In the article, “Time Talks, with an Accent’, author Robert Levine explores cross-cultural contrasts in the idea of time, called ‘social time’. He discovers that this concept includes the components of waiting, rushing; being early or late; as well as the past, present and future. He chose to be a professor of social psychology so that he could manage his own time. While teaching in Brazil, he discovers the concept of amanha, which signifies that everything that can be postponed, should be.
He observes that not one clock in the city of Niteroi is accurate and students arriving to his class are casual about when class began and ended, which contrasts with how Americans relate to time. Levine has numerous mishaps with amanha during his stay. When he consults his department chair about the issue, she arrives late for their appointment. His students come and go to appointments without reason. Levine then tries to use what he has learned about amanha when his landlord runs late. Levine runs an errand and misses the appointment and angers the landlord for keeping him waiting.
Levine concludes that the understanding of time concepts are a part of larger, cultural values. He outlines the work of Edward Hall, a social anthropologist whose work focused on what he called the ”the silent language” (30) of time, which is unspoken, yet easily learned by children. Understanding this silent language is vital for the success of a foreigner living abroad. Since his time in Brazil, Levine has focused on the concept of punctuality and its effects on the health of people and society. He has found great diversity in the concept of time, among cultures and within countries.
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