How to Say I Am Sorry in English and Vietnamese

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Subject: Cross-cultural communication

CULTURAL COMPARISON OF SAYING “I’M SORRY” BETWEEN AMERICAN AND VIETNAMESE OUTLINE

Sorry is one of the most popular phrases in American English. Americans say “sorry” as an everyday idiom while Vietnamese rarely say “xin lỗi”. In American culture, the phrase “I’m sorry” doesn’t only refer to an apology but also express a lot of other meanings such as: sympathy, politeness and so on. Because of the limitation of time, we just refer to the habit of saying “sorry” of American and Vietnamese as an act of verbal communication.

A. Saying “sorry” - an apology.
I. Differences in cultural aspects: The differences in the frequency of saying “sorry” as an apology result from dissimilarities in cultural aspects.

|Cultural aspects |American |Vietnamese | | |- an emphasis on democracy, equality. In American culture,|- an emphasis on hierarchy: more respect and obedience| |Cultural values |the distinction of such factors as age, relationship, or |from their subordinates for people at higher positions| | |social position are acknowledged in subtle ways -> Saying |In Vietnam culture there is a clear distinction in | | |sorry - an expression of democracy and equality. |social status and relationships | | | | | | | |+ saying sorry = reducing power in social status | | |It’s usual for a member of the government to say “sorry” |It’s unusual for a member of the government to | | |officially: |apologize to people | | |+ Bill Clinton Apologized To Haiti For Effects Of Free | | | |Trade | | | | | | | | |+ Saying sorry = losing power and raising distance in | | | |relationship. | | | | | | |It’s usual for parents to apologize their children. |It’s unusual for parents to apologize their children. | | | | | | | |=> it seems that the feeling of losing power put us | | | |off apologizing someone indefinitely, so preventing us| | | |from ever saying sorry to that person | | |- direct style in communication rather than indirect one. |- an indirect style in communication. => in stead of | |Style |They appreciate the importance of dealing directly with |say “sorry” we tend to express a regret in other ways:| | |issues rather than avoiding them -> say “I’m sorry” when |“cháu chẳng may…”, ; nonverbal expressions:...
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