Posts Tagged ‘cultural communication’

I’ve long said that those of us who work in public relations are actually translators.  We translate the language of complex business issues, scientific research, governmentese, technical concerns and more into plain English.  But we provide at least two other types of translations beyond that, and possibly three:

  • We translate meesages for different purposes: press releases, annual reports, fund-raising letters, blogs, speeches, feature articles and more;
  • We translate messages for different audiences: employees, financial backers, regulators, media, customers, allied industires.

Finally, we may need to translate across cultures, and not just internationally.  There are many cultures within cultures, and both the United States and China are good examples.  Here in the U.S., communicating with Native American tribes takes a different understanding and different language; communicating with people in the West is not at all the same as communicating with people along the Eastern Seaboard or in Washington D.C.

My friends in Missoula’s Rocky Mountain Ballet Theater, who just got back from an incredible two weeks of performing in China as part of the pre-Olympic festivities, tell the story of two towns just an hour apart who did not understand each other’s lanuage – or perhaps dialect? – even though they lived in what we think of as close proximity to each other.

I often think of the beautiful words with which Norman MacLean finished his book, “A River Runs Throught It.”  He wrote:  “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.”

Under the rocks are the words; and sometimes we have to search.

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