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Cross cultural experience french_spanish
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Cross cultural experience french_spanish



A personal experience on French and Spanish cultures. Focus on Cross cultural politeness with the point of view of Myers-Scotton.

A personal experience on French and Spanish cultures. Focus on Cross cultural politeness with the point of view of Myers-Scotton.



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Cross cultural experience french_spanish Cross cultural experience french_spanish Presentation Transcript

  • When in Rome do as Romans do
    A personal experience
    Cross-cultural Politeness
  • 2
    France & Spain
    Lorena Alarcón
  • 3
    • Introduction ‘culture’
    • Myers-Scotton:
    • Individualism vs Collectivism
    • Directness vs Indirectness
    • Hierarchy vs Equality
    • Taboos
    • Splitting time
    • Silence
    • My transfers
    Lorena Alarcón
  • What is one's culture? Perhaps more important, culture is learned; it's not something you are born with. Second, it's always a group phenomenon in the sense that it's at least partly shared with others who live in the same society. Hofstede (1991:5) refers to culture as "the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another". Also, we must keep in mind that within any so-called national culture, there are important subcultures; the ones that probably influence our patterns of language use the most are those based on gender, ethnic group, social class, region, and religion. Because we come from different cultures, either cultural differences or different understandings of what something means in our mythical language X can result in anything from humorous misunderstandings to serious problems.*
    *Carol Myers Cotton, Multiple Voices, 2006
    Lorena Alarcón
  • Do cultures favor individualism or collectivism?
    Lorena Alarcón
  • Do they expect messages to be indirect or direct?
    Lorena Alarcón
  • Do they expect relationships to be based on hierarchy or equality?
    Lorena Alarcón
  • France SpainIndividualism or Collectivism
    Individualism used to be more encouraged than nowadays. Still, France is more individualistic than Spain.
    In general:
    In school you cannot show that you are more intelligent than the others: it is punished by your classmates
    In university your ideas and opinions are highly encouraged.
    In your work you are encouraged to give new ideas.
    Spain encourages collectivism. But this is slowly changing into motivating individualism.
    In general:
    In school you cannot be different from your classmates.
    In university your own ideas are not actively encouraged.
    In your job you are supposed to do what all the others do.
    If they take breaks of one hour you too…
    Lorena Alarcón
  • France SpainDirectness or Indirectness
    They are usually direct, they tell you what they think, want or like. Politeness is what brings indirectness.
    In general:
    Their use of ‘merci’ and ‘s’ilte/vousplaît’ (mitigation) is considerable.
    During meals even in a family–subsystem/in-group—people say ‘merci’ and ‘s’ilteplaît’ constantly.
    They are usually direct too. The politeness that corresponds to the French one is achieved with different tones and gestures.
    In general:
    They say things straightforward. The use of ‘gracias’ o ‘por favor’ is not common (illocutionary transparency)
    During meals with your family it is not common to ask things saying ‘por favor’ or thanking afterwards.
    Lorena Alarcón
  • France Spain Directness or Indirectness
    In general:
    The use of ‘vous’ is common when you don’t know the person you are talking to. It can even be used within the family.
    They use a lot of mitigation in shops. Shop-assistants let you free to look around offering help if needed, they thank you for buying, and they say goodbye in the most funny-polite ways possible:
    “Vousavez la monnaie? – Oui - Incroyable!”/”Merveilleux”
    In general:
    ‘Usted’ almost only marks the age, or is used in formal situations and papers.
    In many outlets (bars, shops) waiters and assistants look at you, talk to you as if you were bothering them, making them work.
    Lorena Alarcón
  • Bulge of mitigation
    Lorena Alarcón
  • France SpainEquality or Hierarchy
    In general their culture is based on equality.
    In general:
    You have to be equal to your peers in school.
    At university teachers and students remain two distinct groups, and mix only occasionally.
    In your job you cannot treat the same way your boss than your colleagues (vertical culture)
    In general their culture is based on equality too.
    In general:
    Spain has started to be known by its gender equality goals. But real equality in companies doesn’t exist yet.
    At univ. the division between teachers and students is tenuous.
    Other cultures are not treated the same as the Spanish one.
    Lorena Alarcón
  • France Spain
    Refusals: They would accept to have a coffee to keep their positive face, instead of saying that they don’t want that coffee.
    If you don’t accept their help it vexes them. (pragmatic failure)
    They usually formulate the critics in a direct way—among friends or family to criticize others is a common activity
    They would normally complain if something bothers them.
    They would say ‘no’ when they don’t want something.
    If you don’t accept their help they take you as considerate, not to bother them.
    They would not complain if they are bothered by something.
    Lorena Alarcón
  • The day is divided in numerous notions of time:
    Matinée, matin (6-11)
    Midi (bon appetit) (12)
    Entre midi et deux (heures) (12-14)
    Début d’après-midi(14-15)
    Après-midi (goûter) (15-18)
    Fin d’après-midi, début de soirée (18-19)
    Soirée, soir (19-21)
    En voussouhaitantunebonnejournée
    Je voussouhaiteunebonnejournée
    Bon début d’après-midi.
    *Deseándoos un buendía.
    *Os deseo un buendía
    *Buencomienzo de la “primera parte de la tarde.”
    In Spain: ‘Buenos días/tardes’ or ‘hola’
    Lorena Alarcón
  • Taboos
    In France immigration is taboo:
    They have to be politically correct.
    They use description or synonyms to refer to immigrants or their descendants. Mélons/maghrébins/beurs/immigrés de 2e ou 3e génération, nord-africains
    To admit openly that you are racist is disregarded.
    “J’suis pas raciste, maisquandmême , les Arabes…”/ c’esttoujours les mêmes qui foutent la merde
    In Spain it can even be considered rude to talk about
    politics and religion.
    About the immigration, in Spain—or at least Castilla, you are free to say what you think. It’s easy to hear in streets, bars, and markets people spitting racist observations. (So it’s not a taboo)
    Lorena Alarcón
  • Silences
    Avoiding the silence at all costs:
    Spanish people in general say ‘hello’ every time you cross them. Even if they are working in the same building and see each other every five minutes. (involvement by repetition)
    They go very easily into small talk (weather, football, family).
    Avoiding the silence when necessary:
    If you are in a group and don’t talk they will consider you as timid and will try normally to talk to you (they will even do the effort of talking English/Spanish)
    If you try to replace with an original message the salute you are considered positively (as encouraging the positive face).
    They start a conversation with small talk but they end up talking about politics, cinema, philosophy, literature…
    Lorena Alarcón
  • My Transfers
    I use the marks of politeness learnt from Peru, Sweden and France.
    I usually use ‘usted’ and I say a lot ‘thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry.’
    I use the humility of Peruvian culture.
    I use the directness learnt by myself in Spain and partly in France.
    I use the independence of Sweden and France.
    I do not consider myself part of any culture.
    Lorena Alarcón
  • Sources
    Myers-Scotton, Carol. Multiple Voices: An Introduction to Bilingualism. 2006.
    Lorena Alarcón