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A contrastive study on invitations to a housewarming party in english and vietnamese

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING
HANOI OPEN UNIVERSITY

M.A THESIS

A CONTRASTIVE STUDY ON INVITATIONS
TO A HOUSEWARMING PARTY
IN ENGLISH AND VIETNAMESE
(NGHIÊN CỨU ĐỐI CHIẾU LỜI MỜI DỰ TIỆC TÂN GIA TRONG
TIẾNG ANH VÀ TIẾNG VIỆT)

PHẠM THỊ TUYẾT LAN
Field: English Language
Code: 60220201

Hanoi, 2017

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CERTIFICATE OF ORGINALITY

The undersigned, hereby certify my authority of the study project report entitled “A
contractive study on invitations to a housewarming party in 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, 2017

Phạm Thị Tuyết Lan

Approved by
SUPERVISOR

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

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I must offer my profoundest gratitude to my thesis advisor, Assoc. Prof. Vo
Dai Quang, PhD. Form finding an appreciate subject in the beginning to the process
of writing thesis, Assoc. Prof. Vo Dai Quang, PhD offers his unreserved help and
guidance and lead me to finish my thesis step by step. I’m thankful to Assoc. Prof.
Hoang Tuyet Minh, PhD and Assoc. Prof. Ho Ngoc Trung, PhD who checked my
thesis to help me finish it perfectly. Without their kind and patient instruction, it is
impossible for me to finish my thesis.
I am also indebted to my friends, who squeeze time from their busy schedule
to help me finish my thesis, they are all busy with their own thesis but they are
willing to give their helping hands as soon as I am in need.
Finally, I am grateful to my colleagues and family who always support me
spiritually throughout my life and provide a carefree environment for me, so that I
can concentrate on my study.

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ABSTRACT
Invitations play an important role in our communication. They are used in
daily life. Making a suitable invitation for each situation is not simple, especially in
a foreign language. There are some researches about invitations but no research is


studied on the cards and letters of invitations to a housewarming party in English
and Vietnamese. This study is designed to aim at pointing out the syntactic,
semantic and cultural features of invitations and the form of a card, a letter of
invitation to a housewarming party in English and Vietnamese then finding out the
similarities and differences of those features and forms of a card and letter to a
housewarming party between English and Vietnamese. To reach the aim, some
methods are used: Descriptive method, contrastive method and analytic method.
Data used for analysis, description and contrast in this study were mainly collected
through existing invitations, thirty informal cards and letters of invitation to a
housewarming party in English and the same amount of informal cards and letters
of invitation to a housewarming party in Vietnamese. After having contrasted, some
similarities and differences of the syntactic, semantic and cultural features of
invitations and the form of a card, a letter of invitation to a housewarming party
between English and Vietnamese have been founded. There are some implications
on teaching and learning how to write a card, a letter of invitation to a
housewarming party in English as a foreign language in Nam Duyen Ha high school
are carried out.

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LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
- CALP: cognitive academic language proficiency
- D: Social distance
- H: Hearer
- EFL: English as First Language
- ESL: English as Second Language
- P: Relative power
- R: Ranking of impositions
- RSVP: Re’pondez s’il vous plait.
- S: Speaker
- S: Subject
- SCAR: Socio-Culture Anticipatory Recursive
- X: Situation
- V: Verb

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LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES
Table 1 Speech acts classification………………………………………………24
Table 2: The format of informal letters…………………………………………29
Table 2. Summary of categories of invitations…………………………………39
Table 3: Summary of forms of an invitation card………………………………42
Table 4: Summary of forms of an invitation letter……………………………...45

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Certificate of originality
Acknowledgements
Abstract
List of abbreviations
List of tables and figures
Chapter 1: INTRODUCTION …………………………………………………...1
1.1. Rationale for the study …………………………………………………………1
1.2. Aims and objectives of the study ………………………………………………2
1.3. Research questions……………………………………………………………...2
1.4. Methods of the study……………………………………………………………2
1.5. Scope of the study………………………………………………………………3
1.6 Significance of the study ………………………………………………………..3
1.7 Design of the study ..............................................................................................3
Chapter 2: LITERATURE REVIEW ……………………………………………5
2.1. Previous studies………………………………………………………………...5
2.2. Theoretical background ………………………………………………………..6
2.2.1. The syntax, semantics and culture…………………………………………. 6
2.2.2. Pragmatics and cross-cultural pragmatics…………………………………..13
2.2.3. Categories of invitations in English and Vietnamese……………………….15
2.3.4. The theory of letter writing………………………………………………….16
2.3. Theoretical framework ………………………………………………………..17
2.3.1. Politeness strategies…………………………………………………………17
2.3.2. Generalization of speech acts……………………………………………….20
2.3.3. Invitations as speech acts……………………………………………………24
2.3.4. Direct and indirect speech acts……………………………………………...26
2.3.5. Informal letters and cards …………………………………………………..26
2.4. Summary ……………………………………………………………………..30
Chapter 3: SYNTACTIC, SEMANTIC AND CULTURAL FEATURES OF
AN INVITATION CARD AND LETTER TO A HOUSEWARMING PARTY
IN ENGLISH AND VIETNAMESE. …………………………………………..32
3.1. Syntactic, semantic and cultural features of invitation forms in card and letter to
a housewarming party in English and Vietnamese………………………………..32

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3.1.1. Direct invitations in English and Vietnamese………………………………32
3.1.2. Indirect invitations in English and Vietnamese……………………………..37
3.2. Forms of invitation cards and letters to a housewarming party in English and
Vietnamese…………………………………………………………………………41
3.2.1. Forms of invitation cards to a housewarming party in English and
Vietnamese…………………………………………………………………………42
3.2.2. Forms of invitation letters to a housewarming party in English and
Vietnamese…………………………………………………………………………43
3.3. Similarities and differences in syntactic, semantic and cultural features of
invitation cards and letters to a housewarming party in English and
Vietnamese…………………………………………………………………………47
3.3.1. The similarities and differences in syntactic, semantic and cultural features of
invitations forms to a housewarming party in English and Vietnamese
…………………………………………………………………..............................47
3.3.2.The similarities and differences in forms of invitation cards, letters to a
housewarming party in English and Vietnamese………………………………….49
3.4. Summary………………………………………………………………………51
Chapter 4: IMPLICATIONS FOR WRITING CARDS AND LETTERS OF
INVITATION TO A HOUSEWARMING PARTY IN ENGLISH……………53
4.1. The invitation forms mainly used in invitation cards and letters to a
housewarming party in English……………………………………………………54
4.2. Writing a letter of invitation…………………………………………………..55
4.3. Writing a card of invitation……………………………………………………59
4.4. Summary………………………………………………………………………59
4.5. Few ways that aims to help write perfect invitation letters regarding
Housewarming……………………………………………………………………..60
4.6. The series of housewarming invitation wording examples will help to inspire
you to create a unique and fun invitation…………………………………………..61
Chapter 5: CONCLUSION ……………………………………………………...63
5.1. Concluding remarks …………………………………………………………..63
5.2. Limitation of the study ………………………………………………………..63
5.3. Recommendations/Suggestions for further study …………………………….63
REFERENCES ……………………………………………………………………65
APPENDICES……………………………………………………………………..67

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CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
1.1 . Rationale for the study
There is no doubt that today mastering a language is very necessary because
it can give learners important opportunities to communicate to study and work
effectively abroad. It is very difficult to master a foreign language because the
enormous vocabulary and profound understanding in grammar are not enough. So it
is necessary for learners to understand the culture of the language that they want to
master.
The goal of learning a language, these days, is to be able to carry out
effective communication. Communication, however, may fail to achieve as there is
lack of certain understandings of the country where that language is spoken. There
are “unwritten rules” are potentially confusing and create misunderstandings even
for native speakers (Levine & Adelman, 1982). Wall (1987) indicated that many of
our daily social interactions involve making invitations and responding to them.
Everyday people are usually invited to do small things including going somewhere,
drinking something, eating food or in special occasions such as weddings, birthday
party, graduation. So that making invitation is now very important in our daily life.
It is a speech act used very often in communication. People can use it both in
spoken and written forms in many ways. It helps people to create, maintain and
reinforce a good relationship with other people. In teaching students to write a letter
of invitation, It has been found that they have some difficulties such as they confuse
formal and informal invitations; they cannot make other invitations themselves but
for the forms or the invitations are not appropriated. Mastering how to make
appropriate invitations which are suitable to a particular culture should be taken in
considerations so as not to cause hurts, shocks, misunderstandings, and
misinterpretations. Moreover, helping the pupils in Nam Duyen Ha high school uses
invitations in writing a letter, a card of invitations and how to write an informal card
and letter of invitation to a housewarming party in English effectively is a must. For
the above reasons, the study: “ A contrastive study on invitation to a housewarming
party in English and Vietnamese” is carried out to find out the similarities and the
differences in syntactic, semantic and cultural features of invitation forms and the

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forms of cards and letters of invitation to housewarmings in English and
Vietnamese.
1.2 . Aims and objectives of the study
This study is designed to aim at pointing out the way to make invitations to a
housewarming party and how to write a card, a letter of invitation to a
housewarming party in English as a foreign language in Nam Duyen Ha high
school.
This study is designed to aim at the following objectives:
- To investigate syntactic, semantic and cultural features of invitation
structures and forms of cards and letters of invitation to a housewarming party in
English and Vietnamese.
- To point out the similarities and differences of invitation structures and
forms of cards and letters of invitation to a housewarming party between English
and Vietnamese.
- To suggest some implications for teaching and learning a card, a letter of
invitation writing in English as a foreign language in Nam Duyen Ha high school.
1.3. Research questions
1. What are the syntactic, semantic and main cultural features of invitation cards
and letters to a housewarming party in English and Vietnamese?
2. What are the similarities and differences of invitation cards and letters to a
housewarming party between English and Vietnamese?
3. What are implications for invitation cards and letters writing to a housewarming
party in English?
1.4. Methods of the study
With the aim of achieving the set goal “ to find out the similarities and
differences of invitation cards, letters to a housewarming in English and
Vietnamese, several methods will be employed here:
- Descriptive method is employed to describe syntactic, semantic and
cultural features of invitation forms and the forms of invitation cards and letters to a
housewarming party in English and Vietnamese.
- Contrastive method is used to find out the similarities and differences of
invitation cards and letters to a housewarming party between English and
Vietnamese.

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Moreover, this was also a combination between qualitative and quantitative
method. Both of qualitative and quantitative date were collected and analyzed on
the purpose of finding out the relationship of syntactic, semantic and cultural
features of invitation forms and the forms of invitation cards and letters to a
housewarming party in English and Vietnamese
Data collection: the study was dealt with invitation cards and letters to a
housewarming party in English and Vietnamese. Together with limited scope of the
research mentioned in this chapter, the data was taken mainly from:
- Existing invitation .
- Existing cards and letters of invitation to a housewarming party.
- Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Oxford University Press.
The number of samples used to investigate in the research was about fifty
ways of invitations, fifty cards and letters of invitation to a housewarming party in
English and fifty cards and letters of invitation to a housewarming party in
Vietnamese. These samples were of different sources: Internet, newspapers, in real
life.
1.5. Scope of the study
This paper focuses on how to write an informal card and letter of invitation
to a housewarming party in English and Vietnamese. This paper, moreover, finds
the similarities and differences in making invitation to a housewarming party in
English and Vietnamese.
1.6. Significance of the study
The study deals with making invitation speech acts, which set up and
promote social rapports among people in a particular culture The study is carried
out with the hope to provide common understandings on writing a card, a letter of
invitation for students in Nam Duyen Ha high school to avoid cultural conflicts and
effectively carrying out writing a card, a letter of invitation in real life situations. In
addition, the study’s findings hope to make contributions to raising the importance
of studying the cross-culture for English teachers and students in our school.
1.7. Design of the study
The thesis consists of five chapters:
Chapter 1, Introduction, states the background to the situation, the problems
under investigation and justification. Also, in this chapter, the rationale for the

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study, aims and objectives of the study, research questions, methods of the study,
scope of the study, significance of the study and design of the study are presented.
Chapter 2, Literature review , provides a brief literature review of the
previous researches which have some similarities with the study or are closely
related to the field being investigated. It also provides the theoretical background
about some concepts related to the study.
Chapter 3, Syntactic, semantic and cultural features of invitation cards,
letters to a
found and
results and
chapter is

housewarming party in English and Vietnamese show what have been
how they are analyzed. The features are accompanied by statistical
the analysis of the data shown in the tables. The most important in this
the discussion of the data collection and analysis to find out the

similarities and differences of invitation cards, letter to a housewarming party
between English and Vietnamese.
Chapter 4, Implications for invitation cards and letters writing to a
housewarming party in English in Nam Duyen Ha high school. In this chapter, the
mainly structures of invitation and some techniques of writing an informal letter,
card to a housewarming party have been implicated for a card, a letter of invitation
writing.
Chapter 5, Conclusion, provide a summary of the development of the study,
a brief restatement of the findings. Also, the recapitulation, concluding remarks, the
limitations of the study and suggestions for further studies are cited here.

CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1. Previous studies

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Up to now, there have been many studies on invitations in English and
Vietnamese.
Robert J. Starr (1972), studied how to isolate the attitude of high ability
ninth grade BSCS students toward instruction utilizing “Invitations to Enquiry.”
Nguyen Thi Kim Quy (2004), pointed out the similarities and differnces on
inviting and responding to invitation in Vietnamese and English in term of across –
cultural perspective.
Nguyen Van Lap ( 2005), classified categories of invitation as speech
etiquette in Vietnamese in terms of speech act theory. The thesis introduced and
analyzed two main categories of invitation in Vietnamese including invitations
with explicit performative verbs and invitations with implicit performative verbs,
which lays a foundation for the data related to making invitation in Vietnamese in
this study.
Le Thi Mai Hong ( 2008), focused and emphasized on politeness strategies
used in the speech acts of requests and invitations between English and Vietnamese.
The study pointed some major differences between politeness strategies employed
in English invitations in comparison with the Vietnamese ones. The studies
mentioned above are helpful to this study in terms of providing the theoretical
background for the thesis as they are closely related to making and responding to
invitations in English and Vietnamese right in the thesis.
Ngo Thi Bac Ha (2010), found out the similarities and differences of the pre
– sequences in invitations from those languages.
Nguyen Van Trong (2012), pointed out some major similarities and
differences of making invitations in English and Vietnamese. The effects of social
distance, relative power, and ranking of impositions to the choice of inviting forms
native speakers of English and Vietnamese native speakers have also been found.
Le Thi Kim Ngoc (2013), pointed some major similarities and differences of
making and accepting invitations in English and Vietnamese.
Đinh Phuong Thuy (2014), found out the syntactic and cultural similarities
and differences between spoken invitations in Vietnamese and English native
speakers. She pointed out cultural mistakes that students make frequently are
linked to social contexts, status and relationship between the inviters and the
invitees. And some solutions were given to help learners make invitations perfectly.
2.2. Theoretical background
2.2.1. The syntax, semantics and culture

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2.2.1.1. The syntax
In linguistics, syntax refers to the rules that govern the ways in
which words combine to form phrases, clauses, and sentences. Adjective: syntactic.
More simply, syntax can be defined as the arrangement of words in a
sentence. The term syntax is also used to mean the study of the syntactic properties
of a language.
Syntax is one of the major components of grammar. Traditionally, linguists
have recognized a basic distinction between syntax and morphology (which is
primarily concerned with the internal structures of words).
However, this distinction has been somewhat disrupted by recent research
inflexion grammar.
Colorless green ideas sleep furiously."(Linguist Noam Chomsky created this
sentence—which is grammatically correct but incomprehensible—to demonstrate
that the rules governing syntax are distinct from the meanings words convey.)
According to Chomsky (1971), "Syntax is the study of the principles and
processes by which sentences are constructed in particular languages. Syntactic
investigation of a given language has as its goal the construction of a grammar that
can be viewed as a device of some sort for producing the sentences of the language
Under analysis”.
(Noam Chomsky, Syntactic Structures, 1971)
According to Burgess (1968), "And the words slide into the slots ordained
by syntax, and glitter as with atmospheric dust with those impurities which we call
meaning. . . ."It is syntax that gives the words the power to relate to each other in a
sequence . . . to carry meaning—of whatever kind—as well as glow individually in
Just the right place”. (Anthony Burgess, Ender by Outside, 1968)
According to William Cobbett (1918), "Syntax is a word which comes from
the Greek. It means, in that language, the joining of several things together; and, as
used by grammarians, it means those principles and rules which teach us how to
put words together so as to form sentences. It means, in short, sentence-making.
Having been taught by the rules of Etymology what are the relationships of words,
how words grow out of each other, how they are varied in their letters in order to
correspond with the variation in the circumstances to which they apply, Syntax will
teach you how to give all your words their proper situations or places, when you
come to put them together into sentences”.

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(William Cobbett, A Grammar of the English Language in a Series of Letters:
Intended for the Use of Schools and of Young Persons in General, but More
Especially for the Use of Soldiers, Sailors, Apprentices, and Plough-Boys, 1818).
It is a mistake to believe that some English speakers follow rules in their
speech and others do not. Instead, it now appears that all English speakers are
successful language learners: they all follow unconscious rules derived from their
early language development, and the small differences in the sentences that they
prefer are best understood as coming from small differences in these rules.
. . . The differences of the sort that we are looking at here follow lines of social
class and ethnic group rather than geographical lines. Thus we can speak of social
varieties or social dialects." (Carl Lee Baker, English Syntax, 2nd ed. MIT Press,
1995)
"Many kinds of spoken language have a syntax that is very different from
the syntax of formal writing. It is essential to understand that the differences exist
not because spoken language is a degradation of written language but because any
written language, whether English or Chinese, results from centuries of
development and elaboration by a small number of users . . .. In spite of the huge
prestige enjoyed by written language in any literate society, spoken language is
primary in several major respects." (Jim Miller, An Introduction to English Syntax.
Edinburgh University Press, 2002)
2.2.1.2. The semantics
Semantics is the study of meaning, but what do we mean by ‘meaning’?
Meaning has been given different definitions in the past
Meaning = Connotation?
Is meaning simply the set of associations that a word evokes, is the meaning
of a word defined by the images that its users connect to it?
So ‘winter’ might mean ‘snow’, ‘sledging’ and ‘mulled wine’. But what about
someone living in the Amazon? Their ‘winter’ is still wet and hot, so its original
meaning is lost. Because the associations of a word don’t always apply, it was
decided that this couldn’t be the whole story.
Meaning = Denotation?
It has also been suggested that the meaning of a word is simply the entity in
the World which that word refers to. This makes perfect sense for proper nouns like
‘New York’ and ‘the Eiffel Tower’, but there are lots of words like ‘sing’ and

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‘altruism’ that don’t have a solid thing in the world that they are connected to. So
meaning cannot be entirely denotation either.
Meaning = Extension and intention
So meaning, in Semantics, is defined as being Extension: The thing in the
world that the word/phrase refers to, plus Intension: The concepts/mental images
that the word/phrase evokes.
The study of semantics looks at how meaning works in language, and
because of this it often uses native speaker intuitions about the meaning of words
and phrases to base research on. We all understand semantics already on a
subconscious level, it’s how we understand each other when we speak.
One of the things that Semantics looks at, and is based on, is how the
meaning of speech is not just derived from the meanings of the individual words all
put together.
The Principle of Compositionality says that the meaning of speech is the sum
of the meanings of the individual words plus the way in which they are arranged
Into structure.
The relationships between words
Semantics also looks at the ways in which the meanings of words can be
related to each other. Here are a few of the ways in which words can be
semantically related:

Synonymy – Words are synonymous/ synonyms when they can be used to
mean the same thing (at least in some contexts – words are rarely fully identical in
all contexts). Begin and start, Big and large, Youth and adolescent.

Antonymous Words are antonyms of one another when they have opposite
meanings (again, at least in some contexts). Big and small,
Come and go, Up and down.

Polysemy – A word is polysemous when it has two or more related
meanings. In this case the word takes one form but can be used to mean two
different things. In the case of polysemy, these two meanings must be related in
some way, and not be two completely unrelated meanings of the word. Bright
(shining) and bright (intelligent). Mouse (animal) and mouse (computer hardware).

Homophony – Homophony is similar to polysemy in that it refers to a single
form of word with two meanings, however a word is a homophone when the two

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meanings are entirely unrelated. Bat (flying mammal) and bat (sports equipment).
Pen (writing instrument) and pen (small cage).
The relationships between sentences
Sentences can also be semantically related to one-another in a few different ways.
Paraphrase – Paraphrases have the same truth conditions; if one is true, the
other must also be true. ‘The boys like the girls’ and ‘the girls are liked by the
boys’, ‘John gave the book to Chris’ and ‘John gave Chris the book’.







Mutual entailment – Each sentence must be true for the other to be true.
‘John is married to Rachel’ and ‘Rachel is John’s wife’,
‘Chris is a man’ and ‘Chris is human’.
Asymmetrical entailment – Only one of the sentences must be true for the

other to be true, but that sentence may be true without the other sentence necessarily
having to be true. ‘Rachel is John’s wife’ entails ‘John is married’ (but John is
married does not entail Rachel being his wife), ‘Rachel has two brothers’ entails
‘Rachel is not an only child’ (but Rachel not being an only child does not entail
Rachel having two brothers).

Contradiction – Sentences contradict each other when one sentence is true
and the other cannot be true. ‘Rachel is an only child’ and ‘Rachel’s brother is
called Phil’, ‘Alex is alive’ and ‘Alex died last week’.
Ambiguity - One of the aspects of how meaning works in language is
ambiguity. A sentence is ambiguous when it has two or more possible meanings,
but how does ambiguity arise in language? A sentence can be ambiguous for either
of the following reasons:
Lexical Ambiguity - A sentence is lexically ambiguous when it can have two
or more possible meanings due to polysemous (words that have two or more related
meanings) or homophonous (a single word which has two or more different
meanings) words.
Example of lexically ambiguous sentence: Prostitutes appeal to the Pope. This
sentence is ambiguous because the word ‘appeal’ is polysemous and can mean ‘ask
for help’ or ‘are attractive to’.
Structural Ambiguity - A sentence is structurally ambiguous if it can have
two or more possible meanings due to the words it contains being able to be
combined in different ways which create different meanings.

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Example of structurally ambiguous sentence: Enraged cow injures farmer with axe.
In this sentence the ambiguity arises from the fact that the ‘with axe’ can either
refer to the farmer, or to the act of injuring being carried out (by the cow) ‘with
axe’.
Semantics in the field of Linguistics - Semantics looks at these relationships
in language and looks at how these meanings are created, which is an important part
of understanding how language works as a whole. Understanding how meaning
occurs in language can inform other sub-disciplines, such as Language Acquisition,
to help us to understand how speakers acquire a sense of meaning, and
Sociolinguistics, as the achievement of meaning in language is important in
language in a social situation. Semantics is also informed by other sub-disciplines
of linguistics, such as Morphology, as understanding the words themselves is
integral to the study of their meaning, and Syntax, which researchers in semantics
use extensively to reveal how meaning is created in language, as how language is
structured is central to meaning.
2.2.1.3. The culture
As globalization becomes increasingly prominent in our everyday lives,
cultural research becomes the cornerstone of social advancement. Many problems
between countries and even individuals stem from a misunderstanding of culture
and cultural differences. Cultural research aims to create an understanding of the
mechanics and implications of various cultures across the globe to help remedy
misunderstandings and intolerance.
The biggest obstacle cultural research faces is the question of how it should
be observed, recorded, and interpreted. How do we study culture? First, we must
define what culture is. Culture has many definitions, but they all synonymously
denote culture as the accumulation of systems of knowledge shared by a group of
people. Although the definition of culture is easy enough to understand.
Culture must not only be observed but be understood to be studied. There
are two approaches to understand culture:
1. An inside view from the point of the ethnographer in which they attempt to
explain a culture in its own terms.
2. An outside view from the point of the ethnographer in which they attempt to
explain a culture in terms of general standards. These views are often referred to as

18


emic and etic. Emic views are employed to understand a culture from a native’s
point of view while etic views are employed to identify universal truths.
There are two cultural studies: Cultural Relativism and Cultural Materialism.
Relativism is the study of a culture from the culture itself which arguably
relies on solely emic viewpoints. Cultural Relativism can be broken down into
many different categories but there are three major categories that are consistently
used in the social sciences: descriptive relativism, normative relativism, and
epistemological relativism.
Descriptive relativism is based on the theory of cultural determinism (the
theory that human social and psychological characteristic are determined by
culture). It thereby assumes that different cultures have different thoughts and ways
of understanding the world than other cultures do.
Normative relativism is the idea that there is no way to judge a culture on a
scale of merit or worth in terms of good vs. bad because all standards are culturally
constituted.
Epistemological relativism is similar to descriptive relativism except for the
idea that culture not only dictates what we think about our lives but how
we feel about our lives, providing a limitless view of cultural diversity (Spiro 1986).
The three categories of cultural relativism have not been supported by all
social scientists, with some supporting one and others supporting the other or a
combination of the three. It was with American anthropologists Franz Boas and the
rise of the American Historical School that they all began to be used in conjunction
with one another. Boas and his followers rejected the idea of cultural progress and
cultural evolution because that suggests that one culture is superior over another and
is a result of ethnocentric views.
A long term debate has been going on in the field of anthropology over
cultural relativism and psychic unity. Are cultures incommensurable and is it
impossible to make generalizations about cultures because every person perceives
the world differently depending on the culture they are a part of? If this is so, then
how can ethnographers even begin to describe a different culture’s kinship systems,
rituals, and other cultural aspects?
The cultural materialist perspective was a response to cultural relativism and
is really thought to have originated with Karl Marx. Karl Marx explains that
societies and culture are systemic and his major interest was how those systems

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both maintain and destroy themselves. To Marx, this sort of change does not happen
because of the ideology and social organization of a culture. It instead happens due
to a chance in the surrounding environment (Marx 1970). In this way, ideology and
social organization are considered to be adaptations to environmental change
making cultures not only predictable but comparable to one another.
2.2.1.3.1. Culture of the UK
The culture of the United Kingdom is influenced by the UK's history as
a developed island country, a liberal democracy and a major power; its
predominantly Christian religious life; and its composition of four countries—
England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland—each of which has distinct
customs, cultures and symbolism. The wider culture of Europe has also influenced
British culture and Humanism, Protestantism and representative democracy
developed from broader Western culture.
Literature, music, cinema, art, theatre, comedy, media, television, philosophy
, architecture and education are important aspects of British culture. The United
Kingdom is also prominent in science and technology, producing world-leading
scientists (e.g. Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin) and inventions. Sport is an
important part of British culture; numerous sports originated in the country,
including football. The UK has been described as a "cultural superpower", and
London has been described as a world cultural capital. A global opinion poll for the
BBC saw the UK ranked the third most positively viewed nation in the world
(behind Germany and Canada) in 2013 and 2014.
The Industrial Revolution, which started in the UK, had a profound effect on
the family socio-economic and cultural conditions of the world. As a result of
the British Empire, significant British influence can be observed in the
language, law, culture and institutions of a geographically wide assortment of
countries, including Australia, Canada, India, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand,
Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the United States and English speaking
Caribbean nations. These states are sometimes collectively known as
the Anglosphere, and are among Britain's closest allies. In turn the empire also
influenced British culture, particularly British cuisine.
The cultures of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are diverse
and have varying degrees of overlap and distinctiveness.
2.2.1.3.2. Culture of Vietnam

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The culture of Vietnam is one of the oldest in Southeast Asia, with the
ancient Bronze age Đông Sơn culture being widely considered one of its most
important progenitors.[1] Due to a millennium of Chinese rule, Vietnam was heavily
influenced by Chinese culture in terms of politics, government, Confucian social
and moral ethics, and art. Vietnam is considered to be part of the East Asian cultural
sphere.[2]
Following independence from China in the 10th century, Vietnam began a
southward expansion that saw the annexation of territories formerly belonging to
the Champa civilization (now Central Vietnam) and parts of the Khmer empire
(modern southern Vietnam), which resulted in minor regional variances in
Vietnam's culture due to exposure to these different groups.
During the French colonial period, Vietnamese culture absorbed various
influences from the Europeans, including the spread of Catholicism and the
adoption of the Latin alphabet. Prior to this, Vietnamese had used both Chinese
characters and a script called Chữ nôm which was based on Chinese but included
newly invented characters meant to represent native Vietnamese words.
In the socialist era, the cultural life of Vietnam has been deeply influenced
by government-controlled media and the cultural influences of socialist programs.
For many decades, foreign cultural influences were shunned and emphasis placed
on appreciating and sharing the culture of communist nations such as the Soviet
Union, China, Cuba and others. Since the 1990s, Vietnam has seen a greater reexposure to Asian, European and American culture and media.
Some elements generally considered to be characteristic of Vietnamese
culture include ancestor veneration, respect for community and family values,
handicrafts and manual labor, and devotion to study. Important symbols present in
Vietnamese culture include dragons, turtles, lotuses and bamboo.
2.2.2. Pragmatics and cross-cultural pragmatics
As the study is centered on the speech act of invitations in terms of cross cultural perspective. It is, therefore, necessary to look at some basic information on
what is called pragmatics and cross - cultural pragmatics.
Pragmatics, since its appearance, has excited great attention from many
leading linguists. Enormous efforts have gone into reaching a satisfactory definition
of this linguistic phenomenon. The notion of pragmatics is clarified by Richards,
Platt, & Webber (1992, p.284) as follows:

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Pragmatics includes the study of:
How the interpretation and use of utterances depend on knowledge of the
real world;
How speakers use and understand speech acts;
How the structure of sentences is influenced by the relationship between the
speaker and the hearer.
Of the above issues, the study of speech acts is considered to be of high
importance to pragmatics.
* Pragmatics can be usefully defined as the study of how utterances have meanings
in situation. (Leech, 1983)
* Pragmatics is the study of the use of language in communication, particularly the
relationships between sentences and the contexts and situations in which they are
used. (Richards, Platt& Weber, 1985)
* Pragmatics studies the factor that governs our choice of language in social actions
and the effects of our choice on others. (Crystal, 1987)
* Yule (1996, p.3), defines pragmatics as follows:
- Pragmatics is the study of speaker meaning rather than of what the words or
phrases in those utterances my mean by themselves.
- Pragmatics is the study of contextual meaning (it involves the interpretation of
what people mean in a particular context and how context influences what is said).
- Pragmatics is the study of how more get communicated than is said (It studies how
a great deal of what is unsaid is recognized as part of what is communicative).
- Pragmatics is the study of the expression of relative distance ( i.e. on assumption
of how close (whether it is physical, social or conceptual) or distant the listener is,
speakers determine how much need to be said).
In a word, it can be concluded that, from all above definitions, pragmatics is
a branch of linguistics that studies the speaker’s meaning behind his words.
As "every culture has its own repertoire of characteristic speech acts" and
"different cultures find expression in different system of speech acts and
different speech acts become entrenched, and to some extent, codified in different
languages" ( Wierzbicka (1991, p.25). Nguyen Thien Giap (2007), states that in
different cultures, speech acts are performed in different ways through different
languages.

22


Linguists, these days, has studied, contrasted how language is used in
different cultures, which is called contrastive pragmatics. Nguyen Thien Giap
(2007) adds that in order to master a language successfully, to carry out effective
intercultural communication, having the knowledge of the language is by all means
insufficient, but the knowledge of pragmatics is a must.
Through what has been discussed so far, the speech act of invitations in
English and Vietnamese is not exception. It is discussed in the study under
contrastive analysis. The cross-cultural perspective, certainly, is a great concern
during analysis.
2.2.3. Categories of invitations in English and Vietnamese
This paper goals to investigate the similarities and differences in terms of
syntactic, semantic and cross-cultural features of invitations in English and
Vietnamese, in the effort of increasing not only the effectiveness of learning
invitations utterance in English and Vietnamese but also the ability to use language
for English learners in Vietnam. Nevertheless, there is a little proper work on
inviting in both languages. The analytic framework of this study has been collected
from a number of English and Vietnamese researches as well as practical
textbooks to invitations which contains different forms of inviting. These are
dissertations by Nguyen Van Lap (2005), Luu Quy Khuong (2004) Tran Yen Bao
Tran (2009), Nguyen Van Trong (2012) and Tillitt and Bruder (1999). In these
researches and textbooks, different linguistic forms of invitations are specified and
found out.
First, take a look at the definitions of the term "performative sentence".
Austin (1962), made a great contribution in terms of discovering and developing
what is called: performative sentence. Austin (1962) stated that an performative
sentence occurs when:
- A sentence is uttered and an action thereby is performed.
- The grammatical structure of the sentence makes it look as though the sentence
states that it performed that action.
Cao Xuan Hao (1991), defined that a performative sentence is a kind of
expressive and declaration. It expresses the actions that contain in the utterance by
directly uttering. Such kind of sentence using a verb named performative verb
namely "to invite" in English.
Following sentences illustrate this:

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Eg: It's just that Alan and I wanted to have a few people over for a dinner to
celebrate finishing dissertation and we would like to invite you especially, since
you're chairman. (Tillitt & Bruder, 1999).
“We moved to our new place. To celebrate this wonderful event, we invite you to
come to our housewarming party. We will have and drinks to commemorate the
event.”
Similarly, Paltridge indicated that an explicit performative sentence is a
statement which contains a performative verb that names the speech act.
Tran Yen Bao Tran (2009), indicated that explicit performative invitations
are employed between the interlocutors who differ in social or status
Tilltitt and Bruder (1999), has introduced numerous structures of English
invitations used in formal situations to informal ones. In his dissertation, Nguyen
Van Lap (2005) has introduced forms of Vietnamese inviting including invitations
in with performative verb (mời) and invitations without performative verb. Luu Quy
Khuong (2007), in addition, has introduced different kinds of direct invitations in
English and Vietnamese. He indicated similarities and differences between English
and Vietnamese through contrastive analysis. Plus, another research goes to Tran
Yen Bao Tran (2009), has recorded different structures used to make direct
invitations in English and Vietnamese. Nguyen Van Trong (2012), he has studied
the categories of invitations in English and Vietnamese.
These researches and textbook mentioned above is prominent in terms of
providing the analytical framework for discussing categories of invitations to a
housewarming party in English and Vietnamese.
2.3.4. The theory of letter writing
Although the practice and concept of letter-writing displays great
continuities from Antiquity to the Renaissance the changes were also significant.
Just as in the 17th century, already in ancient times the letter had frequently been
defined as a kind of conversation between absent friends. Nevertheless, Greeks and
Romans took this precept more seriously and more narrowly than later times. In
Antiquity the concept of the letter was principally that of the familiar letter. It had to
be brief and ought to treat a simple subject in simple terms. "If anybody should
write of logical subtleties or questions of natural history in a letter, he writes indeed,
but not a letter" – claimed Demetrius (ca. 350–283 B.C.). In terms of style not many
variations were allowed. Demetrius mentions only the plain and the graceful,

24


and Marcus Tullius Cicero (106–43 B.C.). by far the most influential authority in
Latin epistolography, acknowledged the existence of many sorts while claiming that
only two of them pleased him greatly, the familiar or jesting and the grave. A letter
in the plain style needed to be direct and natural; it was not constrained by strict
rules, since too much elaboration also contradicted "the laws of friendship".
By the Middle Ages, letters of all kinds enjoyed the same legitimacy.
"Letter" was now an extremely broad category, including practically anything that
had a salutation and a signature. No wonder late medieval dictatores and
Renaissance humanists found it difficult to categorise letters and borrowed the
rhetorical concepts of oratory when describing them. Little difference was seen
between sermo and epistola, and the writing of both needed to comply with
narrowly defined rules. The efforts to classify letters resulted in the precise
circumscription of a large number of different types. In 1522 Erasmus of Rotterdam
(1469–1536) , although breaking with tradition in many respects and liberal in
questions of style and form, still organised his manual on letter-writing according to
these groups, mentioning thirty of them (e.g. letter of petition, recommendation,
consolation, lamentation, congratulation, thanksgiving, narration, order, love,
etc.).6 Getting rid of the theoretical lore of the Middle Ages was more difficult than
could be expected, and the theory of letter-writing remained embarrassingly linked
to scholastic rhetoric until the end of the 16th century.7 Nonetheless, the rediscovery
of the familiar letter in the early Renaissance meant that in practice letter-writing
developed gradually into a new art, whose style was reframed in imitation of
Cicero, and was liberated from the restrictions of scholasticism.
2.3. Theoretical framework
2.3.1. Politeness strategies
Politeness, an issue which has a great impact to human being and deeply
influences to human interaction, will be now discussed right in this part because
politeness is basic to th production of social order, and a precondition of human
cooperation… any theory which provides an understanding of this phenomenon at
the same time goes to the foundation of human social life.
(Brown and Levinson, 1987), in language studies, politeness implies the
following: "(a) how languages express the social distance between speakers and
their different role relationships, (b) "how face-work, that is, the attempt to

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