HCOM 214: Interpersonal COMM & Conflict

Learning interpersonal communication skills to improve every part of our lives


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As somebody who is a native speaker of English, I really don’t feel a strong cultural connection to others who speak English. I think the reasoning behind that is because English is so widespread that there isn’t a whole lot that connects us anymore. If I was a speaker of, say, Pirahã and I found somebody else who also spoke it, I probably would feel a much deeper connection to them since that language is incredibly uncommon. I will say that to some extent there are certain kinds of humor that only make sense in English, for example, so there’s a kind of connection there. It’s very small though, since I know that most people wouldn’t notice those kinds of things. An example could be that certain kinds of speech patterns, like sarcasm, don’t actually exist in other languages, like Japanese for example.

English can really be a strong tool to distance yourself from other people. English, as widespread as it is, can be so intimidating because of its perceived difficulty. Therefore, if somebody is learning English as a second language, they might be more afraid to try speaking with a native speaker than, say, a native English speaker learning French. In a not-so-similar vein, there are certain kinds of concepts other languages have words for that English doesn’t. Not only does English lack a word for this kind of thing, sometimes, but English can even lack the concept itself. In this vein, since I’m much too old now, there are certain things about other cultures I will never be able to comprehend in any measure simply because I both lack the words and the ability to fully understand the concept. In conclusion, the mere fact that I speak English does not limit and separate me from others, but the fact that I was raised in the American, monolingual mindset for so long has impaired my ability to take in foreign concepts of other cultures.


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