ハイコンテクスト文化 v.s ローコンテクスト文化

  • 2012.01.13

みなさんは、ローコンテクスト (Low context) ・ハイコンテクスト (High context) という言葉を聞いたことはありますか?



ハイコンテクスト文化として代表的な国は、日本・韓国・中国・アラブ圏・イタリア・ギリシャ・ロシアなどが挙げられます。一方、アメリカ、ドイツ、スイス、北欧(アイスランド、スウェーデン、デンマークなど)は、ローコンテクスト文化と言われています。 ローコンテクスト文化の特徴は、異なるバックグラウンドを持つ人々が多く共存していること、ハイコンテクスト文化は単一民族である傾向があります。




Have you ever heard the words “low context” and “high context”?

Context here is used as a measure of cultural back ground. When you refer to a “high context culture”, it means a culture where everyone shares and understands common concepts, whereas in a “low context culture” members share few common concepts and prefer to express things specifically. In other words, you don’t need to voice what other members are presumed to know from context in a high-context culture. However, in a low-context culture, the listeners can’t rely so much on context to understand what you say, so you can’t expect them to understand without specific information.

Typically high-context cultures include Japan, Korea, China, Italy, Greece, and Russia and so on. Typically low-context cultures include America, Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavian countries (such as Iceland, Sweden, and Denmark). One of the features of low-context culture is that many people from different backgrounds coexist in the society. High-context cultures often tend to be mono-cultures.

Here is one example, the sentence “Please give up these seats to those who need them.” When we are on a train, we can easily imagine exactly who “those who need them” refer to. But in a low-context culture, you need to define “those who need them”; i.e., the elderly, the handicapped, the pregnant and passengers with infants”

If you experience communication problems with your foreign colleagues, you might need to think about this. Next month I will give some tips on how to deal with such situations.