Culture and Communication

Culture and communication is by far one of the most talked about features in translating languages. Language can tell a lot about a person and how they communicate to others. It is often a tendency in many people to judge others by their own standards, from their own viewpoint and perspective. Communication can therefore be said to take into account all the processes and practices that are translated to give meanings in cultural contexts such as beliefs, religion, values, attitudes and customs. As a result, modern technology and jet set lifestyles have become an important aspect in international awareness. Globalisation has brought about the need to effectively integrate culture and communication in the business world. Tourism which is an agent in globalisation plays a huge role in understanding such outlooks.

The discourse of tourism can be said to take a huge semiotic aspect i.e. how textual or visual signs are interpreted by different societies. This semiotic nature helps in giving identity to destinations, host communities and tourists. One of the most important viewpoints in the language of tourism is the sociological perspective which is particularly influenced by the growing attention to media and in today’s world, a developing interest in social media. Thus efficient translation of the written, visual and audio descriptions has the potential to convert would-be tourists into actual clients if their specific needs are met.

Authenticity, stranger-hood, play and conflict act as the four main functions in the communication of tourism. These are used in different cultures in the portrayal of power relationships and traditional practices. Tourists looking for authenticity in destinations and attractions will be drawn to words used in publications such as ‘actual’ ‘real’ and ‘authentic’ while stranger-hood refers to a constant call for something new and exotic; the strangeness of the presented destination as described by the author Dann in his book ‘The Language of Tourism: a sociolinguistics perspective. The play function on the other hand often depicts cultures as ‘displays’ to the amusement of tourists which can bring about conflict between hosts and tourists in how different historical pasts are portrayed.

Organisations need to localise their products and services to their clients’ specification as this fits into the wider marketing and advertising strategies because consumers are likely to be influenced by their general surroundings. Businesses that are culturally sensitive are more prone to be successful than their counterparts. This is because companies who lack a cultural understanding fail to effectively communicate to their customers thus resulting in a lack of trust, backlash and rejection from the community. An example of this is the Starbucks coffee company that failed to understand the Australian cafe culture and instead tried to translate its European culture to a target market that was dissimilar in a move to differentiate themselves from other companies. The result of this was several Starbuck shop closures in Australia in 2008.

For this reason the way different tourist and host languages are translated in tourism materials is essential in avoiding conflict by gaining a deeper international awareness of the various cultural and communicative diversities around the world. Companies with enough capital can even hire agents to do their language translations for them to save them from huge losses and embarrassing situations. While people may not always see eye to eye when coming across different cultures, it is important for businesses to adapt to their clients needs in order to be successful in the fast paced trading world.