Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Bibliography #6

A2 Saturday, April 29, 2006
How a culture says things reflects how it sees the world



Channel 9: A Current Affair

Regarding my research topic, I found this news article yesterday about the problems faced when it comes to translating a language into another, where it is at times almost impossible to also communicate the nuances, the meaning it was intended to get across in the first place. The article also talks about how literature, is the hardest language to translate as the writer said, “..in capturing the sense of line of poetry, we must inevitably lose its sound in the original, and in poetry this is, of course, part of its sense.”

There were also examples given regarding film titles.
“Even film titles pose challenges to the marketing boys. Jaws was rendered in French, The Teeth of The Sea, while Dog Day Afternoon, correctly and idiomatically translated Un Apresmidi de Chien did look suspiciously like An Afternoon of Dog. Someone at the Oscars years ago helped us understand that a Best Foreign Film nominee that year, Cousin, Cousine meant “Male Cousin, Female Cousin”. Not quite the same cadence”.

What most interesting about what the writer of this article said is that we cannot really begin to understand another culture so long as we have no inkling of it’s language and that, How a culture says things illustrates how it sees the world.

This point was well illustrated in an interview I saw on Channel Nine’s ‘A Current Affair’ last week, where they interviewed a Middle Eastern man, an immigrant, who when first arrive in Australia, thought, that the word "Mate", is somewhat a derogatory word, UNTIL, he learnt the language and assimilated himself with the culture.. and he laughes at himself for thinking that way in the first place.

That's for now.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Bibliography #5

Laskey, Hank A. and Thouvenin, Angelique and Seaton, F. Bruce. "THE LANGUAGE EFFECT IN CROSS-CULTURAL ADVERTISING." Marketing in a Global Economy Proceedings. 2000. pp 398-402

This research paper talks about how marketing and advertising researchers in past studies tend to oversee the importance of language in ads. Researchers are more into the cultural context that effect their target audience responses to advertising campaigns , and tend to forget that language plays an important role too. This paper talk about how different target markets only respond to advertising messages that is congruent with their culture. The three researchers for this paper brought up two language terms coined by Marshall McLuhan (1964); "hot" and "cold" language. These researchers further predicted possible problems regarding emotional advertising campaigns directed towards bilingual markets, if it would be more or less effective in the "hot" versus "cold" language.

The paper's general research question concerns the relative effectiveness across cultures of "linguistically equivalent" versions of image-based and information-based advertising. The researchers indicated that they are particularly interested with the fundamental nature of languages, per se, and the potential for meaningful images, that have obtained a specific communication objective in one language, ad to obtain that objective in another language.

One point that interest me is the principle of "linguistic determinism" contained in Benjamin Whorf (1940; 1956) and Sapir-Whorf (Chandler 1995) hypothesis that states thought processing is determined by language and also states that speakers of different language has a different point of view of the world.

On Language Value System - Talks about how once a language is acquired, so too are the values it inherently contains. It also states further "Just because an individual speaks more than one language does not mean that he is very good at it".

This is an important point, for example , when I was a young 8 year old school kid in Kuala Lumpur, the English subject is a very important subject and usually my English teacher will constantly kept reminding the whole class that if we (my peers and I) want to speak English well, we have to start thinking in English. But of course, that is a very hard thing to do especially that the everyday usage of English in Malaysia, falls 3rd or 4th in the list after Malay (Malaysia's national language), Chinese (Mandarin, Hakka, Cantonese) and Indian (Urdu or Tamil). But English is a widely used language in business to business communication in Malaysia especially in the metro area like Kuala Lumpur. And now after 3 years in Melbourne, and being surrounded by mostly English speaking individuals and environment, I am so used to think in English before i start doing anything and this has an affect on my original dominant language. Of course my Malay is still good, but it is not as good as it was before.

Nature of Bilingualism - I found out that that I am a subordinate bilingual person which means individuals whose facility with two languages is unequal, and the lesser language is termed the non-dominant or subordinate language.

The research paper states further on Soloman and Ali's (1975) experiment which showed that subordinate bilinguals are more likely to rely on content for judgments of affective meaning when listening to statements in their non-dominant language. But, they rely more on intonation and other vocal cues for judgement or affective meaning when listening to statements in their dominant language.

Marcos and Urcuyo (1979) states that, "imposed upon the subordinate bilingual is the additional mental operation of constant translation from or into a dominant tongue". This is so true and is what I have always experienced all the time especially when it comes to communicating with English speaking persons'. When I speak English to a native speaker, I have to be spontaneous, and usually that leaves me a split second to digest meanings/message intended and have my thoughts properly organized, and my fluency of the language really depend on my energy levels because if I am tired or not in a good mood, my brain couldn't engage in the 'extra' work or as stated previously by Marcos and Urcuyo (1979), "... additional mental operation..." which results in lousy delivery of the non-dominant language on my part.

When it comes to writing in English, I don't really have much problems aside from having to think of the choice of words I need to use and to worry about other things such as constructing an argument, because when I write, I do not really have to be 'spontaneous', i have the freedom of time to transfer what's in my brain/mind, through my hands, to my fingers and finally onto paper. It is just when it comes to a matter of speaking, what's in my brains have to be transfered almost immediately straight to my mouth/ lungs. Well you get the drift.

Marshall McLuhan (1964) pointed out that some languages are fundamentally more emotional than others and he came out with the term "hot" and "cold" to refer to these two languages types. "Hot" languages were said to contain a lot of emotion, affect and resultant meaning while "cold" language is less rich, leaving more to receivers to provide for themselves.

So guys, I have a question for you, is English considered "hot" or "cold"?

Bibliography #4

Milovanovic, Goran. MARKETING DIMENSIONS OF GLOBAL ADVERTISING. Series: Economics and Organization, Vol. 1, No 5, 1997 pp 71 – 78

The paper points out key points regarding the nature of advertising messages in global markets, how messages need to be modified to suit the necessities of local markets and also the influence of advertising on the choice of brand of a product. It also covers the factors limiting the standardization of advertising campaigns across different countries and cultures.

It discusses about certain modifications in advertising campaigns are the best way to answer demand of different cultures. One example is Goodyear Tire & Rubber, which used the slogan “Goodyear, take me home” in 39 countries, but there were certain differences. For instance in Philippines, they stressed certain emotional family scenes while in Brazil they ended these with a visual joke.

The paper also deducted that global products need global advertising. This is often the case. Sometimes global advertising of a global brand mishaps and a company must turn to multinational adaptation or in other words, multinational advertising strategy in order to meet demands of individual markets.

Also, a different content in commercials is conditioned by the image of a product and different motive of consumers on different markets. So even if a company sells the same products worldwide it is not realistic to expect that they will demand uniformed advertisement campaigns.

The paper further explores the cultural and economic differences between countries and markets that often demand off hand difference between basic advertising appeal and creative implementation of that appeal to be made in local markets. One example provided is how a shaving cream called "Edge" is advertised as smooth shaving. To demonstrate such advantages of the foam in USA, the company employed the idea of showing a man stroking his face with a credit card. The side, which used "Edge" foam, is smoother and softer than the other side, which used some other brand. The appeal of smooth shaving could be spread on to global markets, but on many markets, non-existence of credit cards would limit creativity of such appeal so overall efforts would be inefficient.

Another interesting point, pointed out in the paper is about translating a message. Milovanovic explains that efficient translation demands:

1) Good knowledge of original language and the one into which it is being translated.
2) Good knowledge of technical aspects of the product and special appeals about the product and ability to write text, which can recreate the effect.

Milovanovic explain more on the decision whether to produce a new advertisement concept for foreign market or simply have it translated into the local tongue. The ‘expert’ must be sure that when the text is translated, it will be accepted and understood by prospective target market or consumers. The expert must think in the language into which he/she wants to translate the message and to also understand connotations of the words, phrases and the meaning used to make sure that the message will be properly understood and not offensive. This is a good condition of good communication.

Milovanovic also touches on the responsibilities of the 'manager' in a globally oriented company to understand all limitations on national and foreign markets (differences in culture, limitations of media, complex regulations etc.).

The paper covers global brands such as Coca-cola, Pepsi and McDonalds, which are mainly the result of the development and implementation of a global marketing strategy. These examples of global brands have the same name, the same style and demands the same creative strategy everywhere in the world.

One example that I think is interesting to point out here is regarding how global brands need a message or concept that can be communicated globally across different cultures. For example a commercial in Arabic for men's perfume "Drakkar Noir" showed a woman's hand stroking the man's hand holding the perfume; in USA the same hand hold the wrist of the man. Through recognizing such differences, the ad campaign can avoid from being offensive to culturally sensitive countries. In France it is unacceptable to have a commercial showing cheese and a glass of beer. Such a commercial would be in accordance with the habits of the Germans whereas in France the acceptable combination would be cheese and wine.

I have attached an example here of the Drakkar Noir ad in USA, Spain, France and Saudi Arabia for comparison.

Bibliography #3

McGovern, Linda. When "Yes", means "No" or "Maybe" - Avoiding Cross-Cultural Misunderstandings in Global Business. Copyright 1998. [Click to view link]

This article is very very interesting.

The article discusses the frequent misunderstandings, frayed tempers and mistrust in intercultural business communication. It also focuses on how different cultures have different ways in communicating a message and that goals of communication vary across cultures and languages. Interestingly, this article also highlights how similar gestures and facial expressions are often used differently across cultures; for example frowns, smiles, nods. The article also outlines tips on how to avoid misunderstandings in communicating across cultures.

There is one interesting point in the article that I think illustrates well, about how a lot of international students from Asia (referring to Asian students born and bred outside western societies) generally think that students who grew up in Western societies for example like Australia, are being considered too talkative or too opinionated during class, and mumbles around an idea or an argument that is already clear and doesn’t need extra emphasis. Most Asian students opt to remain quiet, and only voice out their opinion if they really really need to, or if they fail to find an answer to a problem after very thorough research of their own. Asian students, who lived in a Western society for quite sometime, will slowly adapt to the culture of being opinionated and are more likely to voice what is in their heads. But still, this doesn’t mean they are being Westernized.

Another key point of this article also mentioned about the important and crucial things to consider when engaging in communication with someone who has English as their second language.

To examine this concept more fully, check out the article below.

An American businesswoman comes away from a meeting delighted; she finally got her Japanese supplier to agree to a price. A few days later, she receives questions about price. Its almost as if she imagined the meeting. "What's going on here?" she asks. "We agreed on the price already, didn't we?"

The businesswoman recalls all the Um-hmms and Yesses she heard in the meeting. "They agreed to the price, they said yes," she mutters to herself. "They even nodded and smiled."

Welcome to the world of intercultural business communication--a world fraught with frequent misunderstandings, frayed tempers and mistrust. This American Businesswoman is not the first or last to feel frustrated in this way. Other people have misunderstood a "yes" response.

Ways of Communication:
The businesswoman needs to understand that irrespective of language, different cultures communicate in different ways.

Good communication American style is to say what you mean precisely, in as straightforward a manner as possible. Be direct, get to the point, and say what the bottom line is. For other cultures, this style is rude, abrasive and self-centered.

Many cultures--including Japanese, go to great lengths not to be direct. The risk of disharmony with other group members is too great to be outspoken. Its better to agree to somebody’s face and negotiate with them afterwards than to blatantly disagree. In our opening scenario, the Japanese supplier appeared to say yes, but continued to negotiate a price, days after the supposed agreement.

Direct communicators like Americans in general, consider this indirectness deceptive, two-faced and lacking in integrity. What do you think?

Goals of Communication:
The goals of communication vary across culture and languages. In the US, speech is often used to demonstrate eloquence, power or lack thereof. The presidential debates are good examples of this. So too are the expressions "For the sake of argument" or "I'll play the devils advocate and..."

But in many Asian cultures, the goals of communication are to achieve consensus of opinion and to promote group harmony. "Yes" can mean "no," "maybe," or even "we've got to think a little more about this and we don't want to fall out with you."

Styles of Communication:
So how do you know when yes really means no? Simply listen to the silent messages and read the invisible words.

US culture, with its long tradition of rhetoric, values verbal messages greatly. Other cultures are more sensitive to non-verbal means of communication, such as:
1. Body posture
2. Hand gestures
3. Facial expressions
4. Eye contact
5. How close people stand to each other

Misunderstandings and blunders result from failing to recognize and understand many forms of non-verbal communication. Going back to our opening scenario, the businesswoman remembers the nods and smiles. But what did they mean in the context of that business meeting?

Not what the American businesswoman thought. They meant disagreement, displeasure, and uncertainty. The lesson to be learnt here is that similar gestures and facial expressions are often used differently across cultures. The meaning of a smile is not universal. Neither is a frown.

Avoid misunderstandings in communicating across cultures:

1. Be conscious of body language and non-verbal messages:
What message is communicated in the smiles, frowns, head movements or silence?

2. Watch eye contact:
Reserve judgment on the correct amount of eye contact. Some cultures encourage plenty, others frown upon it. You may have to adjust the amount of eye contact according to the status of the person you're talking to.

3. Listen without interrupting:
Americans are often considered too talkative. People from other cultures may interpret many interruptions as disrespectful.

4. Summarize what you hear often:
Keeping in mind point #3, clarify what you think you have heard, rephrasing as simply as possible.

5. Speak slowly, enunciate and avoid idioms:

Only 5% of the world’s population speaks English as a first language. You may be doing business with a person who speaks fluent English but who has difficulty understanding your accent, the idioms, jargon or slang you use. Remember, the simpler the English, the better.

I think the article could be of help to any of you guys who has interest in spreading their wings over Asia in the future. As they say, Asia is going to be the central of economic boom in the future. Why not be prepared from now? Cheers, IZ.

Bibliography #2

Cultural Misunderstandings.
dswenson@fac1.css.edu Saturday May 20, 2006.

This is a collection of interesting (and sometimes tragic) incidents of cross-cultural miscommunication. They emphasize the importance of appreciating cultural differences when traveling or working abroad. If you know of other incidents I can add to this list, please contact me. Enjoy!

An American supervisor on an oilrig in Indonesia shouted at his timekeeper to take a boat to shore. Since one never berates an Indonesian in public, a mob of outraged workers chased the supervisor with axes!
Managers at one American company were startled when they discovered that the brand name of the cooking oil they were marketing in a Latin American country translated into Spanish as "Jackass Oil."
Pepsodent tried to sell its toothpaste in Southeast Asia by emphasizing that it "whitens your teeth." They found out that the local natives chew betel nuts to blacken their teeth, which they find attractive. Some were also offended by the slogan, "Wonder where the yellow went..." interpreting it as a racial slur. Ignorant of foreign language, 3M introduced its scotch tape in Japan with the slogan, "It sticks like crazy." The Japanese interpretation of the slogan was "it sticks foolishly."
When Coca Cola was first marketed in China in the 1920's, the name was translated phonetically ("ke-kou-ke-la) to mean "female horse stuffed with wax" or "bite the wax tadpole" depending on the dialect. It was quickly revised to sound more like "happiness in the mouth."
Columbia Pictures produced a movie in Egypt that resulted in all Columbia pictures being banned from the country due to the inaccuracies: accents were Pakistani, clothes were Moroccan, and behavior was American. Most offensive was the portrayal of Gamal Abdel Nassar, the Egyptian President, kissing his wife in public--highly unacceptable in Islamic countries.
A company advertised eyeglasses in Thailand by featuring a variety of cute animals wearing glasses. The ad was a poor choice since animals are considered to be a form of low life and no self-respecting Thai would wear anything worn by animals.
Olympia office products attempted to sell its ROTO photocopiers in Chile, but did not realize until too late that ROTO can mean, "broken" or designates the Chilean lower class.
American Motors tried to market its new car, the Matador, based on the image of courage and strength. However, in Puerto Rico the name means "killer" and was not popular on the hazardous roads in the country.
Ford had a series of problems marketing its cars internationally. Its low cost truck the Fiera meant "ugly old woman" in Spanish. It's Caliente in Mexico was found to be slang for "streetwalker." The Pinto was introduced in Brazil under the name of Corcel, which was discovered to be Portuguese slang for "a small male appendage." Ford removed the nameplates and substituted the name, Corcel, which means horse.
A major U.S. cereal company promoted a commercial in England featuring children and directed toward them. The English, however, dislike children being used in commercials and attempts to influence them, and forced the company to change the commercial. A sales manager in Hong Kong tried to control employee's promptness at work. He insisted they come to work on time instead of 15 minutes late. They complied, but then left exactly on time instead of working into the evening as they previously had done. Much work was left unfinished until the manager relented and they returned to their usual time schedule.
McDonald's developed a series of "Hispanic ads." They considered all Hispanics the same until they received complaints from Puerto Rico that the "ads were too Mexican," and had to be changed.
A shampoo was sold in Brazil with the catchy name of Evitol--which was translated to be a ”dandruff contraceptive."
Kellogg had to rename its Bran Buds cereal in Sweden when it discovered that the name roughly translated to "burned farmer."
A telephone company tried to market its products and services to Latinos by showing a commercial in which a Latino wife tells her husband to call a friend, telling her they would be late for dinner." The commercial bombed since Latino women do not order their husbands around and their use of time would not require a call about lateness.
Parker Pen is known internationally for its popular gift products, especially the Jotter style. It had to change the name for some Latin American countries where the term can mean "jockstrap." When they marketed the ballpoint pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to say, "It won't leak in your pocket and embarrass you." However, the company mistakenly thought the word "embarazar" meant embarrass, but the ads said "It won't leak in your pocket and make you pregnant."
Pet Milk had trouble promoting its products in French speaking countries. Among the many meanings, pet can mean, "to break wind."
The Sunbeam Corporation did not test market in Germany the name of its "Mist-Stick"-- a mist-producing hair curling iron. Mist translates in German, as "excrement" and a "manure-stick" did not draw much interest.
When Pepsico advertised Pepsi in Taiwan with the ad "Come Alive With Pepsi" they had no idea that it would be translated into Chinese as "Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead."
Esso S.A.F. discovered that its name translates as "stalled car" in Japanese.
The soft drink Fresca was being promoted by a saleswoman in Mexico. She was surprised that her sales pitch was greeted with laughter, and later embarrassed when she learned that fresca is slang for "lesbian."
A new facial cream with the name "Joni" was proposed to be marketed in India. They changed the name since the word is Hindi for "female genitals."
A cologne for men pictured a pastoral scene with a man and his dog. Where it was marketed in Islamic North Africa a dog is considered unclean and a sign of bad luck.
The American icon, Colonel Harlan Sanders' KFC, was resisted in Germany because it offended some consumers who associated "Colonel" with the American military. KFC also discovered that their slogan, "finger-lickin’ good," in China was mistranslated as "eat your fingers off."
American tourists in Arabic countries have tried to expedite repairs on various items by setting deadlines. Typically, Arabs dislike deadlines and may feel threatened and cornered, with the result of never getting around to the work.
General Motors couldn't understand why the Chevy Nova was not selling well in Latin America, until they were told that in Spanish, "no va" means "it doesn't go."
Proctor & Gamble used a television commercial in Japan that was popular in Europe. The ad showed a woman bathing, her husband entering the bathroom and touching her. The Japanese considered this ad an invasion of privacy, inappropriate behavior, and in very poor taste.
An American businessperson refused an offer of a cup of coffee from a Saudi businessman. Such a rejection is considered very rude and the business negotiations became stalled. A Japanese manager in an American company was told to give critical feedback to a subordinate during a performance evaluation. Japanese use high context language and are uncomfortable giving direct and confrontive feedback. It took the manager five tries before he could be direct enough to discuss the poor performance so that the American understood.
Unlike visiting in the United States, when an American visitor brings a gift of food or drink to a Arab household, the hosts may be offended because such gifts imply that they cannot afford such items or are untrusted.
"All Tempa-Cheer" was promoted successfully by Proctor and Gamble as a wide temperature range laundry detergent. The ad was nearly meaningless to the Japanese who usually wash clothes in cold water.
An American couple traveled with their pet poodle in an Asian country. Dining at a restaurant they had difficulty communicating to the waiter that their dog was also hungry. They were initially pleased when the waiter took the dog to the kitchen, supposedly to be fed--but were horrified when the waiter returned later with the cooked dog! One company printed the "OK" finger sign on each page of its catalog. In many parts of Latin America that is considered an obscene gesture. Six months of work were lost because they had to reprint all the catalogs.
Proctor & Gamble introduced Cheer laundry detergent in Japan with the add showing it rich with suds. However, the Japanese use large amounts of water and fabric softener and the suds did not develop. Cheer was also advertised to work at all temperatures, which is relatively meaningless to the Japanese who generally wash in cold water. In Africa, Gerber marketed its famous baby food with the picture of the Gerber baby on the label. They did not know that this particular country uses labels only to present a picture of the food inside!
An ad promoting United Air Lines indicated, "We know the Orient." To graphically support the point the ad paired the names of countries below the pictures of foreign coins. Many tourists were not convinced since the countries and coins did not correspond! Not to be outdone, for it's in-flight magazine, UAL headlined an article about Paul Hogan, star of Crocodile Dundee. The title said, "Paul Hogan Camps it up" which unfortunately is Australian slang for "flaunting homosexuality." Johnson baby powder was marketed in Japan but it failed on its first try. Japanese homes are very small and simplicity and neatness are paramount. Consumers could not tolerate the dust that collected everywhere when the box was shaken. (J&J later adopted a wipe on pad).
Proctor and Gamble did not realize that Japanese parents change baby diapers more frequently than do American parents, but often do not have the storage space. Sales were poor until P&G realized their error and made smaller boxes and thinner diapers.
General Foods tried to market Jell-O in Great Britain in the same way it had effectively marketed the product in the U.S. Unfortunately, gelatin is sold only in its jellied form and the powdered is not considered proper. Problems were barely avoided by a quick product change.
Nike made a television ad promoting it's shoes, with people from different countries saying "Just do it" in their native language. Too late they found out that a Samburu African tribesman was really saying, "I don't want these, give me big shoes."
A Hong Kong banker was discouraged because local customers would not come to his office. He asked local business people who told him it was due to "bad feng shui." He consulted a geomancer who advised him to move to another office that was more propitious--and his clients eagerly used his excellent services. When President George Bush went to Japan with Lee Iacocca and other American business magnates, and directly made explicit and direct demands on Japanese leaders, they violated Japanese etiquette. To the Japanese (who use high context language) it is considered rude and a sign of ignorance or desperation to lower oneself to make direct demands. Some analysts believe it severely damaged the negotiations and confirmed to the Japanese that Americans are barbarians.
Leona Helmsley should have done her homework before she approved a promotion that compared her Helmsley Palace Hotel in New York as comparable to the Taj Mahal--a mausoleum in India.
Time Magazine ran an ad in Spanish in its Brazilian edition--forgetting that the primary language in Brazil is Portuguese.
A shoe store in Bangladesh was destroyed when local Muslims became offended with a Thom McAn logo on some sandals was mistaken for the Arabic characters for Allah.
McDonnell Douglas Corporation had difficulties in India with a promotional brochure of its aircraft. It had inadvertently used old photos from National Geographic that portrayed turbaned men who were Pakistanis, not Indians.
In 1989 the Polaroid company decided to introduce a slide copier into the European market. The failed to realize that standard paper sizes vary considerably and made late adjustments at unexpected extra expense.
A golf ball manufacturing company packaged golf balls in packs of four for convenient purchase in Japan. Unfortunately, pronunciation of the word "four" in Japanese sounds like the word "death" and items packaged in fours are unpopular.
A major soap maker test marketed a soap name in 50 countries, and what it found was enough to make them change the name. The proposed name meant "dainty" in most European languages, "song" in Gaelic, "aloof" in Flemish, "horse" in one African language, "dim-witted" in Persian, "crazy" in Korean, and was obscene in Slavic languages.
General Motors of Canada was fortunate enough to sell 13,500 Chevy Malibu's to Iraq--only to discover that the hot and dusty climate was incompatible with the cars. Iraq refused delivery of 12,000, and while GM attempted to reengineer the cars, Iraq experienced political problems and the cars were never delivered.
A college student was talking with an English friend, found her wardrobe attractive, and complimented her "pants." The friend laughed, knowing that Americans did not understand that "pants" to Brits referred to underwear.
A soft drink was introduced into Arab countries with an attractive label that had stars on it--six-pointed stars. The Arabs interpreted this as pro-Israeli and refused to buy it. Another label was printed in ten languages, one of which was Hebrew--again the Arabs did not buy it.
American medical containers were distributed in Great Britain and caused quite a stir. The instructions to "Take off top and push in bottom," innocuous to Americans, had very strong sexual connotations to the British.
In 1985 Bechtel pulled out of a joint venture in New Guinea. It seemed flawed from the start. Bechtel had 33 months to build a new plant, organize services, and meet a production deadline or face financial penalties. They planned to place a mine at the top of a mountain in an isolated rain forest, creating a town of 2,500, camps for 400, a power plant, air strip, roads, hospitals, and support services (for natives who had never seen a Westerner). The natives who were recruited to work (while receiving 400 inches of rain during the rainy season) had no concept of private property, modern money, central government, or work regulations. The multicultural workforce of 5,000 was composed of mixed indigenous people and imported technicians from the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Korea, and Philippines. The road builders did not believe in working around the clock (the contractor finally went bankrupt). Natives also did not like the work schedule so they went with bows and arrows to shut down telephone lines, roads, and frighten personnel. There was an 85% turnover in the native workforce.
FEDEX (Federal Express) wisely chose to expand overseas when it discovered the domestic market was saturated. However, the centralized or "hub and spoke" delivery system that was so successful domestically was inappropriate for overseas distribution. In addition, they failed to consider cultural differences: In Spain the workers preferred very late office hours, and in Russia the workers took truck cleaning soap home due to consumer shortages. FEDEX finally shut down over 100 European operations after $1.2 billion in losses.
Coca Cola tried marketing its domestically successful two-liter bottle in Spain. It finally withdrew the bottle from the Spanish market when it discovered that the refrigerator compartments were too small to hold the liter size. [Note: a recent e-mail from a student who works for Coke in Spain refutes this, reporting that it was taken off the market for design and recycling reasons and later reintroduced-- Thanks Rob!]
A U.S. napkin company advertised in Great Britain that "You could use no finer napkin at your dinner table." Sales were hardly brisk given that to the British "napkin" means "diaper."
In Quebec an American-based canned fish manufacturer placed a newspaper ad that showed a woman in shorts playing golf with a man. The ad continued that she could enjoy golf that afternoon and still have time to prepare a dinner of canned fish. Too bad that the ad missed the customs that women did not wear shorts on golf courses, play golf with mixed teams, or serve canned fish as a main course.
The Disney Corporation misjudged the amount of food and accommodation needs, and souvenir spending practices of people visiting Euro Disney in France. The demands were so low that the 1,100 room Newport Bay Club was temporarily closed during the winter months of 1992.
U.S. and British negotiators found themselves at a standstill when the American company proposed that they "table" particular key points. In the U.S. "Tabling a motion" means to not discuss it, while the same phrase in Great Britain means to "bring it to the table for discussion."
An American banker in England drew nervous laughter when he unintentionally made an after dinner speech in which he indicated he was "full" and "stuffed" after dinner. The terms imply being drunk and sexually involved in British slang.
McDonald's received many complaints from local authorities in 1988 when it displayed the Mexican national flag on its placemats. The Mexicans were offended by grease and ketchup defacing their national symbol and quickly confiscated the place mats.
Mountain Bell Company tried to promote its telephone and services to Saudi's. Its ad portrayed an executive talking on the phone with his feet propped up on the desk, showing the soles of his shoes-- something an Arab would never do!
The American slogan for Salem cigarettes (Salem--feeling free!) was translated in the Japanese market, as "When smoking Salem, you feel so refreshed that your mind seems to be free and empty."
An American t-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the Spanish market, which promoted the Pope's visit. Instead of the desired, "I saw the Pope," in Spanish, it proclaimed, "I saw the Potato."
Chicken-man Frank Perdue's slogan, "It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken," was remarkably mistranslated into Spanish. A picture of Perdue with one of his birds appeared on billboards all over Mexico with the caption, "It takes a man to make a chicken aroused."
In Italy, a campaign for Schweppes Tonic Water translated the name into "Schweppes Toilet Water."
China is sensitive to Japanese economic overtures due to its conflict with them during the war. However, the growing economy in China has led Japan to introduce the Toyota Predo land cruiser sport-utility vehicle, to the car-hungry Chinese market. They unfortunately did not do much market research since the name sounds a lot like badao, which also means "to rule by force" or "overbearing." The ads also showed stone lions (traditional symbol of Chinese power) saluting and bowing to the Prado, which resulted in the Japanese formally apologizing for the 30 magazine and news ads.

Think this is the last entry? Not on your life! Read the paper every day and you can find examples just like these...

Bibliography #1

Twitchin, John.

Video Title:
CROSSTALK: Cross-cultural Communication

This video analyses the different situations to demonstrate what can happen when lines of communication breaks down.


1st January 1979

British Broadcasting Corporation

Simple misunderstandings can easily interfere with business when you work in a multi-racial society. Different goals, different styles of communication or simply, different accents can make people from different cultures unintelligible to one another. Different situations are analyzed to demonstrate what can happen when lines of communication break down.

The 15-minute video covers the different ways people from different ethnic groups use the English language. It examines how these unrecognized conventions in ways of speaking could affect the most ordinary exchanges. Cultural misunderstandings and the different ways of an ethnic speaker in presenting information can produce impatience on both parties. Both parties could interpret incorrectly the other person’s way of speaking, which can sometimes lead to an increasing feeling of impatience.

The video starts off with a scene in a bank, where they compare an English native speaker with an Asian person, a non-native speaker, engaging in banking activities that is conducted in English. One example:

Asian guy: Excuse me. I want to deposit some money.

Cashier: Excuse me. I want to deposit some money, please.

Explanation: In the first sentence, the Asian person’s speech is perfectly grammatical and pretty much the same as the words the cashier used. But there is a difference in an Asian’s person tone of voice and emphasis. The Asian voice rises and falls giving special emphasis to the word; some money. Where the necessary word that should be emphasized is the word deposit. The cashier unconsciously expects the English emphasis, the cashier may think the Asian is unnecessarily stating the obvious, or is using a tone, associated in English convention with pushiness.

Sometimes, to the English ear the Asian customer might seemed a little unnecessarily abrupt or even rude, but he doesn’t mean to be, and to another Asian he might come across as quite polite. Unfortunately such inter-ethnic misunderstandings are not just irritating, they may serve to confirm the sort of stereotypes and attitudes that can lead to prejudice on both sides.

Proper communication is hard to achieve especially when both parties have different understanding on making sense of things. Inter-ethnic communication can sometimes be unnecessarily long-winded which could be irritating to the people engaging in it.

What a word or term means to the native speaker of a particular language, sometimes have a different meaning for other non-speakers.

People who are not used to inter-ethnic communication will sometimes thinks of the other non-native speaker as being pushy or rude. It could sometimes make people think a particular person has a slightly aggressive or a difficult character.

It’s this cumulative effect, which damages inter-ethnic communications. When words are emphasized unexpectedly, irritated feelings are likely to result. Feelings often explained in terms of the group stereotype.

Levels of Misunderstanding in Cross-cultural Communication.


2. Asians and English people have DIFFERENT WAYS OF STRUCTURING INFORMATION OR AN ARGUMENT. In other words they have different ideas about what sounds logical and different ways of arranging, ordering and emphasizing what they want to say. A characteristic Asian tendency is to outline general activities first and then coming on to the relevant point to a question, where English speakers expect the English convention of making the relevant point first, with explanatory background afterwards.

3. On top of those, the DIFFERENT WAYS OF SPEAKING. They have different unconscious conventions about using English, for example how to emphasize a point, or to indicate a contrast by tone of voice. It’s this third level of misunderstanding; because it’s unconscious that often makes it impossible to sort out difficulties based on the other two.


What is interesting about this video is that it suggested some tips on interviewing for English professional people such as social workers, teachers, or employers, who wants to avoid failure, mutual frustrations and misunderstandings.

CHECK EVERYDAY ASSUMPTIONS – an Asian person may not share the same expectations and assumptions about what’s correct in a situation. An interviewer could check out different assumptions by discussing them with people from the different ethnic groups. Equally, the interviewer may need to share and STATE THEIR OWN ASSUMPTIONS about what is required or customary. Explain clearly what is or isn’t required in matters such as the production of certificates and qualifications. Then use VERY EXPLICIT QUESTIONS rather than rely on stress and intonation to carry on meaning. The interviewer probably doesn’t share the same system for expressing implications through tone of voice and emphasis. TALK OPENLY ABOUT DISCRIMINATION. If the interviewee has suffered from this, it may explain some of their reactions and feelings, and they may well have a fear or expectation of it, which needs to be openly acknowledged and reassured. LISTEN UNTIL THEY FINISH, important points may be at the end of their answers. And if, the interviewer doesn’t share the same ways of explaining things and giving information, it’s fateful to switch off, jump to conclusions or interrupt. And, to avoid unintentional discrimination resulting from misunderstandings of different ways of using English, ALLOW THE EXTRA TIME NEEDED to get to know the other person.

Another tip to share when engaging in inter-ethnicity communication is to try to become aware of the differences and also think about the different conventions and ways they communicate.

Note: So to all you English speakers, if you find an ethnic person rude or irritating, please do consider first the point I stressed out above and don't just run into conclusions straight away.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Hope it is going to work.

I am trying to put up a post on my blog from my email.

IZ - My ethics approval. Good news!

I got a letter from the Design and Social Context Portfolio yesterday (Friday 26th May 06) regarding my Ethics Application.

It says: The Design and Social Context Human Research Ethics Sub-Comittee at its meeting on 19 May 2006 assessed your ethics aplication entitled "Cross-cultural Communication: 'Hits and Misses'.

I am pleased to advise that your application will receive approval at Risk Level 2 classification subject to the following minor amendments being sighted to the satisfaction of the Chair.

Yay, a few amendments and I am off to go! I have already organised quite a number of interviews in Singapore, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur and going to fly off soon in July! This is good news. The letter stated that I need to complete and submit the amendments to the committee by 7 June, so it will be ready for consideration at the next ethics meeting on the 16th of June.

Is there anyone else still waiting for their ethics approval? How about you Kristin?

A blurb on me and my postgraduate research.

My name is Iz Sulaini & I hail from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In 2004, I entered one of my works into the 2004 Privacy Victoria Awards competition and won the Staff Prize and Third Prize awarded by the Victorian Privacy Commissioner. I have also graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Advertising-Creative) with Distinction in 2005. I am now currently enrolled in the LABSOME studio doing the Bachelor of Communication (Media) (Honours) at RMIT. Through this Honours degree, I am currently doing a research thesis on intercultural communications and the role of a mediator agency mediating communications between English and non-English speaking businesses in the Asia Pacific Region. The results of my findings-survey-interviews-case study will be converted into a 10-minutes DVD show reel, which is going to be shot on SONY's HDR-HC3 HD camera, which will also be accompanied by a reflective exegesis. Aside from me wanting to be a creative in an advertising agency, the outcome of my research will also be a great tool to help "sell" and "position" myself to prospective employers in Melbourne and/or overseas after I graduate. This research project will also translate into my new business venture, and so there is benefit, not only for me, but also equally importantly for creative industry people to become aware, and in fact, potentially become clients when I enter into the marketplace sometime in the future (of course when I have substantial experience in the field).

Other than that, I am also an aspiring singer/songwriter currently writing songs for my second demo. I have had experiences in stage theatre and musicals such as West End's Miss Saigon and Les Miserables in the past. Traveling the world is a way for me to escape... the general media. I prefer to experience things first hand and form my own way of thinking on matters that interest me the most. I love people. I love creative people. Being around them makes me feel wonderful and alive. I am friendly. In fact, very friendly.

I am happy to meet anybody boring or interesting, nerdy or bitchy, modern or conservative, pretentious people, serious ones, or hard-to-deal with types. I don't really care, as I was once of all the things I just said. Who cares.... Cheers, IZ.


What Am I Doing?

My name is IZ and I am currently a Postgraduate student doing my HONOURS year at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology here in Melbourne and I am very interested in filming an interview for my research thesis on cross-cultural communication. The results of my findings-survey-case study will be converted into a 10-minute DVD show reel shot on HD. Since my research will focus mainly around the Asia Pacific Region, I am also organizing interviews with advertising agencies in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and probably India. Below is my research abstract providing a brief outline of my topic.

1. Problem: Issues of cross-cultural communication raise significant and legitimate problems faced by the international creative industry, especially in advertising.

2. Why the problem is a problem: The mistranslation of ideas, concepts, puns, nuances, copy, slogans and jingles can mean that the intent and theme of a major international campaign is misrepresented, simply naïve or even offensive to some target markets.

3. How to deal with the problem: The development of a "cultural-linguistic-CREATIVE-interpreter-translator mediator" international agency, or mediator agency, would help advertising agencies to apply their creative outcomes in a range of national markets especially in the Asia Pacific Region.

4. This would facilitate effective cross-cultural communication, thus helping to maintain brand identity and campaign strategies across different markets and cultures.

I am dedicating the whole month of July 2006 filming interviews in different countries in Asia. The month of August will be dedicated for filming Melbourne interviewees.

Iz Sulaini

IZ - My collaboration project with Meanwhile member, Amanda.

For the collaboration project, Amanda (my collaborator) and I came up with a lot of ideas regarding my research project. On our first meeting, I briefed her more on my topic and we decided that we should come out with something that could brand my idea. We start doodling around on the long roll of paper and did some sketches of my ideas, words, logos, whatever that come to our heads.

Our second meeting Amanda presented me our rough ideas on Illustrator. She showed me the rough works she'd done, the illustration. I am not going to tell you guys what it is now, but we start changing things around and start thinking out other things. Colour usage is a crucial thing. Since A colour means differently in different countries, we have to be careful not to 'offend' certain cultures with our usage of colours. Hmm, does any of you guys no anything about colour like how it meant differently in other cultures?

Then, last Thursday in Meanwhile, we watched a video I borrowed from RMIT on cross-cultural communications. I wanted Amanda to understand the topic at hand better, and I thought by watching this video together with her, and then brainstorm afterwards, could bring out a better outcome or a better idea to an array of our existing rough ideas. We did brainstorm and change a few things around. Until both of us got bored and decided to have dinner together with Amanda's friend, Virginia at a Japanese restaurant in Chinatown.

At the moment, both of us are still looking for our final outcome as we haven't decided on anything yet at this moment. Waiting for inspiration to come around and say hi... LOL.

So, thats what I have done so far with my collaborator in Meanwhile.