Individualism and Comrade
This paper focuses on two types of words: “kinship address” as
well as “individualism and comrade”, and explores their different
cultural content. Through exploring the origin of religion and belief, their gradually formed thoughts, this paper sets forth the great religious culture behind words. The connection between words and religion and belief brings out a question that is the religious culture and belief in our foreign language education.
This paper reminds the readers of the important significance of teaching religious culture and belief in foreign language education.
Key words: kinship address; individualism comrade; religion and belief
关键字；亲戚关系地址; 个人主义同志; 宗教和信仰
Abstract„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„i 摘 要„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„ii Contents„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„iii Introduction„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„1 1. Review of Literature„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„2 2. Analysis of the Materials„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„3
2.1. Kinship and address: different conceptions of personal
relationship between Confucianism and Christian„„„„„„4
2.2. Individualism and comrade: different conceptions of
value between Confucianism and Christianity„„„„„„„9
2.3 Revelation of religion and belief differences„„„„„13 Conclusion„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„15 Bibliography„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„16
When we talk about language, we can’t avoid mentioning culture,
and vice versa. Then, what is language, what is culture and what is the relationship between them?
The tentative definition of language is that: language is a system
of arbitrary vocal symbols used for human communication, such as
The word “culture” is a very broad concept, which should
contain all the civilization of human beings, including food, mechanics, architectures, social organizations, economic systems, customs, thoughts and languages, etc.
Many scholars put forward different opinions about these questions, but they came to an agreement that culture and language influence each other greatly and deeply, especially the religious culture that reigned human society for several thousands of years help to develop different national consciousness, different cultural content and different understanding to words. This question also arouses the echo in foreign language education: How different cultural content
affect students when they learn a foreign language? How can we use this influence passively?
This paper focused on two types of words, kinship address as well as individualism and comrade, tried to deplore the religious cultural factors that hid behind words, that is how Christian and Confucianism, the two different traditions on which eastern world and western world are built on, affect the understanding to words. Every word has profound cultural content behind it. We should involve cultural education in foreign language teaching in order to teach better, which is very significant.
1. Review of Literature
Many experts have begun to explore this field and they have got some achievements. Chen Yuan in his Language and Social Life expatiates how the change of social life affects the change of language, mainly about the change of language after new China. Deng Yanchang and Liu Runqing in their Language and Culture----the Contrast Between English and Chinese explores many aspects of culture’s
influence on language. Their research is more general but doesn’t
focus on religion and bring more profound explanation. Others like Gao Yihong’s The Understanding and Transcending to the Difference of Language and Culture Between Chinese and English, Wang Fuxiang and Others’ Culture and Language both study the effect of
cultural difference on foreign language teaching and put forward that cultural education should be included in it; but they don’t study this
question on the profundity of religion, either. Only Jia Yuxin’s
Cross-Culture Communication does deeper research on religious culture’s effect on language, but not enough. My paper gives more profound explanation in this field, tried to explore the formation of different religious culture and thought and explain the different understanding to words from the origins. (All the names of works quoted here are translated by the author of this paper.)
2. Analysis of the Materials
I chose two typical types of words in this paper, kinship address as well as individualism and comrade. Kinship address’ difference
between Chinese and English is a typical question that is a big headache for many translators and language learners for its complexity.
Individualism in Chinese and English nearly has quite contrast meaning; it is also a node of cultural difference. Comrade seems to be a word made up in Communist Country, in western country it is seldom used. All these examples are typical embodiment of cultural difference, through the research on them we could find the core of the culture hidden behind words.
2.1. Kinship and address: different conceptions of personal relationship between Confucianism and Christian
Firstly, let us see an interesting phenomenon. In China, there are a lot of words to address one’s relatives according to age and different
relations between them, e.g. marriage relation, blood relation. While in English(kinship address is much simplified. The statement
Katherine’s brother married John’s sister is hard to be translated into
Chinese without additional information. We may wonder whether her brother is older or younger than her and whether his sister is older or younger than him.
For kinship address, we have a list here:
Chinese term English term English explanation
Grandfather Paternal grandfather (mother) 祖父！母，
Grandmother Maternal grandfather (mother) 外祖父！母，
Brother (sister) Elder brother (sister) 兄！姐，
Younger brother (sister) 弟！妹，
Uncle Paternal father’s elder brother 伯父
or younger brother 叔父
Husband of father ‘s sister 姑父
Maternal mother’s brother 舅父
Husband of mother’s sister 姨夫
Brother-in-law Husband of elder sister 姐夫
Husband of younger sister 妹夫
In China ethical relations are very complex and very important; to be a good person means to be a good husband, a good wife, a good daughter, a good son, a good king, or a good subject. While in West, personal relations are not so important to them, to be a good person means to be saved by God and be sent to heaven. These two opinions have been handed down for thousands of years in two worlds and have taken deep roots in two societies. This causes another question: what
make these two opinions differ so greatly?
Secondly, let us talk from Confucianism and Christianity traditions. The times Confucius lived is the East Zhou dynasty. At that time the emperor's power was weakened, many kingdoms fought against each other, people lived a hard life; the regulations of traditional rites couldn't be carried out. We all know that, when human society walked into a specific stage, the private ownership came into being. But in China, because the productive force at that time was not developed enough, the foundation of private ownership did not make human and nature oppose thoroughly. So when Chinese confronted the painful reality, they could still escape from it through relations between human and nature. Due to these two points, Confucius advocated human unity that everyone should find his position among all the complicated ethical relations and play his role well. He thought that, when everyone restrained himself and old rites were carried out; the country would be united and harmonious. The rites actually meant to classify persons according to their origins, i.e. whether he was noble or not. But Confucius’ class system was based on “humanity”
and “human interests”. He thought that parents gave birth to a baby
and brought him up, so the child should show filial obedience to his parents. Parents and children were unequal by nature. To enlarge this opinion’s content, the emperor was the father of all people of the country; the queen was the mother of them; people were the children of the emperor and the queen; this made the whole country a big family. So finding one’s correct position in such a big family is very important. While if one wanted to “manage the big family (the
country)”, he must first train himself and manage his own small family well. Here we can understand why there are so many words to describe Chinese kinship. Then, how were the western personal relations formed?
Jesus lived in the times of Roman Empire. He used two commands to generalize all the commands in the Old Testament: one
is to “love the Lord thy God”, the other is to “love your neighbor
as yourself”. If there is a big family existing in Christianity, besides the head of the family — Jehovah and Jesus (trinity of Holy father, Holy son and Holy spirit), all men are equal and should help each other like brothers and sisters. So Jesus said: “And call no man your
father upon the earth: for one is your father, which is in heaven.”