A Pragmatic Study of Euphemisms in A Dream of Red Mansions with a Rapport Management Approach: Cultural Independence and Interdependence


As a social and cultural phenomenon, euphemism helps lubricate interpersonal relations and maintain the face of interactants. So euphemism relates closely to face and politeness. Built upon notions of face and politeness, Helen Spencer-Oatey’s rapport management (2000) is a theoretical framework for interpersonal relations with face and rights as core components. As facework is typically Chinese conflict-preventive mechanism, the theoretical foundation and core components of rapport management happen to be in concert with Chinese attachment to interpersonal relations and face. As a world-famous classical literary masterpiece, A Dream of Red Mansions unfolds a panoramic picture of a highly ritualized and strictly hierarchical feudal society, highlighting the role the traditional Chinese idea of ‘harmony and integrity’ assumes in interpersonal relations. The complexity of the social and familial relations in the novel lends abundant resources to the study of euphemisms. The present research takes Spencer-Oatey’s rapport management as theoretical framework and investigates euphemisms in the character utterances of the novel. Considering the complexity and rigidity of social and familial hierarchy, the study takes power as a major variable. The study has implications in that it has proved a new western theory’s capability in governing and explaining the use of euphemisms in a classical eastern novel, which significantly indicates its possible application to the pragmatic analysis of other texts in both English and Chinese languages. Culture, carried and reflected by language, has remained both national and international. A perfect combination of cultural independence and interdependence is what the world is glad to embrace.

Author Information
Xiaoling Liu, Beijing Union University, China
Fang He, Beijing Union University, China

Paper Information
Conference: ECLL2019
Stream: Culture and Language

This paper is part of the ECLL2019 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon