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Intercultural Communication and Dialogue Competence:

By Stephen Holmes

Abstract

“The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It’s getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That’s how we know we’re alive: we’re wrong. Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride. But if you can do that—well, lucky you.” (Philip Roth 1997: 35) In his novel American Pastoral, Philip Roth’s protagonist, in his frustration in getting a right understanding of the main characters, announces that life is about getting it wrong. For me this means that we cannot escape the tenuousness of trying to understand a person or situation deeply. We use past knowledge and frames to somehow get it right. But the more we investigate the person or situation the more complex our communication and interaction become. Past knowledge and frames are fictions in our minds as we attempt to communicate, operate with and under-stand the person (people) across from us, getting it wrong again and again, correct-ing it and hopefully making it more coherent and creative. This is what this article is about, that is, the question of how and to what extent can various fictions like frames, metaphors and communication and operational styles contribute to synthesizing and synergizing two forms of practice: (mainstream) intercultura

Year: 2009
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