Language: Much neglectd
yet important in crosscultural psychology?
Itesh Sachdev
SOAS, University of London, UK
Presentation at 19th International Congress of the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology (IACCP),
Bremen, Germany, July 2008.
Plan Today
• Introduction to culture, language &
identity
• Conceptual framing, definitions etc
• A little data from sunny bilingual
Tunisia
• Concluding notes
“Language”, “Culture” & “Identity”
in JCCP (1970-2008)
Journal of Cross-Cultural
Psychology (1970-2008, 180+
issues)
In Titles
(n=2000+)
“Culture” &
“Cultural”
Keywords
176
342
59
69
“Language” &
“Linguistic”
34
3
“Identity”
24
9
“Language”, “Culture”, & identity in
JCCP (1970-2008) & Bremen IACCP
(2008)
Journal of CrossCultural Psychology
(1970-2008, 180+
issues)
Bremen IACCP (2008)
In Titles
(n=2000+)
Keywords
Symposium
Titles (n= 100+)
176
342
59
69
13
10
907
2201
“Language” &
“Linguistic”
34
3
1
227 (15 in
“Identity”
24
9
4
275
“Culture” &
“Cultural”
In
Abstracts
titles)
Definitions & framing
• Language:
Includes languages, dialects, accents,
speech styles & even non-verbal
communication
• Identity (group/cultural):
‘…the individual's knowledge that s/he
belongs to certain social groups together
with the emotional and value significance
to her/him of the group membership’
(Tajfel & Turner, 1986)
What contributes to
distinctive cultural identity?
Clothes? Geographic origin? ethnic
origin? Religion? Food? Values?
Occupation?...etc
Much previous research:
….language is perhaps the most
important - even more than
‘cultural background’ and
geographic origin, MDS studies by
Giles et al in Wales, Canada & USA
Language & Cultural Identity
(i)
“It is important to learn Gujarati to
understand our culture. We have to
keep Gujarati alive. By learning
Gujarati we can keep our identity.”
(Gujarati Interviewee of Creese et al,
2006, Language and Education).
(ii) “Mexican-Americans who can’t speak
Spanish should CHOKE on their
CHILLI BEANS” - New York subway
graffiti
(iii) “Our languages are the cornerstone of
who we are as a People. Without our
languages our cultures cannot survive”
- Assembly of First Nations, 1990
(i)
Previous research…
‘Language is the place where actual and
possible forms of social organization and
their likely social and political consequences
are defined and contested. Yet it is also
the place where our sense of ourselves, our
subjectivity, is constructed’ (p. 21,
Weedon, 1997),
(ii) “…relationship between language and identity
is not static and varies as a function of the
power relations ...” (Sachdev & Bourhis,
1990)
(iii)… next… a model of multilingual communication
(Sachdev & Bourhis, 2001; Sachdev & Giles,
2004)
MACRO
INTERGROUP
CONTEXT
- Ethnolinguistic vitality of
groups
-State language policies
- & Ideologies
- Stability, legitimacy of
intergroup stratification
SOCIAL
PSYCHOLOGICAL
PROCESSES
- Similarity-Attraction
EVALUATION &
BEHAVIOUR
- speech
accommodation
- discourse
- Non-verbal
- Social Exchange
- Social Attribution
- Intelligibility
- Predictability
AdditiveSubtractive
Multilingualism &
Multiculturalism
- Social identification
MICRO
SOCIOLINGUISTIC
SETTING
- Norms & rules
- Networks of linguistic
contact
- Stereotyping
- Vitality Beliefs
- Acculturation Beliefs
Language & Culture
Maintenance & Shift
Response to French AND Arabic use in
streets of Bilingual Tunisia (Lawson &
Sachdev, 1995, 2000)
Method & procedure: Trained Tunisian Researchers
made requests from 1000 Tunisian Arab
pedestrians randomly in streets of city
Excuse me, where is the post office?
IVs:
(i) Language of Question - Arabic or French
(ii) Ethnic Background of Tunisian
Researchers - Arab, European & African
DVs: (i) Language of response – convergence,
divergence or code-switching
Response to French AND Arabic
use in streets of Bilingual Tunisia
(n = 1000+, Lawson & Sachdev,
1995, 2000)
100
80
66
Convergence
Code-Switch
Divergence
60
40
20
28
6
0
Tunisian Arab-Tunisian Arab
Cultural & Ethnic backgrounds of interactants
Response to French AND Arabic
use in streets of bilingual Tunisia
(n = 1000+, Lawson & Sachdev,
1995, 2000)
100
80
87
66
Convergence
Code-Switch
Divergence
60
40
20
28
6
9
4
0
Tunisian Arab-Tunisian
Arab
Tunisian EuropeanTunisian Arab
Cultural & Ethnic background of interactants
Response to French AND Arabic use
in streets of bilingual Tunisia (n =
1000+, Lawson & Sachdev, 1995,
2000)
100
80
87
66
53
60
40
20
46
28
6
9
4
1
0
Tunisian ArabTunsian Arab
Tunsisian
EuropeanTunsian Arab
Tunisian
African-Tunisian
Arab
Cultural & Ethnic backgrounds of interactants
Convergence
Code-Switch
Divergence
Concluding notes…
Ignore language(s) at your peril!!
Language-Culture-Identity intertwined
Effects on intercultural & intergroup
communication, acculturation, etc, etc
Language use reflects AND creates
cultural identity
Language is key to expressing,
conceptualising and constructing
indigenous cultures and knowledge
……. Methodologically, focus on
language allows actual behavioural
study… good for cross-cultural/social
psychologists, (etc) whose mainstay is
paper and pencil measures…
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