Journal of Intercultural Communication, issue 4, 2000

Mobo C F Gao

Influences of Native Culture and Language on Intercultural Communication: the Case of PRC Student Immigrants in Australia


The paper is a discussion of verbal and non-verbal communication issues encoutered by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) students as immigrants in Australia. It is based on a large survey study as well as interview studies of PRC students who were granted residence status by the Australian government after the 1989 Tiananmen events. When immigrants initially live in a society which is culturally different, their own culture is still with them mainly in three ways: language, value and customs, and self-identity, each of which is related to another. This paper seeks to demonstrate that values and customs are manifested not only in non-verbial communication but also in verbial communication in that native language influences the speakers’ ways of using a non-native language. At the same time native linguistic knowledge, values and customs impose constraints on how immigrants identify themselves. The paper concludes that it is sometimes difficult to make difference between what is cultural and what is linguistic, that acquisition of a second language is not culturally value-free, that aculturalization and linguistic competence goes hand in hand, and that aculturalization indicates identity shift.

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