A Comparative Study of Social Address Terms in Chinese and English
The system of address terms is an indispensible part of human communication. Social address terms are subordinates of all the address terms humans have. They are used to denote people other than family members. Compared with kinship terms, the usage of social address terms is much more complex and flexible. First, the actual choices of social address terms are determined by the complex social relationship and social roles rather than blood relationship. Besides, the social address terms are unstable and subject to change. As the social structure and cultural values change, social address terms that denote interpersonal relationship will change accordingly. As a result of these features, social address terms are more likely to cause problems in communication because a person has no definite address terms in a society. Chinese and English social address terms bear great differences due to the huge cultural differences. In this paper, a comparison of Chinese and English social address terms is made and the cultural differences behind them discussed. It is hoped that the paper is of some help to cross-cultural communication and those who concern with the investigation of address terms.
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