Language Barriers and Communication Problem Analysis

Subject: Linguistics
Pages: 4
Words: 1119
Reading time:
5 min
Study level: College


Communication is a form of socialization. It is a necessary component of daily human lives. The term “communication” refers to transmitting information between a source and the recipient (Van Ruler, 2018). The most prevalent means of communication is language, which is critical in assisting individuals in developing relationships. On the other hand, language remains a barrier to conveying messages to individuals in the age of globalization. As discussed in this paper, language problems are a typical stumbling block in a variety of professional and social settings.

Types of Language Barriers

Good communication is vital in today’s globalized world to develop ties among individuals. However, research suggests that effective communication is unquestionably hard to accomplish because it occurs in different mediums (Nwabueze & Mileski, 2018). Language can act as a bridge for communication and an obstacle that inhibits individuals from sending clear and correct communications. Miscommunication due to the language barrier can cause serious ramifications such as disasters, conflict, and violence among those involved.

Language barriers can occur in many forms with varying impacts on communication. The most prominent obstacle to communication is a language barrier, whereby two persons using two different languages cannot converse with one another. Consider a British citizen who travels to Japan. The individual does not speak Japanese, and the majority of Japanese individuals do not speak English. As a result, when the individual talks, the communication is ineffective since the other individual does not comprehend what they are saying.

The dialects and accents of people from different locations vary although they share the same language. While the languages are essentially similar in persons who speak with distinct accents and dialects, the connotations, inferences, and translations of words vary, which can cause many problems (Buarqoub, 2019). For instance, if an Irish individual speaks to a Yorkshireman, they will not comprehend most of what the other individual says, although they all speak English. In Ireland, the terms bacon and ham are interchangeable, whereas, in England, they are distinct.

A similar example can be drawn from individuals who speak pidgin. Pidgin is the condensed language used by individuals who do not share a common language (Tamariz, 2017). Similarly, the meanings of phrases and words can confuse. For example, modern generations are known to use chat abbreviations such as “IKR,” meaning “I know, right,” “IMO,” meaning “in my opinion,” and others. Older generations can find these abbreviations challenging to interpret when used in formal communication settings, such as email correspondence. People unaware of their meaning can interpret them in whichever way they wish, hence causing misunderstandings.

Jargons are slang terms for technical terms that are applied in communication. It could vary depending on an individual’s job profession and technical sector. Doctors and attorneys, for instance, employ unique technical terms. If they begin to converse, neither of them will understand what the other is saying. Some jargon, such as modus operandi, a term often used by lawyers and police to imply a mode of operation, or BP, a term used by medical professionals to denote blood pressure, may confuse individuals, not in the profession. Slang, on the other hand, renders communication useless. The usage of the term “weed” to denote marijuana, for example, can create a barrier for those who are unfamiliar with the colloquial connotation.

Sometimes, individuals have a limited lexicon in a given language, while others have an extensive lexicon. Apart from formal education, there are many ways through which an individual can acquire new vocabulary. Individuals can expand their lexicon through studying and engaging in activities that interest them. When an individual utilizes the language as an informal language, their lexicon is likewise reduced. Similarly, linguistic competence refers to an individual’s capacity to communicate in a specific language. When an individual with strong diction and linguistic competence converses with someone with poor diction and linguistic skill, the latter will be unable to grasp the terminology used, resulting in a misunderstanding of the entire discourse.

Spelling and grammar can be a language barrier because individuals from various world regions use them diversely, even within the same term. Likewise, in written correspondence, spelling and grammatical errors create a significant miscommunication. For instance, an individual might type “gaol” instead of “goal.” Since “gaol” is grammatically correct, the device’s grammar and spelling editor does not flag it as incorrect. However, the term might change the entire interpretation of the phrase or make it incomprehensible. Such are among the main reasons for communication breakdowns due to linguistic limitations. There are numerous more explanations, such as language impairments, noise, location, or the usage of analogies or figurative language, all of which can be classified as physical or physiological obstacles (Buarqoub, 2019). Sometimes, language obstacles can be addressed by training or other techniques such as translation, interpreters, language schools, visual approaches, and others. In contrast, others might cause problems throughout an individual’s life. These obstacles must be removed for communication to be effective.

Specific factors like a person’s style of speaking can also cause language barriers. Individuals who speak softly or in a low voice are difficult to understand. The source may be conveying a particular message, while the listener may be hearing different things. Individuals may have difficulties comprehending the content of the information and the response although they speak the same language. Thus, this could also be a communication stumbling block. Moreover, all efforts to communicate verbally can be hampered by the use of impolite or vulgar language (Buarqoub, 2019). When no one speaks one’s native language or any other language one is familiar with, conversing in a strange country might be difficult. Similarly, not understanding the meaning of certain terms used by the locals might be frustrating. Even when they try to communicate in English, one may find some of what they say offensive.


Communication is a two-way process, and to complete it, both parties must provide detailed and unambiguous information. As illustrated in the essay, language barriers are contextual issues that develop in the sending or interpreting a message into thoughts and phrases. The language barriers examined in the discussion are among the most significant impediments to good communication. While some may occur inadvertently, often they result in errors and mistranslations that distort the original message. People tend to believe that language barriers typically describe the problems that two persons using different languages experience when communicating with one another. However, as exemplified in the discussion, this is not always the case as language barriers can occur between people speaking the same language. Overall, communication barriers cannot be eradicated because they occur in different contexts. The ideal way of avoiding communication problems is using language that the receiver can understand and crosschecking texts to identify grammatical and spelling mistakes.


Buarqoub, I. A. S. (2019). Language barriers to effective communication. Utopía y Praxis Latinoamericana, 24(6), 64-77.

Nwabueze, U., & Mileski, J. (2018). Achieving competitive advantage through effective communication in a global environment. Journal of International Studies, 11(1).

Tamariz, M. (2017). Experimental studies on the cultural evolution of language. Annual Review of Linguistics, 3, 389-407.

Van Ruler, B. (2018). Communication theory: An underrated pillar on which strategic communication rests. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 12(4), 367-381.