Becoming Aware of Cultural Differences

I was giving a PowerPoint presentation on Positive and Negative Politeness Cultures at a conference where Mario Rinvolucri was one of the participants.   Following on from the seminar, he asked me to contribute an article for ‘Humanising Language Teaching’ on how I became interested in cultural differences, and here it is…

becoming-aware-of-cultural-differences

By the way, in this context the terms ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ are not in any sense intended to convey approval or disapproval.  They simply refer to opposing ends of a continuum of accepted behaviour in a particular cultural context.

‘Positive’ could loosely be equated with directness, and ‘negative’ with indirectness.  In fact, I wish such terms had been the ones linguists had coined for discussion of these culturally sensitive matters!