When cultural scripts clash: Miscommunication in "multicultural Australia"

Anna Wierzbicka

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    When cultural scripts clash: Miscommunication in “multicultural” Australia Anna Wierzbicka, Australian National University 1. Introduction: The reality of culture and the theory of cultural scripts The term “cultural scripts” is used to refer to tacit norms and values widely shared, and widely known (on an intuitive level) in a given society. In a more technical sense, it is also used to refer to a powerful technique for articulating cultural norms and values in terms which are clear, precise, and accessible to both cultural insiders and cultural out- siders. This result is only possible because cultural scripts in this sense of the term are formulated in a tightly constrained, yet expressively flexible, mini-language (NSM) consisting of simple words and grammatical patterns which have equivalents in all languages (see section 3). Because the ways of speaking and thinking prevailing in a given society often vary, to some extent, from person to person and from one group to another, there is often a great reluctance to formulate any general “rules” and there is a wide-spread concern about stereotyping and “essentialism”. This applies, in particular, to English- speaking societies, such as the United States, Britain and Australia, which are indeed highly differentiated internally, as well as different from one another. On the other hand, the failure to formulate any such “rules” clearly and precisely often leads to a great deal of miscommunication. In particular, it handicaps the immigrants to English- speaking countries who need to learn what the prevailing local norms and expectations are...
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationIntercultural Miscommunication Past and Present
    EditorsKryk-Kastovsky, Barbara
    Place of PublicationFrankfurt am Main, Germany
    PublisherPeter Lang AG, International Academic Publishers
    ISBN (Print)9783631621998
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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