2013-06-07

Intercultural communication as a rediscovered area of intellectual interest

Having celebrated my 50th birthday a few months ago, I am now rediscovering two things that seem to have fascinated me intellectually and physically respectively more than three decades ago when I was still a high school student in a small rural town in the north of Japan - intercultural communication and yoga.

When I was in high school, there was a time when I seriously dreamed of becoming a yogi. ;-) But since then my life has taken a very strange path which even the wildest imagination could think of, and I have ended up a linguist specializing in Hebrew, Yiddish and Esperanto in Israel. ;-)

I rediscovered intercultural communication as a subject of study (as well as a matter of personal curiosity), ultimately when I experienced serious problems in communicating with Esperantists from other cultures I met in two world congress of Esperanto I participated in four and two years ago respectively, and directly when I decided to deal with these problems rather systematically and give a talk on subject in the forthcoming world congress of Esperanto this summer.

Actually the first two books I read on linguistics in my life when I was still a high school student were those on intercultural communication; they analyzed problems of verbal communication between Japanese and Americans and between Japanese and Europeans respectively. But even when I started majoring in languages and linguistics in the university, it never occurred to me to study intercultural communication systematically, nor does it seem to have been established as an independent discipline of linguistics.

Preparing now a talk on problems of intercultural communication among Esperantists, I am simply amazed to have found such an amazing quantity of such high-quality theoretical and empirical studies on intercultural communication.

Having read some of these studies, I now realize clearly that actually I have been living intercultural communication not only outside Japan but even inside Japan ever since I left the place where I was born and spent the first 18 years of my life. In this respect intercultural communication seems to be different from other areas of my academic interest as it is not only academic but also personal.

(* About yoga as a rediscovered area of physical interest some other time.)