Contrast Between English and Chinese Culturally-Loaded Words

LEI Chao
2016 Journal of Literature and Art Studies  
 Vocabulary in a language is influenced by and bears features of culture, so in languages, vocabulary has the greatest culture-loading capacity. This paper makes a contrastive study between English and Chinese culturally-loaded words, and tries to make clear how cultural disparities exist in English and Chinese vocabulary. Culturally-loaded words play a significant role in understanding the languages of different cultures, giving the readers insight into cultures. Learning and grasping the
more » ... nd grasping the culturally-loaded words can promote the efficiency of vocabulary teaching and improve learners' competence in intercultural communication. Introduction Every language possesses three cardinal elements: phonetic element, lexical element, and grammatical structure, of which lexis is the fundamental pillar that supports the huge system of a language (Bolinger, 2008, p. 226). The close relationship between language and culture is most readily seen in words. In fact, being the most active and elastic element of a language, vocabulary has the greatest culture-loading capacity. Vocabulary in a language is influenced by and bears features of culture. A number of words in English contain cultural elements, so scholars usually call them keywords (to society and culture), culturally bound or culturally conditioned words. No matter how they are differently termed, actually they refer to the same kind of words, namely, words that carry cultural meanings, mainly including nouns, adjectives, and numerals. HU Wen-zong (2012) points out that culturally-loaded words and expressions are loaded with specific national cultural information and indicate deep national culture (p. 108). Except for a part of core vocabulary in languages, many words and expressions are culturally-loaded. The cultural information loaded in these words and expressions are always barriers in appropriately understanding and using foreign language. This paper attempts to make a comparison between English and Chinese cultures, to make clear how cultural disparities exist in English and Chinese vocabulary. Learning and grasping the culturally-loaded words can promote the efficiency of vocabulary teaching and improve learners' competence in intercultural communication. Forms of Culturally-Loaded Words Culturally-loaded words usually appear in the following forms: Nominal terms: Words under this category can find their referents in the physical world. Most of them are products, created by the people or generated in the soil of a particular culture. They range widely from utensils, LEI Chao, M.A., Associate Professor, The Foreign Languages School, Zhoukou Normal University.
doi:10.17265/2159-5836/2016.07.016 fatcat:4x26xbylyfchlbn2moaahoblfm