When English is the client’s second language, communication can run into snags, and misunderstandings can innocently develop.
Many of us speak more than one language. As our developing world has expanded and transportation has shortened the distances among differing cultures, our communities have become more diverse – and more interesting.
While there are many advantages in being able to speak more than one language, and understand translation of its words, we think in our original and first language. Literal translation, unfortunately, does not deliver all the goods!
There are simple expressions typical of each language, there is “slang,” there are variations in the usage of the same word and many other subtleties that provide the perfect set of circumstances for misunderstanding. Add in the factor of accents and pronunciation, and the odds increase for simple comprehension problems.
Every venue confronts these issues from time to time in the course of doing business and striving for clarity of communication. While it is a small price to pay for the benefits of cultural diversity, it can be a high price to pay when both parties fail to clarify, double-check and (in extreme cases) engage a competent interpreter.
Interpreting what an individual means in their language – or their attempt to clarify in their second language – is very different than simply translating words.
In the field of interior design (commercial or residential), conflicts can arise concerning communication about the elements of color, light, textures and other subtle impressions. This is because choices and decisions in those areas involve feelings, senses, images and other concepts that contain “descriptive departures” from the formal language. (And, that is true in all cultures.) Concepts of quantity, depth and other relationship constructs have versions of expression within each specific language that are idiomatic –that is, they reflect their culture’s vernacular or “native” style.
Within one language, there may be multiple “dialects” that relate to specific areas of that country or region; learning the formal version of the language won’t solve all the problems!
It takes patience and a mutual commitment for clarity to successfully move through the complexities of a project when there are language – and therefore, semantic – differences.
It is wise to diplomatically address this factor at the front end of your project when you recognize there may be challenges. Because of the cultural diversity of our local (and nationwide) communities, interpreters are readily available when needed. Most colleges and universities can make connections for you. So, you don’t need to hesitate to contact design professionals for help with your project — simply because you believe you may not be able to communicate clearly due to English being your second language.
Most of us have had the privilege of working with clients from many cultures, and we all grow with the experience and the enjoyment of designing environments with a client’s native culture in mind.
Almost everywhere that you see quality design, you see reflections of our cultural diversity. Language immersion is one of the challenges we face in order to successfully communicate our diversity, in creative ways, while developing our interior environments.
|By ROBERT BOCCABELLA||first published at https://www.record-bee.com/2021/04/03/cross-cultural-communicating-2/ April 3, 2021|