A cross -cultural study of requests in Chinese and German

Wei Hong, Purdue University

Abstract

The main objective of this dissertation is to study request patterns of Chinese and German with respect to various cultural and social values. The data collected from Chinese and German native speakers were used to study similarities and differences in realization patterns of requests across Chinese and German under relatively similar social constraints. The effects of social variables on the realization patterns of requests within Chinese and German were also examined and evaluated. Social variables include such factors as distance, power and familiarity. The research was conducted by applying speech act theory as well as pragmatic and sociolinguistic analyses to request patterns in Chinese and German.^ This research compared request patterns of Chinese and German natives, using data for a questionnaire survey. The differences in request patterns of Chinese and German were analyzed by comparing the usage frequencies of various lexical and syntactic modifications.^ The most general finding is that German requests have higher levels of directness and lower levels of politeness, and Chinese ones have lower levels of directness and higher levels of politeness. A comparison of results obtained from this study with those from previous studies shows a minor difference in stressing what factors are among the most important ones in affecting people's request patterns. It is suggested by the present research that social distance, power and culture be stressed as equally important, since many request patterns across Chinese and German are due to cultural factors rather than social distance. It was also found in this research that within German and Chinese, social and situational factors are among the most important ones in determining one's choice of request patterns. The findings of this study contribute directly to the analysis of request patterns in pragmatics. Furthermore, the results of this study enrich the cross-cultural study on requests by adding the Chinese language, which has not been studied by most of the major cross-cultural studies. ^

Degree

Ph.D.

Advisors

Major Professor: Joe Salmons, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Language, Modern

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