A study investigated linguistic and non-linguistic conventions of communication between Russians and North Americans and explored how aspects of culture and its institutions are encoded in symbolic meanings in 16 cultural themes (food, money, space, possessions, work, courtesy, marriage, friendship, dating, studying, time, humor, small talk, leisure, religion, planning). The influence of differences in these symbolic meanings on reported instances of Russian-American communication were also identified. In addition, national stereotypes hypothetically created by inadequate interpretations of these themes were elicited and interpreted. Data were gathered through questionnaires administered to 18 American university exchange students in Russia and 20 Russian university exchange students in the United States, and from interviews with an additional 10 American and 7 Russian subjects. Results show marked differences in the symbolic meanings of all 16 themes, and that awareness and successful interpretation of these differences may reduce miscommunication. The different symbolic meanings revealed different attitudes concerning independence, involvement, personal space, and emotionality. The Russian subjects valued personal involvement in communication, while the Americans placed more emphasis on personal space and independence. Contains 12 references. (MSE)
In: Bouton, Lawrence F., Ed. Pragmatics and Language Learning. Monograph Series Volume 7, p71-96, 1996; see FL 024 180.