Concept and Goal
This exercise uses folktales to examine how cultures differ in whether their communication is direct or indirect. Folktales are used because they can carry a culture’s customs and norms. After you have read each story answer the questions associated with each of the two stories.
Folktales are carriers of culture as well as forms of entertainment (Cargile & Sunwolf,1998). Cargile and Sunwolf point out that “values, customs, norms, roles, and religious beliefs are often embedded within a narrative of folktales and may be passed on from one generation to the next. The stories of a culture are usually effective tools for the socialization of its members, but they also provide outsiders a glimpse of a culture with which they are not familiar.”
According to Cargile and Sunwolf (1998), folktales can be used to indicate the appropriate way to communicate with others. One useful approach to communication with others involves the direct statement of the self’s needs and desires. This mode of communication expects people to be honest and upfront about what they have to say and not beat around the bush. A second, and opposite, mode of expression involves indirect communication. According to Searle (1969), indirect communication takes place when the speaker expresses to the hearer more than is actually said; the success of this method of expression depends on the hearer’s power of inference. Read the following two folktales and consider multiple answers pertaining to each story following the tales.
The response to the questions should follow the same guidelines as the Discussion Boards.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of communicating in a direct manner, as Savitri did in “The Woman Who Followed Death”? Can you think of times when you would tell someone exactly what you were thinking?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of letting your actions and gestures speak for you, as the woman in “The Lion’s Whisker” did?
Do you think American culture emphasizes direct or indirect communication? Explain