Do you ever find yourself among people who speak a language that you don’t understand? Or, maybe the attire is not familiar to you? And the style of the buildings and decorations appear unusual? In these situations, you don’t have to be a genius to realize that you are in another culture!

The first layer of culture, Signs & Symbols, is what the experts call ‘material culture.’ This includes the things that are easily observed – the art, tools, architecture, symbols, and the language that is spoken.

When it comes to how people think, feel, behave and see the world, Signs and Symbols are the tip of the iceberg. They express the deeper values, beliefs and Worldview.

Questions to ask to detect Signs and Symbols:

  • What do people consider beautiful? What is the art like?
  • What is the food like?
  • Describe the language they speak and communicate in.
  • How are typical homes laid out? How are they furnished and decorated?
  • Describe the way people dress. How is their dress practical? In what ways does dress classify people in the society?
  • How is common space treated?