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"The reward of suffering is experience." - Papyrus

Behind the Terms of Address

  • Date Submitted: 01/03/2012 12:53 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 52.5 
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Something behind the Terms of Address

  The way that people address others has rich meaning and they vary significantly among different countries and regions. There are multiple factors contributing to the phenomenon, including the influence of history, politics and geography. The close relationship between language and culture is revealed explicitly and implicitly from the terms of address.
  Firstly, the addressing ways reflect different values and conventions people hold in distinguished forms of societies (e.g. capitalism and socialism). It is recognized that eastern societies are structured based on kinship, which is mainly presented through a hierarchy and collectivistic relationship (Scollon & Scollon, 1995). The Asian have been widely influenced by the Confucianism a thousand years ago, some vital concepts are still the basis governing people’s thoughts and behaviors. There is a strict set of rules that need to been taken into consideration when addressing others, in which the social status and the relationship among people may be the vital ones. For instance, in China, it is acceptable to call a person’s first name, nick name or putting 小 “junior” preceding his family name if he is younger than the addresser or in a lower social status. However, the proper way to address a person who has a higher social status is to add the title before his family name, e.g. Professor Smith or President Mather, which can indicate his social identity and show respect.
The protocol of addressing people in some other Asian countries, such as Japan and Korea, is much more complicated and rigorous than in China, which can be derived from the social deixis in their languages. They have distinct linguistic criteria for communication in different situations. Generally, they can be divided into two groups: one is more formal and polite and the other tends to be more casual and relaxed. The former is used when speaking to people who have a higher position in the hierarchy...


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