Contrastive analyses of American and Arab nonverbal and paralinguistic communication

MICHAELA SAFADI, CAROL ANN VALENTINE
1990 Semiotica: Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies  
DOCUMENT hESUME ED 272 935 CS 505 319 AUTHOR Safadi, Michaela; Valentine, Carol Ann TITLE Contrastive Analysis cf American and Axab Nonverbal and Paralinguistic Communication. PUB DATE [85] NOTE 36p.; Print is small and marginally legible. PUB TYPE Viewpoints (120) EDRS PRICE MF01/13CO2 Plus Postage. ABSTRACT To achieve effective intercultural communication, participants must understand how behavioral differences may lead to miscommunication. Such behL loral differences can be illustrated by
more » ... e illustrated by Arab and American nonverbal behavior. Individualism is the ideal for the American middle class, whereas Arabs are motivated by public opinion. Yet in the Arab world, losing control in public is more excusable than it is in the Western world. Arabs also use a wide range of gestures with subtle physical differences that amount to great semantic variants, and these are generally the same throughout the Middle East. For example, the thumb-forefinger circle with remaining three fingers extended upwards has been borrowed from the West to indicate "OK," for which meaning the signing hand is shaken a couple of times gently. Without the shaking, the gesture is interpreted as an obscene female genital reference. Paralingual aspects of communication are sometimes even more elusive and prone to misunderstanding than gestures. A single tongue click as opposed to a multiple click, for example, is an Arab alternative to an eyebrow raise, head toss, or head shake, all of which may indicate "no." Arabs have also developed the ability to retreat into themselves to accommodate their need for privacy. Americans, on the other hand, create privacy by physically retreating and by closing doors. Other differences can be found in cultural values and notions. It is incumbent on the individual business person to examine personal style and ideas for these cultural implications and biases. (Paradigms that enable analyses of gestural and paralinguistic communication are suggested, and a four-page bibliography and extensive tables comparing Arab and American nonverbal behavior are included.) EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES INFORMATION CENTER IMO 1SThos dOCument has been reproduced as eCeived from the person or orgarnzatoon ongonahng it C Minor changes have been made to omprove rePrOductoon ocelot), Pants of voew Of opinions sta ted on Ms olOO ment do not necessarily represent officoal OERI oos.to. or porn, Abstract This paper focuses on Arab and American differences in nonverbal communication behavior. Nonverbal behaviors, including gestural and paralinguistic behaviors, for Arabs and Americans are compared. Possible contradictory signals and incorrect assumptions are explored.
doi:10.1515/semi.1990.82.3-4.269 fatcat:h6hfbnwugncxxilr56v3cq7uce