Editor-in-Chief: Kecskes, Istvan
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Cultural schemas in intercultural communication: A study of the Persian cultural schema of sharmandegi ‘being ashamed’
This paper explores the Persian cultural pragmatic schema of sharmandegi ‘being ashamed,’ which underlies the enactment of several speech acts in Persian. These include expressing gratitude, offering goods and services, requesting goods and services, apology, refusal, and accepting offers. For instance, the schema encourages Persian speakers to use the expression sharmandam ‘I am ashamed’ when inviting guests to the dinner table, suggesting that their food is not worthy of the guests. In this instance, this is a linguistic strategy to achieve positive politeness for the speaker. The paper presents some naturally occurring data from intercultural contexts where a Persian speaker has enacted the same schema communicating with Australian English speaking interlocutors. Elicited interpretations of the use of the expression of sharmandegi (such as ‘I am ashamed I didn't call you’ or ‘I'm sorry the food is not good’) from a number of Australian English speakers reveal the potential for misunderstanding on the part of non-Persian speakers in intercultural communication with Persian speakers who use this schema when speaking English. In general, this study further reveals the potential of cultural schema theory for studies of intercultural pragmatics and contributes to the body of research on intercultural communication involving speakers of Persian.
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