Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

"Face" as Cultural Performance in Chinese: Cases of Requesting and Declining
by Liao, Hao-Hsiang, Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 2012, 369; 10631145
Abstract (Summary)

Face, a self-image that each member of a society seems to care about, is a cultural performance. Performance refers to situated behaviors that define an individual's successful functioning in a society. Face can be as explicit as defending yourself in a debate or as implicit as denying a request from a friend. This dissertation investigates how "face" is presented, maintained, negotiated, and how it functions in the cases of requesting and declining in Chinese culture. To be more specific, this dissertation explores "face" in four situations – making a request of your teacher, making a request of a friend, denying a request from your teacher, and denying a request from a friend – and depicts the features of these four situations from both the native speakers' and the Chinese learners' perspectives.

Based on the results of the research, I argue "face" as a theme in requesting and declining as it runs through the considerations and strategies people resort to in these situations. The considerations are face-based and they correspond to the face-saving themes. In Chinese, more specifically, it is lian on mianzi because the speaker, based on his social status, power, and ability, aims to maintain the semblance of integrity.

Last, I provide pedagogical approaches to "face" in C2, both in the beginning and intermediate levels. In the beginning level, I come up with teaching plans for the purpose of classroom practice. In the intermediate level, I design explanations, drills, exercises, and improvisations to show how teachers can incorporate "face" into their instruction and provide learners with opportunities to go through the learning cycle.

Exploring "face" in cases of requesting and declining, I hope to bring the field's attention to the fact that C2 learners' exposure to "face" in Chinese culture begins on their first day of class when they ask their teacher to repeat what he/she says. Since there is no "faceless" communication, how to train C2 learners to identify, to become perceptive observers, and then to perform "face" successfully over the course of their study becomes a challenge for all Chinese language teachers.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Walker, Galal
Commitee: Noda, Mari, Quinn, Charles
School: The Ohio State University
Department: East Asian Languages and Literatures
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 78/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Foreign Language
Keywords: Chinese language pedagogy, Culture, Face, Performance
Publication Number: 10631145
ISBN: 978-0-355-01434-1
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