LIN2CCC & LIN3CCC — Intercultural Communication Assignment Two ‘Address Terms’ Due by 5pm on 21 April. Before beginning this assignment, you should complete HH&K Task C2.2.2 and C2.2.3. Essay Example
Intercultural Communication: Address Terms
Culture and language are intimately related. Language is the transporter of culture. Through language, culture is mirrored. Language contains deep cultural undertones. Cross-cultural communication and interactions has grown to be a habit in the world over. It is essential to understand cultural variations and parallels to take part in efficient cross-cultural communication.
A major challenge is understand and making use of address terms in a foreign language milieu. Norris (2001, p. 253) posits that, for non-native language learners, attaining control over address structures engages the attainment of the available pragma-linguistic outlines, the socio-pragmatic system connecting some forms with background variables and a capacity to organize both kinds of understanding in language exploit. An improper selection of the address terms hampers communication linking the speaker and the receiver. This is particularly critical in cross-cultural frameworks. Address terms are a fascinating facet of sociolinguistic researches. The address terms signify “a speakers’ linguistic position to his or her collocutor (Braun, 2008, p.7). How a person addresses others most times discloses social and interpersonal relations. In addressing people, addressees stir up individualities, form and define relations like close, distant, personal or professional, peers or rank-differentiated among others (Fitch, 1998, p.34). Address terms do show a colorful connection linking language to culture, alongside showing idiosyncratic traits of a people culture (Tang, 2004, p. 28). In view of this, this paper discusses the dissimilar use of Chinese and Australian address terms from the aspect of common address terms, and examines the dissimilar cultural features of the address terms in the two cultures. The paper also discusses the Ghanaian common address terms and how they differ with or conform to the Chinese and Australian terms.
Differences in Common Address Terms
Common address term is a language term used by individuals to address each other in various verbal communication forms. They are a significant element of the social interaction decorum, and they uphold, reinforce, and even launch all sorts of interpersonal relations. The variety of address terms entirely mirrors the social relations of power and parity amongst a people. The change of address terms represents the transformation of their feelings and relations, when individuals meet for the first time.
Usage of Common Address forms in China
Chinese general address terms have altered greatly in line with the social and political circumstances (Chen Yu, 2004, pp.75-76). In the 20th century, when Chinese people met for the initial instance, regular address term was ‘Comrade’ (Tongzhi), which has changed to present day ‘Mr.’, ‘Miss’ etc. ‘Tongzhi’ mirrored the identical principles and class of the Chinese people and was initially used to address comrades sharing political principles in the revolution. The term can be employed on its own to address a person, or with the persons surname or title. E.g., if a person was named Wang Li, you might he can be addressed as Tongzhi i.e. “Comrade”, Wang Tongzhi (Comrade Wang) or Wang Hongping Li (Comrade Wang Li). ‘Master’ (shifu), was also used to address a skilled worker and later also a member of the working class at the time. Influenced by the foreign cultures, general address terms in China have slowly changed. Presently, ‘Tongzhi’ is no longer extensively used, particularly amid young Chinese who to use the term to mean gay.’ Master’ is still employed to address a strange person in some parts of China. Recently, Teacher (lao shi) + surname” has gained popularity as a reverential and polite address term. The Chinese address term ‘Comrade’ is all right in English. However, terms such as ‘Teacher Wang’ and “Master Liu” are Chinese English words that are unacceptable in English. Recently, in line with China’s reorganization and opening up, the use of address terms have changed progressively in line with international standards. Both domestic and global popular address terms, when persons meet each other for the first timers are ‘Mr.’ and ‘Miss’.
Usage of Common Address Forms in America
A formal setting, in the Australian continent, addresses a man as ‘Mister’ (Mr.), a married woman as ‘Misses’ (Mrs.) and ‘Miss’ as (Ms) for unmarried women alongside the last name or surname. The term ‘Miss’ is at times used alongside both names such as Miss Jane Smith in Australia. Recently, people address a young woman whose name they do not know as ‘Miss.’ This observation mirrors the youthfulness that women want to believe they have all the time and the society exploits that (Du, 1999, p.18). In Australia, many women prefer to be addressed by the term ‘Ms.’ or ‘M.’, pronounced as ‘miz’. In Australia, if individuals known each other well (e.g. colleagues, students, neighbors, etc) can address each other by the first name. This appears sociable and informal. Elders or superiors are often addressed by their first names and this is not in contempt but reflects an equivalent association. It common nowadays to hear Australians, when meeting for each other and exchanging names for the first time, say «Call me Kewell / John etc.”
Usage of General Address Forms in Ghana
In many communities, the sense of accomplishment or social position is emblazoned in general address terms as posited by Gilman and Brown’s (1961, p, 12). People in Ghana exploit them. The observation revealed that these terms were of two groupings: western-leaning and non-western address terms.
The western terms consist of recognized scholarly titles and unscholarly address terms. The non-western terms include those employed prior to the materialization of western learning in Africa. Commonly in formal settings western-oriented titles are western terms such as Mr., Mrs., Professor, Doctor, Pastor, Reverend, Father, and Madam among others are used. Although not very common, address terms such as Alhaji (a gentleman who has went for a pilgrimage) Sheik (‘teacher’ or ‘educated person’ male, Opanyin (‘Elder’), kyerɛ or nyi (‘teacher’), Owura (‘Lord’), Ebusuapanyin (‘chief’), Nana (a grandfather, chief, or simply a respectful term and hembaa (queen mother), etc). The non-western address terms reflect the social organization of the Ghanaian people prior to colonialism, Christianity and Islam. The western form is generally similar to the American address term system.
In Australia, it is common, for people to address each other by surnames or first name. Two Australian young man and woman who have just known each other for a short while would call each other by their respective names. This is very normal. However, for the Chinese people, this is seldom observed. In the cases, it does occur, and two Chinese people address each other by respective names, the phenomenon goes outside the general conformity with social rules. E.g. if a young woman was named ‘Tang Chunli,’ and a young man named ‘Chuntao Zuping’ both have to know each other quite well to address each other by their names. In fact, a Chinese observer will think that their association was so intimate that they are perhaps lovers. As such, if an Australian male addressed Wang Chunli as “Chunli” in line with the Australian customs, he will be misconstrued, and the Chinese woman will feel discomfited since if a person addresses another one by their name in Chinese culture, it demonstrates that the two are very close. However, when Americans address each other with the surname, it does not indicate that they are close or even respectful. A Chinese would not be comfortable using the names to address the Americans, and there would be a communication hurdle. Americans and Ghanaians rarely address each other by the full names. The Ghanaians use terms that depict the social status of the collocutor(s) but also seamlessly switch to the American system easily depending on the situation. The will find it easier to address each other with Americans, but the Chinese will have problems addressing them.
Due to these variations, Chinese will generally not feel comfortable addressing Americans and Ghanaians using their system since it might be indicative of intimate relationship. However, the Chinese might find it easy using the non-western Ghanaian forms. Americans might think that if a Chinese is adamant on using the surname, it shows a reluctance to be sociable, and it creates a gap amid them. However, in speaking with people from a different cultural background, it is better if one tries to modify their use of address terms so as to accommodate to other’s expectations and norms.
Braun, F., 2008. Terms of Address: Problems of patterns and usage in various languages and cultures. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Brown, R., and Gilman, A., 1968. The Pronouns of Power and Solidarity. In: J. Fishman, ed. Readings in the Sociology of Language. Berlin: Mouton Publishers.
Chen, Y., 2004. Cultural Differences of Sino-US Address Forms. Journal of Zhongzhou
University, (7), pp.75-76.
Du, X., 1999. A Comparison on Sino-English cultural Customs. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, pp.42-45.
Fitch, K.L., 1998. Speaking relationally: Culture, communication, and interpersonal connection. New York: Guilford.
Norris, J., 2001. Use of address terms on the German-speaking test. In: K. R. Rose, and G. Kasper. Eds. Pragmatics in language teaching (pp. 248-282). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Tang, X., 2004. Politeness Standards and Pragmatic Failures of Address forms in Intercultural Communication. Foreign Languages’ Teaching, (10), pp.11-14.
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