Politeness In Chinese Culture

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‘Politeness is considered to be a universal feature of language but it’s pragmatic, linguistic, social, intentional, and conceptual realisations vary considerably across different languages and/or cultures.’
Brief outline of Confucianism -
When discussing the topic of politeness in Chinese culture it is important to address the concept of Confucianism and the role that it played in forming what Chinese culture is today. Confucianism can be defined as a way of life that was first established by Confucius in the 6th–5th century BCE. Confucianism is a western term used to describe the set of values propagated by Confucius himself, this set of rules and values have been the foundations of Chinese society for over two millennia; this
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Controlling one’s emotions, showing restraint, acting with obedience towards authority, conforming and “face” are highly valued and deemed to be very important. Traditionally Chinese values put the family and society over the individual. In some cases, during interactions people may nod, which can be an indication that they understand you, but they are trying to seem obedient to authority, rather than to come off as deviant.

Chinese politeness strategies and etiquette –
Spoken/linguistic, social and pragmatic-
Pragmatic politeness within china can be extremely different from politeness within the UK, Chinese politeness revolves around Face, the social hierarchy (五论) and age. Politeness is a social practise that reflects the historical developments and political environment within a country. Politeness in contemporary china is a dynamic practise which involves the participants own perceptions, thoughts and feelings about distance, the relationship status and power relations between them and the person they are interacting with.
In China, there is a very specific set of rules to follow when introductions are made:
• The younger should be acquainted with the elder first.
• The man should be acquainted with the woman
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吧 (ba) can be used at the end of an imperative sentence in order to soften the tone so that the request does not sound like a command. An example of this in a sentence is:
• 你喝差吧? – Chinese characters
• Ni he cha ba? – Pinyin
• Why don’t you drink some tea? – English translation
An example of politeness within speech would be the use of the word 您 ‘nin’, the personal pronoun nin is most frequently used when addressing a stranger, someone who is older than you or has a higher social rank. It is very common for people who are unfamiliar with each other to use the pronoun 您 ‘nin’ (nin meaning you) and then change to 你 ‘ni’ once they have become more familiar with one another. An example of this pronounce being used within social interaction could be :
• 您好老师,您今天忙不忙。-Chinese characters
• Nin hao laoshi, nin jintian mang bu mang. -Pinyin
• Hello teacher, are you busy or not busy today. – English

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