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Chinese and Western Culture

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 5549 words Published: 20th Jul 2017

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I am going to start a series of discussions on cultural differences between Chinese and Western culture. Please keep in mind that I am not saying that “all Chinese are like this” or “all Westerners are like this”; I am talking only in generalities, referring to broad patterns. Obviously, there are many differences in specific individuals; and particularly as the rapid pace of development and change continues in China, the younger generation will tend to have significant changes. Nor am I saying that one way is good, and the other is bad; I personally believe that both sides have their strengths and weaknesses. But I believe that these are interesting topics for discussion, and can improve understanding and communication on both sides.

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Different nations have different cultures during the long developing history. Various cultural factors resulted in different language forms. According to observation, analysis, and study, the discrepancies between the Chinese and Western culture include culture of allusions, of numbers, of colors, etc.. It is an important issue to understand and handle the relationship between culture and language while translating English idioms. Meanwhile, language is not only the culture’s important content but also the carrier of culture, so culture and language are a whole. Since different culture gives rise to alternative language structures, while translating, you must know its fundamental cultural obstacles, and then you can do translation more correctly and suitably.

I.What is cultural difference?

There are many meanings of the word “culture”. Sometimes, we say that people who know about music, art, and literature are cultured. However, for anthropologist, the word “culture” has a different meaning. To an anthropologist the word “culture” means all the ways that a group of people think, feel, art, and dress. The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English gives such an explanation of culture: the customs, beliefs, art, music, and all the other products of human thought made by a particular group of people at a particular time.

Different nations hold different cultures. For instance, “full moon” symbolizes jubilation and reunion in China, and “a bright moon in the sky” makes people feel quiet and at leisure. Ideas of beauty differ from one culture to another. For example, the Flathead Indian of North America used to bind the heads of babies between board so they would have long sloping foreheads. In the Flathead culture, long sloping foreheads were beautiful. Other cultures might think that they are strange-looking and unattractive. For another example, when people die, different cultures deals with their bodies in different ways. Sometimes bodies are buried. Sometimes bodies are buried under the ground. In many cultures in the past, people were buried with food, weapons, and other things that might be useful in the next life. For instance, the ancient Egyptians buried people with little human figures which were from clay. This clay figure were intended to work the death person in the other world.

From these examples, we can see that cultures are quite different from one country to another. It is brief that different people do the same things or consider the same things in different ways.

Every country own itself cultural, cultural is country’s soul and its place of origin. In order to establish a good international relationship with others countries, so we are need to understand their cultural and find their differences with our country. Because

With China entry the WTO and will hold the Olympic Games in 2008, the relationship between China and Western in politics, economy, culture will become more and more close. It is undoubtedly that the etiquette will play an important role in this process. To the definition of etiquette, China and Western have a different understanding. As Chinese thinks that the etiquette is the common behavior standards that all the members must obey, and its purpose is to keep the normal living order of the society. In ancient China, a famous philosopher thinks that etiquette is a principal to deal with the relationship between man and supernatural beings, man and ghosts, man and men. There are also many words about etiquette in English, therefore we need to understand the Chinese and western cultural differences.

Culture is an integrated development course, whose soul is the cultural concept or idea. The author tries to study the cultural difference between Western and Chinese culture from the perspective of economical ethics and draw the conclusion that Chinese should critically assimilate Western culture and inherit traditional Chinese culture to create a new culture which fits the needs of the new era.

The differences between Chinese and Western social initiatives

First, by the family of the impact of ethical conduct, the Chinese people always put yourself in a group (ethics groups) to look at themselves in order to determine their own initiatives, “bad sequence style.”Only targeted by Professor Fei Xiaotong said, in such a poor sequence style, the individual’s behavior so self-centered, but it only shows the starting point of individual initiatives.Indeed the basis for such a move from the starting point is on the basis of ethical conduct.Therefore, in China, the individual is basically digestion among the group.Group is the purpose of individual existence, but not the means.Groups of ethical conduct ordered, probably that group of patriarchal order that is the absolute ethical order.By the abstraction of rational conduct and the resulting impact of character and independence in the West, people always put themselves as a separate entity, the individual for their own survival and growth needs to unite to create groups and join groupsactivity.Individual and group are mutually exclusive, is a Zuoquan connected.Although the unity of the individual in the group, but individuals are free to the balance of payments pursuant to Zuoquan groups.Although in order to achieve the advantages of the individual, the individual in the enjoyment of community empowerment must be accompanied by the group seriously, the implementation of the mission of the individual pairs of groups. Secondly, the family as a starting point of the structure of the difference sequence initiative, blood related initiatives has become an important frame of reference, by the Chinese people’s social initiatives have been given a dark mood of color

In the social interaction or correspondence of the people first of all think about is the emotional intimacy of sexual, to consider the feelings of others on a thoughtful, considerate, and admire, that is, pay attention to human.Emotion and the Chinese people are Nanshe hard to leave, became the first requirement of life.China does not conform to the most is the indifference to human connection.In between in which people not only value the sentiment, but also sub-fur sentiment a letter, as long as with the emotions related to the incident will be hard to get much easier to handle more.Insinuation sets of feelings the Chinese people have become just as normal dealings consistent with the essentials.The emotional life, so that the formation of Chinese society, a humane society, but this has to society in the public and a moderate yield growth has brought endless variables.In the eyes of the Chinese people, whether private or public events, can all be factoring in the emotional front or modification.Law enforcement, the rules of human development, though should be a human face.In the West, as the ancient Greek philosophers, the human abstract, or because people go beyond the Christian right, people in the community initiatives either a rational as a guideline, or succumb to the call of God.Where the family connected, blood related, emotional connection is not the main people’s social initiatives, the only all thinking.This is important because of their emotional and non emotional drew a clear-cut between the boundaries, and boundaries of the two sides do not have to replace nature.Sentiment in the West essentially has been compressed into a very cramped area where, it is important the family is now living in the table.

  1. Cross-cultural communication, cultural differences, cultural conflict

With China’s gradual opening-up level of depth, Western society more and more people and things into our field of vision, in this case, the cross-domain, cross-ethnic, cross-cultural economic and social contacts will be increasing This provides us with many opportunities for contact and exchanges between the West, which for deepening our understanding of Western society is a good thing, but this is not a simple matter, because we are facing from the unfamiliar cultures and countries, ways of thinking, habits and behavior patterns with our very different people, in the process of interaction with the inevitable phenomenon of cultural conflict occurs.

  1. Western cross-cultural communication in the cultural conflicts that often appear inCross-cultural Communication in Chinese and Western cultural conflict occurs there are many, here we have it is impossible to describe, only the more common are listed in several.

1.1 The privacy of the conflict

The Chinese concept of privacy is relatively weak, that the individual should be vested in a collective, together pay attention to unity and friendship, mutual interest and therefore I understand the Chinese people are often very willing to other people’s ups and downs, the other party is willing to frankly say so. The Westerners are a very good personal privacy, pay attention to personal space, too many people are reluctant to mention their own affairs, but also reluctant to allow others to interfere. Therefore, privacy issues on the two sides are frequent conflicts, such as: Chinese people tend to ask first met each other’s age, marital status, children, occupation, or income, in the eyes of the Chinese people it is an act of courtesy, but in the West the eyes of the view that these questions violated their privacy.

1.2 concept of time in the conflict

Western concept of time and money concept is linked, time is money, the concept of deep-rooted, so they are very much value his time and of time in their lives often have done a careful arrangements and plans, and develop a good time to meet this woman habits. In the West, to visit someone, you must give advance notice or agreement, and explain the purpose of visit, time and place, it was agreed upon to proceed. The Chinese people belonged to more time to get used to the country, the use of time has great randomness, as Westerners are generally not as stringent as those according to plan, Westerners have often uncomfortable.

1.3 polite language in the conflict

The Chinese emphasis on humility, in communication with others, the habit of “humble have respect,” and this as a virtue, it is a rich Chinese cultural characteristics courtesy of the phenomenon. Others praised us, we tend to be self-deprecating about it, in order to form modest and polite. Western countries have no such cultural practices, when they were praised, there will always am happy to say “Thank you” accepted. As the differences between Chinese and Western cultures, we believe that Westerners are too self-confident, without modesty; and when Westerners learn that the Chinese people who do deny others their own praise, or to hear their own deny their own achievements, even when their own derogatory worth a penny , would be very surprised that the Chinese people dishonest.

1.4 dining customs in the conflict

Is known hospitality of the Chinese nation’s fine traditions. In the communication occasions and feast on the warm toast the Chinese people offering each other cigarettes are often each other. The Chinese banquet, even if a table filled with delicious food, the owner, he always used to say a few words, “excuse me” and other polite words. Sometimes the owner will use chopsticks to guests bowl Jia Cai, using a variety of ways to persuade customers more Chi cai more drink. In Western countries, people emphasis on respect for individual rights and personal privacy, so they will not do an imposing task. Dinner time, you will not be hard to bowl Jia Cai, Eat what you own, they would not use a variety of ways to persuade guests to drink, do not insisted until you have drunk.

2. Causes of cultural conflict caused by the phenomenon of inquiry Of conflict caused by the phenomenon of Chinese and Western cultures a variety of reasons, study its fundamental, it is because the two sides have different Chinese and Western cultures, different historical backgrounds, will inevitably bring about people’s thinking, behavior, and many other differences, or even conflict, here we come specifically look at What are the main reason.
2.1 The differences in thinking patterns

Culture will affect people’s views and understanding of the outside world of things, different countries have different cultures, so there must be differences in thinking patterns, which is in the Eastern and Western culture has been particularly evident among. Western cultures focus on logic and analytical thinking, while the Oriental culture of thinking is to show integrity intuition, which is also the characteristics of traditional Chinese culture and thinking. Because of this the impact of traditional culture, Chinese people are often special attention to intuition and pay attention to recognize the process of experience and feeling, often in exchanges of experience and feeling to this “to have relieve people.” Compared with the Western mode of thinking, the Chinese people of this mode of thinking has obvious broad and vague nature of the passage of time, will develop a mindset that can be interpreted as recognition and to simplify the classification of things outside the process of perception. In essence, mindset, often ignore the individual differences of things, exaggerate a particular social group associated with the other cognitive attitudes, often with emotional and accompanied by a fixed creed. In all the set, some fixed potential is correct, while others are wrong, will directly affect the cross-cultural communication, resulting in communication failures.

The specific meaning of a code of conduct refers to socially accepted by the ethical standards and codes of conduct, simply, is to tell people what to do and not do as a norm. People of different cultural background in communication, we often occurs a phenomenon is to apply its own code of conduct for the society to determine the reasonableness of each other’s behavior, due to differences in norms of both sides, often misleading, offensive or even worse results. For example, tapping the Chinese people, said the head of a child in a friendly, while in Western countries, this is a great lack of respect for the practice of children, parents would have very angry. So, in a cross-cultural communication is able to correctly identify and apply a code of conduct is to ensure the smooth progress of cross-cultural communication an important factor. To safeguard the smooth progress of cross-cultural communication, we must understand each other’s codes of conduct, in particular, what conduct is prohibited, the best way is to follow the principle of Romans do.

2.3 The values of different

People’s communicative competence is the process of socialization produced inevitably and values together. Every culture has its own unique value system, this system can help people distinguish between beauty and ugliness, good and evil, this is the people’s philosophy of life, moral standards and code of conduct. But it can not be divorced from the specific culture of the existence of criteria for judging every culture is different, this culture that it is good, another culture may think that bad, but they are in their own culture, and their existence within the system is reasonable, must not be understood as a standard of value is advanced, while another standard of value behind. In Chinese and Western cultures, for example, in Chinese culture, people respected modest chirye, the pursuit of adaptable and do not like assertive or aggressive, and social trends are often blocked too prominent individuals, are the so-called “line above the masses, people will be non of.” In Chinese culture, the collective orientation of the dominant, the pursuit of personal development is seen as a serious individualism, is bound to be condemned. The Western culture is very much advocating individualism, “adaptable” is seen as a lack of entrepreneurial performance, are lazy, incompetent synonymous for society and individuals are not taken. Human-based thinking is rooted in their hearts, people advocating independent thinking, independent judgments, relying on their ability to achieve their personal interests, and that the supremacy of individual interests.

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2. Comparison study from the perspective of Advertisement

Language and culture are inseparable. Each national’s special culture mode comes out of the speech and behavior of that race by all means. They use their own language to record the things happened by them. The advertisement is a kind of manifestation of culture, it’s under the influence and restrict of local culture. National culture influences and restricts the development and expression of advertising language which is the core content of advertisement .advertising language contains and reflects the social culture. Language exists in the community and with the development of society and development, and culture among the definite role to play. A philosophy idea, thinking mode of race, the cultural mental state, moral concept, life style, customs and habits, social system, religion and faith…etc, will produce a function to the advertisement language by all means. No matter how the advertising art develop, as long as it is a popular method of communication involved, it will never take part from language , language will be the most important and effective communication tool. Advertisement through the performance function of language to describe the image of product, express the taste sensibility and make an introduction of related products knowledge lively and specifically. However, the current language is not merely the carrier of products; it adjusts tradition and modern culture factors to make them carry more contents richer than it. In fact, the advertisement language of the social culture reflection is easily comprehended and accepted by people, this can promote the effect of advertisement. Take cognizance of this, make great effort to discuss the inside relation of national culture and advertisement language, it has important function to create and design the advertisement language which matches the basic principle of advertisement expression and suites particular national cultural characteristic. Each advertisement language has its trace of social national culture, according to every nation’s thinking mode, mental characteristic, living custom, value judgment ,even the political belief, social system to consider an advertisement creation, in order to keep with “native son” taste, match “native son” mindset has already been earnestly practiced by numerous advertisement plan personnel. The influence of Chinese and Western culture on advertising language is various, The Chinese and Western advertising language also reflect the Chinese and Western culture in many ways. The company of American P&G named its shampoo “pert-plus” in the United States, being named “perjoice” in the Asia, and its Chinese name is “float soft” to cater for Chinese market, and it can explain a problem very much. Owing to the differences of Chinese and Western culture, the representation form of Chinese and Western advertisement is diverse, advertising language also manifests different culture value and thinking mode. As the culture background, customs, behavior principle, life style of Chinese and Western have great distinction. Therefore, every country’s advertisement businessman will think over the culture background of consumers. The aim of the paper is to lay out the influences to by comparing Chinese and Western advertising languages.

II. The relationship between culture and language

2.1 The concept of the language and culture

Culture is the all and the one which consist by social behavior, art, beliefs, customs transmission through society conduct and all other products of human work and thinking .Language is accompanied by the creation of the human society, it is the direct manifestation of thinking. Language reflects the characteristics of a nation, which not only includes the nation’s historical and cultural backgrounds, but holds on the nation’s view of life, the way of life and thinking. Culture is diverse, language is also varied (Chen, 2000:20).When the nation as a language, living areas, economic life and psychological stability community appears in the history of mankind, language is deeply stamped with the brand of a nation; it is the most typical characterization of the nation and national culture.

2.2 The relations of language and culture

Language can not separate from related culture to be independent. Some sociologists believe that the language is the cornerstone of culture-no language, no culture.From another aspect, language is affected by language and reflected the culture. Language is based on the historical and cultural aspects. The nation’s way of thinking, values, concepts, habits and behavior will affect aesthetic language development. The formation of a national culture, development and absorption ought to pass the language to achieve. Language and culture influence each other; we should try to understand language and culture and to learn them. Language is like a mirror which reflects the entire culture, and every nation has its own culture. Language as the carrier and idea of culture, its representation form is influenced and restricted by culture. Understand their unique cultural background to understand the language features. Only more exposure to foreign cultures, familiar with different language national history amorous feelings, way of life, value and national psychology, open up their vision, learn more about the cultural and language differences. Culture promotes the development of advertising language, the language of advertising propagandize its culture. Chinese and Western advertising language has its own unique form of language which contain the beautiful scenery of language and culture. The charm of the language of instruction is fully displayed in the advertisement. Meanwhile, the Chinese and Western social and cultural knowledge which contained in language make us experience the infinitude delight .Chinese and Western advertising languages let us deepen our understanding of foreign countries, and bring to the world of cross-cultural exchanges

2.3 Culture of numbers and translation

Numbers are used here and there so that culture of numbers has come into being.

Cultures are carried by language, and there are differences between the English and Chinese languages. The differences her I will mention is not the one of the figure’s calculation or arrangement, but the different phenomenon of idioms composed of numbers displayed in the two different cultures.

As far as Chinese culture is concerned, there are numerous Chinese idioms and idiomatic usages with “numbers”, we are familiar with them: ????;????;????,????;????;????;???????,???????(??«???»),etc. If you want to translate these Chinese idioms into English literally, the version will not be accepted by western culture. For example, translate ” ????” into “one eye sees it all clearly”; “????” into “seven mouths and eight tongues”; “????” into “three longs and two shorts”; no one will understand what does it really mean.

And in English culture, there exists culture of numbers everywhere, which deals with many fields, showing that culture of numbers should be paid attention to, too. “seven ” is holy and mysterious number which is regarded as a lucky numbers, if “seven” or “nine” times any of the odd numbers, and your age is one of them: 21,27,35,45,49,63,81, you will be considered as the one who has a dangerous time. The seventh son of one’s seventh son is always accepted as an outstanding. And what is more, there are many idiomatic usages with “seven” in English culture. For instance, how do you translate this sentence into Chinese: Seventy times seven did I take counsel with my soul. Some one will translate it like this: ???????????????,but the right one should like this: ???????????????Here “seventy times seven” can be translated into “?????” which comes from the Bible: Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven.

From the above examples we can see that, either Chinese or English idioms with numbers, we should translate them freely for cultural differences exist everywhere. ?.The features of Chinese and Western advertisement

Advertising, a kind of war as a modern business strategy and weapons, their purpose is commercial in nature, but its manifestations is a cultural and artistic.Emergence and development of advertising is the inevitable product of social development, the same time, is also a product of culture. Advertisement is the special performance of modern culture spirit. As a means of reflecting the reality, advertising language also is the component of culture. Advertisements adjust people’s activity or bring the society effect into play. Advertisement is a multi-language arts conveying information to people and using language for the carrier .Therefore, the advertising language should be simple and easily understood, fluency and clear, we should also pay attention to the rhetoric manner at the same time. Chinese and Western advertisement cited a variety of rhetoric to achieve the effect of merchandise promotion, and consumers are not consciously deepened the impression of the product after gaining the spirit edifying and enjoying aesthetic feeling, arousing people’s desire to buy it , such as antithesis, Hyperbole, Parody, metaphor, rhyme and repeatedly. Etc

Owing to the differences of Chinese and Western culture, the representation form is diverse. Advertising language also manifests different culture values and thinking mode. Chinese and Western culture has large different culture background, customs, behavior conduct and way of life. Thus, advertisers will no doubt consider the demands of consumer through their cultural background. There I list some examples of advertisement to compare and analyze how the Chinese and Western national culture influence their advertising language:

3.1 Different Philosophy concept

The Chinese nation has insists that the heaven and human units as the harmonious one. For example: something unexpected may happen any time, I have life insurance (The People’s Insurance Company of China).This ad indicates that people are not afraid of accident because the people have insurance. The accident and insurance is a unit and are dispensable. That the business loves customs is showed in this ad and it will come to an agreement between them. At last the goal of the ad comes into truth. .

But in western culture they insist the standpoint of pluralistic. They pay attention to diversity and changes of material, emphasis specially on the change and difference of the nature ,stressed that personal freedom, self-development and personal enterprise. The biggest different between harmonious and pluralists if that the pluralists is not limited. Look at this English ad:Olympus, No limits. There is little you can’t be with the Olympus Zoom Lens Reflex series. The all-in-X cameras that won’t limit your creative ability. (Olympus camera). The camera have one more features make photographs produce different then to reflect individual creativity is in the continuing development and is not limited in this ad. The advertisements show the ultimate challenge and seek freedom can greatly stimulate consumer desire so enthusiastic consumption.

3.2 Different cultural values-oriented

Chinese cultural has a long history and the alcohol cultural is significant. To illustrate the quality of goods, they attempt to explain how long the water life by quotating the history. For example: (1) Legend quality, Century ZHANG YU.( ZHANG YU Tokay) (2) Tang palace drink, JIAN NAN CHUN (JIAN NAN CHUN Drink) Those two alcohol’s long history were given expression to only sentences, showing the deep feeling toward consumers, narrowing the gap between the products and consumers.

The Western countries insisted the short term oriented culture; the main reason is the history is shorter than China. They don’t do the business like Chinese who often use the factors of history and tradition, but use the strong and direct marketing strategy (hard sale), a product of the “immediate results” as a selling point. For example: “go and get it at once”, “buy it” , “fit it well”, “take action right now”, “call now” etc. is the common use in foreign ads .

Value is the different views and attitudes of people regarding the matter. China is a traditional agricultural economy society, it is said that Chinese cultural system emphasized the collectivism and authoritative character, using the natural value orientation. This ad is a manifestation of this feature of Chinese culture: HUA LI killing mosquito tool-“silence without mosquito” dedication. This ad was excellent for using the partial tone of “mosquito” and “listen”. It builds the image of unknown to public dedication of products and corporation. To praises of the heroes of our community who quietly worked hard, this identity arouses the resonance in the minds of vast consumers.

But in the Western capital society, individualism?equality and the dominant natural were the orientation ,they stress personality differences. This can be seen from many American ads products, there are many differences trying to explain from, even in the absence of any differences as well. In the United States ads, there is a popular phrase, it would be: to create different. For example: One airline painted the vivid colors on the airframe in order to catch people’s eye. In fact, the plane and service of other airplane company are not much different.

3.3 Different cultural psychology

Advertiser often reflecting takes me the psychology and tries to appear the customers. Ads reflected the cultural psychology of language is quite common. Such as:1?congratulate to make a pile to welcome new year, have long luck Goldlion (Goldlion wearing advertisement); 2?WEI LI washing machine, dedicated to a mother. (WEI LI washing machine); the advertising language cater to the cultural psychology of Chinese, has persuaded function. Good fortune?salary?longevity ?happy and wealth were the symbol of Chinese traditional culture. Chinese have the psychology of hearing nice words, so many products related to the common use show menu of the family affection. For example: “A lot of good luck, a lot of satisfaction” (FU MAN DUO instant noodles) and “A bowl nice glue ball round and round , a good reunion after eating (a advertisement of Chinese glutinous rice flour) are two types examples which emphasis Chinese value. In contrast, the Western culture takes more emphasis on independence and individuality; their ads pay more attention to character display, ideas and humor. “Kodak film and your family happiness” Is a popular advertisement in China’s market, but its ads in U.S is a picture of one boy holding ponchos in one hand, and the other standing on a sword with the statements. “He just killed his last dragon”. Kodak keeps happiness for Chinese, keep the feat for American.

The whole world has a common human emotion, such as kinship, friendship and love, but


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