1: 1‐20.

Chomsky, N. (1976). Reflections on Language. Glasgow: Fontana.

Fantini, A.E. (1995). Introduction‐ language, culture and world view: exploring the nexus. International. Journal of Intercultural Relations, 19 (2): 143‐153.

Orbe, M and Harris, T. (2013). Interracial Communication: Theory into Practice. Sage.

Schaefer, R. (2008).
Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Society. Sage.

Whorf, B. (1940). Science and linguistics. Technology Review, 42: 229‐231.