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Understanding Cultures Through Key Words

Travel Forums General Talk Understanding Cultures Through Key Words

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1. Posted by Wocca (Inactive 3745 posts) 11y

Is there a very close link bewteen the life of your society and the "special" words spoken by it?

2. Posted by ukmassage (Inactive 1052 posts) 11y

in british english 'thanx', 'please' and 'sorry' - but often politiness is artifitial, formal. Better that than nothing.

in some languages (japanese and probably other east Asian) different words and grammatical structures are used depending to whom you speak (your social status in relation to their). It serves more preservation of social stratas than anything else and prevents from expressing your true feelings/intentions.

3. Posted by Wocca (Inactive 3745 posts) 11y

Do we have any Japanese-speakers / students that can contribute to this forum?

4. Posted by moonschein (Budding Member 41 posts) 11y

also, a culture's descriptive words will show what's important to them: I've heard that the Alaskan Natives have something like 20 words for "snow" and the Brazilians have 15 words for "Beautiful"--most very specific: ex. "linda"= "natureally beautiful" "Chica" "Richly beautiful (as in spiritually).

(I'm better with people than numbers, so I've guessed the numbers, but I remember it was something in those areas...)

5. Posted by newguy (Full Member 197 posts) 11y

Quoting Wocca

Do we have any Japanese-speakers / students that can contribute to this forum?

I am not a Japanese but i spent a month in Tokyo so do allow me to offer an outsider view.
I believe Japan is the only country to have it as an official language and even though the language has alot of Chinese characters incorporated in the 'kanji'- non roman version, i find it highly idiosyncratic.
For example, my Japanese host will say 'Ohaiyo gozaimasu', which is good morning. But he shortens it to 'Ohaiyo' when greeting his close friends. For us Chinese, a 'Ni Hao' applies to all and sundry. My host tells me that they employ full polite expression as a sign of respect or simply a lack of familiarity.
Another quirky observation is how staff at restuarants like to yell 'irashimashe' at the top of their voice when u enter the premises. But u quickly know the word means WELCOME when u see them bowing to u.

6. Posted by Wocca (Inactive 3745 posts) 11y

Quoting Jared

For example, my Japanese host will say 'Ohaiyo gozaimasu', which is good morning. But he shortens it to 'Ohaiyo' when greeting his close friends. For us Chinese, a 'Ni Hao' applies to all and sundry.

The shortening of phrases could be just a touch of linguistic laziness, which is also done in English & Chinese.

In English, "thank you" is shortened to "thanks". The Brits shorten it even further to "ta". "Hello" is often reduced to "hi", particularly by Americans.

In Chinese, "xie xie" is often only said as "xie" ("thanks").

I'm sure the same must apply in other languages as well.

7. Posted by mtlchica (Respected Member 922 posts) 11y

Quoting moonschein

the Brazilians have 15 words for "Beautiful"--most very specific: ex. "linda"= "natureally beautiful" "Chica" "Richly beautiful (as in spiritually).

So I guess my nickname would mean montreal richly beautiful

I find that using shortened words or slang is equated with being young, casual or uneducated. Saying "thanks bunches" is a more youthful saying (which I find myself using to regain my youth, lol), and saying "that ain't right" is just not proper grammar. In a professional setting, most people say "hello" as oppsed to "hi" and so on.

I find the phrase "how are you?" is over-used and just filler....most people will answer "fine" even if they feel awful. If I'm meeting someone for the first time at/for work and they ask me how I am, I'm not going to say "well, I've been working a lot, so I'm tired, and I just got a parking ticket, etc, etc." I also find that most of the time the people asking how you are don't really care either way. It's just there to make people look good. Ok, that was my little how-are-you rant.

Cheers,
Katie ;)

8. Posted by Wocca (Inactive 3745 posts) 11y

English is fast becoming China's second language. When asked "How are you?", children are taught to automaticaly reply, "Fine. And you?"

Whenever I ask young or mature adults, "How are you?"; they reply "Thank you", because they are genuinely flattered by someone taking a personal interest in them. Of course, most of the time I am only being courteous (by western standards).

9. Posted by ukmassage (Inactive 1052 posts) 11y

yes, it's a nice greeting - if I am more interested to dig someones head I would ask 'how is live' or 'how is it going' to have an honest reply and strike a conversation.

all languages have this form - but I don't think the answer comes learned from the language book (as in english).

10. Posted by BritHockey (Full Member 34 posts) 11y

Quoting mtlchica

I find the phrase "how are you?" is over-used and just filler....most people will answer "fine" even if they feel awful.............

I think the superficial use of "how are you", like at a supermarket checkout is downright rude. (A) They don't really care how you are, and (B) they don't want to listen to a reply unless it is "fine, and you?"

But that is my anti-corporate, anti-superficiality view.