Chinese Culture and Mandarin Chinese Language – Context Matters
- July 17, 2020
- Leonie McKeon
Context refers to the environment, or circumstances within which something happens. Different cultures can be described as being high-context or low-context.
Low-context cultures tend to be logical, linear, individualistic, and action-orientated. Decisions are made based on facts, as opposed to intuition. Communicators are direct, straightforward, and aim to be efficient. To ensure clarity of understanding, words are used with precision and are generally intended to be taken literally. As a result, languages within low-context cultures tend to have extensive vocabularies so speakers can find the ‘right’ word to convey their meaning.
Examples of low-context cultures include Australia, United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom.
High-context cultures often communicate in a more poetic style with expressions of humility and elaborate apologies are typical when communicating. Communication is more indirect and circular. High-context cultures focus on interrelationships, intuition, and contemplation. Communication to develop trust, friendship and shared understandings are usually seen as critical first steps in any business transaction. As high-context cultures are often collectivist or group cultures, harmony and consensus are strongly preferred over individual achievements.
Words are fewer and less important in high-context cultures as attention is also given to the tone of voice, facial expressions, gestures, postures and even the speaker’s family history.
Chinese culture is a high-context culture. Therefore, Chinese languages reflect this. While Mandarin Chinese is tonal, provided you pronounce words correctly, even with the wrong tones in the right context, your Chinese listeners will understand you. With Pronounce Mandarin- The Easy Way you will learn how to pronounce Mandarin Chinese correctly and you will lean many key words in the correct context so you will be understood clearly.