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Differences In Conversation Between Vietnamese And Americans Cultural Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 1622 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Conversation is a dialogue using all the possibilities mentioned. The purpose is to reach highest degree of communication, understanding, and, where necessary agreement. Disputes may occur, but they have only the purpose of classification. The leading purpose must be mutual understanding and, in some cases, the attempt to reach agreements if possible and to create pragmatics solutions for conflicts in case of disagreement. (Anindita Niyogi Balslev, cross – cultural conversation, pp 166 – 167).

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As we know, conversation is communication between two or more people. It is a social skill that is not difficult for most individuals. Conversations are the ideal form of communication in some respects, since they allow people with different views on a topic to learn from each other. A speech, on the other hand, is an oral presentation by one person directed at a group. For a successful conversation, the partners must achieve a workable balance of contributions.

The subject matter of a dialogue has influence on its formal structure. There are some fields in which disputation and argument will be an essential part of the argument, and in which procedures for compromising are most lawgiving binding all partners involved. (Anindita Niyogi Balslev, cross-cultural conversation, pp167).

Starting conversation is difficult or easy?And what we should do to start conversation? Depending on each culture, we have a different way to start conversation.

Therefore, our group decided to choose topic “differences in starting conversation between Vietnamese and American”. From this, we hope that people can have their ways to start effective conversation to create relationship.

The conversation:

A: bạn Æ¡i cho mình hỏi mấy giờ rồi?

B: 8h15

A: uh. Cảm Æ¡n. A mà bạn tên gì vậy?

B: mình tên Thảo. còn bạn?

A: mình tên Quyên. Thế bạn bao nhiêu tuổi?

B: mình 21 tuổi. bạn là sinh viên a? học trường nào thế ?

A: mình học ngoại ngữ. năm 2. Thế bạn ?

B : mình cÅ©ng học ngoại ngữ. Vậy chúng ta cùng trường rồi.

Vietnamese people often start conversation by asking the opposite person about questions related families, personal information questions. For example, “How old are you?”, “How many people are there in your family?”, “Did you get married?”. For Vietnamese people, getting to know another person is very important. Because Vietnamese people think that when someone asks them personal questions, it means someone cares of them. Therefore, that way is considered a normal one when starting conversation. Moreover, in the first meeting, Vietnamese people can tell each other everything and talk about any topic that they are interested in.

Vietnam is an Eastern country, so its culture reflects the collective and the close culture of Eastern agriculture. Researchers from Michigan University (in a observation of the eye movements of students) say, “Asian people live in a network of social relationships with the complex social role of compulsory nature”. Therefore, Vietnam is not an exception. The social lifestyle may play an important role in these differences in conversation. Vietnamese people like finding out, observing, and valuing. Therefore, Vietnamese people often start a conversation by asking about the personal information of yourself and your relationships, such as age, birth -place, level of education, social position, family status…This is the result of the village community. Because of that, Vietnamese think they are responsible for caring the others, and it is necessary for them to know the other’s circumstance (Tráºn Ngọc Thêm, CÆ¡ sở văn hóa Việt nam). On the other hand, due to the discrimination clearly among social relationships, a communication has each address, so if there is not enough information, they could choose the way to address appropriate.

Therefore, Vietnamese people often like conversation before getting down business. To Vietnamese people, starting a conversation by asking the personal questions is polite and shows the cares for the others. They want to make close to the opposite people. If someone does not ask about the other’s family, we can think that he/ she is “cold” person.


A: It’s hot today, isn’t it?

B: Yes, it is.

A: Uh, where are you going?

B: To Germany. I’m going home.

A: Oh, are you German?

B: Yes, you’re English, aren’t you?

A: Yes, I am.

As you can see in that conversation, American people start a conversation by asking another person about the weather, current news, interests, music, fashion, etc…For example, “It’s hot today, isn’t it?”, or “Did you watch football match last night?” Besides, American people avoid asking personal questions like “How old are you?”, “How much can you earn per month?” or “Did you get married?” and they may consider that these questions are impolite and ignore to answer them.

Besides, try to avoid conversation breaker like polities, religion, philosophy or death and other hardcore topics. Most people do not like to talk about religion and they see you as some religious person who tries to push your views on them, so a religious topic is strictly No -No for a conversation with strangers.

America is a Western country. Therefore, its culture reflects the individualism and the open culture of Western culture. American people do not want to say much when starting a conversation. On the other hand, American people do not live in a network of social relationships with these complex social roles of compulsory like Vietnamese people. As a result, relationship is not concerned much when living in a network of society in America. It is different from the other cultures especially the eastern culture, in general, American appreciate the freedom and individualism and family, community, region or organization are minor.

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III> conclusion:

In general, we have just told you about the differences in starting conversation between Vietnamese and American. The differences in choosing topics and the ways of starting conversation between the two countries are seen clearly, when we communicate each other. What can the study of conversation tell us about the shapes and meanings of cultural worlds? In turn, what can the study of cultural worlds tell us about the shapes and meanings of conversation? As Michael Noerman (1988) wrote, “in every moment of talk, people are experiencing and producing their cultures, their roles, their personalities” (p, xi). How can we understand these moments of talk, as means of producing roles, personalities and cultures, that is, as ways of designing ourselves and ways of living together? (“culture in conversation”, pp 01).

A successful conversation includes mutually interesting connections between the speakers or things that the speakers know. For this to happen, those engaging in conversation must find a topic on which they both can relate to in some sense. Those engaging in conversation naturally tend to relate the speakers’ statements to themselves. They may insert aspects of their lives into their replies, to relate to the other person’s opinions or points of conversation. If we have more time, we will give you some advices to avoid conflicts when communicating with foreign people and give you how to communicate efficiently.

Here are some advices for you to have an effective conversation that we complied from the book “How to talk to anyone in 30 seconds or less” (pp75-76) of Chris Gottschalk at Atlantic Publishing Company. There are some tips for you to have an effective conversation:

As you know, talking with people from a different culture can sometimes prove a huge obstacle to conversation.

So, when you meet someone, remember that a handshake is considered polite in many countries other than United States. We give you some customs around the world:

In Niger, people in the Kanuri ethnic group say “Wooshay!” which means “hello”, while shaking one first at head level

In New Zealand, members of the Maori close their eyes and touch their noses together.

In Jamaica, greet someone informally by saying “Waapun”, a word that is a condensation of the phrase “what’s happening?”

In Greece, you will slap someone’s back as often you shake hands.

In Grenada, handshakes between friends are replaced by a fist bump.

Outside of the greeting, there is the issue of personal space, which can be even more intimidating to people than figuring out how to shake someone’s hand. In Italy and South America, for instance, personal space only extends out about 1 foot. On the opposite end of spectrum is Japan, where everyone gets 3 feet of personal space to themselves.

The best way to handle this is to stand about 2 feet away from someone who is from a different culture when talking to them. If you are an American, that is just a step away and it lets you easily adjust your distance, depending on the culture you are dealing with.

And if you are a visitor to Asian countries, don’t to angry or hate anyone because they ask you some questions about your personal information.

Those are our presentation. Thank you for your attention!


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