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DESIGNING FOR A JAPANESE HIGH-CONTEXT CULTURE: CULTURE'S INFLUENCE ON THE TECHNICAL WRITER'S VISUAL RHETORIC

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Date Issued:
2005
Abstract/Description:
This thesis analyzes the challenges technical writers face when designing documents for high-context cultures, such as the Japanese. When developing documents intended to cross cultural gulfs, technical writers must take into consideration cultural expectations, preferences, and practices in document design and communication. High-context cultures, such as Japan, design documents using drastically different design strategies than those used in the United States. Japanese communication habits are more ambiguous than communication in the United States. Thus, the Japanese often use visuals for their aesthetic appeal, not for their ability to complement the text that surrounds the visual. The ambiguous nature of high-context culture communication habits often pose problems when Americans try to communicate--whether through written or oral communication--with a high-context audience. Without careful analysis and research into these cultural implications, the technical writer risks developing unsuccessful documents that do not accomplish the goals of the communication. It takes years of research to understand cultural differences, especially in the case of Japanese communication habits. With the research presented in this thesis, technical writers will understand better how to address document design issues when designing for high-context cultures in general and the Japanese culture specifically. In order to effectively analyze document design strategies across cultures, I have collected documents from two cultures--from the United States and from Japan. These two cultures represent a low-context culture, the United States, and a high-context culture, Japan. The United States and Japan are opposite each other on Edward T. Hall's cultural continuum, providing ideal subjects for a cross-cultural document design analysis. Using previous research in document design and cultural studies, I have established a grid for analyzing visual elements in the documents I have collected--full color automobile sales booklets. I analyze both high- and low-context documents against this grid. The various document design grids allow for visual representation of document design decisions in both cultures. American international technical communicators can use these grids as a starting point for addressing the cultural implications of document design for high-context audiences. The research presented in this thesis shows that high- and low-context cultures use visuals much differently. Readers, in both cultures, are persuaded differently by visual elements. By exploring and analyzing the use of visuals such as photos, diagrams, line drawings, and the way both cultures use visuals to approach their audiences, this thesis attempts to present an explanation of visuals in high-context cultures that will aid American technical writers who design documents for international audiences. This thesis uses Japanese cultural analysis and Japanese design theories to explain high-context design decisions applied to Japanese documents.
Title: DESIGNING FOR A JAPANESE HIGH-CONTEXT CULTURE: CULTURE'S INFLUENCE ON THE TECHNICAL WRITER'S VISUAL RHETORIC.
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Name(s): Carpenter, Russell, Author
Flammia, Madelyn , Committee Chair
University of Central Florida, Degree Grantor
Type of Resource: text
Date Issued: 2005
Publisher: University of Central Florida
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: This thesis analyzes the challenges technical writers face when designing documents for high-context cultures, such as the Japanese. When developing documents intended to cross cultural gulfs, technical writers must take into consideration cultural expectations, preferences, and practices in document design and communication. High-context cultures, such as Japan, design documents using drastically different design strategies than those used in the United States. Japanese communication habits are more ambiguous than communication in the United States. Thus, the Japanese often use visuals for their aesthetic appeal, not for their ability to complement the text that surrounds the visual. The ambiguous nature of high-context culture communication habits often pose problems when Americans try to communicate--whether through written or oral communication--with a high-context audience. Without careful analysis and research into these cultural implications, the technical writer risks developing unsuccessful documents that do not accomplish the goals of the communication. It takes years of research to understand cultural differences, especially in the case of Japanese communication habits. With the research presented in this thesis, technical writers will understand better how to address document design issues when designing for high-context cultures in general and the Japanese culture specifically. In order to effectively analyze document design strategies across cultures, I have collected documents from two cultures--from the United States and from Japan. These two cultures represent a low-context culture, the United States, and a high-context culture, Japan. The United States and Japan are opposite each other on Edward T. Hall's cultural continuum, providing ideal subjects for a cross-cultural document design analysis. Using previous research in document design and cultural studies, I have established a grid for analyzing visual elements in the documents I have collected--full color automobile sales booklets. I analyze both high- and low-context documents against this grid. The various document design grids allow for visual representation of document design decisions in both cultures. American international technical communicators can use these grids as a starting point for addressing the cultural implications of document design for high-context audiences. The research presented in this thesis shows that high- and low-context cultures use visuals much differently. Readers, in both cultures, are persuaded differently by visual elements. By exploring and analyzing the use of visuals such as photos, diagrams, line drawings, and the way both cultures use visuals to approach their audiences, this thesis attempts to present an explanation of visuals in high-context cultures that will aid American technical writers who design documents for international audiences. This thesis uses Japanese cultural analysis and Japanese design theories to explain high-context design decisions applied to Japanese documents.
Identifier: CFE0000372 (IID), ucf:46336 (fedora)
Note(s): 2005-05-01
M.A.
Arts and Sciences, Department of English
Masters
This record was generated from author submitted information.
Subject(s): english
technical writing
international technical communication
technical communication
document design
visual language
visual rhetoric
culture
visual culture
japan
high-context
low-context
documentation
document design analysis
document design rubric
cross-cultural communication
visuals
communication
Persistent Link to This Record: http://purl.flvc.org/ucf/fd/CFE0000372
Restrictions on Access: public
Host Institution: UCF

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