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Human Encounters

Introduction to Intercultural Communication

Oyvind Dahl

This book gives a comprehensive introduction to intercultural communication. The reader is introduced to essential concepts in the field, different theories and methods of analysing communication, the importance of verbal and nonverbal languages for bringing about mutual understanding and, finally, the ethical challenges that arise.

The volume also has a practical aspect. The author discusses subjects such as handling encounters with people using foreign languages; incorporating different life styles and world views; the use of interpreters, non-familiar bodylanguage; different understandings of time; relocation in new settings; the use of power and how to deal with cultural conflicts generally.

Published as a general textbook in English for the first time following a very successful original edition in Norwegian, also translated to Russian and French, this richly-illustrated book offers a refreshing and engaging introduction to intercultural understanding

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Foreword

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This book provides an introduction to intercultural communication and while it is intended for undergraduate students, it is useful for anyone seeking an overview of this rapidly developing field.

The field of intercultural communication may be helpful for studying international, national and domestic relations. But what does intercultural mean today? Cultures are constantly changing and cannot be summarized or defined as easily as before. Cultures cannot just be put into boxes and one of the consequences of globalization is that many previously recognized boundaries have little importance. Great mobility and technical inventions such as the internet have broken down obstacles of distance and have facilitated connections across the globe at an increasing speed. As a consequence, cultural, technical, economic and political mind-sets influence human encounters throughout the world. Communication does involve crossing borders, but which borders? In recent years, a new direction has developed within the field of intercultural communication called critical intercultural communication research (Holliday, Hyde and Kullman 2010; Nakayama and Halualani 2010; Piller 2011). As a result, researchers now place greater emphasis on the following points:

(a)Intercultural communication must be perceived in a critical historical context. It is not a discipline in itself, but other disciplines can shed light on the field: philosophy, psychology, religious studies, linguistics, sociology, social anthropology, information science and other sciences.

(b)All communication is in some way intercultural. Communication takes place between different parties who activate their unique intercultural frames of reference either domestically or internationally....

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