Presentation on theme: "Cultural awareness zWhat’s the meaning of these colours in the Chinese context? What kind of implications do they have? zRed, white, black, yellow, blue."— Presentation transcript:
Cultural awareness zWhat’s the meaning of these colours in the Chinese context? What kind of implications do they have? zRed, white, black, yellow, blue zWhat’s the meaning of these colours in the English speaking world? zRed, white, black, yellow, blue
Cultural awareness and common errors in English LAI Fungkuen, Eva The Chinese University of Hong Kong Compliments zCompliments are intended to create a positive effect on interpersonal relations and English speakers confirm solidarity with the previous speaker by agreeing with their assertion, e.g. A:It’s getting a bit chilly today. B:Yes, it’s dropped to 15 degrees. zLeech’s (1983) Politeness Maxim states that people agree with the speaker and their response to an utterance is an agreement to it. Leech’s Modesty Maxim, on the other hand, states that in some eastern cultures including the Chinese culture, people try to avoid self-praise.
Politeness Maxim and the Modesty Maxim zCher (2001) reported a research showing 46% of Chinese used non-agreement or scale- down type of responses to compliments while only19% of British people used this kind of response. On the other hand, 50% of the responses to compliments of English speakers are of the agreement type while only 25% of the Chinese falls into this category. This can be explained by looking at the conflict between the Politeness Maxim and the Modesty Maxim. When there is conflict, the Chinese take modesty as the overriding maxim and they tone down or reject the compliments. But the English speaking people treat agreement as polite and they accept the compliments readily.
An example of the differences between the Chinese and the English speaking people regarding the Politeness Maxim and the Modesty Maxim. After a class observation, the visitor said: It was really wonderful, very good indeed. Chinese teacher: I feel embarrassed, showing off. English speaking teacher: Thank you. I am so glad you liked it. zEven after a short meeting, English speaking people would thank their new friends, e.g. It was a delight to meet you and share your vitality, enthusiasm and knowledge. Thank you for taking the time to meet with us. I would have liked to spend more time with you, and learn more about your work. Next time. I’m back now, in a cold, bleak-looking Auckland.
A Chinese way in taking compliments. zHere is the well-known joke about a Chinese lady’s rejecting compliments. zA Chinese lady went to a dinner party where foreign guests were present. She was wearing a very nice Chinese dinner dress and some English speaking friends greeted her with compliments when they met her. z“Hello, Lily. How nice to see you again! You look really very beautiful!” z“Oh, where? Where? “( 那里, 那里 ! She translated the Chinese disagreement directly into English.” z“Oh, …everywhere.” (The English speakers were puzzled by her response and hesitated a bit before answering taking the question literally.)
Points for Chinese learners to note zWhat should we say when English speaking people praise you then? Just say Thank you nicely. Or you can return the compliment, “Thank you. You’re looking gorgeous too!” If people praise you for something you have done, you can say, “Thank you. I am so glad you like it.” zAnother area of cultural awareness is to do with offensive statements/ acts. For the Chinese, being old is good and is respected. So the word old is used freely. For English speaking people, they consider age something private and has nothing to do with being respected or not. We should not ask others their age. In fact, they avoid using the word “old” and call old people “senior citizens”.
The Politeness Maxim for disagreeing zThe Politeness Maxim in terms of agreeing to an earlier statement also plays a role in discussions when people reject points raised. Instead of expressing disagreement straight away, English people would say something positive first like this: z“That’s a very interesting point, but given the economic downturn, it may not be a good idea to implement such drastic changes.” z“You have a valid point there and I can go along with you to a certain extent. But I’m afraid the young people do not like dark colours these days.”
Errors made by Chinese learners zAn analysis of texts produced by Chinese learners of English shows that the rate of errors is 0.06 and in general it is declining as the learners’ proficiency level becomes higher (Gui, 2001). It would be useful if teachers pick out the common errors and explain to students the proper usage to help them get rid of them. They can then communicate more effectively in English. The rest of this paper is to explain how some common errors can be eradicated.
A little story to share zFirst, let me share a true story with you. A teacher was annoyed that her Secondary One students were very much below average in English standard. She exclaimed, “They don’t even know the 26 alphabets!” zAs a matter of fact, this teacher had made a mistake herself. There is only one English alphabet and it consists of 26 letters. The problem lies with the misguided translation : alphabet = 字母表 and letter = 字母.
Common errors among learners zIf our teachers as well as our students can get rid of common errors, then native English speakers can understand us better and communication will be more effective. The following list of common errors come from Chinese learners of English. The errors occur because of direct translation from Chinese to English, a wrong concept or insufficient exposure to English. What’s the difference? zMind your head. zMind your business vs Mind your job?
See the difference? zThe sign “Mind your head 小心碰頭 ” on a bus is used to warn tall passengers not to bump their heads against the stairs or the door. But if our learners say “Mind your job” meaning “ 小心 工作 ” then it is completely wrong. We do have “Mind your business”, but not “Mind your job”. Mind your business means 少管閒事 as in “Mind your business, and keep your nose out of mine!” Is this correct? z “Please teach me some listening skills, for example, which word in a sentence should be concentrated on.”
English words with the same Chinese translation A student asked me to teach him some listening skills. He said, “Please teach me some listening skills, for example, which word in a sentence should be concentrated on.” Here he should say, “I don’t know which word I should focus on when I listen to an English sentence.” The word concentrate 集中 is more often used like this: zWith so much noise outside, I can’t concentrate on my work. In a shopping centre in a Chinese city, there’s a notice which reads Notice the security! 注意安全 ! Can you see how wrong it is?
Funny may not be “funny” zAn office worker once told me, “I in charge the Finance Department, but it is funny that our Department has only two people which has already included me.” The mistake here is that “in charge” is not a verb. There must be a “verb to be” to go with it. The sentence should be ““I am in charge of the Finance Department.” The latter part of the sentence should be “It is funny that there are only two people in our department including me.” The word “funny” is often wrongly used and hence we have to be particularly careful. In the previous sentence, “funny” means 古怪 more than anything else. But “funny” can mean these: zThat’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. ( 有趣 ) zI feel a bit funny today—I don’t think I’ll go to work.( 不舒服 )
Funny vs interesting Some learners get confused between “funny” and “interesting”. They wanted to praise someone’s presentation as 有趣 and said, “Your presentation is funny.” But the listener would be offended if he/ she interpreted that to mean 古怪 which was not the intention. It is better to say: zYour presentation is very interesting. Thank you. zTransport or travel yThe transport time for home to office is 40 minutes. * zRest room or Common Room yIf there is a rest room for staff to eat their lunch, it saves time.* zMy English is not well. vs My English is not good.
Happy, sad, bitter, unhappy Some students don’t know the opposite of “happy” 樂 and say bitter 苦. But it should be “unhappy” or “sad”. Happy: zShe is a happy girl as she enjoys life. Unhappy: zI am unhappy about the new house. It isn’t what I expected. Sad: zHis death has made us all very sad. But the word “bitter” shows a different kind of 苦, for example, Failing the university entrance examination was a bitter disappointment. He pushed Sarah out into the bitter cold.
Some more easily confused words: z Another example of this kind of error: “Except the Youth Centres, our Recreational and Cultural Department also sets up many sports programmes for young people.” z Here the student thought “except” meant 除此之外, but it should be “In addition to managing Youth Centres, our Recreational and Cultural Department also sets up many sports programmes for young people.” Try to fit the meaning in : (strange) (dishonest)(amusing) He told us funny stories and we all laughed. I had a funny feeling that something had gone wrong. There was some funny business going on here.
Can you detect any errors in the following? A final year student wanted to apply for a job and he wrote as the start in his application letter: z“Having attended the recruitment talk, your company impressed me a lot and I would like to apply for the post of management trainee.” Here is a very common error even among native speakers. The phrase “Having attended the recruitment talk,” must be followed by the subject of the sentence. Here the student attended the talk, not the company and hence it should be “Having attended the recruitment talk, I was most impressed by your company…..”
Check and see: z“The mother tongue of Hong Kong people are Cantonese.” Again many students get confused and they thought that after people we should use “are”. But in fact, it should be “The mother tongue is Cantonese.” “of Hong Kong people” tells us a bit more about the mother tongue. zA managing director from a company wrote to our centre with this sentence in the last paragraph: I will be in Hong Kong between the 7 th to the 11 th of April and hope that your Director can find time to see me for 30 minutes in order to equate myself with your centre and discuss equipment trends in Hong Kong. “to equate myself” = to acquaint myself?
See the difference? zStill on semantics, we have to be very careful with English words, no matter how simple they may look. For example, once a student said “Serve you right” to praise his friend because he thought it meant 為你的服務是對的. But in actual fact, this saying is very negative and it means 活該 or 抵死 in Cantonese. zAnother pair that can easily confuse Chinese learners is “at last” and “lastly”. While “at last” can mean 最後, it has the additional sense of 終於, but “lastly” means 最後 in a series of steps. For instance, zNow at last attention is turned to the real problem. zLastly, check that the four layers are firmly in place.
See the difference? zGreat Many urban areas had not really benefited to any great extent. Tiger Woods is one of America’s great golfers. zLarge A large family needs a large house. Obviously what is helpful and what is unhelpful depends to a large extent on the circumstances of the situation. zBig He’s big enough to go out without his parents. The time has come to find a solution to prevent Britain becoming one big, dangerous rubbish tip.
See the difference? zGive A third and important principle is that you should give yourself plenty of reward for your success. zGive out There are radiators in the attic but they do not give out much warmth. The band used to give out their addresses and phone numbers without hesitation. Her patience finally gave out. zPoint out Then you can write a piece for me which will point out the problems. zExpress Mrs Singh had already expressed alarm at the number of notes she was going to have to write to the school. zExcuse zEach student has a separate excuse for not doing homework. zBut there is no excuse for school textbooks to contain gender-biased language. zknowledge zFrom experience comes knowledge. zDid the children gain a deeper knowledge and appreciation and love of the mass?
See the difference? zIdea ‘I'm terribly sorry, but I really have no idea what you're talking about.' However, most of the time we have little or no idea what action results from articles in the Journal, or whether members would prefer other ways of getting involved. zView There are indeed certain aspects of the marriage system of such societies which support this point of view. Their view tended to be that they were always `ready for action'. zOpinion In my opinion another hopeful tendency in contemporary music in Russia is connected with using rich theatrical traditions and avante garde art from the beginning of the 20th century. zImpression Well, that's the impression I get, listening to you talk.'
A very common error in Hong Kong learners I suggest to go to the Guest House for our meeting. Often they will suggest calling in other experts such as structural engineers or woodworm/damp specialists. We will suggest that these functions are still performed to an impressive and significant degree. May I suggest that your readers lobby their MPs on this subject? I suggest this as a purely private exercise.
Would you mind? zWould you mind to check the schedule first? Would you mind telling me where you have just been, and where you are going?' Would you mind answering some questions? Would you mind if I had the piano tuned? In fact, would you mind if I postponed the coffee just a few moments more?'
Can you recall what errors we talk about in the following? zAt last, Eva Law presented a souvenir to Prof. George. At last at last it's reached you. I feel that at last justice has returned to the Happy Valley. Lastly, there are the libraries at the colleges, ranging from Oxford and Cambridge to the most recent mergers of teacher- training and technical colleges. She then sorts all the vests and folds them up and puts them in the box, then the pants, then dresses and lastly cardigans.
Can you detect any errors in the following? zNotice in a hotel during the SARS outbreak: During this period, for the safety of all our guests, all staff and visitors and all public areas are being disinfected regularly. zAdvertisement in UK newspapers right after SARS: Hong Kong will take your breath away. zAdvertisement in HK newspapers for a teacher: King’s International School Two Year Old Class Teacher zOn the shop window: Sale 50% UP 半價起
An interesting advertisement x)There was a beautiful poster with fireworks displayed over the Victoria Habour and the description went as follows: Hong Kong will take your breath away – intended to mean 香港令人目不暇給. xBut unfortunately, this poster was put up when Hong Kong was experiencing SARS with everyone putting on masks everywhere they went. So the sentence Hong Kong will take your breath away could take its literal meaning 香港令你窒息 x) On the Chinese highway: 歡迎再次光臨 –Welcome the next time
The 5C Principles in business communication zConcise: use plain English, get rid of irrelevant information or unnecessary sentences. zClear: give concrete information as far as possible, don’t use jargons, use conversational sentences. zCourteous: be polite and considerate, do not use words that can be offensive to some people zComplete: provide all necessary information for the readers to take action, answer all questions the clients asked zCorrect:check spelling, grammar, usage and tone to make sure the text is appropriate for the situation, check numbers and dates to make sure they are accurate
Turning negative “we” to positive “you” writing zI want to send my congratulations on your success. zWe will ship your December 1, 2003 order today. zWe don’t refund if the returned item is dirty and not salable. zTo avoid further delay and inconvenience, we are sending this report by Speed Post.
Read these and see how you feel zCongratulations to you on your success! zYou should receive the 20 copies of The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language you ordered December 1 on or before December 30, 2003. zWe refund when the returned item is clean and re-salable. zTo enable your to get this report as soon as possible, we are sending it by Speed Post. zTry this: zThis information is being sent to you now so that we will avoid later misunderstanding about how our university works.
This letter has violated all the 5C Principles. Rewrite it: Have you emptied your safe deposit box? If you have, sign the enclosed cancellation form and return it with the keys to the box. If you are using the box, send us your cheque for $400 to pay the rent from December 1, 2003 to November 30, 2004.
Now take a look at this. How does it compare with yours? This is just a reminder that the rent on your safe deposit box has expired. If you wish to use the box for another year, please send in your cheque for $400. You will then be paid up to November 30, 2004. If you have no further use for the box at this time, just sign and return the enclosed form with the keys. Whenever we can help you with any of our other customer services, please let me know.