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A Comparative Study of Numerical Taboos in Gift―giving Between Chinese and Americans

作者:未知

  【Abstract】The existence of “taboo” is ubiquitous in all cultures. Since language and culture are closely related to each other. This article aims to make a comparative study of taboos in gift-giving by taking intercultural communication theories. It demonstrates the differences between these representative countries due to different cultural relevant factors. And some appropriate strategies are given in the final part of the article when gift-giving activity takes place in our real life.
  【Key words】taboo; cultural difference; intercultural communication
  【作者�介】冯利敏,女,河南新乡人,西安外国语大学英文学院,在读研究生,2016级英语语言文学专业。 I. Background and Significance of the Study
  Communication is a dynamic, systematic process in which meanings are created and reflected in human interaction with symbols.This attempts to emphasize the differences as well as similarities through comparison in various cultures so that people can cultivate the strong awareness when giving gift cross-culturally. And some implications are indicated, then in the process they can develop communicative competence as well. II. Hall’s High-Context and Low-Context Value Orientation
  Edward T. Hall offers us an effective means of examining cultural similarities and differences in both perception and communication. In high-context cultures, information is provided through verbal and non-verbal behaviors. Meaning is also conveyed “through status and through an individual’s informal friends and associates.” In low-context cultures, the verbal message contains most of the information and very little is embedded in the context or the participants. III. Cultural differences in numerical taboo in gift-giving between Chinese and Americans
  First, the differences between Chinese and Western numeral taboos more related to national cultural psychology. In general, Chinese people pay attention to symmetry, the double, and happy auspicious association. The number of Western national worship, the pursuit of independence, will be due to religious and myths and legends of the unpopular figures, such as “13”. Singular and double number in Chinese implies auspicious cultural connotation. However, the Chinese people are not absolutely exclusive singular, singular also favored. Such as: the number “three” in the Han culture is considered sacred, noble and auspicious symbol. “Three” is the ultimate number. In the US, people are often regarded as singular (except 13) for the lucky number. Coincidentally, the most favored number is the “three”, people to “three” as the perfect number. Four and thirteen in China, “four” is often regarded as unlucky figures, because the Chinese characters “死” homo phonic to “four”, so in the choice of flowers should avoid the number four. However, the Westerners of the “four” extremely worship that “four” is a symbol of fairness, justice, strength. Early Christian symbolists argued that “four” represents the evangelical missionary, symbolizing unity, tenacity and stability. In the West “thirteen” is a frightening figure, a symbol of “unlucky.” Six and seven in China, “6” is a time-space harmonic number, the most auspicious. However, due to the influence of religion, in the West “6” is not a popular figure, and is regarded as a large number of fierce, which is also seen from the following idiom. Such as: at sixes and sevens (confused) and so on. In the West, “666” has always been called “the devil figures”, because in the Bible, the devil Satan’s symbol is “666”. Number “seven” is disgusted in Chinese because of its homophones to “妻”. IV. Implications
  customs and values are changeable, and contextual factors should be considered importantly. In a word, there are still many issues on this topic that can be explored. I will continue to develop my efforts on the study of this topic in the future if it is possible. Lack of knowledge about taboo culture can result in failure in gift-giving, the taboo seems more important than before, therefore, future research should attempt to do research the taboo differences. Since science is becoming the top leader of people’s life, we began to give up some taboos, these taboo lake of scientific evidence. The record of these changes should be paid attention to, in that way, a reasonable collection of taboo can be used to expound these changes.
  References:
  [1]Larry A.Samovar,Richard E.Porter,and Lisa A.Stefani,Communication Between Cultures[M].Shanghai:Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press,2000.

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