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Intercultural Perspective: Politeness And Cultural Differences (Essay Sample)


Discuss how politeness varies across cultures, focusing on 2-3 cultures of your choice. Illustrate your discussion with examples

Intercultural Perspective Discuss how politeness varies across cultures, focusing on 2-3 cultures of your choice. Illustrate your discussion with examples Contents TOC \o "1-3" \h \z \u Introduction PAGEREF _Toc510878671 \h 3Politeness and Cultural Differences PAGEREF _Toc510878672 \h 3American Culture PAGEREF _Toc510878673 \h 4British Culture PAGEREF _Toc510878674 \h 5Chinese Culture PAGEREF _Toc510878675 \h 6Conclusion PAGEREF _Toc510878676 \h 7References PAGEREF _Toc510878677 \h 8 Introduction Being polite is a gentle gesture of being considerate of other people, cultures, places or anything that is relevant to someone else. It is an attempt to make sure that you are considering any situation from the perspective of other people and not doing anything that falls into the category of being rude to other people or hurts their feelings in any way. It is a sociological requirement for all people to be polite towards others since it fulfils the conditions of being a healthy and constructive social participant CITATION Hua08 \l 1033 (Huang, 2008). Additionally, being polite to others provides people with an opportunity to get connected to others and develop a healthy bond. When it comes to polite behaviour, these tendencies can vary on a cultural basis. Something that is polite in one culture might be impolite in others, leading to cultural diversity and differences. With more and more international travels and countries connecting with each other through globalisation, the necessity of being mindful of other cultures became more crucial CITATION Nai18 \l 1033 (Naiditch, Liontas, & DelliCarpini, 2018). This paper will analyse the various concepts of politeness across three dominant cultures, e.g. American, British and Chinese. Some fundamental discrepancies in the ideas of politeness will be considered in detail, and the last section will provide concluding remarks. Politeness and Cultural Differences Alred (2013) argued that cultures across nations can differ on a smaller to a broader extent. With the rise of globalisation, there have been efforts and real-time changes occurring in cultural integration of the world. However, there are some core concepts that are still different across countries. It has been argued that the politeness principles for each country vary to some extent no matter how close these countries are. The idea of politeness is popular among the sociological domain where cultures and their concepts of politeness across cultures are studies. It has been observed that by the level of differences between two cultures, the ideas surrounding politeness also vary from a small to a broader scale. It is possible that something is highly desirable in one culture while in another, it is a highly controversial matter. With that into account, it is interesting to see how these differences in politeness take place in a social context and tend to change the behaviours of people CITATION Bre131 \l 1033 (Bredella, 2013). Regarding cultural differences and politeness, many things can lead to these alterations ranging from how people talk and approach others, what kind of faces they make when they talk to others, how their body language aligns with what they are trying to do and how the behaviour varies person to person. In a broader perspective, it is mentioned that it is about being mindful of oneself and the society around you and making sure that the risk of conflict and offensive behaviour is minimised. One thing that should be kept into account is that the differences between cultures and politeness do not only vary culture to culture and might be affected because of the geographical distance between two locations. For instance, there are instances when something considered in one part of the same culture is considered rude in another. It usually applies to the rural and urban areas when in a rural part of a country, something is considered polite while in the urban locality of the same culture, it can give an entirely different impression CITATION Byr10 \l 1033 (Byram, 2010). American Culture For this analysis, three cultures are considered including the American, Chinese and British, and their concept of politeness regarding communication are analysed. American culture is considered to be one of the most candid cultures in the world. Haugh & Chang (2015) argued that the way people communicate with one another and use various verbal and non-verbal signs to convey a message to another person is classified as freestyle and comfortable. Since America is the most diverse country in the world with a good number of people migrated from other cultures (70% white and the rest of 30% from other locations), there is a high level of adaptability seen in the country which makes it more exciting to be analysed. Regarding languages, there is no official language in the country because of a large number of people is from other cultures. However, English is used as a primary medium of exchange, and the majority of people communicate in English CITATION Anu10 \l 1033 (Anundale, 2010). There is no particular class-based system in the US, and by law, all citizens are treated equally with a high penalty for acts of discrimination. The ways of communication are very straightforward in the US, and something that might be impolite in many countries can be considered very reasonable over there. For instance, something that makes the communication culture of the US is the name conventions. In many cultures, certain family members are called with specific names or terms that are specifically for these people. However, that is not the case in the US and everyone especially friends, family members and colleagues are called by their first names. It applies to people of the same age group and older people as well. Calling people by their nicknames is also common in the culture, and it is entirely okay to tangle up someone’s name if you are close enough CITATION Cha102 \l 1033 (Chang & Haugh, 2010). Eslami (2015) mentioned that for a meet and greet, people can introduce others by their full name no matter how much age difference they have and taking someone’s name is always considered polite. For example, even students in the country would call their teachers by their names with a salutation in front of it while in another country, it might be considered rude whichapplies to other formal settings. There are lesser boundaries regarding personal space in the US. For example, it is normal for people to give high five to other, shake hands and even hug if they know each other and this applies to opposite genders as well. However, the strictly respect others’ personal space and are not very physical in general as that is considered impolite if you do not know the other person very well CITATION God12 \l 1033 (Goddard, 2012). They, however, are tended to ask direct questions to other people, and it is a typical gesture in their culture while the other person has complete choice to answer or not. British Culture British culture is different compared to the American one, and many factors are responsible for this discrepancy in behavioural tendencies. Addressing someone in the UK is different than what it is in America or China and mostly, first introductions are gender-based, e.g. Mr and Mrs Jane Doe, etc. It applies to a formal setting as well when there is always a salutation in front of the name while in America, just the first name might be used no matter the gender or the occupation of the person. Regarding calling people in terms of their family relationships, America and the UK are somewhat similar while China is different CITATION Lee131 \l 1033 (Leech, 2013). In England, everyone older in the family is called uncle or aunt, same as the US while in China, specific relations have specific names assigned to them. For example, the master is ‘shi fu’, ‘da bo’ is the eldest brother of the father, ‘er jie’ is the second elder sister while third elder brother is called ‘san ge’. British culture does not have that much categories, and usually, there are uniform salutations for a large number of people CITATION Yin09 \l 1033 (Yin, 2009). It is stated by CITATION Hin091 \l 1033 (Hinkel, 2009), meeting with someone for the first time is very formal in the UK, and people make sure to be verbally polite to others. Phrases like good morning, good evening, thank you, sorry, see you soon and good luck are very common in standard conversion. British people are also used to complementing people in front of others while the person at the receiving end accepts the compliment with thank you CITATION Hau06 \l 1033 (Haugh M. , 2006). Additionally, gender differences are not very prevalent in the UK as they are in China. A man can compliment a woman on her look if they know each other while in China, it might be considered as a taboo and can be regarded as flirting and impolite. This is something that the UK has in common with the US where compliments to the opposite genders are not considered as offensive CITATION Bro162 \l 1033 (Brown & Lensinvon, 2016). Chinese Culture The linguistic approach of China is different from many other countries in the world. With a significant difference in languages, traditions and cultures, the way Chinese people communicate with each other is different compared to how they talk about American or British culture. In the Chinese culture and communication, the concepts of modesty, warmth, and refinement are given much significance compared to other nations. People are always considerate of other’s feelings whenever they say something and asking questions is a very refrained practice since people want to ensure that they follow the rules of politeness, personal space and hospitality. One of the very basic communicational rules in China is the connection between the levels of education and politeness. As opposed to the American culture, in China, it is consid...
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