> G'day from Denis cowan
> A couple of issues have surfaced for me here.
> 1. Using metaphors in cross cultural conversation can lead to
I believe that our discussion on metaphors is ignoring the fact
that we all use them, constantly, and sometimes they improve our
understanding. Yes, there some usless metaphors, and this lack of use
might more from our personal interests than from the validity of the
metaphor itself. Our biases, stereotypes, etc. are to some extend
metaphors. In the business wolrd and in the technical field they also very
important. Do you know how boring a computer manual is? And do you know
why? Because it is "straight talk." But if we pay attention to the
"spoken computer language," then one find that the human expose to the
manual, "have" to re-interpret them with the addition of metaphors so that
they can "better use" the straight talk! I saw this also with airplane
machanics when I was an Administrative Manager for the Maintenance Division
of an airline company. These guys where constantly reading (really
studying) straight talk material, and re-interpreting it for increased
understanding (this is my conclusion-guess). I don't think that we can
stay away from metaphors!
In the cross-cultural interaction, I have had my own dosis of
misunderstanding for using metaphors. But these experiences have also
created the opportunity for increased leanring too! For a period of four
years I travelled a lot, in Latin America, Europe and teh US. One thing I
learned was that metaphors allowed me to learn a lot more about other
peoples, and learn things that one could not find in textbooks!
Denis, you are right they lead to a lot of misunderstanding. But
that's when we need to pay attention, listen carefully and attentively to
what others have to say, etc., and enjoy great learning ride!
I will be teaching a course called Cross Cultural Management, and
one of the books I will use is Albert Koopman's "Transcultural Management"
(Blackwell, 1991). I think that the author deals with these metaphorical
issues of culture very well!
> 2. I am what I metaphor.
> ================== RFC 822 Headers ==================
I like this "I am what I metaphor" statement. I think that it is
somewhat true. For those who have lived in different cultures for some
extended period of time, might have realized that this is somewhat true.
We develop mental models for everything, or most everything. I could use,
probably, the example of language and culture again. When I was in
Venezuela, I studied English during my five years in secondary school. But
I did not learn a whole (almost nothing...), because the books were all
very well written, but too technical... like the computer manuals I
mentioned above. My appreciation for the English language was very low,
almost zero, because the books were boring, and the classes irrelevant.
My relationship with English changed completely when I came to the
U.S. Then there was a lot of meaning in learning the language; I have to
learn how to function here! There was also a major change also in how the
language was perceived too. I have all the "metaphors" in front of me, and
whatever the "book sentences" tried to teach me was somewhat confirmed by
the metaphors on the streets, the supermarkets, the bus stop, the post office,
You may not believe this, but I had an English teacher who advised us
to even watch some soap operas on TV to improve our conversational English.
I did it for about three months. When one is learning a language, these absurd
programs give you the verbal expressions you read in your book, accompanied
by the nonverbal communications and the other social and cultural elements
of the language which are very important. A lot of these elements are just
metaphors, but they improve our learning if used correctly.
R. IVAN BLANCO, Ph.D. Voice 305 899-3515
Assoc. Prof. & Director Fax 305 892-6412
International Business Programs
Andreas School of Business _________E-Mail Addresses________
Barry University Bitnet: Blanco%bu4090@Barryu
Miami Shores, FL 33161-6695 Internet: Blanco@bu4090.barry.edu
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"Las naciones marchan hacia el termino de su grandeza, con
el mismo paso que camina su educacion." "The nations march
toward their grandioseness at the same pace as their
educational systems evolve." Simon Bolivar