Autism friendly cultures and languages?

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TechnoMathPunk
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30 May 2022, 12:26 pm

For those that travel, live abroad or even moved within their own country. Do you feel like there are cultures, languages or dialects that are more autism friendly than others?

I for example feel like I like living in Northern Germany, especially in Berlin. The German spoken here is very clean with very few variances in pitch. The local dialect is OK, it softens some harsh letters like the 'g' which makes it very pleasant. It also is a very direct and honest dialect, which makes it easy for me to understand. In terms of culture overall people are very direct and openly say what they think. People keep straight faces and the language does not seem to force them to mimic a lot. There seems to be lot less context for me to miss (since I miss it, I can't really measure the scope of what I am missing, but I am approximating by how they respond to my responses).

Other German dialects like Swiss German for example are very unpleasant to my ear. They have a very high variance in pitch and there are a lot of throat scratching sounds. They also move their mouths to extreme positions. The modulation of voices has high variances, some voices are shrill, some are pressed, some flutter and some Swiss dialects seem to imitate cows while other imitate chickens. Swiss culture is very very indirect and there always seems to be a spiderweb of context associated with everything they say, which makes it very hard for me to understand what people want. People there react very badly to me.

I heard people from the Netherlands are the most direct in Europe. I met some and I liked them being blunt, but there seemed some negotiation about hierarchy associated with their blunt bantering, which I was not able to follow.

For a while I liked Japanese culture a lot. But their indirectness gives me meltdowns. It seems like Japan would be a great place for Autists to self-isolate because people would simply leave you alone based on your foreignness.

Recently I took a liking to Greek. It is a very melodic soft-spoken language with beautiful words and a wonderful usage of soft 'th' sounds.

In general I like English a lot. It does not seem to be very self-referential and is a solution and message oriented language.

What are your experiences? Are there any cultures, languages or dialects you prefer or dislike? Did you move because of that?

I am sorry should I offend you. Please understand that I am speaking my mind and have no concept of being offended and why one should be.



Last edited by TechnoMathPunk on 30 May 2022, 12:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Radish
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30 May 2022, 12:34 pm

I love the French language, particularly the written form of old French. Jules Verne's classic 20,000 leagues under the sea being a particular favourite. I lived in France for ten years and the culture is quite different to the UK. The French have a passion for bureaucracy and form filling and employing people doing useless jobs, e.g. filling in forms to pass on to others to further fill in and pass on and lose then start the process all over again. I did find most French people very friendly though but a bit too physical when greeting - our French neighbour's wife would always greet me by planting a kiss on my lips! Never got used to that. At least her husband just gave me a handshake! :lol:


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TechnoMathPunk
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30 May 2022, 12:47 pm

Yes, I can relate to that, I also speak French. It was and still is a very hard language to learn, as some wordings and formulations are very different from the Germanic family of languages.

I also read Verne in French and I loved the multiplicity of words. I had to use a dictionary for every second sentence but I experienced the manifoldness of words as exciting.

I also noticed their absolute love for bureaucracy when living there for a short while. It seems like bureaucracy for French people makes the world orderly and regulated, almost like religion does for some. Not unlike Germany, maybe it has do with both countries having a long history of monarchism. This trait seems to contradict the popular notion of French people being spontaneous and easy-going. They seem to have a good sense of humor though, because their interactions always involve some light hearted bantering to soften the tone of the conversation. Something I perceive as pleasant and I was told by French people that they would like my dry humor (which wasn't meant humoristic at all).

The French always seem to have a highly cultivated and complex script to express politeness and respect. Something I do not find easy to follow and replicate. Though its strict codification I would consider to be Autist friendly and reliably replicable once you invest the energy to internalize it.

Interestingly I have grown to like physical interactions, as they are non-verbal and easier for me to evaluate a person's composition. I love hugs. Sweaty handshakes is the stuff of darkest nightmares and I vividly still remember every single one I received in my life.



magz
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30 May 2022, 1:09 pm

My first thought was Germany, for its culture of being direct, literal and predictable.
I'm also okay with my culture (Polish). Contrary to some stereotypes, Poles are generally accepting, especially to individuals. You don't have to e.g. pretend to be an extrovert when you're an introvert. I learned about the eye contact problem when I was researching ASD as an adult - in my own culture, there's no pressure for it, you just come out as shy if you don't make it.


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TechnoMathPunk
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30 May 2022, 3:43 pm

You are right, there is a lot of predictability to German culture. That can be agreeable, as long as it does not border on social rigidness by always having a too clear idea of what is normal and acceptable and what not. There still is a high level of importance on authority and hierarchy in Germany. That part is very difficult for me as I have no understanding of neurotypical authority. I have many questions regarding authority. I find hierarchy is a hindrance to human progress and it shows in many areas in German society.

I have made pleasant experiences with Poles. I find the language is soft-spoken and toned down. And you are right, I have the impression that introversion is a trait that seems more accepted. Does that stem from an higher acceptance of the culture of Intellectualism in Eastern European countries? I have the impression.



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31 May 2022, 7:58 am

I have difficulty with strict hierarchies, too, and I think I would have a big problem living in a society attaching high value to it.

I don't know where the acceptance for introversion comes from. I think Polish culture is - contrary to stereotypes that even we have about ourselves - generally tolerant to diversity. Only we don't find it a virtue so we don't virtue signal it.
The stereotypical introverts of Europe are Fins. I don't know about intellectual culture of Finland but their sense of humor is weird. I like it.


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temp1234
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01 Jun 2022, 4:11 am

I believe English is very autism-friendly.



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01 Jun 2022, 11:36 am

High-context and low-context cultures

Quote:
Hall and Hall proposed a "spectrum" of national cultures from "High-Context cultures" to "Low-Context Cultures.[19] This has been expanded to further countries by Sheposh & Shaista.

Some recognized examples include: Higher-context culture: China, India, Korea, Japan, other Asian countries, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritania, Oman, and Yemen, African countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Nigeria, Latin America, the Pacific islands, France, Greece, Finland, Ireland, Italy, and Russia. In the United States, Native Americans and Hawaiian islanders are also considered high-context. Lower-context culture: United States, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, Canada and other European nations.[20][21]

English is a very autism friendly language compared to the Chinese (and a bit of Japanese) that I am familiar with.
Even though I have a handicap in mastering a non-native language, I am still happy that English and not Chinese have become the dominant language in the world.


But culturally, English culture, especially British culture, doesn't seem to be very autism friendly.
There seems to be a tendency for the concept of words to weaken in English, so that some less extreme compliments sometimes become de facto criticisms.
The impression I've heard is that Polish tutors, for example, give fairly straightforward criticism when needed. But you need to guess whether the encouragement of the British tutor is genuine or a tactful critique.

But this is relative to other low context European cultures/languages. English is still fairly autism friendly. You'll encounter more nightmares about irony, overly flexible grammar, and ambiguity in East Asian languages.


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magz
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01 Jun 2022, 11:57 am

SkinnedWolf wrote:
But this is relative to other low context European cultures/languages. English is still fairly autism friendly. You'll encounter more nightmares about irony, overly flexible grammar, and ambiguity in East Asian languages.
I think it may be a different cultural trait: in most West European cultures (and English-speaking out-of-Europe cultures), there is a pressure to "stay positive", so negative messages have to be communicated through indirect channels.
Poles don't have a cultural pressure to avoid negativity, which makes us comfortable communicating bad news directly.
BTW, that's something I recently heard from an Ukrainian refugee: that she likes it about Poles that we "don't say that everything will be okay, we say things the way things are".


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01 Jun 2022, 12:55 pm

magz wrote:
BTW, that's something I recently heard from an Ukrainian refugee: that she likes it about Poles that we "don't say that everything will be okay, we say things the way things are".

The international student I heard gave a similar assessment.

That stern Polish tutor got her thesis high marks...after her extensive revisions.
And she nearly failed that subject from a British tutor who offered few direct criticisms.
magz wrote:
I think it may be a different cultural trait: in most West European cultures (and English-speaking out-of-Europe cultures), there is a pressure to "stay positive", so negative messages have to be communicated through indirect channels.

Chinese does not deliberately "keep a positive" culture.
Conversely, some approval is conveyed in a rather mean way.
When really using rich language to compliment someone, others may see it as a formal "performance"or flattery.

I've heard that there is a similar tendency to avoid direct expressions of affection in Russian culture.


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magz
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01 Jun 2022, 1:19 pm

SkinnedWolf wrote:
Chinese does not deliberately "keep a positive" culture.
Conversely, some approval is conveyed in a rather mean way.
When really using rich language to compliment someone, others may see it as a formal "performance"or flattery.
It struck me in some Japanese movies - it looked like in old Japan, sympathy had to be hidden, especially sympathy for someone low in the social order.

SkinnedWolf wrote:
I've heard that there is a similar tendency to avoid direct expressions of affection in Russian culture.
When sober.


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01 Jun 2022, 1:37 pm

I don't think any language or culture is really autism friendly.

People in Canada have a reputation for being more tolerant of other's differences... until you tell them what your favorite hockey team is. Or even worse, you tell them you don't care for hockey at all. You'll be lucky you survive.



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01 Jun 2022, 4:07 pm

lostonearth35 wrote:
I don't think any language or culture is really autism friendly.

People in Canada have a reputation for being more tolerant of other's differences... until you tell them what your favorite hockey team is. Or even worse, you tell them you don't care for hockey at all. You'll be lucky you survive.


:lol:



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02 Jun 2022, 4:59 am

SkinnedWolf wrote:
High-context and low-context cultures
Quote:
Hall and Hall proposed a "spectrum" of national cultures from "High-Context cultures" to "Low-Context Cultures.[19] This has been expanded to further countries by Sheposh & Shaista.

Some recognized examples include: Higher-context culture: China, India, Korea, Japan, other Asian countries, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritania, Oman, and Yemen, African countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Nigeria, Latin America, the Pacific islands, France, Greece, Finland, Ireland, Italy, and Russia. In the United States, Native Americans and Hawaiian islanders are also considered high-context. Lower-context culture: United States, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, Canada and other European nations.[20][21]


Israel seems to me to be an extremely low-context culture. That might help explain Middle Eastern history to some extent.


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02 Jun 2022, 5:08 am

Found some corroboration:

Quote:
Traditional Israeli Communication Style

Direct
Israelis are generally very direct and feel free to say what is on their minds in most situations. Indirect communication may be confusing and perceived as avoiding the true message.

Low Context
Words convey meaning and the message is to be taken literally. Communication style is constant and does not vary greatly by situation. However, because Israel has so many cultural groups, when working with Arab Israelis, for example, communication may be less direct and the way information is communicated may vary according to the situation and the relationship.

Informal
Israelis are generally very informal, but do expect some degree of formality when first meeting. People address each other by first name; casual dress in business is common; conversations can be casual and open, not relying on protocol or face.

Emotionally Expressive
Display of emotion is very common, and conversations between friends, colleagues and family members can become very loud and heated. This is not necessarily a sign of true conflict. Most Israelis believe it is healthier to release emotions rather than to hold them in. It is also a sign of being interested and engaged; staying cool and hiding emotions may be perceived as distant, uninterested and disingenuous.


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02 Jun 2022, 9:14 am

MaxE wrote:
SkinnedWolf wrote:
High-context and low-context cultures
Quote:
Hall and Hall proposed a "spectrum" of national cultures from "High-Context cultures" to "Low-Context Cultures.[19] This has been expanded to further countries by Sheposh & Shaista.

Some recognized examples include: Higher-context culture: China, India, Korea, Japan, other Asian countries, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritania, Oman, and Yemen, African countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Nigeria, Latin America, the Pacific islands, France, Greece, Finland, Ireland, Italy, and Russia. In the United States, Native Americans and Hawaiian islanders are also considered high-context. Lower-context culture: United States, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, Canada and other European nations.[20][21]


Israel seems to me to be an extremely low-context culture. That might help explain Middle Eastern history to some extent.

Popular theory believes that areas with concentrated ethnic groups in different cultures are easy to develop low-context cultures.
And high-context cultures context appears in a community with high cultural homogeneity. Typical examples such as China and Japan.
The Middle East is obvious is a multi-cultural blending area.

When you can expect that the other party has the same cultural background as you, a lot of content in the language (or other communication methods) can be omitted. This eventually formed a barrier to foreigners (and autism).
In English, although there are still a few expressions that I need to think about its metaphorical nature. But it is so accurate in most cases to try to adapt to different cultures. At the same time, this also reduces its information density.
You will find the opposite characteristics in Chinese.

This means that the learning cost of communication in a low-context culture requires a lower learning cost. It is a good thing for foreigners and autism.


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Cover your eyes, if you like. It will serve no purpose.

You might expect to be able to crush them in your hand, into wolf-bone fragments.
Dance with me, funeralxempire. Into night's circle we fly, until the fire enjoys us.