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A Contrastive Analysis of Chinese and English Leave-Taking Strategies in Workplace Related Discourse and its Pedagogical Application
The speech act of leave-taking is a common type of interpersonal communication which has not yet received substantial study into the pragmatics due to the difficulty of collecting data. However, leave-taking serves two key practical interactional functions: firstly, conflict-avoidance and secondly, solidarity-establishing. Given this dearth of investigation further study is needed to counter the lack of studies currently available. With the increasing need to develop Business Chinese courses, this research focuses on contrasting the pragmatic strategies used by native Chinese and native English speakers over leave-taking during workplace-related discourse, while exploring the influence of cultural values upon them. The aim is to serve as a reference, and to benefit Chinese language teachers and their students who have an English speaking background by providing a summary based on empirical study. This research gathered language samples by discourse completion tests (DCT), then analyzed the head acts, supportive moves, internal modifications and sequences structures used respectively by the native Chinese or English speakers. The study variables includes Power Distance and Social Distance. The results show that users of Chinese and English both employed a variety of strategies when taking leave. However, in several respects, the variety of strategies the Chinese utilized is greater than those utilized by native English speakers. Moreover, the two languages present different preferences on selected strategies and internal modifications. Taking internal modifications as an example, the Chinese mainly tend to weaken the force of the strategies selected, whereas native English speakers also focus on the strengthening effect provided by some of the internal modifications. Overall, Chinese and English share some similarities in the use of leave-taking strategies, but that cultural backgrounds have a large influence on them is still evident. The result illustrates that the strategy patterns the Chinese utilized is more influenced by Collectivism and High-Context Culture while the English is more affected by Individualism and Low-Context Culture. Finally, based on this research, one teaching material and two lesson plans have been designed for Chinese language learners of native English backgrounds to make it easier for them to employ more suitable leave-taking strategies at workplace based on Chinese culture.
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