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Appunti di Lingua inglese basati su appunti personali del publisher presi alle lezioni del prof. Philips dell’università degli Studi Ca' Foscari Venezia - Unive, facoltà di Lingue e letterature straniere, del Corso di laurea in lingua, cultura e società dell'Asia e dell'Africa meridionale.

Esame di Lingua inglese docente Prof. D. Philips



B1,B2, etc…


Positive politeness; showing interest in a person’s well being; sharing experiences and concerns;

expressing admiration, affection and gratitude; offering gifts, hospitality, promising future favors.

Negative politeness

Not to be confused with “impoliteness”. Being aware you may be causing offence/discomfort to

other person and apologizing:

 I hope you don’t mind me asking but…

 I know it’s late but do you have a few moments…

Using “hedging” expressions such as You’re…aren’t you? Don’t

I think or tag or negative questions

you think?... in case there is disagreement.

Speaker A: You like in a city in Argentina. A new neighbor has moved into the area from another

country, and you want to be friendly. Invite you new neighbor to a traditional south America

barbecue, with lots of great local beef!

Speaker B: You have just arrived in Argentina from another country. You are settling in, but the

reasons, you don’t eat meat.

diet is difficult. For health

Speaker A: You and your family live in a large block of flats. You have two children in their late

teens. Last week, you and your husband/wife went away on holiday for few days, leaving your kids

at home. just moved into a large block of flats. You have a new job, and you’re working

Speaker B: You have

hard. Unfortunately, you neighbor is having lots of parties at night. The music is so laud that you

cannot sleep. Go to your neighbor and complain about the noise.


An American and a Chinese professor of English are attending a conference. At the opening

reception, the American professor notices the Chinese professor is standing alone and looks lonely.

The American decides to say “hello”.

May I introduce myself? I’m Professor Joe William from UCLA.

American professor: Good evening.

Good evening. My name’s Xao Zheng.

Chinese professor: I’m delighted to meet you, Professor Zheng. Have you travelled far to the

American professor:

conference? Yes, I’ve travelled

Chinese professor: from Shanghai.

Hi there, how’re you doing? I’m Joe Williams from UCLA.

American professor:

Hello. My name’s Xao Zheng.

Chinese professor:

American professor: Pleased to meet you, Xao. Where are you from? Beijing?

No, I’m from Shanghai.

Chinese professor:

Conversational contract

Depends on complex mix of:

 Identity, role and relationship

 Situation

 Culture

Unlikely (?) costumer service conversation

Yes, what do you want? I want a new SIM card. Give me the old one. Here. Check it. Damaged,

– computer’s busy at the moment. No, I’m

maybe, who knows. Give me a new one then. Just wait

in a hurry. Well come back later then. No way.

Directness and indirectness

-Go home!

How could you say that in different ways?

The key role of modality in intercultural communication.

It’s necessary to take action.

1. It’s not necessary to take action.


3. It would be a good idea to take action.

It isn’t possible for us to take action.

4. It’s possible we will take action.


6. It would have been a good idea to take action.

It wasn’t a good idea to take action, but we did.

7. It was possible for us to take action, but we didn’t.

8. It wasn’t necessary to take action, so we didn’t.

9. It wasn’t necessary to take action, but we did.


The tact maxim

“Minimize and […] maximize the benefit to hearer. It means, for example, that in

cost to hearer,

proposing some action, the speaker should bias the illocution towards a positive outcome by

restricting the hearer’s opportunity of saying no”.

Keeping options open:

 Being polite, co-operative.

(where conflict possible)

 Tentative.

Limiting options:

 Being authoritative and directive.


 Conditional

you like to…?

-Would you like me to…?


would be happy to…

-I it be better to…


Must/should/ought to:

 Duty/advice:

-I should be going

should see…

-You should try…


-You ought to take an umbrella.


Send the article. Send the article, please.Can you send the article, please?Could you send the

article, do you think? Do you think you could send the article? I wonder if you could send the

you mind sending the article, because I’m afraid..

article. Would I was wondering if you could

send the article, if that’s not inconvenient? I was wondering if you could possibly send the article

if it’s not too much trouble?

“Professor, I was wondering if you could tell us about the Chamber of Secrets.” (Hermione in

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, 2002)

Beppe Servegnini

Notes British orientation for indirect communication:

In a restaurant in Bristol, for example, it’s totally unacceptable to literally translate the type of

conversation that you might have in a restaurant in Bologna. If you say I want to change my table,

staring right into the waiter’s eyes, you will convince everyone present that you are a public danger

to society. I’m afraid this table isn’t too convenient.

The best approach is to say



A lot of intercultural communication is

Pleasant and trouble-free (luckily).

sometimes… an example.


Hillary Clinton on a trip to Africa 2009: Congolese student asks Hilary Clinton about Chinese and

World Bank involvement in Republic of Congo.

“What does Mr. Clinton think about it?” (he asked through an interpreter)

“You want me to tell you about what my husband thinks? My husband isn’t Secretary of


State, I’m. You asked my opinion, I will tell you my opinion. I’m not going to be channeling my


Student later…

“I meant, Barak Obama!”

Define “misunderstanding”

Mauranen (2006): misunderstanding is a potential breakdown point in conversation or at least some

kind of communicative turbulence.

Why do we misunderstand each other?

Lack of language knowledge, often lexically based.

Pragmatic “mismatch”. There’s a studio behind here…

Locutionary act (meaning of words used) and illocutionary act (what is intended by speaker).

“Oh, is it nice?” – “Ok, I’ll keep the noise down.”

Example 1 of pragmatic mismatch: inappropriate transfer.

A: Is it a good restaurant?

B: Of course.

For B: O courseYes, indeed it is.

For A: What a stupid question…

Impact of first language on use of second language.

Example 2: mismatch in how something is said.

-Gravy? Gravy!

Gumperz pointed out that the rising intonation versus falling intonation made it a very difficult

statement, even though the word was the same. So rising intonation sounded like “Would you like

gravy?” “This in gravy. Take it or leave it.”

and falling intonation sounded like

Example 3: mismatch in “schemas”

What are “schemas”? accumulated knowledge and experience of familiar situations. Often

culturally-specific. Used to make sense of situation and guide behavior.

Factual and/or conceptual schemas

You’re paying for your goods at the checkout in a UK supermarket. You hand over your debit card-

“Any cash back?”

what would you expect the cashier to say? What does it mean? How do you


Misunderstanding, like accidents, will always happen…

So what can I do to reduce them in intercultural context?

Something practical

Metacommunication. What? Communicating and communication. Anything that supports the acual

verb communication.

Never heard it

But you’re using it all the time: please ask me any questions at the end; I’m talking to you as a

friend; don’t use that kind of language in front of your grandparents; I was only joking; I’m asking

that because…; let’s be open with each other; when said you weren’t happy what were you

referring to?; I notice you mentioned that…

Why is it useful?

It helps you understand what’s going on. Transparency and openness in communication. May be

useful for dealing with misunderstandings. May mean you avoid saying/doing the wrong thing or

expressing it in inappropriate way.

Need to use metacommunication carefully and effectively…

Why is it you always use your right hand for eating?... in Arab/Asian countries, will cause

embarrassment. When I asked the others about their family I notice they were uncomfortable, was

there any reason for that?... will probably not cause embarrassment.

Also useful

Confirmation checks: was my question clear? Did I understand that correctly?

“No, what I really meant to say was…” “Maybe

Self-repair; rephrasing or elaborating own speech:

that’s a bit strong, perhaps XXX is a better word.”

Repair- example

I’d love to like in Helsinki, because it has everything and it’s so much nicer to like there.


Teacher: Well, the grass is always greener on the other side.

Student: What grass? Where?

Well, it’s an expression meaning that things always seem better somewhere

Teacher: else, like a

place you cannot go.


Adjusting your speech to the listener’s need. This is not the best way to do it. Foreigner talk by

native speakers - patronizing over accommodation. Can be used by non-native speakers in ELF


An example of accommodation

I was a little bit concerned about the way you dealt with the problem, because I think your approach

was a little bit over the top in terms of making people feel somewhat awkward.

Do you think you approached the problem in the best way?



What is the difference between hearing and listening?

Hearing is a reflex, one of the senses. It’s possible to hear without listening.

Listening is a conscious act, can be improved, as with any skill.

Why listen?

 To get useful information.

 To understand someone’s values and attitudes.

 To provide emotional support to someone.

 To build rapport and create a positive impression.

 To check their competence/expertise in a particular area.

“Those who know do not talk. Those who talk do not know.” Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching.

Listening stiles, which is yours?

I listen in silence. I just concentrate on understanding the other person.

I like to make comments as I listen, like interesting or really? to show interest in what the speaker is


I ask a lot of questions when I listen to check I have really understood.

Sometimes I’m not very patient and I interrupt, especially if the speaker is talking and talking and

not really saying anything.

it’s rude…

I never interrupt people-

Listening skills

School teaches us to read, write and speak, but rarely focuses on the skill of listening. Listening

skills are key in any relationship. Listening often misunderstood as a passive activity. Better to view

listening an active experience that requires attentive engagement with the speaker.

Different listening styles

 People-focused, listeners-relationship prioritized.

 Information-oriented listeners.

 Results-oriented listeners.

A question of attitude

 The speaker is saying something important

 Respecting the speaker’s style of speaking

 Not assuming understanding

Verbal responses

 “I see”, “Yes”, “Interesting”, “Ok”, etc…

 Friendly, informal tone of voice

 Using short statements and questions when appropriate

Non-verbal responses

 Suitable facial expressions and natural smile

 Open posture (rather than crossed arms)

 Regular eye contact (but don’t overdo it)

 Appropriate distance (usually arm’s length)

Open-ended responses

Open-ended questions are ones that require more than a yes or no answer, getting the bigger picture.

Usually start with what or how:

 How do you see things changing?

 What do you think is the problem?

 What do you see as the most important issue?

 What have you thought of?

 I’m wondering…?

 What would you like to do about…?

Care with questions that suggest you know the answer to the question (You don’t really want to

Avoid leading questions

do that do you? Are you seriously thinking of doing it that way?).

speaker justify his or her actions or motives (Why didn’t you

Avoid whyquestions that require the

try to solve the problem that way?). “interrogated”.

Avoid too many questions as that may suggest to the speakers that they are being

Tracking responses

Clarifying expressions and also silence (a brief pause) encourage people to talk. Increase the length

of your pauses to encourage the other person to talk more. Culturally variable: avoid excessively

long periods of silence as that may be interpreted as a lack of interest or attention.

Metalanguage- key to a good listener

Using keyword approach:

 To clarify information you said before you need that stuff urgently. How urgent is urgent


 you’re upset about it. What’s caused that?

To clarify feelingsyou say

Other features of effective listening

 devices…

Minimize distractions

 Avoid assumptions

 Avoid strong reactions

 Stay focused on other person

Gender and listening

you just don’t understand.

Deborah Tanner:

That’s not what I meant.

You just don’t understand…

– “genderlects.”

Deborah Tanner

Females engage in “rapport-talk” a communication style meant to promote social affiliation and

emotional connection.

Males engage in “report-talk” communication to give and get information, to affirm their status.

Men and women intercultural communication

Harry: You realize of course that we could never be friends.

Sally: Why not?

What I’m saying is- –is

Harry: and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form that men and

women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.

Sally: That’s not true. I have a number of men friends and there is not sex involved.

No you don’t.


Sally: Yes I do.

No you don’t.


Sally: Yes I do.

Harry: You only think you do.

Well, I guess we’re not going to be friends then.


Harry: I guess not Sally.

That’s too bad. You were the only person I knew in New York .




Effective speaking in intercultural contexts

“Interactive” approach to communication.

Give your own opinion (briefly), speaking clearly and slowly enough according to the other

person’s language proficiency/knowledge of the topic.

Use language the other person is likely to know and understand easily.

Give the other person a chance to speak; handover by saying: do you see what I mean? Can you see

my point? Yes,but…

Acknowledge what they say and avoid giving negative feedback on their opinions.

Focus on areas of agreement, common ground, polite disagreement where appropriate.

A key element of speaking clearly

Your personal communication style

Fast speaker Slow speaker

Physical Loud Quiet

Energetic Calm

Smiling Serious

Informational Long and complex Short and simple

Direct Indirect

Time-focused Time-relaxed

Psychological Introverted Extroverted

Impersonal Personal

Open Close

Emotional Neutral


Kaplan patterns

Criticism of Kaplan “Such characterizations sound dangerously ethnocentric.

Claire Kramsch (2001: 203) observes:

They show the difficulty of expressing one culture in terms of another without sounding critical or


Trompenaars tone of voice


When is it appropriate to enter a conversation while another person is speaking?

only when they’ve finished

a) you’ve got something important to say

b) when

c) whenever you like

Cultural differences in discussions

What language do you have available if you want to interrupt a person?

 Can I just come in here?

 May I just say something else?

 Could I just make a point?

 Do you mind if I interrupt?

And if you don’t want to be interrupted…

 Could I just finish?

 I’ve nearly finished..

Or you want to continue…

 As I was saying…

 Coming back to what I was saying about…


D Describe: collecting information on what we see or hear.

I Interpret: we make a judgment on the meaning of what we see or hear.

E Evaluate: we feel something or have and emotional reaction.

Need to slow down this process when working with other cultures: stop at D phase.

on “Flexible thinking”

Craig StortiArt of Crossing Cultures

The ability to interpret situation, problems, practices from multiple perspectives, from the way other

people see them, is a tremendous benefit.

Flexible thinking model

1. Observe situation carefully.

2. Find out more information.

3. Interpret situation from different perspectives.

4. Act positively.



Bur first.. sum up of module 2

Politeness saying right thing

Face 

Misunderstanding schemas, repair, accommodation


Active listening skills (also gender)

D-I-E observing, non-judgmental

Council of Europe

Knowledge of the shared values and beliefs held by social groups in other countries and religions,

taboos, assumed common history… are essential for intercultural

such as religious beliefs,


Cultural assumption

You’re meeting a businessman to discuss some work. He’s wearing a dark suit. What could


you ask?

Why aren’t you wearing a __________ ?



Stereotyping and essentializing.

Distinguishing cultures

Is it possible to talk of a European culture? What about a Far Eastern one? What are some important

differences between Japanese, Korean and Chinese cultures? What are the differences between

Welsh and English culture? US and Canadian? Belgian and Dutch? What about sub-cultures?

North/south divisions.

North/south India

 Christianity more widespread in southern India.

 Many S. Indians with surnames such as John, Henry, Titus, Aaron, missionary names.

 More followers of Islam in north India.

 6 cultural differences between south and north India that stand out bluntly.

Racial origins: north Indians are descendants of the Aryan race while the south Indians are

descendants of Dravidian race. The racial difference is visible in their general appearance:

the north Indians are taller, stronger, fairer and heavily built when compared to the south


Dressing styles: whereas the women in north prefer salwar kameez or chudidaar, in south

Sari is the preferred attire, especially after marriage. The half-sari, which is popular in rural

south India, is seldom seen in the north. Every religion has a different style in which women

wear their saris.

Language: Dravidian language is unrelated to languages of other known families like Indo-

European. The languages spoken by the North Indian people belong to the Indo-Aryan

family which is closely related to modern European languages. Another division seen is that

the North Indian languages are inflectional in nature while the South Indian languages are


Music:the classical music of India can be divided into Hindustani and Carnatic music which

originates from north and south respectively. Muslim’s invasion, while

Dance: the dance of north like Kathak has been influenced by the

the dances of south have maintained their originality.

Food: south Indian food is spicer and hotter than the northern. South consume more rice,

while north have wheat. North food derive from wheat flour, while in south is common to

mix rice and different lentils. In south they consume more fish and coconut that the north.

Language group?

Can we group people together by the common language they speak? English-speaking/Spanish-

speaking cultures?

National cultures

Theoretical construct only a potential map.


What can you do to prepare for living and studying/working in another country? What things do

you need to find out?

Salutations, form of address; gift-giving; religious beliefs; food, eating habits; attitudes to time;

what to wear, dress; gestures.

Making the best of what’s available

Be wary of validity and accuracy of what you’re reading. Talking to people, checking out what

you’ve read or heard. Can’t prepare for every possible situation.


What to expect:

 Indirect communication

 Face saving

 High context approach

 Fluid time approach



Some basicsHow to distinguish between Japanese and Chinese culture?

1. Know the different languages that belong to either country

2. Be aware of how geography has shaped the two cultures

3. Know the different types of dishes that are native to either China or Japan

4. Know what type of governing body rules the respective nations

Chinese holidays and Japanese holidays and how they’re

5. Know the difference between


6. Learn the difference between Chinese name and Japanese names

7. Know the different religions that are practiced in China and Japan

Working in Japan


-Japan’s values achievement, money making, assertiveness and competition. According to

this information, Japan’s culture is:

a.masculineb.collectivisticc.individualisticd.femininee.short-term oriented

-In countries such as Mexico and Japan, people address one another with titles such as Señor Smith

or Smith-san. Which of the following cultural dimensions best explains this behavior?

a.individualismb.short-therm orientation c.high uncertainty avoidance d.femininitye.high power


Good to know

Bowing: in Japan customary and expected that that two people bow a greeting and a goodbye to one


Dinner etiquette: before beginning a meal, it is polite to say itadokimaso, which is translated to

mean I humbly receive.

whether it’s a waiter, a taxi driver or a bartender, tipping

Tipping: not expected.

Taking off shoes.

Public behavior: eating in public or talking on the phone is considered extremely rude in Japanese

culture. Blowing your nose in public is also extremely offensive.

Below surface

Shared values

Some commonly stated or observed core values are:

 Thinking of others

 Doing your best

 Not giving up

 Respecting your elders

 Knowing your role and working in a group.

Japanese values reflected in phrases used in daily interactions, aimed at smoothing relationships and

acknowledging presence of others.

When entering in a store, restaurant, back or post office, the entire staff welcomes you with

irasshai-mase and say arigatoogozaimasu when you leave.

High context hall

Primarily use non-verbal methods to relay meaningful information in conversations, such as facial

expressions, eye movement and tone of voice. Situation, people and non-verbal elements are more

important than the actual words communicated. Preferred way of solving problems and learning is

in groups. Emphasis on interpersonal relationships. Trust needed before any kind of business

transaction can begin.


Crucial in Japanese society. Turning down request may cause embarrassment and loss of face to the

it’s inconvenient it’s under

other person. If request cannot be agreed to, people may say, or

Face associated with personal dignity and status with respect to one’s peers.


Essential to not cause loss of face so be wary of: openly criticizing, insulting or putting someone in

a difficult situation.

Another key rule

Harmony in Japanese society.

 Guiding philosophy for many Japanese in family and business settings and in society as a


 Emphasis on the interdependence of all people in Japanese educational system.

 Japanese children are not raised to be independent, but rather to work together.

 Emphasis on politeness, personal responsibility and working together for the universal,

rather than the individual good.

 Disagreeable facts are presented in a gentle and indirect fashion.

 

Working in harmony crucial ingredient for working productively.

Reported differences between Japanese and American students

Differences in learning styles between the two cultures:

- In American culture: active initiation of discussion and spontaneous and detailed comments

are encouraged. (samovar and Porter, 2001)

- In Japanese culture: attentive listening and brief comments after contemplation are expected.

(Kindaichi, 1988) –

A practical example of high context communication Wakimae (honorifics)

Three levels of communication:

1. Meta communication whether or not to say something, who speaks, when and where they

speak, how to take turns.

2. Meta pragmatics the territory of information, who knows what, who knows the most, use

it’s alleged… it may be that…;

of modals and similar, to specify source of information: also

the formality of the situation, relationship between the speakers.

3. Propositional communication speakers say the actual propositional content.7


Key feature of Japanese culture, not an optional; an alternative to face.

Ide (1992): “speaking within the confines of Wakimae isn’t an act of expressing the speaker’s

intention, but rather of complying with socially expected norms the speaker’s attention is paid not

of him/her by social norms.”

to what he/she intends to express, but rather to what is expected

Translation? Discernment the ability to see and understand people, things or situations clearly

and intelligently.

A Japanese seminar

Ide: “students keep listening to the professor speaking, sometimes nodding but not uttering any

sound until the professor yields the floor to the students. Given the floor, the students speak,

observing what to say and how to say it, they speak within the constraints of the allowed topic.

There is less spontaneity allowed to the students that the professor.” (1992, pg. 300)

The Japanese students’ perspectives in the US

Several of my classmates and I spent much time organizing our opinion. Then the teacher said: “if

you don’t discuss your ideas, there is no point in attending this class. Please go home.”

Gender role in Japan

Common Japanese proverbgood wife, wise mother.

Still common social belief that it’s in the woman’s, her children’s and society’s best interest for her

to stay home and devote herself to her children.

But cultural change well underway…

Japanese women are joining the labor force in large numbers. Around 50% of the workforce is

comprised of women. One important change: married women have begun to participate in the


On Gung Ho

This is such a splendid piece of work and maybe the best movie of Michael Keaton. At the time in

Europe and America, the prejudice to Japan had been still filled. So, in this movie, portrait of the

Japanese are very strange and very different from the real Japanese. But, recently, many people in

the world respect and adore Japan and Japanese culture. This is really ironical.

Lost in translation

“Bob and Charlotte suffer a bit of white privilege, or at least as the film shows it. They struggle a

bit withJapanese culture and feel like massive outsiders. This really changes how they feel about

the place and how they feel about themselves. It’s not often to we see a film about white Westerners

so this is something quite unique and valuable about what the film achieves.”

feeling displaced,

White privilege is a term for societal privileges that benefit white people in western countries

beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people under the same social, political or

economic circumstances.




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Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea in lingua, cultura e società dell'Asia e dell'Africa meridionale
A.A.: 2018-2019

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