Intercultural Communication

Course Website for Tunghai FLLD Seminar

Archive for the ‘conflict’ Category

Taiwanese not fond of Koreans?

Posted by thuicc on July 6, 2008

Muninn reports about and speculates on reasons for “anti-Korean sentiment” that he has noticed in Taiwan. He suggests a few possible reasons why a lot of Taiwanese people he has run into say they “hate” (討厭) Koreans:

  • personality clashes (he says that he has noticed that Koreans are “sometimes more intense and aggressive” in their style of expression than Taiwanese)
  • “a kind of insecurity complex” on the part of the Taiwanese when they compare themselves to the more internationally visible South Korea.

Muninn continues,

When it comes to Taiwanese sentiments towards Korea, if my very limited exchanges are at all suggestive of anything, the Korean brand power, food culture, and drama fandom seen here are not incompatible with a degree of emotional disdain.

This is all very new to me because I never noticed any kind of anti-Korean sentiment in Taiwan before. In fact, there was a Korean student in my Freshman English class last year who seemed well-liked by his classmates, as far as I could tell.

So what do my readers (or maybe there’s only one reader anymore!) think? Do you think Taiwanese have personality conflicts with Koreans any more than they do with, say, Japanese or Chinese from the PRC (maybe they’ll have more of the latter now that we’re letting PRC tourists in!)? Let me know…

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Posted in Asia, conflict, Taiwan, websites | 4 Comments »

Miscommunication and culture

Posted by thuicc on June 26, 2008

Kerim Friedman and other folks at the Savage Minds anthropology blog have written frequently about how the United States military is using anthropology and anthropologists, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kerim writes here about the “myth” of cultural explanations for miscommunication. He argues that such explanations for misunderstandings often ignore the power differences between the people involved and the lack of respect the more powerful group (like the US military) might have for the other culture.

He also discusses a critique of Deborah Tannen’s work (which we read and discussed before) by Deborah Cameron, who points out

that much of the literature on miscommunication between men and women lets men off the hook for their inability to understand women’s speech, even though the actual linguistic evidence implies that men use the same linguistic strategies (such as indirect requests) when it is convenient to do so. The point being that such miscommunication is treated as a cultural problem when it is really a problem of unequal power relations. The same woman who fetches her husband’s ketchup when he asks “Is there any ketchup?” will treat a similar question from her daughter as a factual query, replying: “Yes, dear, its in the cupboard.” Cameron argues that treating such communication problems as a matter of intercultural miscommunication (as Deborah Tannen does), obscures the real problems.

This adds an interesting and needed angle to intercultural communication studies that I hope I can discuss in class whenever I teach ICC again.

Posted in conflict, miscommunication, websites | Comments Off on Miscommunication and culture

Articles about the recent arrest of a foreign English teacher for drug dealing

Posted by thuicc on September 9, 2005

There are several articles that have been written about the recent arrest of Forand Mathieu James, a white Canadian kindergarten teacher in Taipei, for possession and dealing of drugs. The expatriate online magazine POTS has an editorial by David Frazier that argues that one of the important issues coming from this incident is foreigners’ rights in Taiwan. As Frazier puts it,

We should also remember that the wonderful livability of Taiwan is afforded by a general sense of goodwill on the part of most Taiwanese, not the law. Taiwanese law does not guarantee a tremendous number of rights for resident aliens: we are not allowed to own businesses or property under their own names; our dependents do not have the right to work; we are only allowed to work the one job specified by their work permit, not multiple jobs as in most developed countries; we have reduced privileges with banks, telecom accounts, drivers’ licenses, and banks; we cannot form labor unions; and there is no independent review in cases of deportation.

Given the fuzzy legality of most of Taiwan’s systems, a shift in attitude towards “foreign guests” is worrisome (and in fact some of my Taiwanese colleagues have told me they already sense such a shift coming out of the new nationalistic ideas promoted by the DPP). Taiwanese employers routinely tell foreign workers not to worry about work permits, but when there is a problem, the worker is deported while the employer pays a small fine. When the law and goodwill run up against each other, the law always wins.

Frazier expresses disappointment with foreigners who have tried to distance themselves from James. He feels the foreign community in Taiwan should band together to make sure that their rights are protected.

Michael Turton, on the other hand, argues that what is important is that the foreign teacher broke the law, and that what this person has done affects the rest of the foreign (particularly white) community in Taiwan. He concludes that

it is precisely because we recognize that we are a community that we have both the obligation and the responsibility to protect ourselves from thoughtless, self-centered individuals who threaten our livelihoods and position here by removing the protecting hand of that community from them, and withholding approval and support of their behavior.

Posted in conflict, stereotyping, Taiwan, websites | Comments Off on Articles about the recent arrest of a foreign English teacher for drug dealing

Online radio show about Chinese- and Taiwanese-Americans

Posted by thuicc on August 16, 2005

Here is an online news segment, from an American public radio show called All Things Considered, about how Chinese-Americans and Taiwanese-Americans talk about (or don’t talk about) Taiwan’s political status. Take a listen. We’ll talk about it in class when we get a chance.

Posted in conflict, media, Taiwan, United States, websites | Comments Off on Online radio show about Chinese- and Taiwanese-Americans

Elton John, Taiwanese Reporters, and Intercultural Communication?

Posted by thuicc on September 24, 2004


It wouldn’t be hard to call the conflict between Elton John and Taiwanese news media a failure of intercultural communication. Obviously, the two parties had very differing opinions of what is supposed to happen when a foreign rock star steps off his private plane and goes through immigration. According to the Taipei Times article about the incident, John (and other foreign stars) wouldn’t have expected such a large group of aggressive (or should I say “eager” to be more objective?) reporters to be present at his arrival.

Despite previous grievances of the sort John encountered, local media representatives with a pass are allowed to enter the restricted areas of airports, according to a statute governing the use of airports’ restricted zones.

In many countries, however, it is not the normal practice for the media to be allowed access to such areas.

Interestingly, the cable TV news programs that I saw last night didn’t mention this “cultural” difference regarding the access the media has to restricted areas in airports. They (for the most part) seemed to emphasize only Elton John’s swearing at the reporters.

The English news on FTV (民視) was especially interesting: it provided English subtitles for everything Elton John said, but when a Taiwanese reporter yelled (in English), “Why don’t you get out of Taiwan?” there was no subtitle. We only saw a subtitle for John’s reply: “We’d love to get out of Taiwan if it’s full of people like you. Pig! Pig!” What impression might this give people of Elton John?

What do you think about this episode?

Posted in conflict, media, Taiwan | 8 Comments »