Luận văn To find out safe and unsafe topics for the first encounter in Vietnamese and Anglophone cultures

I like Yoga so much and I am a member of a Yoga class. Thanks God I know that you are doing Yoga. Would you like to join me some day and we will share this marvelous sports, ok? And could you give me then some more experience please? (Seek agreement + Offer, promise +be conventionally indirect).

With the discussion above, the author can conclude that there is a gender influence when the English informants talk/ask the others about sports even sports is one of the considered safe topics. The difference may come from the fact that appearance issues which can be better, positively changed with sports always attract woman; this can be a universal value. However, it is regretted that this study cannot collect enough conditions to investigate the gender influence between male and female and vice verse when they talk about sports at the first encounter.

 

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itations of the study, some aspects are not covered: Paralinguistic factors: pitch, intensity, rate, other vocal qualities, etc. Non-verbal factors: facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, etc. Setting of communication: place, distance, lighting system, heat, etc. Mood factors: happy, unhappy, bore, excited, etc. II.3. Subjects of the study: The survey is conducted with two groups: one is NSEs and the other is NSVs. The Vietnamese informants are working in Hanoi, Vietnam, and the English informants who work for British Council, Language Link, Hilton Hotel or come to Vietnam as tourists. Questionnaires were delivered to 100 NSEs and 100 NSVs. However, 50 questionnaires of NSEs and 50 questionnaires of NSVs are selected for. Among 50 questionnaires of NSEs, 23 are from NSEs who are working in British Council, 18 are from Language-Link Center, 5 from Hilton Hotel, and the rest are from tourists in Vietnam. About 50 questionnaires of NSVs, 15 are from NSVs who are working in University of Civil Engineering, 10 are from the author’s neighbors, 5 are from third-year students and the rest are from the author’s friends who are working in different companies, factories. Besides, as it is believed that the informants’ profiles are important for the research, they are requested to provide information about: Their nationality Their age Their sex Their marital status Their occupation Their residence Their acquisition of foreign language The informants are assured not to be identified in any discussion of the data for the authenticity of the survey questionnaire. CHAPTER III: RESULTS AND DISCUSSION III.1. Safe and unsafe topics at the first encounter Normally, when starting a conversation at the first meeting, after introducing and being introduced, people have to think of what to say to keep it going. Topics at the first encounter are so important for good impression and hence, leading to a further relationship. As we come from different cultures with different characteristics, and cultural hiddens vary from society to society, what are said can satisfy someone in one culture but hurt others in another culture, especially at the first encounter. That is why topics to talk about in the small talk of the first meeting appear important. III.1.1. Data analysis. Collected data from question number 1 are used as the linguistic input. 20 topics are mentioned in this part. Fifty Vietnamese and fifty English are requested to tick (v) in one of five columns for each topic they think advisable or unadvisable at the first meeting. The aim of this part is to focus on whether they think they should mention the suggested topics or not for a smooth - flowing conversation. III.1.1.1 English findings Column 1 means: highly advisable (HAD) Column 2 means: advisable (AD) Column 3 means: all right (AR) Column 4 means: unadvisable (UAD) Column 5 means: strongly unadvisable (SUAD) Ord Topics 1 2 3 4 5 1 Age 9% 78% 13% 2 Politics 85% 15% 3 Weight 89% 11% 4 Salary 94% 6% 5 Work 93% 7% 6 Weather 96% 4% 7 Material life 8% 92% 8 Religion 88% 12% 9 Sex life 100% 10 News 73% 27% 11 Studying 91% 9% 12 Music 10% 88% 2% 13 Health 90% 6% 4% 14 Pets 87% 13% 15 Family 92% 8% 16 The cost of particular items 90% 10% 17 Other people’s affairs 94% 6% 18 Sports 5% 91% 4% 19 Marital status 6% 80% 14% 20 Place of current residence 20% 65% 15% Table 1: Percentages of suggested topics in the first encounter of English informants As we can see from the table 1, NSEs are so open to talk about such topics as weather (96% AD), work (93% AD), news (73% AD), studying (91% AD), music (88% AD), health (90% AD), pets (87% AD), family (92% AD), sports (91% AD) and place of current residence (65% AR) meanwhile some topics seem to be avoided to be discussed such as age (78% UAD), politics (85% UAD), weight (89% UAD), salary (94% UAD), material life (92% UAD), religion (88% UAD), sex (100%SUAD), the cost of particular items (90% UAD), other people’s affairs (94% UAD) and marital status (80% UAD). These topics carry the personal and private information for an initial meeting. III.1.1.2. Vietnamese findings Column 1 means: highly advisable (HAD) Column 2 means: advisable (AD) Column 3 means: all right (AR) Column 4 means: unadvisable (UAD) Column 5 means: strongly unadvisable (SUAD) Ord Topics 1 2 3 4 5 1 Age 22% 72% 6% 2 Politics 6% 84% 10% 3 Weight 35% 65% 4 Salary 15% 70% 15% 5 Work 75% 22% 3% 6 Weather 40% 60% 7 Material life 8% 90% 2% 8 Religion 8% 80% 12% 9 Sex life 100% 10 News 60% 40% 11 Studying 27% 68% 5% 12 Music 20% 75% 5% 13 Health 30% 70% 14 Pets 16% 84% 15 Family 80% 20% 16 The cost of particular items 19% 81% 17 Other people’s affairs 11% 7% 82% 18 Sports 80% 20% 19 Marital status 32% 60% 8% 20 Place of current residence 27% 70% 3% Table 2: Percentages of suggested topics in the first encounter of Vietnamese informants It can be seen from the table that, in the first meeting, NSVs tend to talk about topics such as age (72% AD), work (75% AR), weather (60% AR), news (60% AD), studying (68% AR), music (75% AD), health (70% AR), pets (84% AR), family (80% AD), cost of particular items (81% AR), sports (80% AD), marital status (60% AR), place of current residence (70% AR). However, some topics are avoided such as politics (84% UAD), weight (65% UAD), salary (70% UAD), material life (90% UAD), religion (80% UAD), sex life (100% SUAD) and other people’s affairs (82% SUAD) for their sensitiveness to the first meeting. III.1.2 Cross-cultural similarities and differences From the results shown in table 1 and 2, it is observed that some of these twenty suggested topics are preferred in the first meeting by NSVs while avoided by NSEs. Those are age, marital status, the cost of particular items. It might be the case that the Vietnamese regard such private and personal topics as good opportunities for them to show their concern, friendliness, consideration to their communicating partners even in their first meeting. This seems to prove the positive-politeness orientation of the Vietnamese culture. According to the survey, both English and Vietnamese informants are willing to talk about weather, music, health, pets, work, studying, news, sports, family and place of residence in the first meeting. They also share one common thing: avoiding sensitive topics such as salary, politics, sex life, material life and religion. This can be shown in the following table: Ord Topics English Vietnamese 1 Weather 96% 60% 2 News 73% 60% 3 Music 88% 75% 4 Work 93% 75% 5 Pets 87% 84% 6 Studying 91% 68% 7 Sports 91% 80% 8 Family 92% 80% 9 Health 90% 70% 10 Place of residence 65% 70% Table 3: Percentages of topics both English and Vietnamese informants like to mention in small talks in the first encounter. The table shows that these topics are more preferred by NSEs than NSVs. Weather is the most different topic in percentage (NSEs 96% “AD” and NSVs 60% “AR”), followed by Work (NSEs 93% “AD” and NSVs 75% “AR”), Studying (NSEs 91% “AD” and NSVs 68% “AR”) and Health (NSEs 90% “AD” and NSVs 70% “AR”). Then comes the topics Sports and Family which have quite similar level of difference. The topics which have smallest difference are Pets and Place of residence, accounting for 87% “AD”, 65% “AR” and 84% “AR”, 70% “AR” for NSEs and NSVs respectively, and then comes News and Music. For the public image of interlocutors in the first meeting, both NSEs and NSVs have some sensitive and affecting topics to avoid. This can be shown in the below table. Ord Topics English Vietnamese 1 Salary 94% 70% 2 Material life 92% 90% 3 Politics 85% 84% 4 Sex life 100% 100% 5 Religion 88% 80% 6 Other people’s affairs 94% 82% Table 4: Percentages of topics both English and Vietnamese informants do not like to mention in small talks in the first encounter. The table does not show much difference in the percentage of avoided topics. It is obvious that “Sex life” topic is the most sensitive one and both NSEs and NSVs do not talk about it, accounting for 100% “SUAD” for both. Then comes the topics of Material life (92% “UAD” for NSEs and 90% “UAD” for NSVs), Politics (85% “UAD” for NSEs and 84% “UAD” for NSVs), followed by Religion, Other people’s affairs and the biggest difference is Salary which accounts for 94% (UAD) for NSEs and 70% (UAD) for NSVs. To summarize, at the first encounter, the topics which are considered safe for both the English and Vietnamese informants are Weather, News, Music, Work, Pets, Studying, Sports, Family, Health and Place of residence. The topics regarded as unsafe are Salary, Material life, Politics, Sex life, Religion and Other people’s affairs. III.2. Politeness Strategies used at the first encounter. In this part, the results of the investigation of Politeness Strategy (PS) are presented. NSEs and NSVs’ use of Positive Politeness Strategies (PPSs), Negative Politeness Strategies (NPSs), Mixed Positive Politeness Strategies (MPPSs), Mixed Negative Politeness Strategies (MNPSs) and Mixed Positive - Negative Politeness Strategies (MPNPSs) through three situations is reported. In this study, both English informants and Vietnamese informants are asked to talk or ask their business partner in the office about informants’/his/her work, their new neighbor about informants’/his/her family in the street, someone whom the participants have just made acquaintance with about sports in a party. The speech act of asking or talking like this conveys Politeness. Hence, to study the ways they use, the research author uses the Theory of Politeness by Brown and Levinson and Quang, N. There are 3 categories: Positive Politeness Strategies (PPSs), Negative Politeness Strategies (NPSs) and Mixed Politeness Strategies (MPSs) are used as analytical framework. In each category, the strategies are exploited by the participants, and then calculated as percentages. The frequency of using the strategies in each category is symbolized F. III.2.1. English findings. III.2.1.1. Power influence in the communication at the first encounter. Situation PPSs F % NPSs F % MPSs F % a. To business partner of higher status in the office. PPS1 10 31.25 NPS1 8 18.60 MPPS 6 33.33 PPS4 8 25 NPS2 12 27.91 MNPS 8 44.44 PPS9 4 12.5 NPS4 3 6.98 MP-NPS 4 22.22 PPS10 10 31.25 NPS5 8 18.60 NPS6 8 18.60 NPS7 4 9.30 Total 32 100% Total 43 100% Total 18 100% b. To their business partner of equal status in the office. PPS1 9 31.03 NPS1 6 15.38 MPPS 5 34.71 PPS4 7 24.14 NPS2 12 30.77 MNPS 6 43.86 PPS9 4 13.79 NPS4 3 7.69 MP-NPS 3 21.43 PPS10 9 31.03 NS5 7 17.95 NPS6 7 17.95 NPS7 4 10.26 Total 29 100% Total 39 100% Total 14 100% C. To their business partner of lower status in the office. PPS1 8 31.5 NPS1 5 15.86 MPPS 3 33.33 PPS4 6 24.2 NPS2 8 29.57 MNPS 4 44.44 PPS9 3 12.7 NPS4 2 7.14 MP-NPS 2 22.22 PPS10 8 32 NPS5 6 18.13 Total 25 100 NPS6 6 18.13 NPS7 3 10.71 Total 9 100% Total 28 100 Table 5: Presentation politeness strategies used by English informants to their business partner about work in the office at the first encounter. From the table, the English informants use PPSs, NPSs and MPSs in the way they ask/ talk with their business partner in the office about work. In general, they use more NPSs than PPSs and MPSs. In terms of talking/asking about work to their partner of higher status, the English informants are using four PPSs, in which PPS1-Notice, attend to H (31.25%) and PPS10-Offer, promise (31.25%) are used most, six NPSs, in which NPS2-Question, hedge is used most (27.91%), MPPS, MNPS and MP-NPS. As for a business partner of equal and lower status in the office, there is not much difference in English informants’ use of PPS and MPS compared to their use of these strategies when they talk to their business partner of higher status. For example in using NPS, there is a little bit different but it is not significant. When talking/asking about work to their business partner of higher status in the office, the English informants employ the NPS1-Be conventionally indirect (18.6%), the NPS5-Give deference (18.6%) and NPS6-Apology (18.6%) are used more than when the informants talk/ask about work to their equal-powered business partner (accounting for 15.38%, 17.95%, 17.95% respectively) and their lower-powered business partner (accounting for 15.86%, 18.13%, 18.13% respectively). The common utterances are: I am wondering if you could provide me some more information about the project of ICT please. ( Be conventional Indirect) I am going to have some important projects. I am wondering if you can co-operate with me please? ( Be conventional Indirect). I suppose you will get to my current project. (Question, hedge) So I suppose you are spending a lot of time together. (Question, hedge) It is expected that our project planned today will be implemented. (Impersonalize S and H). I know you are busy, but thank you for spending time for me. Shall we discuss our work today? (Apologize and assert or presuppose S’s knowledge of and concern for H’s wants and use in-group identity markers). It is expected that our project planned today will be implemented, sir (Impersonalize S and H and Five deference). From the discussion and statistics above, a conclusion can be drawn that there is no significant power influence in the way they are talking/asking about work. There is no clear cut in the use of conventional indirect utterances, addressee honorifics, apologizing words to talk to their business partners at different status. And the fact that NSEs make use of more NPS than PPS can conclude that they show their great interest to the individual freedom and do not like being imposed by others. III.2.1.2. Age influence in the communication at the first encounter. Situation PPSs F % NPSs F % MPSs F % a. To their 10-year-older neighbor PPS1 11 32.35 NPS1 6 8.57 MPPS 4 66.66 PPS2 4 11.76 NPS2 6 8.57 MNPS 0 0 PPS4 4 11.76 NPS5 10 14.29 PPS5 9 26.47 NPS6 8 11.43 MP-NPS 2 33.33 PPS10 6 17.65 NPS10 4 5.71  NPS11 36  51.43 Total 34 100% Total 70 100% Total 3 100% b. To their same age neighbor PPS1 11 32.35 NPS1 6 8.57 MPPS 2 66.66 PPS2 4 11.76 NPS2 6 8.57 MNPS 0 0 PPS4 4 11.76 NPS5 10 14.29 MP-NPS 1 33.33 PPS5 9 26.47 NPS6 8 11.43 PPS10 6 17.65 NPS10 4 5.71 NPS11 36  51.43 Total 34 100% Total 70 100% Total 3 100% c. To their ten-year-younger neighbor. PPS1 11 32.35 NPS1 6 8.57 MPPS 2 66.66 PPS2 4 11.76 NPS2 6 8.57 MNPS 0 0 PPS4 4 11.76 NPS5 10 14.29 MP-NPS 1 33.33 PPS5 9 26.47 NPS6 8 11.43 PPS10 6 17.65 NPS10 4 5.71 NPS11 36  51.43 Total 34 100% Total 70 100% Total 3 100% Table 6: Presentation politeness strategies used by English informants to their new neighbor in the street at the first encounter From the table 6, when the informants are required to talk/ask their new neighbor who is ten years older than them/as their age/ or 10 years younger than them, they use PPS, NPS and MPS. However, whereas there is quite a balance of PPS and NPS, MPS is used least among them. When talking to their new neighbor of different ages, the English informants tend to use PPS, NPS rather than MPS, according to the survey. There is a difference in each category of strategies. Of all PPSs, PPS1-Notice, attend to H accounts the most frequency (32.35%) and the least is PPS 2-Exaggerate (11.76%) and PPS4-Use in-group identity markers (11.76%). Meanwhile, NPS11-Avoid asking personal questions (51.43%) is used most when the informants talk to their new neighbor. For examples: I think you can call me if you need my help. My wife and my three children are warmly welcomed you. (Question, hedge) My house is very near yours, Drop me next week, ok? (Offer, promise). About mixed strategies, mixed strategy of positive are more favor (66.66%). How many children have you got? I saw them last week playing in your garden. How marvelous garden it is! (Notice, attend to H and Exaggerate) My house is very near yours, drop me next week, my neighbor, ok? (Offer, promise and use in-group identity markers). From the information above, a conclusion can be drawn that there is no age influence on the way the English informants talk/ask about topic family to their new 10 year older neighbor, their new same age neighbor and their new 10 year younger neighbor. But one noticeable point here is that NSEs employ so much NPS11-Avoiding asking personal questions (51.43%) when they talk to their new neighbor of different ages about their family. This fact once again demonstrates that individual problems are not a favorable topic in communication in Western culture. This seems to suggest that in the Western culture, asking detailed personal questions means nosy behaviors, threatening others’ face. III.2.1.3. Gender influence in the communication at the first encounter Situation PPSs F % NPSs F % MPSs F % a. To a Male. PPS1 10 20.83 NPS1 2 6.06 MPPS PPS4 4 8.33 NPS2 5 15.15 MNPS 0 0 PPS5 24 50.00 NPS5 2 6.06 MP-NPS 0 0 PPS10 4 8.33 NPS6 7 21.21 PPS13 6 12.50 NPS11 17 51.52 Total 48 100% Total 33 100% Total 0 0% b. To a Female. PPS1 22 31.43 NPS1 2 6.06 MPPS 4 30.77 PPS2 10 14.29 NPS2 5 15.15 MNPS 6 46.15 PPS4 4 5.71 NPS5 2 6.06 MP-NPS 3 23.08 PPS5  24  34.29 NPS6 7 21.21 PPS10 4 5.71 NPS11 17 51.52 P PS 13 6  8.57 Total 70 100% Total 49 100% Total 13 100% Table 7: Presentation politeness strategies used by English informants to their new friend at the first encounter in a party The table 7 is the presentation of the PS used by the English informants to their new friend in a party about sports. PPSs, NPSs and MPSs appear in the ways they ask/talk to their new friend in a party about sports. From the statistics, they expose some differences. When male English informants ask/talk about sports to their new male friend at their same age in a party, they use five PPSs while six PPSs are employed by the female English informants when they talk about sports to their new female friend. However, the percentage of PPS 1-Notice, attend to H is more than 1,5 times (31.43% compared to 20.83%). Talking to a new female friend, the female English informants show more concerns, interest to her wants, goods such as appearance, accessories…which relate to sports and usually pay their compliments to them. That can be shown through the percentage of the use of PPS 2-Exaggerate (14.29%) to a new female friend while this strategy is not used for a new male friend by the male English informants. For examples: You are so wonderful in this hair style, and you look so fit. What kind of sports do you like most? (Exaggerate and Notice, attend to H). You are so shining in your beautiful dress. It suits you. Are you a fan of aerobics? (Exaggerate). From the table 7, the biggest difference among the ways used to a new male friend and a new female friend is the MPSs. There are no MPSs used by the male English informants when they talk about sports to their new male friend while these are applied to talk to a new female friend. MNPS accounts for 46.15%, twice as many as MP-NPS. Example can be illustrated as follow: I like Yoga so much and I am a member of a Yoga class. Thanks God I know that you are doing Yoga. Would you like to join me some day and we will share this marvelous sports, ok? And could you give me then some more experience please? (Seek agreement + Offer, promise +be conventionally indirect). With the discussion above, the author can conclude that there is a gender influence when the English informants talk/ask the others about sports even sports is one of the considered safe topics. The difference may come from the fact that appearance issues which can be better, positively changed with sports always attract woman; this can be a universal value. However, it is regretted that this study cannot collect enough conditions to investigate the gender influence between male and female and vice verse when they talk about sports at the first encounter. III.2.2. Vietnamese findings. III.2.2.1. Power influence in the communication at the first encounter. Situation PPSs F % NPSs F % MPSs F % a. To their higher-powered business partner in the office PPS1 13 24.53 NPS1 13 23.21 MPPS 10 31.25 PPS4 5 9.43 NPS2 15 26.79 MNPS 6 18.75 PPS5 8 15.09 NPS5 8 14.29 MP-NPS 16 50 PPS9 12 22.64 NPS6 7 12.5 PPS10 9 16.98 NPS9 10 17.86 PS11 4 7.55 NS10 3 5.36 PPS 17 2 3.77 Total 53 100% Total 56 100% 32 100% b. To their equal-powered business partner in the office PPS1 13 24.07 NPS1 3 17.64 MPPS 3 42.86 PPS4 9 16.67 NPS2 4 23.52 MNPS 1 14.29 PPS5 4 7.41 NPS5 2 11.76 MP-NPS 3 42.86 PPS9 9 16.67 NPS6 2 11.76 PPS10 9 16.67 NPS9 3 17.64 PPS11 4 7.41 NPS10 3 17.64 PPS17 6 11.11 Total 54 100% Total 17 100% Total 7 100% c. To their lower-powered business partner in the office PPS1 8 16.67 NPS1 1 14.29 MPPS 3 42.86 PPS4 12 25.00 NPS2 1 14.29 MNPS 1 14.29 PPS5 2 4.17 NPS9 1 14.29 MP-NPS 3 42.86 PPS9 5 10.42 NPS10 4 57.14 PPS10 9 18.75 PPS11 4 8.33 PPS17 8 16.67 Total 57 100% Total 7 100% Total 7 100% Table 8: Presentation politeness strategies used by Vietnamese informants to their business partner in the office at the first encounter Overall, when the Vietnamese informants ask their business partner about work, they use more PPSs than NPSs and MPSs. And the MPSs have the least frequency. When the Vietnamese informants ask their business partner of higher status about work, they use 24.53% for PPS 1-Notice, attend to H, the same as to their equal-powered but less to their lower-powered one. They show more their interest, consideration to their higher-powered-business partner about their work, their position, their working style… For examples: Với vị trí cao thế nay, chắc hẳn công việc của anh bận rộn lắm phải không? Anh làm giám đốc dự án được lâu chưa? Công ty của anh có thường làm dự án với công ty nước ngoài không? By contrast, when talking/asking about work, the Vietnamese informants ask personal questions least for their business partner of higher status (3.77%) while they use these questions 4 times more to their business partner of lower status (14.4%). For examples: Công việc thế này thì lương lậu của mình thế nào? (PPS17) Anh làm dự án bận rôn, thời gian không cố định thì anh có thời gian chăm sóc gia đình nhiều không? Anh được mấy cháu rồi? (PPS17) PPS 9-Assert or presuppose S’s knowledge of and concern for H’s wants also contributes more difference. They use more percentages for their higher-powered business partner (22.64%), less for their equal-powered business partner (16.67%) and least for their lower-powered one (10.42%). In terms of NPS used for a business partner at different power status about work by the Vietnamese informants, the most noticeable point is that the informants refuse to use NPS 5-Give deference and NPS 6-Apology when they talk to the lower-powered business partner, but they make use of them quite a lot when they talk to business partner of higher status (14.29%, 12.5% respectively) and to one of equal status (11.76% and 11.76% respectively). The NPS 1-Be conventionally indirect, NPS 2 – Question, hedge and NPS 9-Nominalize are used for a business partner of higher status account for 23.21%, 26.79% and 17.86% respectively, for a business partner of equal status account for 17.64%, 23.52% and 17.64% respectively, for a business partner of lower status account for 14.29%, 14.29% and 14.29% respectively. However, the NPS 10-Go on record as incuring a debt, or as not indebting H (57.14%) used for business partner of lower status is far more than it for a business partner of equal status (17.64%) and for a business partner of higher status (5.36%). The NPS 5- Give deference is used least (5.36%). Looking at the MPS, for a business partner of high status, the MNPS(18.75%), MP-NPS (50%) seem to be over compared to a business partner of equal status and lower status who gain equally percentage (42.86% and 42.86% respectively). And the MPPS used for a business partner of higher status is lower than for a business partner of equal and lower status. From the discussion above, a conclusion can be drawn that power has much influence in the way the Vietnamese informants use to talk/ask abo

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