Verbal Communication (2)

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15 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 10 μήνες)

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Verbal Communication (2)

English and Chinese Languages

Cultural Differences in Verbal
Communication


In this part you are expected to understand some
commonly observed differences between English
and Chinese verbal communication and learn to
make cross
-
cultural comparisons and analysis in
the following aspects:


Cultural differences on lexical level


Cultural differences on syntactic level


Cultural differences on discourse level


EFL and language transfer


Cultural differences on pragmatic level

Cultural Differences
on Lexical Level

1. Types of Lexical Meaning


2 types: denotation and connotation.


Denotation
: the conceptual meaning of the
word that designates or describes things,
events or processes, etc. It is the primary,
explicit meaning given in the definition of a
word in a dictionary.


Connotation
: the emotional or stylistic
associations that a word or phrase suggests
in one’s mind. It is the implicit,
supplementary value which is added to the
purely denotative meaning of a word or
phrase.


Denotation and Connotation


Denotative meaning of the word “mother” is
“the female parent”.


Connotative meaning of the word “mother” is
the associations we usually have with the
word


“maternal love”, “care”, “tenderness”,
etc.


So we can have the sentence “the young
teacher is like mother to the kids”.

Meaning of Words


Personal. E.g. “ESL”, “EFL”


Cultural. E.g. “snow”, “moon cakes”


Cultural differences in lexical meaning occur
on both levels of denotative meaning and
connotative meaning.


2. Cultural Differences in Denotative
Meaning


Absence of referent in the speaker or
listener’s language



炕”,“节气”,“经络”,“大字报”,
“三讲”,“关系”,“太极拳”,“黄梅
戏”,“三纲五常”,“玉皇大帝”,“嫦
娥奔月”



privacy”, “Thanksgiving Day”,
“parliament”


For the sake of clarity and accuracy,
adequate explanation can be added in
translating such words.


Overlapping of denotative
meaning

叔叔

舅舅

姨夫

姑父



uncle

3. Cultural Differences in
Connotative Meanings


Words with same denotation but different
connotations


e.g. color words, animal words


Words with connotations in one language
but none in the other


e.g. plants like pine tree, bamboo, plum
blossom


e.g. numbers

Cultural Differences
on Syntactic Level

1. Paratactic Structure vs. Hypotactic
Structure


Parataxis (
意合
)

and
hypotaxis (
形合
)

are
two grammatical terms describing the ways
sentences are built up.


Parataxis: the arranging of clauses one after
another without connectives showing the
relation between them.


Hypotaxis: dependent relation or
construction.

Chinese

paratactic

English

hypotactic


明早还赶路呢,睡去吧。


Go to bed now as you’ll set out early
tomorrow.


快点儿,迟到了会挨说的。


Hurry up! You’ll be criticized if you are late.


生活费用不断上涨,许多人拿不出这笔开支。


The cost of living is rising and therefore
many people are having a hard time in
paying their bills.

Chinese

paratactic

English

hypotactic


听到有人说话,他赶紧将文件放回抽屉,拿
起桌上的报纸,疾步回到沙发上,假装读起
来。


Hearing someone talking outside, he
hurriedly put the file back into the drawer,
picked up a newspaper from the table, and
hastened back to the sofa pretending to
read it.


A Chinese Poem

枯藤,老树,昏鸦,

Crows hovering over rugged old trees wreathed

with, rotten vine

the day is about done.

小桥,流水,人家,

Yonder is a tiny bridge over a sparkling stream,

and on the far bank, a pretty little village.

古道,西风,瘦马,

But the travelers has to go on down this ancient road,

the West wind moaning, his bony horse groaning,

夕阳西下,断肠人在天涯。

trudging towards the sinking sun, farther and farther

away from home.

2. Bamboo Structure vs. Tree
Structure


English

tree structure


The notion of the tree structure suggest
that:


There is a basic structure


All other constructs sprout out from this
basic structure


The expansion of the branching constructs
does not affect the basic structure

English

tree structure

7 types of sentence patterns


SV


SVO


SVC


SVA


SVOO


SVOC


SVOA


They are running.


Our parents love us.


They worked very hard.


She was watching TV in the living room.


My friend sent me a New Year’s card.


I found the book very interesting.


We shall finish the work as quickly as
we can.

Chinese

bamboo structure


Chinese sentences are constructed like an
up
-
going bamboo, which means that:


There is not a basic structure or framework


The Chinese sentences are built up by
placing one word upon the other, one
phrase upon another or one clause upon
another


Without the rigid control of a basic
framework, the structure may change as
the sentence extends.

Chinese

bamboo structure


下雨了,快走吧,又该迟到了。


It’s raining already. Let’s go right away; or we’ll be
late again.


处处都有热心人。


You can meet kind
-
hearted people
everywhere./There are kind
-
hearted people
everywhere.


这件事我现在脑子里一点印象都没有。


I do not remember anything about it.

3. Left Expansion vs. Right
Expansion


As a result of the parataxis structure and
hypotaxis structure, the Chinese and
English sentences take different patterns in
their expansion:


The Chinese sentences tend to expand from
the right to the left with an open beginning
and a closed ending.


The English sentences tend to expand from
left to the right with a closed beginning and
an open ending.





给我买的书


我姐姐给我买的书


我过生日时我姐姐给我买的书


那是我过生日时我姐姐给我买的书


This is


This is the book


This is the book that my sister gave me


This is the book that my sister gave me on
my birthday.

CTP difference


The basic or remote reason for this difference of
left expansion and right expansion is the CTP
difference (Cultural Thought Pattern).


E.g.
第二次世界大战后,由于科学和技术发展进入
新时期,我们的生活发生了很大的变化。

E.g. Our life has been greatly changed thanks to
the new age of science and technology since the
Second World War.


Chinese

Background information + major
information


English

major information + background
information

Cultural Differences on
Discourse Level

1. Different Emphasis on Form


English writing put emphasis on coherence
and cohesion. (overt coherence)


Chinese writing put more emphasis on the
connection of meaning between sentences
and paragraphs; the formal connection
could be overlooked if the meaning is well
expressed. (covert coherence)

2. Different Style Preferences


Chinese students have been taught to use
many descriptive words and phrases,
especially four
-
character idioms, quotations
from well
-
known people, various kinds of
figures of speech, etc. to add strength and
beauty to their writing.


But simple language and plain style is what
English readers and writers take for good
writing in English except for literature
creations.

3. Different Ways of Organization


Chinese
. Influenced by the Chinese holistic and
cyclical pattern of thinking, the Chinese people
usually approach their themes from general
coverage to specific discussions.


English
. Characterized by the linear and rational
way of thinking, the native English users do not
develop their writing in a round
-
about way, instead
they get to the point at the beginning, starting with
the introduction of a topic or thesis, which is
developed by closely related supporting details.

Different Ways of Development


English essays follow a linear development which
is a forward movement of ideas from the general
to the more detailed.


Chinese essays develop cyclically, moving in a
circle, tending to come back or moving around the
first level instead of moving forward to more
specific details. Normally we resort to the historical
review, supposition, philosophical aphorism,
personal experiences, instead of on truth, facts,
evidence and statistics. This way of development
is usually regarded by native speakers as
underdeveloped or illogical and confusing.


Men used to think that earth was flat, but it
is a great ball.

It is not like a great tray but
a huge sphere sailing through the wide
spaces of the starry heavens.

If you walk
on its surface, it looks flat, but this is only on
its surface, it looks flat, but this is only an
illusion because you can not see enough of
the surface to see that it is really curved.

If
we could see the earth all at once, we would
see that it is really spherical, or rather more
like an orange flattened at the two ends that
are the poles,


Although the writer of the above paragraph
is good at wording, he cannot make the
paragraph move forward to specific details.
His topic sentence does not rest on the solid
factual base, but on supposition. The
problem of inadequate development is
repetition and supposition, with most
sentences circling around the first level. The
diagram of the paragraph is like this:








. By contrast, the same paragraph
should be well
-
developed by facts and
evidence, as in the revised version below:


Formerly, the earth seemed to men to be flat, it
seemed to stretch to the horizon and then stop
suddenly.


Hence they thought of the earth as a
huge table on which hung the sky like an inverted
bowl.


Scientist, however, noticed that when a
ship disappeared from the horizon, first its hull,
then its decks, and finally its masts were lost to
view. This seems to show the earth was at any
rate curved.


Then it was seen that it eclipses of
the moon, the earth’s shadow which passed
across the moon was always circular in shape.


Finally, in the sixteenth century navigation sailed
round the world and did not fall off the edge hence
men came to the conclusion that earth was really
a great sphere.

The development of the revised paragraph
is indicated in the following diagram:



General





Less general





Facts (analysis)





Evidence (specific example)


Different development in terms of
reasoning


Chinese

subjective


English

objective



The public opinion pendulum appears to be
swing in a direction beneficial to the field.
In a
1988
-
1989 survey of 430 U.S. students,
almost
one
-
quarter saw many perceived public attention
as more beneficial than harmful in it’s effects.
In
survey of 1257 scientists, in 1995, most of them
are found more optimistic, with more than half
viewing public attention as beneficial to the field
overall, fewer than one
-
fifth seeing more harmful
than beneficial effects.

Indirectness vs. Directness


Chinese like to resort to the review by
history instead of directly developing the
topic.


English speakers do not talk about history
and give comparison of the past and the
present.

Different development in the
structure used


Parallel structure



Taking part in sports can also help
improve study efficiency.
It can

give a rest
after a day’s hard work.
It can

make you
relax when you feel tired and broken
-
down.
It can

relieve the pressure you have in
studies. If you take part in sports regularly,
your study efficiency will surely be improved.

Revised version:



Taking part in sports can also help
improve study efficiency. One study shows
that people who take regular exercise suffer
less from anxiety and are able to work
harder. According to a medical report, 83
percent of the freshmen who had trouble
with studies were in bad physical shape.
And when they put into a physical fitness
program, their grades picked up more or
less.

Different Ways of Development



A brief summary


Paragraph development is a difficult and often
neglected part of both Chinese EFL teachers and
students. They pay special attention to how a
paragraph is organized instead of how a
paragraph is developed.


In fact, paragraph development is very important
as it is closely related to clarity, unity, coherence
of the writing as a whole.


To achieve clarity, unity and coherence, one
needs to stay away from the influence of first
language discourse patterns on writing in a foreign
language

EFL and Language
Transfer

Language Transfer


Language transfer
: the use of rules of speaking
of one’s own native speech community when
speaking or writing in a second language.


Transfer can be further divided into two kinds:
positive transfer

and
negative transfer
.


The former helps one understand the target
language and culture, working as a facilitator; the
latter working as a barrier interfering the writer with
the using of the target language and
understanding the target culture as well.

1. Semantic transfer


Transfer the rules of word
-
formation of
Chinese into that of English


雪花

snow flower


学习知识

study knowledge


谈恋爱

talking love


马马虎虎

horse horse tiger tiger


2. Syntactic transfer


Four
-
character phrase structure


Chinese use parallel or repetitive structures
that are characterized by the second part
repeating the first part both linguistically and
semantically.


E.g.
清白无辜,家喻户晓,勾心斗角,改头
换面,趾高气昂,四面八方,功成名就


While English speakers prefer phrases of
none repetitive structure.

2. Syntactic transfer


Verb phrases


E.g.
增加活力

strengthening the vitality


vitalize


Double
-
verb phrase


E.g.
发展壮大

grow and develop


grow


3. Discourse transfer


The first difference


English

direct, deductive or linear


Chinese

indirect, inductive or circular


The second difference


English

simple style


Chinese

flowery phrases or artistic style in
the form of metaphorical or proverbial
figures

Definitions


Language transfer
: Referring to the use of rules
of speaking from one’s own native speech
community when speaking or writing in a second
language.


Semantic transfer
: Transform both the form and
the meaning of the native vocabulary into the
lexical use of the target language.


Syntactic transfer
: Referring to the transfer that
goes beyond the lexical level. It takes place at the
sentence level.


Discourse transfer
: Referring to the transform of
discourse patterns of native language into the
target language.

Cultural Differences on
Pragmatic Level

Cultural Differences on Pragmatic Level


Addressing people


Invitation


Apology


Compliments


1. Addressing people


The first difference: names


Liu Yu

George Bush

Surname Given name

Given name Surname

Last name First name

First name Last name

1. Addressing people


The usage of the surname and given name in
English and Chinese can be summarized as
follows:



Chinese

English

Formal Relation
-

ship/Situation

Surname+Title

Title+Surname

Neutral Relation
-

ship/Situation

Surname+Title

Title+Surname

Given Name

Close Relationship
/ Informal Situation

Given Name

Given Name

1. Addressing people


The second difference: addressing family
members

1. Addressing people


The third difference:


Chinese prefer to address others by using their
titles, or occupation, such as
宋局长
(Director
Song),
高经理
(Manager Gao),
刘老师
(Teacher Liu)
in which the surname comes last in order to show
respect for the person concerned.


However, this custom is not totally applicable in
English in that only a few occupations or titles are
used before a person’s last name: Dr., Mrs., Miss,
Ms., Mr., Judge, Governor, Mayor, etc.

1. Addressing people


The final difference in addressing people
lies in the ways of getting the attention of a
stranger, or a person whose name we may
not know.


Chinese:
同志,师傅,大哥,叔叔


English: Excuse me, Pardon me, etc.

2. Invitation


3 features of “false” invitations in American
English:


Indefinite reference of time


No inquiry or immediate reply or decision


Usually marked with model verbs like
“must”, “should”, and adverbs indicating
emphasis of uncertainty of time like “really”,
“definitely”, “soon”, “one day”, “some time”,
etc.

3. Apology


Sometimes a Chinese may not seem polite
enough to English speakers and the English
speakers may seem too insincere to the Chinese.


Chinese do not make as many apologies as
English speakers, but they are more flexible in
giving and responding to apologies.


Interpersonal relationships on the scales of social
distance and power affect the frequency and
choice of strategies in apology
-
making for Chinese
people.

4. Compliments


Case 1


A young Chinese woman in the US was
complimented by an American woman for
the lovely dress she was wearing: “It’s
exquisite. The colors are so beautiful!” She
was pleased but somewhat embarrassed. In
typical Chinese fashion, she replied, “Oh, it’s
just an ordinary dress I bought in China.”

4. Compliments


Case 2


At a reception at an American college, Mr. Chen, a
newly
-
arrived Chinese scholar, was chatting with
the hostess. As an acquaintance of the hostess
approached, she said, “Ron, let me introduce Mr.
Chen, an outstanding physicist and one of the
nicest people I know.” Mr. Chen offered his hand
to the newcomer but looked at the hostess and
said with a smile, “Should I blush, or should I tell
him you don’t really mean it?”

Comments


In both cases, the words of the Chinese
conveyed a message quite different from
what was intended. In the first case, the
reply could have meant that the American
did not know what a really good dress is.
Otherwise, how could she get so excited
about an ordinary dress? The implication
was that the American woman’s taste in
clothing was questionable.

Comments


In the second case, if Chen had not been
smiling, his words could have been
interpreted as: “You’re just saying that to be
polite; you don’t really mean that.” So in the
first case, the implication was that American
woman had poor judgement, while in the
second one, the hostess was not sincere.
What a gap between that intention and the
message!

4. Compliments

The Semantic Formula


English compliments often contain one of a highly
restricted set of adjectives and verbs.


This was a
great

meal.


You look so
nice

today.


You did a
good

job.


I
like

your haircut.


I
love

your glasses.


I really
enjoyed

you class.


Of all the complimets, 80 percent are of the
adjectival type and 16 percent make use of verbs.

4. Compliments


The Semantic Formula


In Chinese, however, positive words expressing
compliments are mainly adjectives and adverbs.


裙子真漂亮。
Your skirt is very
pretty
.


这房间真不错。
This room is really
good
.


你进步很快。
You make progress very
rapidly
.


你待人真好。
You treat pelple
sincerely
.


Another linguistic feature of Chinese compliments
is that many of them begin with the pronouns “you”
or “your”, while in English compliments the
pronoun “I” (as in “I love it” and “I like it”) is more
frequently used.

4. Compliments

The Syntactic Formula


English compliments:


NP is/looks really (intensifier) ADJ (53%)


E.g. Your blouse looks beautiful.


I really (intensifier) like/love NP. (16.2)


E.g. I really like your wood floors.


PRO is really (intensifier) (a) ADJ NP
(14.9%)


E.g. That’s really a beautiful car.

Chinese Compliments


You V ADV (41%)


E.g.
你干得不错。
You did the job well.


NP (You) is (intensifier) ADJ (35%)


E.g.
你的外套真漂亮。
Your coat is really beautiful.


PRO is ADJ NP (9%)


E.g.
那是一台不错的电视机。
That’s a pretty good
TV.


PRO (You) V (deserve) O (5%)


E.g.
你值得称赞。
You deserve being honored.


I like NP (4%)


E.g.
我喜欢这幅画。
I like this picture.

Definitions


Speech act: An utterance concerned as an act by
which the speaker does something; An utterance
as a functional in communication. There are many
different kinds of speech acts, such as requests,
orders, complaints, promises.


Social distance: Personal and esp. emotional
separation resulting from difference in status of a
speaker in relation to the addressee.


Power: Ability to act or produce an effect.


Forms of address: Any of the distinct forms that
speakers must or will normally use to addressees
who are e.g. of different social standing or with
whom their personal relationships are different;
ability of members of one group to exert influence
over members of another group due to socially
constructed differences between them.