ANT 324L • Culture & Communication in China
2:00 PM-3:00 PM
Cultural meanings are embodied in linguistic and non-linguistic codes and are learned, transmitted, and contested in the process of communication. Cultural values and worldviews are not merely communicated via these codes, but also shape the codes themselves. Thus, cultural differences are revealed not only in what we say, but how we say it. Coming from a collectivist, we-centered culture, most Chinese speakers' communicative styles are indirect, formal, and low-context, where much of the message is revealed not in the content of the speech itself but rather, in the extra-linguistic context of setting and non-verbal cues. In contrast, western cultures (especially mainstream U.S. culture) are characterized as I-centered or individualistic, and most speakers' communicative styles emphasize directness, informality, and high-context, where the meaning of the message is explicitly stated. Chinese speakers emphasize collective face in interpersonal communication, while westerners emphasize individual face. This variable emphasis on face in turn reflects different notions of the self in Chinese and western cultures.
In this course, we will discuss psychological, cultural and social aspects of communication among Chinese speakers in greater China, i.e., the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), and the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan, and contrast these styles with those of western, especially English-language speakers. Topics covered include the psychology of Chinese people, narrative and rhetorical styles, referential and naming practices, politeness and face or mianzi, conflict and negotiation styles, language socialization, gender differences in communicative styles, verbal and nonverbal communication in business, government and educational settings, and more! No previous training in linguistics or in a Chinese language is necessary. This course will be of interest to majors in Asian studies, anthropology, linguistics, communication studies, and international business, among others.