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The Connection between Language and Culture


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The Connection between Language and Culture

As a communication consultant specializing in cross-cultural communication, I am well aware of the importance of understanding any given culture and its roots. Fostering trust and a business relationship over time requires knowledge of the other person’s local culture, and not just the ability to speak in a common language. I’ll take it one step further and say that languages develop according to cultural needs, and so reflect them as well.

This being the case, how is it possible that most people learn another language without learning the culture it represents?

The close correlation between language and culture means that even when you understand the other person’s language, you don’t necessarily have the privilege of understanding his or her cultural norms. Israeli culture, for example, includes direct, informal dialogue. Israelis tend to speak spontaneously, with little understanding of the importance of word choice and diplomatic phrasing.

The Hebrew language has only about 70,000 words, whereas English boasts approximately a million words. With fewer words to choose from and consequently fewer nuances in the language, it also might take several sentences more to convey the same idea in Hebrew than in English.

The American, British, Canadian and Australian cultures place a much higher emphasis on details than Israeli culture, as the rich English languages enables and reflects a focus on precision. For example, when saying in Hebrew that something is great, excellent or wonderful there is a much smaller vocabulary to choose from, as Hebrew lacks equivalents for the English options of magnificent, terrific, stupendous and so on.

Hebrew is constantly adopting non-Hebrew words. With the technological developments of the past decades, many Israelis have simply added English words to their lexicon. Words such as CD, laptop, deadline, chip, roadmap and others have become part of the Hebrew language. In the global community, business people especially seem to prefer international terms over words coined locally by the Academy of the Hebrew Language.


Anyone interested in better understanding Israeli business culture, its roots and characteristics, is invited to purchase the book Israeli Business Culture on Amazon. This practical book combines background information with real-life anecdotes and recommendations for good cross-cultural communication.

Read more about the author of the book and the blog, Osnat Lautman, and the services offered by the company OLM Consulting at the website

OLM Consulting Founder

Osnat Lautman is a well-known intercultural expert and the author of the Amazon bestselling book ‘Israeli Business Culture’. Osnat is passionate about cultures, connecting humans and breaking through culture barriers. She created the ISRAELI™ model of Israeli business characteristics (Informal, Straightforward, Risk-Taking, Ambitious, Entrepreneurial, Loud, Improvisational) to reveal the foundations of the Israeli innovative culture. Osnat supports many organizations and individuals to effectively connect and engage with Israelis, avoid misunderstanding and maximize the value of combining the innovative Israeli spirit into a multi culture environment.

Osnat is the founder of OLM Consulting and her customer include the Manufacturers’ Association of Israel, The Jewish Agency, Verint, NYU Tel Aviv, the British Embassy, the Swedish Embassy, the Belgium Embassy, FIDF, Israel Defense Ministry delegation in New York, JCC Association, National Bank of Australia, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 888 Holdings, Corning, SkyVision, ObserveIT, MX1, Israel Export Institute, StartApp, Tel Aviv Municipality, and many others.

Osnat lived in Hoboken, New Jersey, from 2009 to 2013. During this time, she started her extensive research on the differences between Israeli and non-Israeli business cultures, including video interviews with businesspeople from numerous origins. The recorded discussions are incorporated into her lectures and workshops for demonstration purposes.

Osnat holds:
M.A in Social Science and Communications, Bar Ilan University, Israel
Certificate in Organizational Development, New York University, New York
Coach License from Co-Active Training Institute, Israel

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