Speech etiquette and national cultural specificity of speech behavior in Russian and English languages - Студенческий научный форум

XI Международная студенческая научная конференция Студенческий научный форум - 2019

Speech etiquette and national cultural specificity of speech behavior in Russian and English languages

Убина А.Б. 1, Нармухаметова Н.М. 2
1Евразийский Национальный Университет имени Л.Н.Гумилёва
2Евразийский Национальный Университет имени Л.Н.Гумилёва
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The present international situation causes the involvement of a large number of experts from various fields of science and technology in the direct implementation of International Relations, accompanied by a significant expansion and growth of the cultural and business contacts. It is impossible to name a linguistic culture in which the etiquette requirements for speech activity would not be presented. According to Cambridge dictionary etiquette is the set of rules or customs that control accepted behavior in particular social groups or social situations [1]. Etiquette of speech communication plays an important role for successful actions of people in society, their personal and professional growth, building strong family and friendly relations. English speech etiquette is important not only for the English but for all learners of English as a foreign language. English speech etiquette is original and has its own rules and regulations, which sometimes differ substantially from rules and norms of speech etiquette of another language. This leads to the fact that the very cultured Russian people may seem impolite among English if communicating with them in English, not fluent in English speech etiquette. Likewise, the English gentleman may seem impolite in communicating in the Russian language and Russian cultural, if he is not trained in the Russian speech etiquette [2]. The problem of communicative and cultural competence achieved on the basis of acquiring the strategies of intercultural communication and knowledge in the spheres of native and foreign cultures are of a great importance nowadays. Mutual acquiring of etiquette speech patterns by Russian and English speaking people in the process of cultural integration may help to reduce the risk of communication failure.

Everybody knows the famous quote of Judith Martin: “Etiquette is all human social behavior. If you're a hermit on a mountain, you don't have to worry about etiquette; if somebody comes up the mountain, then you've got a problem. It matters because we want to live in reasonably harmonious communities.” It is undeniable that the public at any time of its existence, fragmented, diverse and every word is characterized by its own set of etiquette means.When using expressions of speech etiquette, we perform such speech actions as greeting, gratitude, etc. Since a person began to perceive himself as an integral part of society, the system of behavioral norms and external forms of expression of relationships between its members has been continuously improved in society. One of these forms is a greeting. Its main communicative function is the expression of benevolence and readiness, if necessary, to open the act of communication.

Each level of politeness corresponds to its own style of speech - official, neutral and familiar [2, p. 78–86]. At the official level of courtesy, polite communication is conducted in a formal setting, when neither age, gender, or personal dignity, but the social status of the interlocutors and the positions they occupy are of paramount importance. Deviation from this level in the official setting is perceived as a clear disrespect for the interlocutor and can lead the interlocutors to conflict and even to break their official relations.

At a neutral level of courtesy, polite communication is conducted between strangers, as well as between those familiar people who are not in official or family relationships. Familiarity is the characteristic of communication in the family and relatives circle, as well as between friends and good acquaintances. Let us provide some examples to clarify the presence of politeness levels and styles of speech. The usage of speech etiquette formulas starts from addressing someone. Kind way of addressing someone according to N.I. Formanovskaya, is the brightest and most used units of speech etiquette [3, p. 41]. If an Englishman is forced to know the time, turning to a friend, the Englishman will ask:

What time is it, Tom?”

The question “What time is it?” corresponds to the familiar style of speech and is appropriate at the familiar level of courtesy - in the family and friends.

As in the Russian and in the English linguocultures there is special addressing to relatives in the family. Children usually address to their parents as dad-daddy, папа-папочка, mummy-mom, мама-мамочка. Such addressing as Sonny-сынок, sis-сестрёнка, br -братишка, buddy- приятель is also used during conversations. Darling дорогой, дорогая, sweetheart возлюбленная, возлюбленный, baby (крошка, девочка моя) are commonly used in relation to beloved spouses.

However, this question is not polite enough and sometimes rude at a neutral level of politeness, when the Englishman will address this question not to his friend, but to an unfamiliar stranger. In this case, others should be politely asked to:

Excuse me, could you tell me the time, please?” [4, p. 18–20].

A polite request: “Excuse me, could you tell me the time, please?” Corresponds to a neutral level of politeness and a neutral style of speech, but at the familiar level of courtesy, in a family or friend circle, this request will seem unnatural in tone or artificially pompous. As the researches show the following formulas of speech etiquette are used in addressing, expressing gratitude, asking to do something in official letters:

Dear Mr. Gore. Thank you for your quotation for strawboards dated 19 February… …I shall bear your firm in mind when I require other products in the future. Yours sincerely.

Уважаемые дамы и господа! Наша компания благодарит вас за доверие и надеется на дальнейшее плодотворное сотрудничество! Искренновашакомпания “Samsung”

Official titles can be used. For example, Doctor White when referring to a doctor, Professor Smith when referring to a professor. Military rank placed before the name of the military - Captain Grant.

In some cases of addressing, naming someone is not only used just to attract the listener’s attention to the speaker, but also used in order to show appreciation. Such ways of addressing expressed with the help of words, word combinations of appreciation, specific means of expressing appreciation or by the forms of substantivized adjective that expresses the meaning of appreciation: “Здравствуйте, уважаемый Бауыржан Алпысбаевич”, or “Good morning, Your Majesty.” The functions of addressing that can express respect and gratitude. Such ways of addressing are usually used when we address the people with higher rank, respected people, foreigners and in such cases it is expressed with help of specific words or morphemes like: уважаемый, дамы, господа, дорогой, His/Her Majesty, His/Her Excellency, Dear, Mister, Mistress, Miss etc.

One of the features of adressing in the English and Russian languages is the mismatch of pronominal forms. In English, there is a single pronominal form of reference you. There are two forms in Russian: you (ты, вы), conveying different pragmatic shades, and a respectful form, thanks to which various nuances of relations between communicants are transmitted. The fact that in English communication it is possible to address by name to those occupying a higher social position or significantly older in age, which is not allowed in Russian communication even in informal relationships, is due to an individualistic type of culture, affirming the principle of equality, and is the result of democratization of society. These features indicate that the personality-oriented communication style is peculiar to English communication, which is characterized by informal communication, symmetrical relations between the participants of communication; the emphasis is placed on their equality.

For Russian communication, due to the greater status distance, a status-oriented style is characteristic, characterized by formality, asymmetry of role positions [5]. Russian communication has a more formal character, the status-role relations between the participants of communication are in the center of attention. Evidence of this are:

- the presence of, in addition to the pronominal address to you, a respectful form of addressing to you, which is written with a capital letter (unlike the English first-person pronoun),

- the presence of such a addressing formula as the patronymic name

- the inadmissibility of treatment by name to people older in age and position.

Thus, we can draw the following conclusions. As a result of the study, features of the use of forms of appeals in the English and Russian linguistic cultures were illustrated. The forms of addressing in English and Russian speech etiquette are similar, but we also can observe the convergence of distinctive features.

Having examined the basic aspects of the speech behavior in the English and Russian languages, as well as analyzing the use cases, depending on sociolinguistic factors and functions, we defined treatment as etiquette speech unit that plays a primary role in interpersonal communication and creates a special communicative space.


1. Crystal, (1995). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

2. Kachru, B. (1992). The other tongue: English Across Cultures. Champaign: University Of Illinois Press.

3. Crystal, (1995). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

4. Crystal, (1997). English as a Global Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Brown P., Levinson S. С. Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage - Cambridge, 1987.

5. Mechkovskaya, B. (1998). Yazyk i kultura [Language and culture]. Мoscow: Ahentstvo «FAIR» [in Russian].

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