Material Information

Visual Language and Cross-cultural Interpretation of Images
Bargoot, Alexandra
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Advertising campaigns ( jstor )
Cross cultural studies ( jstor )
Cultural universals ( jstor )
Global communication ( jstor )
Globalization ( jstor )
Graphics ( jstor )
Images ( jstor )
Intercultural communication ( jstor )
Language ( jstor )
Visual communication ( jstor )
Intercultural communication
Visual communication
Undergraduate Honors Thesis


Over the last fifty years, with the development of television and shifts to pictorial advertisements, visuals have come to the fore-front of the world’s methods of communication. Therefore, understanding how people communicate through images is increasingly important. Globalization, by way of technology, has increased people’s international communication in all fields: be it academic, business, or consumerism. However, language still divides us. Visuals have been looked upon as a way to express ideas outside the confines of language to allow information to be communicated universally across cultural and lingual barriers. In this paper, I will explore the roots of visual communication by examining how meaning is ascribed to images by a viewer in order to establish whether or not images have the power to be an effective medium for cross-cultural communication. To make this evaluation I will be analyzing images across the genres of advertising, religion, symbols, international icons, symbolic languages, and architecture. In order to determine the feasibility of the idea that a visual can be an effective means of communication across cultural and language boundaries, the following questions must be asked: Is there a universal visual language with which to interpret images and is one needed for visuals to communicate successfully cross-culturally? While these concepts seem reasonable, when analyzed, the idea becomes less viable. Visuals are constructed with a purpose: whether for an argument or to communicate information. There is always a specific audience at which it is targeted. Consequently, a visual effective in one society is most often not effective in another outside the cultural context in which the visual was originally created in and for. Full pictorial languages have been also conceived as a way of breaking language barriers. I argue that they are not, nor are the majority of constructed images. This is because the interpretation of an image occurs by the visual’s association with elements preexisting in the culture. The image is constructed using culture and so it needs that same culture to dissect it. There is not a deep enough global culture which would satisfy the needs for images to be an effective means of cross-cultural communication. ( en )
General Note:
Awarded Bachelor of Arts; Graduated May 7, 2013 summa cum laude. Major: English
General Note:
College/School: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
General Note:
Legacy honors title: Only abstract available from former Honors Program sponsored database.
General Note:
UF Honors Program sponosored database

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Copyright Alexandra Bargoot. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requir