Cross-Cultural Markings Of Communication In Modern Times


The intense of cross-cultural, or intercultural, contacts require the study of mental images which exist in different cultures. The difference of such images are known to cause misunderstanding and conflicts of various types, i.e. racial, personal, religious, political, etc. As far as language serves the key to understand one’s national mentality, it seems necessary to analyze its means of expression via words or phrases. The current investigation is aimed to perform a general survey of scientific works that are devoted to cross-cultural researches of communicative units. In order to clarify the main approaches of the studying concept its authors present notions of markedness and unmarkedness, culturally marked and unmarked vocabulary. The work singles out nationally-specific components that can be observed in the vocabulary of a certain cultural community: stable elements of culture, traditional household sphere, everyday habits, artistic culture and national world’s view. These components are relatively reflected in a number of culturally marked language units which are distributed among three main semantic groups: connotative vocabulary, non-equivalent vocabulary, background vocabulary. The results of the present paper can be applied for further researches in the field of language contacts, discourse theory, language semantics, intercultural communication, comparative linguistics, lunguacultural and ethnocultural disciplines.

Keywords: Cross-cultural communication, cultural context, marked vocabulary, unmarked vocabulary, world’s view


Cross-cultural communication is a field of scientific research which is devoted to the study of people’s mutual understanding with due regard to their national, geographical, ethnic, professional, class, gender and lingua-cultural cultural affiliation. In recent years, the number of cross-cultural, or intercultural, contacts has increased dramatically in different fields of people’s interaction. Due to the processes of globalization, mass migration and technologic development of devices run by the Internet the problem of mutual understanding seem to affect everyone.

The original concept of cross-cultural communication

The first definitions of the term implied the ideal goal of a person in his strive to adapt to the world around as efficient as possible. Such a definition was first formulated in 1954 in the work of Treiger and Hall named “Culture and Communication. Analysis Model". The theoretical development of the concept has advanced far enough since then.

Up-to-date definitions of cross-cultural communication

Cross-cultural investigations have been performed both in American and Russian linguistic fields. Apart from identification of its most peculiar features the world’s linguistic scholars give a number of definitions. Particularly, the American researchers Samovar and Porter define cross-cultural communication on the basis of its cultural distinctiveness, i.e., the success or failure of communication is mainly dependent on the knowledge of cultural differences between the interlocutors (Eremin & Nevzorov, 2013). Meanwhile, the Russian scholar Geikhman defines cross-cultural communication through the perception of social phenomena. The linguist states that cross-cultural communication “should be understood via cultural variations by which the speaker percepts social phenomena around” (Geikhman, 2003, p. 140).

Problem Statement

Cross-cultural communication is the interaction of cultures that exist in a certain space and time. The culture phenomenon is a generic concept. Therefore cross-cultural contacts may take various forms that are expressed in tactile contact, perceptive influence and dialogue. The interaction of cultures is relevant to the type of personalities that carry one’s specific historical content of a particular era. The reveal of cross-cultural differences and similarities seems to be based on the characteristics of peoples’ values, self-identification and one’s role in life.

Necessity of cross-cultural education

Insufficient knowledge of a foreign language which is being taught apart from the culture of a foreign country generally gives rise to the problem of misunderstanding which is the main issue among other tproblems of communication. Therefore, a strictly linguistic communicative channel is not sufficient to establish a high level of understanding between interlocutors. The successful extraction of the given verbal message definitely requires the knowledge of extra-linguistic factors which form the cultural context of the language.

Formation of the world’s view

The language code is one of the culture components. It forms the world’s view which is an emotionally coloured system of a person’s outlook (Karasik & Sternin, 2005). As far as its dynamic system capture fragments and aspects of objective and subjective reality, the polygamy of the world’s perception causes historical, geographical and ethno-psychological differences of the peoples in the world.

Research Questions

The analysis of cross-cultural communication should be based on the peculiarities by which the world’s view of different nations is being expressed. These peculiarities include the selection of language units that represent ideas about the world’s fragments, some national features that incorporate the features of individual experience and personal imagination.

The basis of cross-cultural communication

Every culture is presented by its language which is specific by its national forms and symbols. Meanwhile, there exist universal concepts which create the basis for cross-cultural communication. without them, intercultural understanding would be impossible.

Investigations of the background knowledge

In order to obtain the perception of the background knowledge of a modern culture, a series of investigations are to be performed with regards to the present state of mass communities that serve as the carriers of one national culture.

Purpose of the Study

Difficulties of cross-cultural identification are accompanied by the difference in the national and cultural consciousness of the interlocutors. Ignorance of communication participants evidently leads to general misunderstanding of communication which arises at the level of cognitive activity. The aim of the present study is to analyze modern concepts of cross-cultural markedness which is presented differently in various lingua-cultures.

Communication as the establishment of certain rules

Communication provides individuals with the necessary information presented in verbal, graphic or gesture signs. The establishment of generally valid sets of communication rules can be regarded as one of the prospective purposes of the current study. The establishment of a certain set of generally accepted rules is a condition for effective interaction in the process of communication.

Theory and practice separation

It has become customary to separate theoretical basis and practical appliance of cross-cultural communication. Most researchers tend to differentiate the concepts of communication and information exchange on this basis. The studying notion of the present work is cross-cultural communication which comprises both informative as well as emotional components. Therefore, the study of cross-cultural communication is meant to be based on the linguistic and extra-linguistic data that are transmitted at emotional and audible levels.

Research Methods

The present study applies several research methods: methods of notion analysis and synthesis, comparative approach, data observation and distribution.


In modern linguistics the marking category is applied to studies of various directions. The terms of and are understood in the opposition which arouses between the classified phenomena and other abstract concepts. Markedness is mainly interpreted as a universal principle that promotes language acquisition and helps to form the phonetic composition of the language, its functions at the evaluation scale of choosing an option (Khachak, 2017). The modern use of the term has transformed into a linguistic universal. Haspelmath identifies twelve different meanings of the term, which can be classified among four large groups. The first and the second groups interpret markedness as a complexity or a difficulty, while the third group manifests markedness through its anomaly, which comprises rare, limited or less optimal uses of marked units. The fourth group represents markedness as a multidimensional phenomenon that combines elements of different approaches (Haspelmath, 2006).

Culturally marked vocabulary

The term “ was introduced by the Russian linguists Merkish and Avarianova According to the researchers, the vocabulary of any foreign language can be divided into stylistically marked and stylistically unmarked one. The unmarked vocabulary isn’t relevant for any particular communication style, therefore it can be equally applied to all forms and situations of communication, regardless of the purpose of the statement. Meanwhile, the marked vocabulary is limited in its application. It shows its relevance to a certain culture spread among designated groups of people. Culturally-marked units are understood as words that possess some extralinguistic background which serves as a source of socio-cultural information about the country of the language being studied (Nordquist, 2019).

There exist various approaches of defining the notion of culturally marked language units. Markovina and Sorokin determine nationally-specific components in the vocabulary of certain culture as follows:

1) stable elements of culture that comprise traditions, customs and rituals performing the function of unconscious inclusion in the dominant system of a given culture;

2) traditional household sphere;

3) everyday habits of representatives of a certain culture also include certain norms of communication established in the society, its mimic and pantomimic codes represented in the behaviour of a particular linguo-cultural community;

4) national world’s view that reflects the peculiarities of the world’s perception achieved by representatives of a certain culture;

5) artistic culture that comprises the cultural traditions of one ethnic group (Markovina & Sorokin, 2010).

Types of culturally marked language units

Researchers define three groups of culturally marked language units:

  • connotative vocabulary comprise words with dual semantics that can be referred both the material and emotional spheres. For example, the Russian name of a fish “roach” possesses its equivalent on the emotional level with regards to the characteristic of a female appearance. When the Russians call a woman using the word “roach’, they mean her thin, unfleshy composition which fail to attract the male attention (Metelskaya, 2012).
  • non-equivalent vocabulary include lexical units that do not have direct equivalents in the target language. This group of lexical units is made of words and speech patterns that reflect the realities of the the community’s history, their specific way of life, socially-oriented concepts and names of objects. For example, the English word “lockdown” doesn’t have its equivalent in Russian or Chinese. In such cases it is necessary to pick up one similar language word that is mostly identical to the notion.
  • background vocabulary include designations of objects and phenomena that possess lexical equivalents in the compared languages but also comprise some national meaningful features. Particularly, the Chinese word "敌人" refers to its English equivalent as "enemy", but regarding to the Chinese culture, it assumes someone who opposes the current political system in China.

The purpose of cross-cultural knowledge in communication

Knowledge of cross-cultural semantics comprised in the marked vocabulary units of a certain lingua-culture provides an opportunity for the speaker to immerse into a foreign culture smoothly and fluently. The semantics of cross-cultural communication is generally obtained at the level of sensation which is based on the subconscious level, or at the level of nationally stereotyped behaviour. Cross-cultural communication is a field of scientific research devoted to the study of people’s mutual understanding alongside their national, geographical, ethnic, professional, class, gender, dialogue and cultural interaction.

Knowing cross-cultural background of a language is indispensable during the process of communication. As a matter of fact, the perception of a foreign language statement is accompanied by the delimitation of culturally marked units among the unmarked ones. This mental procedure serves for the purpose of better understanding of the committed foreign language discourse, correct interpretation and use of vocabulary in speech activity, proper combination of submitted linguistic and extralinguistic components of communication.


Communication is heavily coloured by personal perception. Its efficiency depends on the rate of basic cultural patterns which are shared among the interlocuters. Every culture is made up of national and international units. The implementation of cross-cultural communication involves the development of a new language code and a new way of mental expression by which the national culture is identified.

The meaning of cross-cultural marked units has been investigated on the basis of connection which is set between two fields of expression, i.e. linguistic and extralinguistic realities. Their unity is manifested in the ability of a language to reflect in itself all the features of the surrounding environment, the history of its people and artistic features of their culture.

Summarizing the stated material a number of factors related to the cross-cultural markedness can be identified:

  • Culturally marked units are characteristic way of thinking of a certain lingua-culture which serve the way of perception of its representatives.
  • Culturally marked units are represented through linguistic and extralinguistic means of communication.
  • Culturally-marked units represent one nation’s culture and traditions.
  • Culturally marked units tend to comprise historical, religious, political, economic spheres of one lingua-culture.

Culturally marked units reflect psychological characteristics of one nation’s identity.


  • Eremin, V. V., & Nevzorov, B. P. (2013). Intercultural communication: organizational and content structure. World science, culture, education, 1(38), 123–126.

  • Geikhman, L. K. (2003). Interactive learning to communicate as a model intercultural communication. Bulletin of Moscow State University. Linguistics and intercultural communication, 3, 138–147.

  • Haspelmath, M. (2006). Against markedness (and what to replace it with). Journal of Linguistics, 42(1), 25–70.

  • Karasik, V. I., & Sternin, I. A. (2005). Anthology of Concepts. Paradigm.

  • Khachak, F. D. (2017). Cross-cultural analysis of borrowed vocabulary (based on the texts of Ramazan Trakho). Humanitarian and Social Sciences, 2, 187–193.

  • Markovina, I. Yu., & Sorokin, Yu. A. (2010). Culture and text. Introduction to Lacunology. Geotar-Media.

  • Metelskaya, E. V. (2012). The image of a person in the English and Russian substandard linguocultures. Pyatigorsk State linguistic university.

  • Nordquist, R. (2019). Markedness: marked and unmarked forms in language.

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23 December 2022

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Volkova, M. V., Kalikova, A. M., Tastemirova, Z. K., Bespalova, J. E., & Molchanova, E. E. (2022). Cross-Cultural Markings Of Communication In Modern Times. In D. K. Bataev, S. A. Gapurov, A. D. Osmaev, V. K. Akaev, L. M. Idigova, M. R. Ovhadov, A. R. Salgiriev, & M. M. Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Knowledge, Man and Civilization- ISCKMC 2022, vol 129. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 576-582). European Publisher.