Table Manners

It’s not only something with the manners but also the culture which makes account. We should respect the others’ culture, and spread our own customs to the other countries. II. Literature Review Most authorities researched on the differences of the table manners between China and the western countries, mainly focus on the sequence of serving the dishes, how to behave at table, in other words, how to speak, how to greet with each others, how to use the dishware and napkin and so on. Craig Claiborne investigated this task in A Guide to Table Manners in an Imperfect World. 1991, Newyork) And found that the main difference on the Chinese dinner table is the chopsticks instead of knife and fork, but that’s only superficial. Besides, in decent restaurants, you can always ask for a pair of knife and fork, if you find chopsticks not helpful enough. The real difference is that in the west, you have your own plate of food, while in China dishes are placed on the table and every share. The western concept of a service-oriented society contrasts significantly with the Chinese concept of total view as substandard service in hotel and restaurants when, in fact, no offense has been intended.

At the same time, some may believe that backwardness evident everywhere in China (even behind the modern facade) can be overcome by applying western notion of efficiency and organization, and they are often quite vocal in expressing these beliefs, now forge on and experience the culture. In the book British Society and Culture (Wu Fei: 2001), the quality of English dishes is excellent, and there are so many for people to choose. It’s true that the dairy products are so fresh and the meat is usually so tender. Many traditional British dishes are as good as anything you can get anywhere.

In recent years the British have become more cosmopolitan in their eating habits, and many families frequently sit down to meals whose ingredients or recipes may come from India, china, or indeed anywhere in the world. Some authorities carry forward the taboos when eating with a Chinese host, for example, Rose V. White, he gave his own opinion on the Meal Time Etiquette. Traditionally speaking, there are many taboos at Chinese tables, but nowadays people do not think it is necessary to follow these rules. The traditional customs or taboos shouldn’t appear only if the formal circumstances.

However, there are still a few things to keep in mind, especially if people are guests at a private home. For instance, don’t stick your chopsticks upright in the rice bowl. Instead, lay them on the dish. The reason for this is that when somebody dies, the shrine to them contains a bowl of sand or rice with two sticks of incense stuck upright in it. So if you stick your chopsticks in the rice bowl, it looks like this is equivalent to whishing death upon person at the table! For the teapot, you must make sure that the about of the teapot is not facing anyone.

It is impolite to set the teapot down where the spout is facing towards somebody. The spout should always be directed to where nobody is sitting, usually just outward from the table. And almost all the Chinese people know the reason, but for the westerners, maybe they won’t understand until hearing the reason. So when the westerners come to China, they should know the etiquettes at the table. For me, I will compare these two kinds of different etiquettes and find the differences and similarities, and I will try my best to find the reason why Chinese people adore the western culture and ignore their own traditional custom.

We should know the others’ custom but we should carry forward our own culture. III. Background Information about Table Manners 1. Cultural background There are more than three hundred different definitions about culture which covers broad areas as arts, music, literature, values, food, traditional customs and religions and so on so forth. “Culture is the deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe, and the material objects and possessions acquired by a roup of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving” (Samovar, L. A. Porter, etc. ). Onboard the vessel the multi-nationality crew work and live in “an isolated small floating community” where exist different cultures. It includes the ways of thinking and doing things, such important values as time, sense of safety, environmental protection, co-operation, working attitudes and ways of communication which are called Culture with capitalized C in Culture on the on hand. On the other hand there are cultures of small c in culture such as foods style, table manners, body language, etc.

For example a Spanish captain will be shocked when he spotted the dog meat in the provision list arranged by a Chinese chief cook. Because Europeans take dog as the close friend of human beings and even a part of the family while for Chinese dog is connected with negative persons or things. For example in Chinese there are old sayings like” live a dog’s life “(miserable life);”A dog will leap over a wall in desperation” (despair gives courage even to a coward); “heap of dog’s droppings”(rubbish, worth nothing);”doghouse”(shabby and humble house);” “No ivory can come out of a dog’s mouth”(a filthy mouth can not utter decent language).

Although a culture of a nation is passed on from generation to generation it can be learnt and picked up. Like language culture is everywhere. There are only different cultures and there are no bad or superior cultures. Onboard the vessel the different cultures co-exist equally and there are no good or bad cultures. The crew should develop an awareness of different cultures and respect other cultures and learn from other cultures. An international crew should be open-minded and tolerant to other cultures. 2. Table manners background

Table manners mainly includes: How to speak at the table, how to dress at the table, how to behave politely and place settings, etc. The attitude towards table manners changed with the times and regions. Usually in an informal family klatch, people do not pay much attention to the rules. They would like to dress casually and talk loudly, It doesn’t matter. In the traditional Chinese party, people were particular about the clothing of attending the formal party, nevertheless, with the development and changes of the modern customs, some succeed the tradition, and some are tend to reak the traditional customs. In 1920s and1930s, They wore Chinese tunic suits. Now the people wear more casually. If you attend a party with a Chinese tunic suits, the others may feel funny and strange. Most of the westerners never wear a hat at the table or a casual sleeveless shirt. They do not rock back in the dining chair and do not prop themselves up with their elbows on the table. Placing the forearm on the table edge is ok. Tea is preferred by the Chinese as a drink during all meals less for its own taste but to clear the palate of a former dish before proceeding to the next.

And as proclaimed by Hong Kong Tourist Association in their guide, “The Chinese don’t ruin the tea with such alien substances as milk, sugar or lemon”. Therefore, Chinese tea culture is unique historic and abstruse. IV. Chinese Table Manners 1. Comprehending the etiquettes For many westerners, the Chinese dinner table is quite unique and complex. At the Chinese table, you can not find forks or knives. The Chinese host makes great, sweeping arm movements that go over large sections of the table passing over food. The scene is fantastic, but it leaves the foreigners at a loss for what to do and how to do.

As for eating, our Chinese people usually did it quietly in the past. There was no eating noises allowed to make, and everything must be done as quietly as they could. Therefore, people had to eat with their mouths closed. Perhaps, to make a “smacking” noise was the worst offence behaves. While they are drinking soup, wine or any other kinds of liquid, “slurping” was also forbidden. If any sound whatever was created by our intake of food or beverage, it constituted bad manners! Of course, it was unthinkable to speak with one’s mouth full of food, so speaking only occurred before or after one had taken in food and swallowed it.

But nowadays, you can see this scene when you are attending a formal party. How one sits at the table is also prescribed. One is to sit up straight with the recessive hand (usually the left) in one’s lap holding a napkin while the dominant hand (usually the right) holds the fork or spoon. The only time one can have both hands on the table is when he is using a knife to cut something, but as soon as the cutting is finished, the recessive hand should go back to the lap. Also, elbows are not allowed on the table. Therefore, one props the arm against the edge of the table just below the elbow.

One should ask someone sitting near it to give it to you instead of reaching for any food on the table and stand up for the food. An American said:” In my time in China, I have come to enjoy Chinese table manners far more than those prescribed by my own culture, but for many it is impossible to adjust. ” So, for the foreigners, the best way is to ask your guest questions to find out the differences and try your best to adjust them. 2. Handling the taboos All of the people know that China has a long history, traditionally speaking, there are many taboos at Chinese tables, but these days not many people pay attention to them.

However, there are a few things to keep in mind, especially if you are a guest at a private home. The author will list some taboos so as to help the readers to behave more properly and politely. 1) Don’t stick your chopsticks upright in the rice bowl. Instead, lay them on your dish. The reason for this is that when somebody dies, the shrine to them contains a bowl of sand or rice with two sticks of incense stuck upright in it. So if you stick your chopsticks in the rice bowl, it looks like this shrine and is equivalent to wishing death upon a person at the table! ) Make sure that the spout of the teapot is not facing anyone. It is impolite to set the teapot down where the spout is facing towards somebody. The spout should always be directed to where nobody is sitting, usually just outward from the table. 3) Don’t tap on your bowl with your chopsticks. Beggars tap on their bowls, so this is not polite. Also, in a restaurant, if the food is coming too slow people will tap their bowls. If you are in someone’s home, it is like insulting the cook. 4) The napkins should be laid on the knee, the elbows should close to the body. ) Everyone should make preparation before the host or the hostess announced the beginning of the meal. 6) You should let the lady on your right side begin first. 7) Do not talk loudly with the people on the opposite of the table, and do not shake your legs when you are eating. 8) Do not make up at the table, and do not touch your hairs. 9) Do not stand for the food, if it is necessary, you can ask the others to help. 10) Do not yawn at the table, if you can’t help to, you should cover up best. 11) When you are eating a buffet dinner, you shouldn’t get much food on your plate, and you should queue up.

There are much more rules, It is impossible for the author to list them all. Anyway, what the readers should do is to pay much attention to your behavior and try your best to act more properly. V. Western Countries’ Table Manners 1. People’s attitude towards western countries’ table manners In order to do the research, the author designed a questionnaire to investigate the understanding of western countries’ table manners . The author distributed 200 questionnaires in our campus; all together I collected 175 back.

According to result of the research, Majority of university students don’t know the table manners well. 50%just know some of our Chinese table culture including how to behave politely at the table, how to toast . etc. But more than 70% students don’t know how to lay the tables, how to use the knife and fork, and how to speak and behave properly and politely at the western countries’ table. For the reason is that they think it’s unnecessary to know it because they wouldn’t have many chances to communicate with the foreigners, let alone eat with them.

It’s true that not every university student has the opportunities to contact with the foreigners because the foreign teachers in one campus are limited. Being university students, they prefer to pay much attention to their majors rather than learn English. For this reason, they don’t think knowing the table manners of westerners matters a lot. As we all know, China has entered the WTO, we encounter the opportunities as well as challenges, and we should keep our pace with the development of globalization and face the challenges bravely. Eating together is one of the most efficient ways for intercommunion.

Through the research of this subject, which entitled with “The comparison of the table manners between Chinese and the Westerners”, We appeal Chinese people treat the English subject and western culture with a right attitude, and deal with The relationship between the mother language and target language properly. Being student of English, we should not only master the communicative function of the target language, but also comprehend the trans-cultural communication, for culture is knowledge’s distillation. Only if we understand the cultural background of the target language, can we have the motivation to learn English language.

Because of the globalization, today, more and more foreigners came to China for work, for traveling. In this situation, more and more international conferences hold in China, not only in the State Department, but also some common places, such as campus, Multinational Corporation, etc. Not complete with the development of society and economy, we will have more and more chances to contact with foreigners when we get a job. Therefore, it’s more important for the Chinese people to know the western countries’ table manners . 2. Knowing the taboos

It is the common sense of the Europeans and Americans to dress formally when they are attending a party. You should sit from the left side of the chair and do remember that “lady first! ” The napkin should be laid on the knees, usually you should not round the neck with the napkin, it is not proper. Do not make any noise when you are drinking soup or eating. Do remember that use your right hand to hold the knife and left hand to use the fork to take food. Do not fork some food to eat but plow them up to eat. Do not stand for the foods, it is not polite. Do not wave the knife and fork in your hand, it is impolite.

If you want to talk with somebody else, just put down the table wares first and then you can talk with them. It is not proper to keep silence all the time at the table, but it doesn’t meant you can keep up a constant flow of words. In a word, you must be careful. After all, these two kinds of cultures are different and we should adopt the others’ custom so that they can respect ours. VI. The relationship between the two kinds of table manners 1. Cultural differences Today, etiquette became the reflection and manifestation of one country’s politics, economy, culture in people’s social contact. And it includes the rincipal and moral that people should obey in daily life. Etiquette formed in the process of the deposition of culture and social contact. So every nation has their own etiquette standard which created the spirit of this their nation because of this formed cultural difference between different nations. As language is the carrier of the human culture. This difference must reflect in the language of different nations. The purpose of learning the foreign language is to touch their culture and find the ways of communication. We can easily know that these two different kinds of cultures breaded different table manners.

But if you look closely, you will find that they have many similarities. Such as you must not speak mouthfully and do not stand up to reach for the food, etc. We can find the similarities during the process of comparing them. Different cultural customs reflect the different characteristics of nationalities thinking. We should absorb the essence and discard the dross, so as to promote the national language and develop human culture. 2. Establish the right attitude How to Learn Western Culture? We should establish a right attitude toward cultural differences. Attitude is a manner of feeling and behaving.

It can form a part of one’s perception of self, of others, and of the culture in which one is living. A foreign language learner should set up a right attitude toward different cultures. Prejudice should be avoided. Prejudice in culture refers to an intolerant, unfair or biased attitude toward another culture. Regardless of the existence of Prejudice, cross-cultural communication may become difficult because it stands in the way of acquired knowledge in it. When facing a new culture, people should be flexible and able to adapt themselves to the new situation. Do as the Romans do is an effective way for those who are experiencing cultural differences. Therefore, being open-minded to cultural difference is a prerequisite to a successful communication with native speakers. Table manners is just a part of the culture, we should know more about this kind of new manners, and try our best to understand them to adopt them. VI. Arousing and Developing Interest 1. The reason of people’s passive attitude Concerning the cultural differences, the author found that the vast majority of Chinese people don’t know our Chinese table manners, let alone the western countries’.

Why? China has a large number of populations, and also has a considerable number of people who don’t understand English at all. According to the State Council Research Room released “the Report on Chinese peasant workers’ investigation and study”, 72. 1% of the peasant workers’ monthly income are all under ? 800,mainly between ? 500-? 800. This result indicates they pay much attention to the money, because they must make their effort to live a better life. They would not spend much time to know the western countries’ national conditions, let alone the culture.

Perhaps some of them know “Hello”, “My name is… ” etc. But actually they can’t use the communicative function of the English language well. So this is the core of the problem. If one doesn’t understand the language, how can they understand the culture? They don’t have the sense of knowing this. Therefore, they would think it is absurd and unacceptable! VII. Conclusion As a communicative strategy, table manners are more and more important. With the development of society and international, people would have realized the ultimate goal of learning table manners from persuasion to action.

Therefore, being aware of the importance of table manners is not only for the people who always attend formal parties or have frequent contact with the foreigners, but also for the entire nation so as to improve the cultural awareness, condense the information, and create communicative effects of table manners. But how to achieve this goal? The best way to know a culture is to touch it, to feel it, to experience it because each culture has its own reason to exist and has its own characteristics, so it is hard to say which one is the standard.

Once Confucius said, Reading books and traveling are two main ways to obtain knowledge. Table manners change over the time. They follow the fashion of the day. Besides, table manners are only important at formal parties, although good manners always make you look good. You do not need to worry too much while having dinner with you friends and family. The comparison of the table manners embraces many aspects, knowing this will help us to learn English language, not only master the communicative function, but also improve the ability of trans-cultural communication.

References 1. Margaret Visor. The Ritual of Dinner the Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities, and Meaning of Table manners [M]. New York: Penguin Books, 1991 2. Craig Claiborne. Elements of Etiquette. A Guide to Table Manners in an Imperfect World [M]. New York, Warner Books, 1992 3. Judith Martin. Miss manner’ Guide for the Turn-of-the-Millennium [M]. New York, Pharos Books, 1989 4. ???. ???????? [M]. ?? : ?????? , 2002 5. ???. ???????????? [M]. ?? : ??????? , 2005 6. ? ?. ????????? [M]. ????? : ??????? , 2003

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