Intercultural communication is important as it helps us to communicate with people around the world without misunderstanding each other. By doing so we can learn more about each other’s cultures and believes. We can communicate with each other without getting judged by one another as we can learn to accept each other’s differences and adapt to them slowly. Communication does not mean verbal only it can also be non-verbal like hugging, eye contact and body language. Some cultures greet people by hugging each other and some would be weirded out by that, by learning the importance of intercultural communication this awkwardness can be avoided.
For my research, I have chosen German culture tor a comparison of my own culture, Chinese. This is because I am very interested to know if there are any huge differences between my cultures and the German cultures. For example, the beliefs, traditional food, taboos, traditions costumes, wedding traditions, how they greet each other.
For starters the traditional clothing for Germans are called lederhosen and dirndls. Lederhosen translates to “leather shorts” it is typically worn by men. These shorts are knee-length and mostly worn in the Bavarian region. it has features of suspenders and front flaps that commonly worn with shirts that are made from linen or wool. On the other hand, a dirndl is worn by the women, it looks like a ruffled apron dress. It contains a bodice or a blouse with a skirt and it is also mostly worn in Bavaria and Austria. However, in the Chinese culture the men usually wear the Zhongshan suit. it has four pockets that symbolises benevolence, loyalty probity and shame and the suit consist of five buttons which meant administrations, legislation. jurisdiction, examination and supervision. Moreover, the women would typically wear Cheongsam. It is a body-hugging dress that mostly made from silk.
Secondly, in every culture we all have our own taboos. In the German culture, the okay sign that is the index finger and a thumb forming a round shape is an offensive gesture as it means that you are calling them an a-hole. Additionally, it is also a taboo to the German culture to chew gum in public as it symbolises someone being untidy. Finally, while talking to a German never put your hands in your pocket for the reason that it is rude to keep your hands in your pocket. Nonetheless, in the Chinese culture we do have some taboos too, it includes numbers. We avoid the number four, this is because four in Chinese is ‘Si’ which sounds like death (si). In addition, when eating with chopstick we, the Chinese culture will never put our chopsticks facing upwards instead we put it on the table or parallel to the edge of the bowl as it is a taboo. It associates with making offering to our ancestors. Last but not least, we believe that giving chicken feet to young children will result in sloppy writings and they will frequently get into fights.
Moreover, I believe that all cultures will have their own languages and religions. This includes the German cultures, the official language they speak is German. Most of them are of the Christian religion, with about 65 to 70 percent of the population. As compared to the Chinese culture, our main language is Mandarin, but it is broken down to many dialects such as Cantonese. Hokkien, Teow chew, Hakka and more. As for the religion of the Chinese culture, according to a poll about 90 percent classify themselves as an atheist.
What I found the most interesting was the difference of their wedding traditions between the German culture and the Chinese culture. For the German culture, the couples will normally smash a bunch of porcelain to symbolise good luck. This tradition is called ‘Polterabend’ which translates to “eve of making a racket”. At the end of the event, the couples would have to clean it up together like they should for the rest of their lives. Whereas, for the Chinese culture, the couples would serve tea during the Tea Ceremony to their elders as this is how both families are formally introduced. After that happens, the couples would receive a lucky red envelope called ‘lai see’ that symbolises happiness, energy and good luck.
I am also intrigue by the ways of greeting of the two cultures. The Germans would normally greet people depends if they know the person well or not. The most common greeting is the handshakes with direct eye contact. When close friends meet each other, they will hug and kiss one another on the cheek. However, when they greet the elders they would greet formally by greeting them with their first name and their title, for example “Herr” for Mr. and “Frau” for Mrs. But for the Chinese, handshakes are the most common type of greeting but it is lighter than the western handshake and will typically last longer. For formal greeting, we usually include a bow. Usually only friends greet each other by calling their name as it is rude to call your elders by their name. sometimes when the elders show their respects they would normally use the terms “lao” (old) or “xiao” (young) with your name instead of titles.