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Different culture different life

5370 words (21 pages) Essay in English Language

5/12/16 English Language Reference this

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Different culture different life

With China entry the WTO and will hold the Olympic Games in 2008, the relationship between China and Western in politics, economy, culture will become more and more close. It is undoubtedly that the etiquette will play an important role in this process. To the definition of etiquette, China and Western have a different understanding. As Chinese thinks that the etiquette is the common behavior standards that all the members must obey, and its purpose is to keep the normal living order of the society. In ancient China, a famous philosopher thinks that etiquette is a principal to deal with the relationship between man and supernatural beings, man and ghosts, man and men. There are also many words about etiquette in English. For example, courtesy which means courteous behavior, good manners;protocol which means system of rules governing formal occasion, e .g, meetings,between governments, diplomats, etc. And these words are all from the same French word etiquette. Of course, more spread and more profound cultural comment of the western etiquette is from the Classical Period, i.e., old Athens and Roma culture. Today, etiquette become the reflection and manifestation of one country’s politics, economy, culture in people’s social contact. And it include the principal and moral that people should obey in daily life. Etiquette formed in the process of the deposition of culture and social contact. So every nation have their own etiquette standard which created with the spirit of this their nation. Because of this formed the cultural difference between different nations. As languages is the carrier of the human culture. This difference must reflect in the language of different nations. So in the following, we will take china, British and America as the representation of Western, to look at some cultural difference in etiquette, and then analyze the reasons. Furthermore, we will discuss how to learn western culture.

Differences on politeness

Cultural differences on politeness between western and Chinese can be found in many aspects of daily communication, including addressing, greeting and parting, compliments, apologies, thanks, etc. In the following, we will look at some cultural different between China and western.

1.Greeting and Parting

When people meet acquaintances or friends, people usually greet each other. The purpose of greeting is to establish or maintain social contact. So formulaic expressions are often used, but such formulaic expressions often causes conflict because of the great cultural differences between Chinese and native English speakers. In English, people often employ the following expressions to greet each other “Good morning/evening/afternoon. “Fine day, isn’t it? ”How is everything going?” Have you eaten yet?” What are you going to do?” Where have you been?”etc. Westerners treat them as real question. While in Chinese, we always say “have you eating?”“where you go?”“what do you do?”to show our consideration. Parting may be divided into two steps. Before the final prating, there is usual a leave-taking. Western and Chinese cultures have diverse ways to deal with leave-takings. Firstly, in English society, during the closing phase of an encounter, from ”I” perspective, reasons for terminating the encounter are presented in mitigatory comments. Typical comments are associated with expressions of apology, such as “I” am afraid I must be off, I have to relieve the baby-sitter” etc.

Western people believe that to be willing to visit and converse with someone is to have respect for him.; to terminate the visiting is not of one’s own free will, but because of some other arrangements, therefore they always try to make their leaving sound reluctant by finding some reasons and apologize for it to make the leaving acceptable for both parties. English speakers often signal several times before leaving. “Well, it’s been nice to see you again. I do enjoy our talk and the lovely dinner, but I must be going soon”. Thank you very much for asking me over. I hope we’ll be able to get together again before long…” Consolidation in a wider range of common acquaintances also occurs, in expressions such as “Say hello to Jack for me” or “Remember me to John”. In Chinese society, during the closing phase of and encounter, usually, from a “you ”perspective, reasons for ending the encounter are set forth in mitigatory expressions. Such expressions include“you are busy now,i’m not trouble you anytime。”“you must tired,have a rest early,i gone。”, etc. With these words, they may stand up from their seats. Chinese leave-taking is very short and quick. Western people think it so abrupt that they have not prepare for it. While moving to the door, Chinese employ expressions of apology like“sorry,excuse me。”“sorry,can i have you a while?。”It should be noted that these expressions employed by Chinese guests to show concern for their hosts can only be appropriate for business visits in the English environment


Both western and Chinese people have two kinds of personal names—a surname and a given name. But the order and the use of these names in the two languages are somewhat different. In Chinese, the surname comes first and then the given name. And people like add“small”before their family name. Such as“small wang”、“small zheng”、“small li”、“small xu”and so on.. While westerners names are written and spoken with the given name first and the family name last. So John Smith’s family name is Smith, not John. In a formal setting, address men as “Mister” (abbreviated as “Mr.”), married women as “Misses” (abbreviated as “Mrs.”), and unmarried women as “Miss” (abbreviated as “Ms.”). These days many women prefer to be addressed using the abbreviations “Ms.” or “M.”, pronounced “miz”. If the person has an M.D. Or Ph.D., they will often be addressed as “Doctor” (abbreviated as “Dr.”). Faculty are addressed as “Professor” (abbreviated as “Prof.”).In an informal situation,westerners will introduce each other by first name, without titles, and occasionally by just the last name. If you are introduced to somebody by first name, you can address him or her by first name the next time you meet. The only exception would be for someone who holds an important position, such as the university president or provost. Unless they tell you otherwise, faculty should be addressed using their title and last name (e.g., “Professor Smith”). When in doubt, use the formal manner of address, since it is better to err on the side of formality.It is also appropriate to ask how they prefer to be addressed. Children should always address adults in the formal fashion, using their title and last name.

Another difference is about the form of addressing. From the viewpoint of sociolinguistics, forms of addressing can serve as an indication of the relationship of power and solidarity in the society. In calling their superiors or elders, the Chinese are accustomed to the nonreciprocal or asymmetrical addressing, in other words. They use “title +surname” to address their superior or elders rather than call them surnames, while the superior or elders call the addressers their names. The Chinese tend to abide by the polite principle of depreciating oneself and respecting others to show appropriate respects towards the persons being addressed, otherwise, the addresser may be considered as ill mannered, ill educated or rude. But in English speaking countries, people have a tendency to follow the reciprocal or symmetrical addressing. Although they are different in age and status, they can call the other directly, namely, their names, even first names except when they call the doctors, not arousing offence between them, but demonstrating the sense of intimacy and the conception of” Everyone is created equal”. Chinese people feel unnatural addressing a westerner by his given name, feeling that it indicates too close a relationship, and westerners, on the other hand,may feel that if a Chinese insists on using his surname, it indicates an unwillingness to be friendly and maintains a gap between them. So the use of forms like” Miss Mary” or “Mr. Smith ” may be a Chinese forms of compromise. With Miss Mary, the use of the given name indicates friendliness, but the addition of the title indicates the respect they feel they ought to show. And with Smith, the lack of a title indicates friendliness, but the use of the surname prevents if sounding too intimate. However, both addressing used by the Chinese sound very strange and uncomfortable to the westerner.

3.Compliments and Response

To compliment is to praise the addressee’s virtues, ability, behavior, appearance, clothing, personality and belongs. Appropriate compliments can serve as effective supplementary means in inter-personal communication. Western and Chinese culture are at polar opposites about compliment. An western hostess, if she is complimented for her cooking skill, is likely to say,” Oh, I am so glad that you liked it. I cook it especially for you.” Not so is a Chinese hostess, who will instead apologize for giving you “Nothing”. They will say“it’s up to you,not very delicious。”If translate this into English“I just made some dishes casually and they are not very tasty. Perhaps the foreigner will think why you invite me to you family and have the untasty food. You aren’t respect me. The English-speaking peoplevare more active to praise others and to be praise than Chinese people. For example, the Americans are “straight forwardness”, the Chinese take pride in “modesty”. That modesty has left many a Chinese hungry at an Americans table, for Chinese politeness calls for three refusals before one accepts an offer and the Americans hosts take ”no ” to mean “no ”, whether it is the first, second or third time. Still bigger differences exist in people’s attitude towards compliments, i.e., in the response to compliments. Chinese are tend to efface themselves in words or refuse it, although they do feel comfortable about the compliments. So many westerners simply feel puzzled or even upset when their Chinese friends refused their compliments. The Chinese people are not intending to be modest with the sacrifice of friendship in so doing, but it is rather due to the traditional Chinese philosophy, that of modesty. The Chinese people regard modesty as a most valuable virtue, so they seldom agree to the compliment on their own.

4.Apologies and Responses

If wrong things are done, there must be apologies .As to how to offer apologies, both western and Chinese people may “I am sorry….”,”I apologize for…”. Etc. But Chinese would like to apologize for the crowded state of their dwellings and for small numbers of dishes, although the room is big enough and there are many dishes. Chinese stay these to express self-depreciation only out of courtesy, not having other implication. But the westerners would wonder, since the room is so large and there are so many dishes, why do they say so. May be they do not welcome our visit, they don’t like us to eat more. When Chinese contact with westerners, if they do not know these differences, if will lead to misunderstanding. The ways to respond to apologies are different, too.

A: Oh, I’m sorry. I forget it.

B1: It doesn’t matter.

B2: That’s all right.

B2 is westerners. B1 is a Chinese person. “It doesn’t matter” is a translation of “mei guan xi”from Chinese, which is a common pattern in Chinese to respond to apologies. If a Chinese uses this to respond to apologies, westerners will think that he is a sharp person, who simply cannot forgive a very little wrong thing.

5. Thanks and Responses

“Thank you” is widely used in English to show gratitude in such cases as being invited, helped, given a gift, etc. Cultural differences exist between Chinese and western in how to express thanks and responses. In fact, “Thank you” is uttered in English for more than acknowledging favor or gratitude, and it is often a means to show politeness. On many occasions, the English use this utterance while the Chinese may say “sorry to trouble you。”or do not say a word at all but just smile or nod. As a matter of fact, “Thank you ” is used more widely by westerners than Chinese use“thank you”, for minor favors like borrowing pencil , asking directions, requesting someone to pass on a message , receiving a telephone, etc.

“Thank you” not only shows politeness but also carries a person’s grateful feeling for those who offer help. Without using expressions of gratitude, misunderstandings may arise because the help seems to be taken for granted and is mot appreciated, For westerners, each person is an equal individual, whether he is a family member of not. In Chinese, “thank you”is not frequently used between intimate friends and family members because it may imply a certain distance between the addresser and the addressee. Native speakers may respond to “Thank you ” by saying: You are welcome /It’s a /my pleasure/ Not at all/ Don’t mention it/That’s all right. While Chinese people may say:“this is i should do”, which may convey to westerners the message that the Chinese did not really want to do it, or that he/she did it only because it wall his/her duty. This message is quite different from what the Chinese speaker intended to express.

6. Asking Personal Affairs

People from China do not regard it as asking personal affairs when they ask others name、year、marital status、wages、personal life、belief and political points. It is regard as concerns. While the westerns will think you bring away their right of privacy. when we talk to the westerns, we must avoid asking some questions like this:“How old are you?”、“Are you married?”、“How many children do you have?”、“How much do you make?”、“What’s your weight?”、“Do you go to the church?”

7.Invitation and Saying Good-Bye

In the culture of British and America, it is very important to consult a time before you invite somebody to attend a banquet or take part in social activities. Esp. in America, invite somebody means you are borrow times of others. So they respect time very much. While in China, people are prefer to an uninvited guest. And otherwise, You will be thought unfriendly if you cannot receive an uninvited guest very well.


In China, we always say“ni xin ku le!”、“ni yi ding lei le ba!”to show our consideration when somebody from far place. While the westerners do it in a different way. They will say “How is your trip? “You must be very interesting.” These sentences are all express in psychological aspect. Concerning the old people is the virtue of human race. But different cultures have different styles. In China, people will say“you are older,you sit!”when they give seat to a old man. But this is regarded as taboo.

Different cultural factors

Different cultural factors may result in cultural differences, and consequently,the acknowledgment of the factors that affect the cultural differences will facilitate the understanding of such differences, part of which will vie discuss in the followings. Since it is impossible to cover all of the factors in this thesis, the factors discussed here are some important ones.Factors affect cultural differences

a.Cultural Background

One of the cultural different reasons between China and western is cultural background. In Spring and Autumn and Warring s periods of China emerged Confucianism, Taoism and other ideologies .As different ideologies developed and combated each other, the basic framework of Chinese civilization was established. And then Confucianism became the foundation stone of Chinese philosophy system. Confucianism’s central doctrine is that of the virtue of Ren. What is Ren? Ren is translated variously as goodness, benevolence, humanity and human-heartedness. In short, Ren means affection and love. For more than 2 thousand years it has molded and shaped the civilization of China and exerted a profound influence upon almost one fourth of human race. Just as DR. Sun-Yat-Sen said:” Therefore the old morals of loyalty and piety, affection, and love, faithfulness and righteousness, are superior to those of the foreign countries Let alone that peace and harmony. These high standards of morals are our national spirit. “Different from China, Christianity plays an important role in western. The English speaking countries are generally considered as Christian countries where many people believe in Christianity. Christianity is the region based on the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. He is the founder of Christianity. According to the doctrine of Christianity, the Trinity is the union of the three forms of God, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ the son of the God, and the holy book of Christianity is the Bible, which consists of the Old Testament and the New Testament. However, the power of the church cannot compare with the past time, it still influence many aspects of people ‘s daily life. For example, there are a few important festivals in the western is concern with Jesus Christ. Christmas day is a festival in celebration of the birth of the Jesus Christ on Dec.25.Virgin Birth refers to the birth of Christ, which Christians believe to have been caused by God rather than by ordinary sexual union.

b.Different values

Another cultural different reasons between China and western is different value The concept of Chinese values is often consciously or unconsciously placed in opposition with Western values. Therefore, it is necessary to determine how people define Western values. Some have stated that the modern Western value system originated in Victorian England, and describe it as social norms and behaviors common in European people during that time. The core of Western values is individualism. David Hitchcock described Western values from a Chinese perspective. He said that, from the Chinese viewpoint, Western values have three levels: 1) physical level – science, technology, business, public administration, and modern capitalist economics; 2) conceptual level – equal opportunity, the role of law; and time management; and 3) core values – open debate, equality, balance of power; free speech, and democracy. The core of the Chinese value has some relationship with the Confucianism. The ethnic principle of Confucianism is its discovery of the ultimate in the moral character of human relationships in which Confucius offered the solution for the ills and evils of his days. That is the well-known Five Relationships: ruler-minister, father-son, husband-wife, elder-younger brother and friend-friend. This was explained as“There should be affection between father and son , righteous sense of duty between ruler and minister, division of function between man and wife, stratification between old and young, and good faith between friends.”During the more than two thousand years of the feudal period, the ruling class arrange every thing by this relationships, and then formed a class society. In this kind of society, a minister owes loyalty to his ruler, and a child filial respect to his parent. The result is the humanity is neglected and people have no equality. Different from China, in the Renaissance period of England, people began to emphasize the dignity of human beings and the importance of the present life, they voiced their beliefs that man did not only have the right to enjoy the beauty of their life, but also have the ability to perfect themselves and perform wonders.This is the rudiment of Humanism. People became respect the humanity from then on. And then develop into the ideas of what we always said freedom, democracy. Today, take Americans for instance; the top personal values were self-reliance, hard work, and a tie between achieving success in life, personal achievement, and helping others. Hard work, respect for learning, honesty, and self-reliance were most valued among Chinese people. In terms of social values, the top six for Americans were freedom of expression, personal freedom, rights of the individual, open debate; thinking for oneself, and official accountability. The top six social values for Asian people were maintenance of an orderly society, harmony, accountability of public officials, openness to new ideas, freedom of expression, and respect for authority. This study finds that unlike Americans, East Asians are generally more respectful of authority and prize an orderly society, however in concurrence with the West, Asians honor new ideas, official accountability, and free expression.

c.Individualism and Collectivism

Individualism refers to the doctrine that the rights of the individual are the most important ones in a society. Most westerners believe that each person has his own separate identity and personality, which should be recognized and reinforced. Therefore, one cannot comprehensive western and its people without understanding individualism. Only with the cognition of individualism can we understand how westerners conceptualize family, friendships, and privacy. The core of individualism is the pursuit of personal and achievements. It is highly valued, earnestly believes and well appreciated as a fundamental social virtue. In Christianity traditions, individuals are important not only to each other, but also to the society and God. Individualism has been handed down from their ancestors. Therefore, to westerners, individualism is not selfishness but rather virtue. They emphasize individualism so much that they believe that there must be something wrong with someone who fails to demonstrate individualism. That likes the sentence“God helps those who help themselves.”However to Chinese people , the word“individualism”is related to the derogatory meaning as egoism, with represents selfishness in quality and looseness in discipline. In traditional Chinese beliefs, esp. in Confucianism, collectivism is appreciated. It emphasizes cooperation among group members and individual success is due to the collective effort of the staff in a unit, an organization or a community. The sacrifice of individual interest for that of the collective is a noble quality eulogized so much by Chinese people that being modest and thoughtful of others are highly praised.


Western families advocate equality. The husband and the wife usually have an equality voice in decision-making, and on certain matters, the children, too, have a vote. Family members are regarded as friend and they should treated equality in daily life. In the western, most old people do not live with their children or relatives. If they have enough money they will buy house or apartments in places where other old people live .If they do not healthy and strong enough to live alone, they would rather live in nursing houses for old people than be taken by their children. Therefore they want to stay young because youth stands for hope and energy, which can help them make some positive changes in life. Moreover, they do not like to grow old because they will not gain honor, respect or attention as old people. Case are different in China, where most Chinese family members tend to live together and the young are supposed to show respect and obedience to old people. Generally, old people receive honor, privilege and satisfaction since people believe that an old person is a wise man full of experience. The typical example is that the oldest person is the most respected not only in the family but also in the neighborhood. Just as Confucianism shows in Five Relations, the young should filial love, obedience and duty to the old in a family, esp. in the relationship between children and parents. For example, the Chinese who have moved abroad usually continue to send money back to their parents as a token of their filial piety. Moreover, many young people still try to live near their parents whenever possible even after they are marriage. Westerners stress individualism in families while Chinese stress coalition, which makes the Chinese family extremely cohesive. Family members depend on each other for support and they are required to show loyalty to the family and bring demonstrated virtuous behavior, then the whole family loses face. The meaning of “face” should view in relation to the gain or loss of the social status of the family, not just of the individual. That is to say that Chinese culture emphasizes the collective quality in the nature of individual’s life and behavior. Generally speaking, the Chinese have a stronger sense of family honor than westerners.


The fifth reason is the nationalism. Since the ancient China, the nation form of China is based solely on the Han nationality. What we said social etiquette standards are also based solely on The Han nationality. The Han nationality developed their privities in the language expression and social contact during the common life and work of their forefathers in the history. Just a subtle facial expression or a slight action can express some meanings. People can understand what you want to say when you say half of you comment or just say a little things .So people do not need to say all their intention when they express their own feelings. While in western, take the America for instance; America is a immigrant country which has more than 2 hundred years history. However, people in America still cannot reach privities. They must express clearly what they thought, want. Only by this way can the others understand very well. So their language must speak out what they have to say.

Different education notion

● Western parents generally believe that a child from birth that day is a separate entity, with its own independent will and personality. Whether parents, teachers or friends, do not have the privilege to control and limit his behavior, in most cases can not make choices for their children, but to make the child feel that he is his own master, and even what to say in what circumstances words, parents should carefully consider, respect and understanding of child psychology. Most Chinese parents have asked her son to obey, obedient.

● Western parents that their child is generally self-reflection and education, the capacity of children to their own employees to do their own lives, from the worker to get pleasure gained from hands-on kinds of knowledge, learn various skills. Children can do, let him do it themselves, this is the child’s respect. For example, in the West there are many such situations: the father or mother to go in front, just learned to walk with the children behind to go. They think that their children the importance of the independence of the training. Chinese parents fear their children knock the Peng Zhao, often holding or pulling a child away.

● West Barwon children the concept of fame married relatively weak, they are not taking great pains to design children’s future, but pay attention to the free development of their children, and strive to train their children to become able to adapt to a variety of environmental, social beings with independent viability. Their families, education is to cultivate children’s full of pioneering spirit, can become a self-reliant people as the starting point. Based on this concept, many families in Western countries attach great importance to exercise the child’s own childhood. They generally believe that a child’s growth must rely on its own strength, so a young age to cultivate and exercise the child’s self-consciousness and capacity for independent living, for example, a child from the child and let them know the value of labor, let the children hands-on repair, assembling motorcycles, sharing home mowing, painting houses, simple carpentry repairs such as manual labor. In addition, to go out as an odd jobs, such as in the summer to help people push mower in the winter snow, fall, sweep the leaves and so on. Western children from an early age engaged in newspaper delivery and other work, is itself a spirit to endure hardship temper. In the cold winter, when China’s thermal blanket age children are still asleep, the West has long been the child up and go door to door newspaper delivery of. This is to coddle their children’s Chinese parents may appear to be some “cruel”, and it is this seemingly “cruel” education, creating a Western children independent living skills and self-reliance. In such a subtle process, the children gradually grow into an independent viable and socially responsible citizens. Many parents eager to Succeed in China, which go beyond the actual level of the child the high demand, Destructive Enthusiasm of teaching methods and 恨铁不成钢 attitude pervasive in the family. In the child’s growth process, in addition to redouble our care for life, parents are most concerned about is the child’s learning. To enable their children a good academic performance, the future “family line”, to learn something other than the parents do not let their children do, it seems that to learn well is universal, and for the child’s capacity for independent living, social adaptability, mental health degree, moral sentiments, as well as civic awareness and so on are concerned about the little, and some even completely ignored. From the birth of a child to adulthood, parents, children, everything almost down packages, cooking, laundry, cleaning, save money for the kids study at university, to go abroad, get married, raise their children and so on. Although our parents want their children taught, happiness, and such family education, not only can not make children to blossom, but also making it difficult for children to be happy, because the social competition, must not only knowledge and intelligence contest, more is the will , mental state and a man of the Bi Pin.

● West, parents pay more attention to child health psychology training, and therefore paid great attention to the emotional exchanges with their children, care for the child’s psychological needs. Happy parents to education as an important content of education to implement. They often discuss problems with their children, the children encountered composure whenever things are also willing to discuss with the parents. Psychological research has shown that the psychological health of the child’s talent for the shaping of personality is essential and healthy

Different Food culture.

From the food taste and nutritional concepts and terms

As the Chinese and Western philosophy is different from Western diet heavy on science, science that is heavy emphasis on nutrition, it is the Western diet with nutrition as the supreme criterion, eating like a machine to add a bio-fuels, in particular, emphasizes the nutritional content of food. China aims to pursue delicious, and its processing in the process of hot fried and long-Wen Huo Gong, will cause the destruction of the nutritional content of dishes.

Pay attention to nutrition, neglect of flavor notes, or at least not to the primary purpose of the enjoyment of taste. They adorned with cold drinks, iced it will add ice cold wine, while the tongue over the surface of the taste nerves, once iced, they lose much of its taste sensitivity; that bloody steak with large white fish, big white meat, raw vegetables, various reflect Westerners taste of neglect. They refused to use monosodium glutamate, also bears testimony to taste These types are an unknown person.

Based on the importance of nutrition, Westerners more raw vegetables, and is eaten raw. Thus their “salad” like a rabbit feed, so that we can not accept. Modern Chinese people also talk about nutrition and health, but also know that a heated vegetables, vitamins will be destroyed, so we advocate the use of stir-stir-fried. Although this makes vitamin content decreased, but not a total loss, can taste much more delicious than that of rabbit feed. And therefore the modern Chinese cookery to the pursuit of both under nutrition and taste the best balance.

Look at methods and utensils from the dining

In the meal pattern. In China, no matter what the banquet are just sitting round and round, sharing a seat on the

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