Intercultural Communication: Problem or Solution within the New South African Context
In most cases, the misunderstandings in families arise from a lack of effective communication between parents and children, and between children themselves. Indeed, ineffective communication is often a contributing factor in conflicts between groups and nations. In addition to this, understanding cross-cultural communication is a particularly important task when a country is still in the process of national integration and nation-building, as it is the case in South Africa. Because of this concern, this paper examines various factors such as verbal, nonverbal, paralinguistic and discourse conventions which are responsible for miscommunication. These factors are also substantiated by examples from various languages in South Africa. In the past, scholars suggested the use of the development of a lingua franca that can be used for intergroup communication and the promotion of national multilingualism, so that all citizens of a country share at least one medium of communication but this suggestion cannot be used as a solution without considering socio-cultural factors. In conclusion, it is suggested that the media should embark on a campaign to promote knowledge of the cultural diversity of our country, as well as tolerance and respect for the right of people to differ socio-culturally. School syllabuses and teaching at tertiary institutions should also address this issue.
Keywords: Intercultural communication, Miscommunication, Verbal communication, Non-verbal communication, Beliefs, Norms, Value, Speech variety, Index finger, Eye contact
Prof Phalandwa Abraham Mulaudzi
Senior Lecturer, Department of African Languages, University of South Africa