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The sequential organisation of gift offering and acceptance in Chinese

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Hua Li, Professor Wei Li


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This paper reports on a study of gift offering and acceptance (G.O.A.) in the Chinese cultural context. We adopt the 'explore and discover' approach and its two associated principles - the principle of 'holism' which requires that issues concerning communication patterns of a specific group of people are not divorced from the historical development, social experience, cultural beliefs and values of that group generally; and the principle of 'emergence' which requires that we discover structures from empirical evidence rather than pre-assigning or imposing structures. 71 instances of G.O.A. have been recorded, using a specially designed observation sheet. The sequential structure of G.O.A. is analysed, and subsequently interpreted with reference to the Chinese notion of li. It is argued that the Chinese li differs significantly from the western concept of 'politeness' in both content and structure, which manifests itself in the act of G.O.A., and has far-reaching implications for intercultural communication. © 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Zhu H; Li W; Yuan Q

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Pragmatics

Year: 2000

Volume: 32

Issue: 1

Pages: 81-103

ISSN (print): 0378-2166

ISSN (electronic):

Publisher: Elsevier B.V.


DOI: 10.1016/S0378-2166(99)00039-9


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