Unit 4 Language and Culture Warming-up questions Here it seems to be almost impossible for us to translate the dialogues into Chinese and render them as humorous as the original. Things like
puns defy translation across languages. 1. Try to translate them into Chinese. Can they be rendered in Chinese as humorous as the original? 2. Do you know anything humorous in Chinese that may defy translation into other languages? More examples: 1. 你信不信我一巴掌把你拍墙上, 抠都抠不下来! 2. 你要是鮮花, 以后牛都不敢拉屎了！ 3. 我视金钱如粪土, 我爸视我为化粪池。 4. 恋爱“三草”原则: 女：你说你很寂寞，为什么不去找你以前的女朋友而来追我呢？ 男：好马不吃回头草！(A good horse will never turn round to graze on an old pasture.) 女：你们班上也有女孩呀！我们俩相隔这么远，为何来追我呢？ 男：兔子不吃窝边草！(A rabbit doesn't nibble the grass near its own hole.) 女：那你现在为什么又要抛弃我呢？你这个混蛋！ 男：天涯何处无芳草！(There are plenty of fish in the sea.) More examples: 5. 外甥打灯笼照(舅)旧 as before; as usual; as of old 6. 狗撵鸭子呱呱叫 very good More Examples 7. 两人吵架。一个人气急骂起来； “你有什么了不起，能把我吃了！ ” “不能,我是回民！ ” 8. 某人刻苦学习英语，终有小成。一日上街不慎与一老外相撞， 忙说：I am sorry. 老外应道：I am sorry, too. 某人听后又道：I am sorry three. 老外不解，问：What are you sorry for (four)? 某人无奈，道：I am sorry five. Reading I How Is Language Related to Culture The main ideas Culture and language are intertwined and shape each other. They are inseparable. If we select language without being aware of the cultural implications, we may at best not communicate well and at worst send the wrong message. In our own environment we are aware of the implications of the choices. But people of the other cultural backgrounds may not. All language have social questions and information questions. social questions ---- not asking for information, but a lubricant (润滑剂) to move the conversation forward information questions ---- asking for information。 Chinese social questions: Have you had your meal? Where are you going?
Language reflects the environment in which we live. For instance, the Indians in Canada have at least 13 terms for different types and conditions of snow, while most non-skiing native Southern Californians use only 2 terms: ice and snow. In English, there are many more English words that refer to different states of frozen water, such as blizzard, dusting, flurry, frost, hail, powder, sleet, slush, and snowflake. But these terms are rarely used by people living in tropical or subtropical regions because they rarely encounter frozen water in any form. Language reflects the environment in which we live. However, people in these warmer regions make fine distinctions about other phenomena that are important to them. For instance, coastal Southern Californians often have dozens of surfing related words that would likely be unknown to most Indians in Canada or to people living in Britain for that matter. Language reflects cultural values. 拥有四大发明的古老中国一直以来都没有精确的计算时间的仪器， 咱们用来计量时间的 仪器是日晷和刻漏 (the sundial and the water clock)，最小的时间单位是一刻，一般大家常用 的是“一个时辰” ，也就是两个小时，而这也只不过是个大概而已。 中国人用来形容时间的词通常是这样的： “一袋烟的时间”,“一柱香的时间”,“吃顿饭 的时间”??这些都是模糊的概念。 现在中国人时间观念正在改善。据《中国青年报》报道，在３７５７名被调查者中，绝 大多数人对时间赋予了积极的定义：７７％的人认为“时间就是生命” ，另有１０％的人 选择“时间是金钱” 。 打落水狗, 斗鸡走狗, 狗恶酒酸, 狗吠不惊, 狗急跳墙, 狗头军师, 狗血喷头, 狗眼看人, 狗 仗人势, 狗嘴里吐不出象牙, 挂羊头、卖狗肉, 关门打狗, 狐朋狗友, 鸡鸣狗吠, 嫁鸡随鸡、 嫁狗随狗, 狼心狗肺, 鼠窃狗盗, 偷鸡摸狗, 指鸡骂狗, 猪卑狗险, 狗皮膏药, 狗走狐淫, 丧 家之狗, 狗行狼心, 狗胆包天, 关门打狗 Watchdog (舆论监督) Love me, love my dog. (爱屋及乌) Every dog has his day. (凡人皆有得意日) Be faithful as a dog I am too old a dog to learn new tricks. (行家里手) He is top dog in the office. (头儿) France: Administration in the university means upper-level clerical staff or faculty. Sometimes different cultures use identical words that have different meanings. The result can be humorous, annoying, or costly, depending on the circumstances. USA: Administration in the university means department chair, dean, or provost, Example 1: administration Example 2: manager USA: A manager is a person of some importance and power. Japan: A manager may not have the same level of authority. Example 3: force majeure (不可抗力) USA: It refers generally to forces of nature or possibly war. Europe: It has a broader meaning, including the changes in economic conditions or other circumstances that were not anticipated when the contract was drawn up. Language lives, and it changes over time.
Words and phrases that are used commonly at one time may be discontinued or their meaning may change overtime. A language, if spoken in different parts of the globe, ultimately develop differently. Communication across cultures and languages is difficult and full of hurdles and pitfalls. Even if two people from different cultures can speak a common language, they may misinterpret the cultural signals. The result is confusion and misunderstanding. Comprehension questions 1. What can we do to avoid attributing a very different meaning to the phrase or interpret it much more literally? 2. What are the other functions of using question forms apart from asking for information? We have to be aware of the cultural implications of the phrase. It serves as a lubricant to move the conversation forward. Such a question can be called a ―social question‖. 3. Why are those Germans getting stiffer and more reserved all the time when visiting Ingrid Zerbe? They are confused about how to address her, for she introduces herself by first and last name rather than by last name and professional title. 4. How does the environment influence the use of language? Language reflects the environment in which we live. We use language to label the things that are around us. 5. Does the author think there are exact equivalents in dictionaries that have the same meanings in different cultures? No. According to the author, there are no such equivalents between languages; therefore, to communicate concepts effectively, cultural knowledge is as important as linguistic knowledge. 6. How does the language change over time? Words and phrases that are used commonly at one time may be discontinued or their meaning may change over time. 7. Does the author think it is possible for countries such as France and Iceland to keep their language pure by implementing language policy to ensure the use of standardized language? The author does not think so, because, for instance, the Academie Francaise may insist on certain rules, but other French-speaking groups may make their own rules and consider their French just as correct. 8. What are the possible language barriers in classroom teaching? In some cases the professors actually may have a poor command of the language; however, in most cases the problem is not the language but different intonation patterns and different cultural signals. Fill-in Task Try to use the appropriate color term given below to fill in each of the blanks in the following sentences. Many of these terms may be used more than once 1) He’s just a green recruit fresh from college. 2) I tried to call her many times but she was in a brown study and didn’t hear me. 3) One day, out of the blue, a girl rang up and said she was my sister. 4) The new office block has unfortunately become an expensive white elephant. 5) Mary was regarded as the black sheep of the family.
6) You’d better do something to prove you’re not yellow. 7) Can you see the green in her eyes? （出乎意料；突然） （沉思，遐想） （累赘物） （败家子） （胆怯） （嫉妒） （无经验） 8) The mere thought of her husband with the secretary made her see red. 9) I got some black looks from the shopkeeper when I cancelled my order. 10) When I’m feeling blue, all I have to do is take a look at you, and then I’m not so blue . 11) Don’t tell me any white lie to make me feel good. 12) It may cost over a week to go through all the red tape to get the permission. 13) His type of humor is a bit too blue for my tastes. 14) Are you all right? --- You look absolutely green. 15) He based his judgment on headlines and yellow journalism. （愤怒的） （沮丧的） （善意的） （繁文缛节） （色情的） （面色苍白的） （耸人听闻的报道） （通红） Red Connotations: festive, jubilant, celebrate e.g. 红娘，红火 2. advancing, bright e.g. 红军，红色政权 3. successful, smooth e.g. 红人，走红 4. beautiful, nice e.g. 红颜，红妆 envious, jealous e.g. 眼红 Chinese Culture English-speaking Cultures Connotations: violent, cruel e.g. red revenge; a red battle 2. armed revolution e.g. a red revolution;
3. danger, tension e.g. red alert; a red flag 4. profligate, immoral e.g. a red waste of his youth; Green Connotations: young, e.g. 绿窗(指少女闺阁)；红男绿女 2. knightly, chivalrous, feral e.g. 绿林好汉；绿林大盗 3. low-classified, shameful e.g. 戴绿帽子 Chinese Culture English-speaking Cultures Connotations 1. young e.g. in the green; a green age 2. fresh, new e.g. a green wound; green recollection; keep the memory green 3. lack of experience e.g. a green hand; green recruits 4. jealous, envy e.g.: green-eyed Yellow Connotations 1. royalty, power e.g. 黄袍，黄马褂，黄榜 2. erotic, base, sensual e.g. 黄色书刊 Chinese Culture English-speaking Cultures Connotations：erotic, sensual, base e.g. yellow journalism; yellow back; yellow press 2. cowardly, sneak, spiritless e.g. a yellow gutless worm （胆小的、没勇气的可怜虫.） ； I always suspected he was yellow. (我总怀疑他很胆小.) Blue Few connotations Chinese Culture English-speaking Cultures Connotations 1. erotic, sensual, base e.g. blue video; blue talk 2. depressed e.g. holiday blue; a blue Monday 3. nobility e.g. blue blood
4. unexpected, very rare e.g. out of blue; once in a blue moon White Connotations 1. funeral, sadness e.g. 红白喜事 2. failure, unvalued, foolish e.g. 白干，白旗，白搭，白痴 3. tricky, crafty e.g. 白脸 4. politically reactionary e.g. 白专道路，白匪 Chinese Culture English-speaking Cultures Connotations 1. pure, bright, happy, cleanness e.g. white soul; a white wedding 2. faithful, honest e.g. a white spirit; white hand 3. good luck, fortune e.g. a white day; 4. legal, no harmful e.g. white market; white list; a white lie Black Connotations wicket, sinister e.g. 黑心肠 2. secret, tricky e.g. 黑幕，黑名单 4. illegal, evil e.g. 黑手，黑店，黑货 Chinese Culture English-speaking Cultures Connotations tragic, disastrous, unfortunate e.g. the future looks black; black humor 2. evil, sinister e.g. black deed; black art; black hands 3. angry, depressed e.g. black dog; a black look Purple Connotations nobility, dignity e.g. 紫气东来，紫禁城 Chinese Culture English-speaking Cultures Connotations nobility, dignity e.g. be born in the purple; marry in the purple; be raised to the purple Pink Few connotations Chinese Culture English-speaking Cultures Connotations homosexual e.g. a product developed; for the pink customer 2. the best condition e.g. in the pink of health Identifying Difference: Kinship Terms and More What are the major differences between Chinese and English in categorizing kinfolk? other examples of connotative differences can you give between the two languages?
In categorizing kinfolk, what the Chinese language finds significant are the person’s sex, age, and whether he or she is closely related to one’s father or mother. All these things, however, are not significant in the English language. The Chinese Kinship System 中国人亲戚关系称谓图 Other examples: The connotations of some words referring to real and imaginary animals can be very different in Chinese and English. The words include ―ox‖, ―horse‖, ―tiger‖, ―lion‖, ―rooster‖, ―cat‖, ―bat‖, ―pig‖, ―dragon‖, and others. Look at the following idioms that differ between Chinese and English. 壮如牛 as strong as a horse 犟牛 as stubborn as a mule 蠢猪 as stupid as a goose 拦路虎 a lion in the path 河东狮 old gray mare 母夜叉 an absolute dragon 落汤鸡 a drowned rat 胆小如鼠 chicken-hearted 一丘之貉 birds of the same feather Reading II Language-and-Culture, Two Sides of the Same Coin Main ideas Language and culture are clearly fused; one reflects the other. Language embodies the products, perspectives, communities, and persons of a culture. Language is a product of culture, but it also plays a distinct role. The words of the language. Its expressions, structures, sounds, and scripts reflect culture, just as the cultural products and practices reflect the language. Language is a window to the culture. Five dimensions (特点) Cultural products: isolated objects, artifacts, cars, tools, places, complex social institutions, food, art, literature, architecture, music, etc. To manipulate or use these varied products, members of the culture use language. Language is also a cultural product in and of itself. Words, expressions, and structures are continually added or discarded. When spoken and written, language takes on tangible and perceptible forms. Language and cultural products 2. Language and cultural practices The most obvious use of language in culture occurs in cultural practice. Cultural practices always require the language of participation. The actions and interactions between and among members of the culture demand speaking, listening, reading and writing. To participate appropriately, one needs to say the right words in the right way at the right time. 3. Language and cultural perspectives Language also reflects and embodies perspectives.
We use language to name and understand the perceptions, values, attitudes, and beliefs that govern our way of life. Words, phrases, idioms, expressions reveal values, attitudes, and beliefs intrinsic to the culture. 4. Language and cultural communities When we situate language in specific communities or groups, we see variations in forms, meanings and use according to these social settings and circumstances. Communities develop distinct language to describe and carry out the particular practices and products associated with their groups and its activities. Communities also define norms for language use. Appropriate use of language becomes essential. 5. Language and persons Language is not only collective, but also personal. Each of us uses languages in an idiosyncratic manner, based on our background, experiences, social groups, our personal outlook, and our identity. Each person has a unique manner of self-expression in the language – a tone of voice, a certain pitch, a way of pronunciation, an accent, a writing voice, a communicative style, a preference for certain words, expressions, and idioms. We use our own version of language to describe, understand, and respond to our experiences and ourselves. Conclusion Language-and-culture is embedded in cultural products, practices, perspectives, communities, and persons. One reflects the other, and they are best seen as jointed. Language is, as a cultural product, is infused with culture. Language unites products, practices, perspectives, communities, and persons. Comprehension questions 1. What is the author’s view of the relationship between language and culture? Language and culture are clearly fused; one reflects the other. 2. In which ways does language reflect the culture? Language embodies the products, perspectives, communities, and persons of a culture. Members of the culture have created the language to carry out all their cultural practices, to identify and organize all their cultural products, and to name the underlying cultural perspectives in all the various communities that comprise their culture. 3. How can we use the right language in the right way according to the author? It is based on direct experience in the culture and interactions with members of the culture, in all the complexity this entails. 4. Is there any cultural product that consists entirely of language? Can you give an example? Many cultural products, such as literature, tax codes, telephone directories, operating instructions, passports, consist entirely of language. Another example is folklores. 5. What is the meaning of “language is a cultural product in and of itself”? When spoken and written, language takes on tangible and perceptible forms. These tangible forms, as with any cultural product, can be described through language. We constantly use language to discuss language itself.
6. Can you give an example of how words lead to cultural perspectives? For example, as we have already learned, the kinship terms specifically used in Chinese lead to a cultural perspective that is different from that of the English-speaking people in this aspect. 7. What did the Chinese teacher find from her in-depth study of “the bumper sticker”? The perspectives are indeed embodied in words, phrases, and sentences, but they are not always immediately obvious, especially to outsiders. 8. Are there any particular norms made by different communities for their language use? Yes, there are. Communities define norms for appropriate use of language. Within groups, roles, relationships, and other social factors influence who speaks, what they say, and how they say it. The language forms we use in one set of social circumstances with certain communities are not necessarily the ones we use in others. Case 14 “杨” refers to Yang Kaihui who was Mao Zedong’s deceased wife and “柳” refers to Liu Zhixun who was Li Shuyi’s deceased husband. They can be translated in different ways, but it seems to be very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve equivalence in translating from Chinese into English. Adopting the literal translation strategy, Version 1 appears to be faithful to the original but may easily confuse the readers in the target language. Version 2 employs the liberal translation strategy with an attempt to convey the original meaning as precisely as possible. However, the original poetic flavor is lost as the rhetoric device — pun — is not reproduced. Assignment Translate the following English idioms into Chinese: 1. lick somebody’s boots: 2. sit at somebody’s feet. 3. have a big mouth 4. a piece of cake 5. carry coals to Newcastle 6. at sixes and sevens 7. the pot calling the kettle 8. Dutch courage 9. castles in Spain 10. the kiss of death Translate the following ten Chinese idioms into English: 1. 守口如瓶 2. 打退堂鼓 3. 雷声大，雨点小 4. 大海捞针 5. 黔驴技穷 Keys: 拍马屁 寄人篱下 夸夸其谈 小菜一碟 画蛇添足
乱七八糟 五十步笑百步 酒壮菘人胆 白日做梦 帮倒忙 button one’s lip draw in one’s horns much cry and little wool look for a needle in a hay stack at one’s wits
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