Monday
September 1, 2014

Homework Help: English1A

Posted by Kuromi on Monday, October 26, 2009 at 8:22pm.

Writeacher I finished the rest of the essay, it's a group thing so I had to put everyone's essay into one.

Greetings and Gestures
Culture plays a large role on how individuals communicate with one another, including how they express themselves. There are various ways of communication such as through speaking, sign language, or body movement. Although most cultures might share the same basic emotions, the different forms of communication may vary from culture to culture, especially when it comes to greetings and gestures. So what would the polite thing to do if an American was greeted by a foreigner? Kiss? Bow? Shake hands? Would it matter who is in whose country? Does it make a difference? Because first impressions are most important when first meeting someone, it is imperative to be able to handle situations correctly by knowing what to do, as some people might take it offensively or take it personally by disrespecting them with a hug, even though it was good intentions. While some greetings and gestures may be appropriate in one culture, it may not be so in another, which is why it is important to be aware of cultural differences to avoid any misunderstanding.

Every culture has its own language, not just a speaking language, but body language as well. When two people meet for the first time, the proper thing to do is to introduce themselves and greet one another properly depending on what culture they come from. Greetings may involve more than just words. It is not only important on how the greeting is said, but also how it is done, such as touching and the movement of the body like waving or bowing. In the history of communication and greetings, a simple “Hi” and wave of the hand has never been the universal sign saying “Hi”, despite what many people might think. Just like everything else in human culture and society, all greetings have a history of where they originate from and how they evolved into what they are today.
In American society the two most widely used forms of greeting are the wave and a firm gripped handshake. The wave is a simple open palmed, side to side motion usually with the right hand and although considered informal in some cultures, it is quite the norm here in America between friends and family. The handshake is also a common and generally simple greeting. The simple and more formal version of the hand shake is a firm gripped shake. In many informal and friendly situations the once simple handshake evolved into an up and down motion followed by a different hand grip on the second shake, followed by a third grip of just the fingers all finished with a knuckle bump and possibly a hug. It has evolved even more the past decade which now involves a hug and a snap of the fingers to end it all. However, in other countries such as Japan, this type of handshake would not only be unacceptable but also just plain rude.
In Japan the standard greeting is done by taking a bow. Although handshakes may be acceptable with some people in Japan, they prefer the traditional bow when being greeted by each other. The bow is done in a specific manner, not just any bow, there are three degrees of the bow that should be known before visiting the country. The first and most informal is a bow of only fifteen degrees, often done amongst equals; bowing to a full thirty degrees is used as a sign of respect to someone whom is of higher rank than you such as your parents, grandparents or boss. However, bows of more than thirty degrees are reserved only for the Imperial family and are otherwise considered very disrespectful.

Many cultures have different proper ways to greet family members, friends and strangers. A greeting is very important when approached by someone for the first time. They are also a big part of our everyday life. In Linda Lee’s and James Charlton’s The Handbook: Interpreting handshakes, gestures, power signals and sexual signs, Lee and Charlton state “Your style of interpersonal greetings reveals your social and your ethnic background, your feelings about yourself, and your attitude towards the person you are greeting” (Lee and Charlton 120). When a person first sees somebody a greeting is usually the first move that is made and normally reveals how a person feels about the other.

In different parts of the world there are acceptable and none acceptable greetings for certain people. Since the world is divided by many different countries there are various customs and manners when greeting one another. For example, a double kiss on the cheek is a friendly gesture when greeting a friend or loved one in France. In Mexico, the proper way to greet each other is with a hug considering that they know each other well. It is also formal for Oriental men and women to fold their hands and bow in greeting, as opposed to those from India, the appropriate way to acknowledge one another is by placing their palms together as if praying and bend down or nod. A smile is a common gesture that comes along with a greeting for most cultures. However, what one way might be appropriate in one culture may not be in another. For example, eye contact when greeting is considered disrespectful in Asia, but here in America eye contact is a must. Muslims avoid any physical contact with the opposite sex including handshake unless a woman offers her hand first. It is unusual for men to kiss in the U.S when greeting each other but in other places like part of the Middle East it is an expression of friendship. It is important not to assume that the greetings in one part of the world are also appropriate in other parts of the world.

Gestures are also something that people do not think about when traveling to a different country. Gestures are a large part of our non-verbal communication; anything can be said without one single word being spoken. There is not a single culture in the world that does not have a long history of gestures that has evolved into what is being used today. Gestures vary from simple hand movement and finger pointing to whole body movements. Gestures here in America are very different in from gestures in other countries such as in African countries. In some African countries as well as other parts of the world the standard “come here” with a hooked finger, as is common here in America is considered very disrespectful. The common form of “come here” for them is a palm down and fingers pointing down motion for them to come. It is not uncommon to see many ignorant Americans traveling to foreign countries only to find themselves being disrespected or disrespecting other around them. If they do not take the time to research the culture and history of the area they are visiting they can turn a fun and friendly visit to an unhappy and displeasing visit. And one does not have to travel halfway across the world to find varying gestures but may only have to travel a few minutes in any direction, possibly crossing the line to another city or even just another neighborhood to find gestures meaning something completely different.

In American culture a common sight, in some lower class neighborhoods, to see Gang members using gestures and hand signals to show and represent the gang or area they claim. As primitive as it may sound, for a human being of descent intelligence to claim their area like a dog claiming their territory, if another Gang member gestures or signals his gangs in the others area is one of the highest forms of disrespect and can often lead to gang wars and even death. Of course examples such as this one are on the extreme end of the spectrum but goes to show the importance of simple gestures and hand signals in some neighborhoods and cities that we may spend every day of our lives in or may be just passing by. The Do’s and Do not’s of gestures are not limited to different regions of the world but also different neighborhoods. A predominantly Asian part of town will have many different variations of everyday, common gestures when compared to a largely Latino or African American community that is only a stone’s throw away.

A gesture does not have to be a movement or a conscious act. How conscious is a shrug of the shoulders while saying “I don’t know”. A smile while two people shake hands or avoiding eye contact with a stranger. A gesture does not always have to be linked with an utterance, nor do we have to direct it to a perceiver. However, to have any kind of meaning it must be perceived by someone. It is commonly misconceived that a gesture’s meaning is embedded in the intention of the gesturer and not in the understanding of the gesture itself.

Gestures are expressive to someone because they communicate with recipients whether they are received correctly or incorrectly. So a gesture is communication through its reception. It is defined as a posture or movement of the body or any of its members that is understood to be meaningful. This is seen in many so social settings like performances, rituals, or even political speeches. For example “when you see political speeches the speaker might give a hand chop, one stiff hand chops down on the upturned palm of the other hand which means he is slicing through the verbal confusion to make a strong clear point”(Morris 103). Or, “when the speaker gives the hand scissors, it is when the hands are crossed over one another and the forcibly sliced apart, as if they are the blades of a large pair of scissors which means the speaker wishes to finish an argument” (Morris 103). Gestures need to be distinguished apart from sign languages because sign language is fully grammatical whereas gestures are not. Gestures are an important means of teaching in a given social class. They are a large part of what is considered appropriate, courteous, polite, as long as it is done according to the proper culture.

It is difficult to avoid making judgment based on the way individuals greet each other, especially when it is not done properly. One country may be fine with a hug while others may find it disrespectful. However, it does not necessarily mean the person has bad manners. It could simply mean that traditions differ from culture to culture. Cultural differences and ethnic background affect the significance in the way people communicate with each other. What is normal and acceptable in one country may be rude or unusual in another. People must be aware of what is allowed and what is not when approaching or surrounded by others of a different background to avoid any miscommunications. Greetings differ so much between different countries and cultures everyone should take the time to learn the proper greeting for the area they’re visiting. Once everyone are respectable about other people’s cultural and knowing the differences between customs in other cultural, people can than continue having healthy and stronger relationships with each other no matter what cultural or country they come from.

I have class right now so you probably won't need to check back until tomorrow. I know the time difference there is later than me. Will you let me know if it makes sense and any revisions necessary, Thank you.

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