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A cross cultural study on criticizing in english and vietnamese

TRAN HOAI NINH

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING
HANOI OPEN UNIVERSITY

M.A. THESIS
ENGLISH LINGUIAGE

A CROSS-CULTURAL STUDY ON CRITICIZING IN
ENGLISH AND VIETNAMESE

(NGHIÊN CỨU VỀ GIAO THOA VĂN HOÁ TRONG VIỆC ĐƯA RA
LỜI CHỈ TRÍCH TRONG TIẾNG ANH VÀ TIẾNG VIỆT)

TRAN HOAI NINH

2013 - 2015

Hanoi, 2016

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MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING
HANOI OPEN UNIVERSITY

M.A. THESIS

A CROSS- CULTURAL STUDY ON CRITICIZING IN
ENGLISH AND VIETNAMESE
(NGHIÊN CỨU VỀ GIAO THOA VĂN HOÁ TRONG VIỆC ĐƯA RA LỜI
CHỈ TRÍCH TRONG TIẾNG ANH VÀ TIẾNG VIỆT)

TRAN HOAI NINH

Field: English Language
Code: 60220201

Supervisor: Dr. Nguyen Thi Van Dong

Hanoi, 2016

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CERTIFICATE OF ORIGINALITY
I, the undersigned, hereby certify my authority of the study project report
entitled A Study on criticizing on English and Vietnamese submitted in
partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master in English
Language. Except where the reference is indicated, no other person’s work
has been used without due acknowledgement in the text of the thesis.
Hanoi, 2016

Tran Hoai Ninh

Approved by
SUPERVISOR

(Signature and full name)
Date:……………………


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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This thesis could not have been completed without the help and
support from a number of people.
First and foremost, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Dr.
Nguyen Thi Van Dong my supervisor, who has patiently and constantly
supported me through the stages of the study, and whose stimulating ideas,
expertise, and suggestions have inspired me greatly through my growth as
an academic researcher.
A special word of thanks goes to my family, my husband and many
others, without whose support and encouragement it would never have been
possible for me to have this thesis accomplished.

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ABSTRACT
This study is about the similarities and differences in giving criticism
in English and Vietnamese cultures through verbal cues. The findings from
the research would partly help teachers and learners of English, especially
Vietnamese learners of English, avoid miscommunication, hence cultural
shock and communication breakdown.
The research is intended to thoroughly contrast verbal criticism in
English and Vietnamese from cultural perspective, thus partly helping to
increase the awareness of the similarities and differences between English
and Vietnamese cultures in giving criticisms. To achieve this overall
purpose, the study aims at:
• Describing and classifying the criticizing strategies in English and
Vietnamese.
• Comparing and contrasting different strategies employed by
Vietnamese and English people when they give criticism in their
own language and culture.
For the limited time and scope, paralinguistic and extra linguistic,
factors, important though they obviously are and the author is well aware of,
play a vital part of effective interpersonal communication in accompanying
and amending the spoken word(s), the study is only confined to the verbal
aspect of the speech act of giving criticism.

ii


LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES
Table 1: Result of survey on direct and indirect strategies in

56

English and Vietnamese.
Table 2: Result of survey on direct strategies in English and

56

Vietnamese.
Table3: Result of survey on indirect strategies in English

58

and Vietnamese.
Table 4: Result of survey on the modifiers in English and

59

Vietnamese criticisms.
Table 5: The distribution of criticism internal modifiers by

62

the two languages
Figure1 :Theoretical C.As and Applied C.As

iii

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Certificate of originality
Acknowledgements
Abstract
List of tables and figures
Chapter I: INTRODUCTION
1. 1Rationale
1.2. Aims of the study
1.3. Scope of the study
1.4. Research questions
1.5. Structure of Thesis
Chapter II : LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1. Review of previous studies
2.2 Review of theoretical background
2.2.1 Theoretical framework

i
ii
iii
iv
1
1
1
2
2
3
5
5
6
6

2.2.2. Theoretical background

8

2.3. Summary

30

Chapter 3: METHODOLOGY

31

3.1 Research-governing orientations

31

3.1.1. Research questions

31

3.1.2 Research setting

31

3.1.3 Research approaches

32

3.1.4 Criteria for intended data collection and data analysis

32

3.2. Research methods

33

3.2.1 Major methods versus supporting methods

33

3.2.2 Data collection techniques

33

3.2.3. Data analysis techniques

33

3.3. Summary

34

Chapter IV:FINDINGS AND DICUSSION

35

4.1. Findings

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4.1.1.Criticizing strategies and semantic formulas in English and

36

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Vietnamese
4.1.2. Modifiers in English and Vietnamese criticisms

52

4.2. Discussion

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4.2.1. The criticism strategies in English and Vietnamese:

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4.2.2. The modifiers in English and Vietnamese

68

4.2.3. The differences and similarities of the speech act of

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criticizing in English and Vietnamese cultures:
4.3.Implications

73

4.4. Summary

74

Chapter V: CONCLUSION

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5.1. Recapitulation

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5.2. Concluding remarks

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5.3. Limitations of the current research

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5.4 Recommendations and suggestions for a further research

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B BIBLIOGRAPHY

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Chapter I
INTRODUCTION
1. Rationale
In the light of Communicative Language Teaching, language is taught for
but communication. In other words, to teach language is to provide learners
with communicative competence. However, the teaching and learning of
English in Vietnam are more or less under the influence of the traditional
ways of teaching and learning language, which mainly focused on the
development of linguistic competence – lexis, grammatical rules,
vocabulary, and pronunciation. Meanwhile, little attention has been paid to
oral skills and even less to cultural aspects. This leads to a fact that
Vietnamese learners of English, though they have fairly good knowledge of
linguistic competence, usually find themselves unable to communicate in a
natural way or face up with communication breakdown in the target
language, especially with native speakers of English. Moreover, it is the
lack of the target language culture and cultural differences that lead
Vietnamese learners of English experience culture shock in every aspect of
cross-cultural communication. Therefore, learners must have mutual
understandings and awareness of cultural differences to be successful crosscultural communicators.
A study on the similarities and differences in giving criticism in
English and Vietnamese cultures through verbal cues is believed to be of
great importance and significance. The findings from the research would
partly help teachers and learners of English, especially Vietnamese learners
of

English,

avoid

miscommunication,

communication breakdown.

1

hence

cultural

shock

and


2. Aims of the study
The research is intended to thoroughly contrast verbal criticism in English
and Vietnamese from cultural perspective, thus partly helping to increase
the awareness of the similarities and differences between English and
Vietnamese cultures in giving criticisms. To achieve this overall purpose,
the study aims at:
• Describing and classifying the criticizing strategies in English and
Vietnamese.
• Comparing and contrasting different strategies employed by
Vietnamese and English people when they give criticism in their
own language and culture.
3. Scope of the study
For the limited time and scope, paralinguistic and extra linguistic, factors,
important though they obviously are and the author is well aware of, play a
vital part of effective interpersonal communication in accompanying and
amending the spoken word(s), the study is only confined to the verbal aspect
of the speech act of giving criticism.
Secondly, to raise learner’s awareness of the wide application of
criticizing strategies, the data used for illustration and exemplification are
taken mainly from short stories and novels in English and Vietnamese. The
collection of the data in this ways brings us some convenience for the
contrastive study: it yields a wide range of strategies, used by people from
different cultures in different situations, which a questionnaire or an
interview, highly or to some extent controlled, would not have offered.
Finally, by English, the author means the English language as a
mother tongue; no distinction will be made between American English,
British English, Australian -English and so on.
4. Research questions
The author plans to answer the three main questions:

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- What kind of analysis of the Speech act criticizing in English and
Vietnamese?
- What are strategies of criticizing in English and Vietnamese?
- What are the similarities and differences in the criticism strategies in
English and Vietnamese?
5. Structure of Thesis
As for the design of the study, it is composed of five main parts:
Chapter I- Introduction - introduces the rationale, scope, aims and
methodology of the study as well as the way to collect the data.
Chapter II – Literature review- consists of two main parts. They are:
- Review of previous studies
- Review of theoretical background:
- The notions of speech acts, theories of politeness, as well as the
aspects of C.A. in culture, which are relevant to the purpose of the
study.
- The relationship between language and culture,
Chapter III- Methodology - this part aims at: describes the research
methodology in details and comprises the information of the subjects,
instruments of data collection and methods of data analysis.
Chapter IV: Finding and discussion: this chapter investigates the
similarities and differences in the criticism strategies in English and
Vietnamese. In this chapter, what is meant by criticizing in this study is
taken into account. Then the criticism strategies as well as the criticism
modifiers in the two languages will be described, compared, and contrasted.
The later part of chapter works with some implications to the teaching of the
criticism strategies in English to the Vietnamese learners of English from a
socio-cultural perspective.
Chapter V – Conclusion – draws conclusions of the study and proposes
some suggestions for further research.

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Chapter II
LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1. Review of previous studies
The speech act of criticizing has been studied by different researchers such as
House and Kasper (1981), Tracy, van Dusen, and Robison (1987), Tracy and
Eisenberg (1990), Wajnryb (1993, 1995) and Toplak and Katz (2000) and
others.
Tracy, et al (1987) investigated the characteristics of criticisms by
people from different cultural backgrounds and distinguished “good” from
“bad” criticisms. According to him, a good criticism is one that displays a
positive language and manner; suggests specific changes and possible critic;
states justified and explicited reasons for criticizing and does not violate the
relationship between interlocutions and is accurate. Supporting that point of
view, Wajnrub (1993) holds “an effective criticism must be kept simple
specific, well-grounded, linked to strategies for improvement and delivered as
an attempt to share experience. It also needs to be softened by means of a
number of strategies. These include ‘measuring words’ (to avoid being too
negative), ‘soft-pedaling’ (i.e. using internal and external modifications to
lessen the harshness of the criticism), ‘using affirmative language’ such as
comforting messages, ‘distancing and neutralizing’ (to depersonalize the
criticism) and ‘using negotiating language’ (to avoid imposing on the
addressee.) (Wajnryb, 1993; cited by Minh, 2005: 15). That point of view
seems to be supported by Wajnryb (1995) who preferred a direct and
‘economical’ criticism rather than indirect, wordy, and ‘time-wasting’ one.
Along these perceptions, Toplak and Katz (2000) focused on the
difference between the speaker and the addressee when giving their judgments
4


of the criticism given, “The addressee tented to view sarcasm as more severe
than the speaker intended.” However, they also discovered that sarcasm was
not perceived by the recipient as having as negative an impact on the
relationship between the interlocutors as direct criticisms.
Tracy and Eissenberg (1990) in their investigation into the preferences
for message clarity and politeness in giving criticism found that among people
from different races and gender the superiors tended to give more weight to
message clarity that did subordinates and that this preference also varied
according to gender and race.
Overall, the speech act of criticizing has attracted many researchers
thanks to its great contribution to thoroughly deep understanding of the field.
Yet, the definition of this speech act is still not mentioned, which makes it
difficult to compare and contrast the findings of the various studies. Therefore,
the author of this study finds that studying on criticizing as a speech act across
cultures should be carried out with the hope of contributing to the successful
cross-cultural communication.
2.2. Review of theoretical background
2.2.2 Theoretical framework
In real-life communication, the speech act of criticizing – as in the case of
complaining - has proven to be composed of different speech acts and of great
risk of causing face threatening act (FTA). It is, therefore, suggested that
studies on criticizing as a speech act across cultures should be carried out with
the hope of contributing to the successful cross-cultural communication.
One of the most widely-used definition in the study of the field is Tracy et al’s
(1987), in which they consider both criticizing and complaining as the act of
‘finding fault’ and define these two speech acts as ‘negative evaluation of a
person or an act for which he/she is deemed responsible.’ However, Tracy et
5


al’s (1987: 56) suggest two main points to distinguish between criticizing and
complaining, which are “content and form and the salient role identity” of the
giver and the receiver: criticisms are usually associated with higher social
status and complaints with lower social status, although there may also be
exceptions.
Another definition of criticism is found in House and Kasper (1981),
who consider criticisms, accusations, and reproaches as different kinds of
complaints. Their reasons for this are that all of these speech acts share the
same two features, namely “post-event” and “anti-speaker”. However, one
might argue against this definition at least on the following grounds. Firstly, a
criticism does not necessarily have to be always targeted at an event which
happens earlier in the sense used by House and Kasper. It can also be made
about something static, permanent, and independent of chronological time such
as a person’s personality or appearance. Secondly, the feature “anti-speaker”
seems more applicable to complaints than to criticisms as pointed out by Tracy
et al. (1987). Both the illocutionary force and the illocutionary point that a
critic and a complainer intend are inherently different. In criticizing, S may
intend H to try to improve to his or her own benefits, or S just may wish to
express his or her opinion known. In complaining, S implies that something
bad has happened to himself or herself, or that H has done something bad to
him or her and therefore expects a repair from the latter. Thus, criticisms are
usually, though not necessarily, associated with constructive attitudes or at
least with non-self involvement, which is not the case with complaints.
In light of this discussion, it is apparent that compared to other speech
acts, our understanding of the speech act of criticizing is rather limited due to
the fact that this speech act is under-researched in literature. It is therefore
necessary that more studies be conducted to shed lights on the pragmatic
6


properties of criticizing, thus supplementing the existing body of speech act
research, which is presently confined to a rather small set of speech acts. (Ellis,
1994).
2.2.2. Theoretical background
2.2.2.1Contrastive analysis (C.A.)
Contrastive Analysis dates back to the 1950s when it was first developed and
practiced as an application of structural linguistics to language teaching. As
regards its definition James, C. (1980: 3) declares:
“Contrastive Analysis is a linguistic enterprise aimed at producing
inverted (i.e. contrastive, not comparative) two-valued typologies (a C.A.
is always concerned with a pair of languages), and founded on the
assumption that languages can be compared.”
(Carl Jame, 1980: 3)
James also claims that there are three branches of two-valued (two
languages are involved) interlingual linguistics: translation theory – which is
concerned with the process of text conversion; error analysis; and contrastive
analysis – these last two having as the object of enquiry the means whereby a
monolingual learns to be bilingual. Among these branches of linguistics, C.A
seems to be the most effective way in comparing between the first language
and the second language as well as a pairs of languages foreign language
learners are learning.
Hence, in the preface of his book Contrastive Analysis, Carl James (1980)
states,
“In the heyday of structural linguistics and the pattern practice language
teaching methodology which derived insights and justification from such an
approach to linguistic description, nothing seemed of greater potential value to

7


languageteachers and

learners

than

a

comparative

and

contrastive

description of the learner’s mother tongue and the target language.”
(In the Introduction of Contrastive Analysis by Carl James, 1980)
Contrastive analysis is defined, according to James (1980), as a form of
interlanguage study and a central concern of applied linguistics. As a matter of
fact, C.A. has had much to offer not only to practical language teaching, but
also to translation theory, the description of particular languages, language
typology and the study of language universals. In relation to bilingualism, C.A.
is concerned with how a monolingual becomes bilingual; in other words, it is
concerned with the effects exerted by the first language (L1) on the foreign
language being learnt (L2). Thus, C.A has been a preferable method used by
Vietnamese linguists in recent years as it enables them to contrast Vietnamese
with other languages not only of the same typologies, but also of different
ones. It also helps bring out many interesting differences and similarities
between languages, which make a great contribution to lightening the language
teaching and learning burden.
It has been suggested that there are two kinds of C.A.: theoretical and
applied ones. According to Fisiak et al (cited by James, C., 1980:142),
theoretical C.As. “do not investigate how a given category present in language
A is presented in language B. Instead they look for the realization of a
universal category X in both A and B.” Meanwhile, applied C.As. are
“preoccupied with the problem of how a universal category X, realized in
language A as Y, is rendered in language B.” That means applied C.As are
unindirectional whereas theoretical C.As. are static, because they do not need
to reflect any directionality of learning, which is illustrated in the following
diagram:

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X
A

X
B

A(Y)

Theoretical C.As

B(?)

Applied C.As

Figure 1. Theoretical C.As and Applied C.As
As James (1980: 142-143) states, applied C.As. are interpretations of
theoretical C.As. rather than independent executions, since an applied C.A.
executed independently is liable to lose its objectivity; that is, its predictions
will tend to be based on teachers’ experience of learners’ difficulties rather
than derived from linguistic analysis.
2.2.2.2. Language and culture
2.2.2.2. 1. The relationship of language and culture:
Language, according to “Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary”
(1992: 506), is defined as “systems of sounds, words, patterns, etc. used by
humans to communicate thoughts and feeling”. Crystal (1992: 212) also gives
this definition of language when the researcher considers language as “the
systematic, conventional use of sounds, signs, or written symbols in a human
society for communication and self-expression”. Thus, language is one of the
highest and the most amazing product of human being that helps distinguish
them from other creatures and that serves the main purpose of communication.
Language, according to Kramsch (1998:3), is “the principle means
whereby we conduct our social lives”. That means language is considered as
the medium through which a culture is reflected. That point of view is also
shared by Saville-Troike (1982; 35), which says, “there is a correlation
between the norm and content of a language and the beliefs, values and needs
9


present in the culture of its speaker”. In addition, sharing with Brown’s and
Saville-Troike’s idea about the relationship between language and culture,
Kramsch in his book Language and Culture (1998) emphasizes this correlation
by presenting three functions of language related to culture:
- Language expresses cultural reality
- Language embodies cultural reality.
- Language symbolizes cultural reality.
Therefore, it is widely believed that the correlation between language
and culture is obviously undeniable.
What can be derived from the above discussions is the relationship
between language and culture. In order to make this interrelation more explicit,
it is necessary to clarify what we mean by culture.
Culture is so popular a notion in our daily life that many researchers
have defined it in many ways.
According to Veresiaghin, Kostomarov (1990), “culture” is considered
as a social phenomenon, which consists of both material and spiritual values. In
other words, there are two catergories of culture “tangible culture” (architectual
buildings, costumes and the art of food…) and “invisible culture” (folk songs,
festivals …). Whereas, others hold the idea that “culture” is limited to products
of culture which include visible expressions and invisible patterns –the hidden
ones. Therefore, culture in this point of view also refers to the often hidden
patterns of human interactions, expressions and viewpoints that people in one
culture share. Because of its submergence, it is difficult for most people to
realize cultures deeply and encounter in communication.
When defining the notion of culture, Goodenough (1981; in Wardhaugh,
1991: 217) affirms, “Culture is a sort of knowledge which everyone must
possess to function within a society.” What is more, “culture is everything that
10


people have, think and do as a member of a society” (Gary Ferrando, 1996; in
Quang, N., 2005: 38). It can be interpreted from these points of view that
culture is the knowledge of patterns (models/ schemes/ behaviors) learned and
shared by a set of people in a community and that the process related to the
products of culture and the dynamic factors of the creations of cultural products
are paid more attention.
Culture is also defined as ‘human’s behaviors’ by another group of
researchers, who emphasize on the mechanisms of human’s behaviors. One of
the typical definitions of ‘culture’ related to human’s behaviors is Clinfford
Geertz’s (1973: 383), in which culture is:
a. The total way of life of a person.
b. The social legacy that individual acquires from his group.
c. The way of thinking, feeling and believing.
d. An abstraction from behavior.
e. A theory on the part of the anthropologist about the way in which a
group of people in fact behave.
f. A store house of pooled learning.
g. A set of standardised orientation, to recurrent problems.
h. Learned behavior.
i. A mechanism for the normative of behavior.
j. A set technique for adjusting both of the external environments, to
other men.
k. A precipitate of history.
l. A behavior map, sieve, matrix.
In addition, sharing the idea about the influence of culture on people’s
behaviors, Seelye (in Fantini, A.E., 1997: 23) has his own definition:

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“Culture is the systematic, rather arbitrary, more or less coherent,
group-invented, and group-shared creed from the past that defines the shape of
“reality” and assigns the sense and worth of things; it is modified by each
generation and in response to adaptive pressures; it provides the code that tells
people how to behave predictably and acceptably, the cipher that allows them
to derive meaning from language and other symbols, the map that supplies the
behavial options for satisfying human needs”.
Parson, T. (1949: 8) also argues, “Culture … consists in those patterns
relative to behavior and the products of human action…” Thus, “culture”
influences behaviors and it is structured system of patterned behavior. (Lado,
R., 1957:110)
Laying the emphasis on the invisible and non-natural aspect of “culture”,
a number of researchers consider “culture” as the products of “consciousness”
and “behavior”. One representative of this group, Levin and Adelman (1993:
XVIII) states,
“Culture is a shared background resulting from a common language and
communication style, customs, beliefs, attitudes and values”. Richards
etal (in Clyne, 1996: 94) shares the same idea with Levine and
Adelman’s and Banks et al’s (1989:72) when he defines “Culture is a
total set of belief, attitudes, customs, behaviors, and social habits.”
In short, learning about cultures is absolutely enriching. The more
one knows others, the more she sees her own culture more clearly. Therefore,
Quang, N. (2005:5) states, “by learning about contrast, we can better
understand how cultures influence individuals and their communication with
others”.
2.2.2.2.2. The culture of Vietnam

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The culture of Vietnam, according to Wikipedia encyclopedia, is
considered as one of the oldest in the Southest Asia region. Although Vietnam
lies geographically in Southeast Asia, long periods of Chinese domination and
influence has resulted in the emergence of many East Asian characteristics in
Vietnamese culture. While Chinese culture has the largest foreign influence on
traditional Vietnamese culture, there is also a much smaller influence from the
Cham and later Western cultures (most notably that of France, Russia and the
United States).
Vietnam’s population (in 2006) was 84.402.966, with a population
density of 253 persons per km². Most people live in or near the densely
populated Red River or Mekong deltas, which are Vietnam’s two major
cultivated areas. The Red River Delta, in the North, is the cradle of the
Vietnamese civilization and rice culture. The Mekong Delta, a very fertile land
in the South with a favorable climate, is the largest rice growing area in
Vietnam. It can be said that Vietnamese culture has evolved on the basis of the
rice culture. Thus, the lifestyle of the Vietnamese population is closely related
to the village and native land. It helps to shape the community value and
especially patriotism among the Vietnamese. It is the fact that the Vietnamese
people are well known for fiercely protectors of their independence sovereignty
for 2000 years. Most of the Vietnamese are always willing to devote all
through their lives of struggle for national liberation and independence when
needed.
Another noticeable feature is the familial relation of Vietnamese culture
value. If it can be said that Western cultures value individualism, then it can
also be said that Eastern cultures value the roles of family (from Wikipedia
encyclopedia). Indeed, you cannot understand the Vietnamese until you first
understand the importance of the family. As in many other Asian countries,
13


family is the foundation of Vietnamese society. Many families have 3
generations living under one roof. Today, however, more and more couples are
choosing to move into their own homes. In Vietnamese society, decisionmaking is a family affair. Children cannot make decisions for themselves if
their parents are still alive.
About 74% of Vietnamese currently live in rural areas, and although
many are being influenced by the process of Westernization, traditional rural
customs and traditions still play a vital role in shaping the culture of Vietnam.
In rural Vietnam, kinship plays an important role. As a result, there is a
complex hierarchy of relationships. This complex system of relationships is
conveyed particularly through the Vietnamese language, which has an
extensive array of honorifics to signify the status of the speaker in regards to
the person they are speaking to. This helps to form the personalism in
Vietnamese culture value. This is also in agreement with Phan Ngoc (cited by
Nguyễn Văn Độ, 2004:146), who says, “Western culture value is
individualism, whereas Vietnamese culture value the personalism.”
Furthermore, a Vietnamese proverb says, “While drinking water, we
must be grateful for its source”. This is why, in almost every rural village or
urban district, a temple has been built to worship the tutelary spirit who
founded the locality. Today people still worship the tutelary spirit along with
the national heroes who sacrified their lives for the country.
In addition, religion has exerted a deep influence on Vietnamese culture
and the Vietnamese concept of life. Vietnamese religious beliefs have been
influenced by combined values of the three traditional religions forming the
Tam Giáo (“triple religion”). Buddhism, introduced in Vietnam in the 2nd
century, is considered as the official ideology. The ideological influence of
Buddhism remained very strong in social and cultural life. Confucianism,
14


originated from China and propagated to Vietnam in the early Chinese
domination period, is a moral doctrine advising people that they have a part of
responsibility in their fate, that they must love one another, must not think of
abstract things of the next world, and pay much attention to education. Due to
the influence of Confucianism, the Vietnamese became more hardworking,
friendly and scholars with knowledge. The central idea of Taoism, founded by
Lao Tseu, is to live purely and simply. It replies on harmony between Man,
Nature and a Universal Order.
Besides the “triple religion”, Vietnamese life was also profoundly
influenced by the practice of ancestor worship as well as native animism. Most
Vietnamese people, regardless of religious denomination, practice ancestor
worship and have an ancestor altar at their home or business, a testament to the
emphasis Vietnamese culture places on filial duty.
In sum, Vietnam is at the crossroads between South East Asian and the
offshore islands. Its culture bears common features of the South East Asian
cultural region, while also having absorbed the quintessence of cultures from
other parts of the world. However, the Vietnamese highest culture values are
patriotism, community value, familial value and personalism. It is culture
values that help to shape patriotism, peace loving, closeness, friendliness,
sincerity, straightforwardness and interdependence in each of Vietnamese
people.
2.2.2.2.3. The culture of England
British customs and traditions are famous all over the world. When
people think of Britain they often think of people drinking tea, eating fish and
chips and wearing bowler hats, but there is more to Britain than just those
things. We have English and British traditions of sport, music, food and many
royal occasions. There are also songs, sayings and superstitions.
15


Britain, the largest island of the British Isles, includes the countries of
England, Wales and Scotland. Being an island has affected the British people’s
characteristics. British people still have an island mentally: independent,
separate and on the edge of things. British families are often criticizegd for
they way they do things separately, though many people believe that it is good
for children to learn to be independent. From an early age, children are
encouraged to decide what they want to do, eat or wear, and their parents try to
respect their opinions. Upon reaching their appropriate age, children are
encouraged to “live the nest” and begin an independent life. Compared to that
familial culture value of Vietnam, the members of a family in Britain usually
do not share the rame roof. In Britain, it is common for members of the
extended family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) to live far away. Some
grandparents see very little of their grandchildren. Families try to stay in
contact with each other by writing and telephoning, by visiting occasionally,
and sometimes by holding big family reunions. Since they see less of each
other, their concern for each other is not so strong. It is the fact that although
family loyalty is still important, and many people feel they have a duty to care
for members of their family when they need it, it is not the part of British
culture for old people to live with younger members of their family. Most
elderly people live in their own homes and, when they cannot care for
themselves, move into an old people’s home or a nursing home.

When

the community value is concerned, it is rare to find people who have lived all
their lives in one community. As a result, the British also have no the same
community value as the Vietnamese do.
Furthermore, the British are known as perfectly polite and proper,
always saying “please”, “thank you” and “excuse me”. British people are also
famous for their reserve and their “stiff upper lip” (not giving their opinion or
16


showing their feeling in public), which makes them seem formal and distant.
The view of Britain as a country where everyone behaves in a strange but nice
way is not realistic. For many American people the British are snobbish and do
not seem very friendly. In addition, the British often cause confusion and upset
by not saying what they mean; for example, they usually say, “That’s no
problem” when they know that it will be a big problem.
Modern Britain is a multi-faith community, in which many religions are
practiced, but the main religion is Christianity. The Church of England
functions as the established church in England. Both the Church of England
and the Catholic Church in England and Wales trace their formal history from
the 597 Augustinian mission to the English. Other churches which have started
in England include the Methodist church, the Quakers and the Salvation Army.
Many British people believe that luck plays an important part in their
lives, they thus usually wish somebody luck (good luck) in many situations.
British people learn superstitions while they are children, and though few
adults will admit to being superstitious, many act on superstitions out of habit.
The British are also interested in fate and in knowing what will happen to them
in the future. Most people know which sign of the zodiac they were born under,
and read their horoscope or “stars” in magazines, though only a few take what
is said seriously. British people may thank their lucky stars for a piece of good
fortune. When things go wrong thay may say “Just my luck!”, blaming their
own bad luck, or look back on an unlucky act that has, in some unexplained
way, caused their current problem.
In short, Britain according to many Western scholars contains a rich
mixture of many different cultures (England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland).
However, it is word-wide agreed that British people are independent, separate,
and reserve. In addition, individualism is also the main ego in British culture.
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