A Survey of Chinese Politeness from Imperial to Modern Times: Kinship Terminologies and Honorifics

Date

2021

Authors

Ye, Anna

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Worldwide access

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Abstract

This thesis is founded on the understanding that culture and language are mutually influenced by one another. Having a grasp on a culture’s linguistic politeness strategies allows seamless navigation within a culture; it is a mark of fluency in a language. This thesis examines the intimate relationships between Confucian teaching, major events within Chinese history, and Chinese politeness. Specifically, it follows the evolution in usage of kinship terminologies and honorifics from imperial to contemporary times in spoken Chinese. The effects of major ideological and political transitions such as the May Fourth Movement, Communist Revolution, and Cultural Revolution on Chinese politeness are discussed. While the usages of kinship terminologies and honorifics have risen and fallen from imperial to contemporary times, they are still an active part of contemporary Chinese politeness. To illustrate different methods of usage in politeness strategies, examples of dialogues from popular Chinese movies and television shows are presented and analyzed.

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Keywords

Chinese politeness.

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