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DUONG KIM THANH
QH2013.F1.E10
INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION ESSAY ASSIGNMENT
INTRA/CROSS/INTERCULTURAL MATERIAL ANALYSIS
“...
`
“Break open a cherry tree
And there were no flowers
But the spring breeze
Brings forth myriad blossoms”
It is a magnific...
`
together till the last moment, either as friends or lovers becausehe suddenly
travels back to the U.S, resulting in a se...
`
confused. Bob sees the director speak for a long time but what the interpreter
says to him is just “look into the camera...
`
friends back home in the U.S who normally are too individualistic to care
about problems of the others. Bob’s situation ...
`
Pigs” so loudly and naturally as though no one else existed in the world but
only them. Even though involved in Kelly’s ...
`
References
1. Lustig, M.W. & Koester, J. (2010) Cultural identity and cultural biases.
In M.W.Lustig, & J. Koester, Inte...
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Endterm Essay - Duong Kim Thanh

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Endterm Essay - Duong Kim Thanh

  1. 1. ` DUONG KIM THANH QH2013.F1.E10 INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION ESSAY ASSIGNMENT INTRA/CROSS/INTERCULTURAL MATERIAL ANALYSIS “LOST IN TRANSLATION”
  2. 2. ` “Break open a cherry tree And there were no flowers But the spring breeze Brings forth myriad blossoms” It is a magnificent poem by Ikkyu Sojun about gorgeous Japanese Cherry blossoms. Up to now, Japan has been well-known for a land of beauty of both nature and people, attracting millions of the hearts all over the world, particularly the director Sofia Coppola. This country is a source of great inspiration to her “Lostin Translation”, a comedy released in 2003 about two lost souls seeking the meaning oflife in Japan. The movie depicts a couple of cultural dimensions especially Japanese value, individualism versus collectivism and communication styles in both Japanese and North American (The U.S) cultures. “Lost in Translation” begins when Bob Harris (Bill Murray), a fading, B-level American movie actor facing with his “midlife crisis”, travels to Japan to make commercials for whiskey. Here, he meets bychance Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), a Yale recent graduate and also a young wife of a photographer working on assignment. As living in the same hotel, they meet during one of their midnight to share with each other their feeling of desperate loneliness and “out of context” in Japan. The seed of their friendship germinates day by day and becomes aperfect relationship despite their age gap. They begin exploring foreign cultures as well as seeking the meaning of life together. Eventually, Bob and Charlotte, however, are not
  3. 3. ` together till the last moment, either as friends or lovers becausehe suddenly travels back to the U.S, resulting in a semi-open ending for viewers. Intercultural value presented in “Lost in Translation” contributes to its great prominence. That the movie was shot entirely in Japan gives audience the opportunity to experience most marked points of value in Japanese community. “Value” is culturally defined guiding principle or standard of good, beautiful and desired characteristics in society (Lustig & Koester, 2010). Throughout this film, “strict hierarchy” must be the most splendid value which is clearly proved by Japanese greeting. When arriving at the hotel from the airport, Bob receives a warm and rapturous welcome from the staff and a small group of his future colleagues. Not only do they offer Bob their business cards as well as precious presents but they also greet him by bowing, whereby the angle of inclination illustrates the hierarchical relationship or the comparative status difference between him and them. This astonishing welcome really makes him a little overwhelmed but Bob still manages to follow this deep-rooted culture. Actually, it is not difficult to understand the astonishment ofBob. He is a typical American who often tries to freeze almost all status differences in social interaction whereas Japanese community does not. Another important factor supporting the hierarchy value in the movie is language. Research by Dolan and Worden (1994) indicates that the system of honorific vocabularies and humble terms used by Japanese is very rich and diverse. Evidence corroboratingthis can be noticed in the scene ofshooting whiskey commercial at the studio. The director gives Bob long instructions and explanations in Japanese, which then are translated into English by the female interpreter. It becomes a matter when the English texts are obviously much shorter than Japanese ones, which makes him
  4. 4. ` confused. Bob sees the director speak for a long time but what the interpreter says to him is just “look into the camera, please”. His face appears anxious and insecure for not being sure whether she covers all the Japanese words or not. Lost in translation, Bob is like a child taking the first hesitant steps into a strange world with a strange language, too. Were Bob to know that “formalities” have been preferred to utilize in Japan so far, he would get the answer for the question why Japanese speakers usually take far longer than the English to say nearly the same things. He still follows what he can hear from the Japanese interpreter but his head is burning inside. It is language barrier that provides a literal interpretation of the title “Lost in Translation”. In addition to Japanese cultural value, “Lost in Translation” describes a great number of distinct differences between individualistic society and collective one. There is no doubt to say both Bob and Charlotte are typical examples of individualism which prioritizes the individual self rather than social institutions (Craig, 2012) while “Land of Rising Sun” itself is a representative of collectivism in which the group spirit is highly respected. Differences between two cultures are clarified bythe situation when Charlotte calls her friend at homeland, Lauren, trying to explain and express her loneliness in new country and her not-going-well relationship with her husband. But to her distress, Lauren says sorry for being snowed under and not having time to listen to Charlotte’s stories. As a result, Charlotte is left alone with silent tears rolling slowly down her cheek. It is as if she did not make a phone call. From the hotel windows, looking to Japan outside where people move in packs down the city sidewalks or get together to eat at the hotels and to sing karaoke in public houses, shefinds herself lost in that world, the world of collectivism. She is additionally disappointed at her family and
  5. 5. ` friends back home in the U.S who normally are too individualistic to care about problems of the others. Bob’s situation is also similar to Charlotte’s when he calls his wife in the last minutes of the movie. After he completely cuts off the family life at home, the individualism of Bob's world becomes more and more obvious. They, Bob and his wife, do not spend much time communicating with each other. His voice over the phone seems tired revealing his deep underlying dissatisfaction to the stagnant marriage. He cannot tell her about his good and bad experiences in Japan because she herself shows no interest in his new life. She also finds it not difficult to keep their everyday life at home going smoothly without his appearance. Even when asking about the kids, Bob is given the usual response "They are fine but they miss their father, but they are getting used to your not being there". It means that with orwithout Bob’s presenceathome, nothing specialhappens because each person has to make their own private life by standing in their own feet, taking care ofthemselves and adapting themselves to circumstances. What an individualistic culture! Last but not least, it cannot be denied that “Lost in Translation” succeeds pretty well in rendering communication styles including high and low context. Hall (1977) argues that low context culture values directness, trustfulness and details. In contrast, indirectness, formality and interpersonal relationship are features of high context one. It is possible for audience to realize that the low context communication is mirrored into the image of Kelly, a friend of Charlotte’s husband. As sitting with her close friends including the couple Charlotte and John and some other American fellows in the hotel bar for a drink, Kelly talks about her private affairs and then her father life in which he was taken prisoner during the fight for the "Bay of
  6. 6. ` Pigs” so loudly and naturally as though no one else existed in the world but only them. Even though involved in Kelly’s small talk, Charlotte decides to stand up and plans her escape. The brash and direct way of speaking, in deed, is inappropriate and awkward in such a society like “Land of Sakura” where people would prefer to discuss private topics confidentially or in secret. On the contrary, while Kelly brings her low context culture to Japan from her beloved homeland, the U.S, Bob chooses to abide by high context communication style when invited to participate in one of the most popular talk shows in Japan. From his point of view, this show is completely crazy with a Westernized in blonde hair, a very colorful suit and a freaked-out style. Nevertheless, no matter how vulgar it is, Bob makes his effort to adapt a little, being a ridiculous bloke imitating outlandish acts as well as dances required by the host. He does not refuse to do those weird things, because they are presumably what Japanese people want, what is "cool”. “Lostin Translation” is really a brilliant movie with many beautiful and obsessed scenes about the loneliness, fear and insecurity of two main characters in a foreign country. Watching this movie, audience can find the perfect balance between the brooding melancholies with a little hilarity. Besides, audience is provided a vivid image ofJapan with a blend oftradition and modern as well as various intercultural aspects in which hierarchy value, collectivism and high context culture are central.
  7. 7. ` References 1. Lustig, M.W. & Koester, J. (2010) Cultural identity and cultural biases. In M.W.Lustig, & J. Koester, Intercultural competence: Interpersonal communication across cultures (6th ed.) (p88). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. 2. Dolan, R., & Worden, R. (1994). Japan - VALUES AND BELIEFS. Retrieved from http://countrystudies.us/japan/58.htm 3. Lazos, K., Donnellon, E., & McConnell, C. (n.d.). Japan:Values, Proverbs and Languages. Retrieved from http://acad.depauw.edu/~mkfinney/teaching/Com227/culturalPortfolios/japa n/values.htm 4. Craig Biddle. Individualism vs. Collectivism: Our Future, Our Choice [Online] 2012. Retrieved from: https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/issues/2012-spring/individualism- collectivism/ 5. Chapter1 Lecture: High-Context& Low-Context CultureStyles. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.marin.edu/buscom/index_files/Page605.htm 6. Eckert, A., & Kohler, I. (2003). Lost in Translation. Retrieved from http://www.uni- hildesheim.de/interculturalfilm/show_entry.php?fid=115&sid=0&cl=1

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