166102 language and communication

Written Analysis: Communicative Competence and Intercultural Communication (1400 – 1600 words) (50%) (Learning outcome 1,3,4)


In talk exchanges, as well as drawing on linguistic knowledge, communicators draw on para-linguistic/extra-linguistic features, background knowledge and knowledge of context and culture in order to understand the implicature of each participant’s utterances. Intercultural communication difficulties can arise not because of a difficulty with the actual language, but because of the different assumptions and expectations that people from different cultures bring to the act of communicating.

With reference to your readings, analyse the talk exchange below from the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding (Goetsman, Hanks & Zwick, 2002). Give a possible explanation for the reason for the difficulties in understanding, and discuss your insights into how your own culture influences your communication.

{`Talk exchange: My Big Fat Greek Wedding (34.07)
Maria: Oh! Hello!. I am Maria Portakalos. And welcome! Welcome to our home.
Mrs Miller: (both arms outstretched, gives Maria a cake).
Maria: Ah..... what is it?
Mrs Miller: It's a bundt
Maria: A bundt?
Mrs Miller: Bunt
Maria: Bon... bonk, bonk...
Mrs Miller: Bunt
Maria: Bonn..t
Mrs Miller: Bundt!
Mr Miller: It's ok.
Maria's friend: (speaks in Greek)
Maria: Oh!. It's a cake! Thank you, thank you, very very much.

Goetzman, G., Hanks, T. Zwick, J. (Producers), (Director). (2002). My big fat Greek wedding [Motion picture]. USA: Playtone.

Assignment notes

Ian Miller, (an upper class, non-Greek American) is engaged to middle class Greek American Toula. Toula's mother Maria invites Mr and Mrs Miller for dinner at her place.

  • The movie is about a 30 year old unmarried, middle class Greek American woman (Toula Portakalos) who is engaged to an upper class, non-Greek American man named Ian Miller. Toula’s mother Maria Portakalos invites Mr and Mrs Miller to her place for dinner.
  • Do NOT write a formal academic essay. You must complete the assignment using the template provided in the Assessments folder.
  • There are 3 sections to this assignment.

Do Section1 for the next class.

  1. Identify and explain:
  • the socio-linguistic features (setting/context, participants, hierarchy, topic of conversation).
  • the linguistic code (words, grammar, punctuation)
  • the para-linguistic features (eg. volume, speed)
  • and non-linguistic features (eg. eye contact, movement, space)
  • the background knowledge necessary to understand the conversation. implicature (the speaker’s attention with the utterances)

For this section of Assessment 1, you should write 900 – 950 words, including the text of the talk-exchange. Set out your work in the table format that will be given to you. Adjust size of text boxes as appropriate.

We will do sections 2-3 of the practice assignment later

  1. Maria Portakalos and Mrs Miller didn’t understand each other’s reactions in this situation.
  • Discuss which one of the following dimensions of culture could most likely explain the miscommunication?
  • Individualism/collectivism
  • High and low context cultures
  • Power distance
  • Masculinity/femininity
  • Uncertainty avoidance
  • You should:
  • identify how each person feels.
  • define the dimension you have chosen, with reference to the literature
  • analyse the cause of the miscommunication.

For this section of the assignment, write 1-2 paragraphs, about 250-300 words

  1. Write a reflective paragraph explaining what you might do in a similar situation. Provide insights into what aspects of your culture might influence your own communication style. (250 – 300 words)
  • Overall, in sections 2 and 3, you should use a minimum of 3 academic texts to support your ideas.