Communication is very important process in human society. People from different cultures often communicate in different ways. That is part of the fun learning a foreign language, to find more about different cultures. With the ongoing development of global communication, the spread of new technologies, like internet, Skype etc, the issues of cross-cultural communication have acquired an extraordinary popularity not only in the scientific community but far beyond it in the vast masses of people. This mass audience comprises millions of people, learning English all over the world. There have been loads of books and publications dedicated to the matter. Many modern English language textbooks contain whole units on cross-cultural differences, like the ones published by such popular and recognized publishing houses as Oxford University Press, Macmillan, Cambridge University Press, Longman Pearsons, especially this is the case with specialised books for economists, managers, businessmen of all trades. 90 % of the students in the classes of phonetics, whom I asked what is the ideal speech they would like to achieve at the end of the course, were confident in choosing the British accents. Though due to peculiarities of Uzbek sound formation and intonation patterns the American variant is easier and much more comfortable to learn. But the demand for the British pronunciation is so high, that thousands people try hard to learn the Oxford pronunciation. Really hard and hardly with success as, if we remember George Mikes’ famous book about the English, “the Oxford accent hurts your throat and is hard to use all the time” (“Sometimes you can forget to use it, speak with your foreign accent and then where are you? People will laugh at you”) What’s more, relatively low part of the population really speaks it. There is another row of factors why British English is in such a demand, among which we can suggest high educational standards or at least their overall recognition.
So, we shall speak about the English people. With the help of the English people. William S. Maugham in the “Razor’s Edge” wrote: “I don’t think one can ever really know any but one’s own countrymen.” As there are things which “ you can’t come to know by hearsay, you can only know them if you have lived with them. You can only know them if you are them”. Let’s start with the concept which is so popular in today’s Britain, namely “the Englishness”. The term became very popular in the second half of the last century, after the publication of the famous essay by George Orwell “The English people” in 1947. Orwell observes that generally the English are known by stereotypes and that foreigners visiting England hardly notice the existence of real Englishmen, adding ironically that even the accent which Americans call English is typical of less than a forth of the population; the real England is not the England of guidebooks for tourists, and the language of BBC is hardly understood by masses. In these essays about England Orwell sums up the most salient characteristics of the English people to be “artistic insensibility, gentleness, respect for legality, suspicion of foreigners, sentimentality about animals, hypocrisy, exaggerated class distinctions, and an obsession with sport”. We can find many similar views expressed by foreigners describing this nation. Thus, a 19th c. French historian of arts H. Taine notes that in this country the temperament is too fighting, the will is too concentrated, the mind has too utilitarian a character to find pleasure in enjoying beauty and subtleties of shades…they use painting to express characters and feelings, even in landscape they first of all depict the soul; visual objects serve to them as signs, imprints of ideas”. George Mikes after forty years of living in Britain wrote a very ironical book “How to Be an Alien” where he humorously describes the hypocrisy and ambiguity of the English, and which book in line with English humour the English publishing houses distribute in the world as easy-reading books for learners of English. But if we speak seriously, leaving fiction and ironical notes apart and focus on cultorological aspect, we can try to distinguish for our didactic teaching purposes some basic traits with the help of which we can really make it easier the explanation of many things and processes in language to our students.
In English Phonetics (it’s especially evident in dialectal accents) there are many tricks to avoid too many (unnecessary for understanding) movements starting with the reduction of vowels and sometimes their disappearance in fluent speech, as well as such a thing which is known as “glottal stop”. The essence of this phenomena is the economy of movements: in certain positions the organs of speech imitate the sound without actually voicing it or the tongue makes the right trajectory for the sound but in the “wrong” place, making it very approximate, as depending on the neighboring sounds, the tongue usually tends to take the position closer to the next sound which changes the picture of a pure sound given in the textbook or by the speaker who takes the trouble to be very clear, articulate and slow. In such natural speech the tongue doesn’t have to repeat similar trajectories, thus making speech more fluent, quick, comfortable and more relaxed, less tiresome for the speaker. For example:
A: Come on, it’s time to go. What are you looking for?
B: I don’t suppose you’ve seen my glasses?
C: Have you lost them again?
B: You’d better carry on. I can’t go with my glasses.
it’s is reduced to /s/
“are” is missed out
“I” is missed out
The vowel /э/ is missed out and the word is said with one syllable
“Have” is reduced to /v/
“d” is missed out
“I” is missed out
A: I want you to paint my kitchen.
B: What colour?
A: A light green
/t/+/j/ (y) is said /ts/ (ch)
/n/ is missed out and /t/ is said like /p? before /m/ потомучтотаклегче
/t/ is said as a glottal stop (a sound made by stopping the flow of air by closing the vocal cords)
/t/ is said like /k/ before /g/
Let’s take Grammar. There are very few flexions and, on the other hand, lots of elegantly condensed constructions like Complex Object or Complex Subject (“I saw you dancing” or “He is likely to come”) which in Uzbek normally have to be translated with obviously heavier clause-sentences. The same is true about such graceful constructions which are very economical in means as “She read herself to sleep” or “I sifted sand into my boots with unthinking hands”. Phrasal verbs, a body of basic short verbs (mostly of Anglo-Saxon origin), can create next to unlimited combinations with postfixes and can, probably, by now express any action or state and make excessive other verbs, which brings about gradual decrepitude and passing away of many older verbs of Latin and French origin. We can add to this list passive infinitives, the use of the same auxiliary verb “to be” in Progressive (Continuous) Tenses and in the Passive Voice, or the use of Participles as definitions and in Progressive Tense forms and in Perfect tense forms and in Passive voice forms, the use of “to be” and “to do” as meaningful and as auxiliary verbs, which reminds Lego constructor: with the same bricks from a relatively small box you can build many various figures. Let’ s add here cases when nouns play the role of adjectives in the classical Genetive Case relations like “a door bell” or “a sales manager” thus avoiding the heavy “of-phrases”. The list can be continued…
To conclude, I can say that cultorological approach provides students with the concept of learning and, what’s important, gives them the sense of achievement sooner than it usually comes “by itself”, as it is helpful not only for developing such skills as reading and listening, but for more complicated skills of producing character, i.e. speaking and writing. It gives the opportunity to avoid following constructions of the native language of the learner as it results in a tiresome and clumsy sounding literal self-translation from the native language, but it encourages to create utterances and texts which would sound more English. The feeling of the spirit and soul of the language awakens imagination and motivation, makes up for the artificial situation of a lesson. Giving-up language egocentrism does not mean to give up one’s native language while learning a foreign one. Often it’s quite difficult for students to see that many mechanisms, laws and psychological processes in both languages are the same. From automatic use of their native language they come to understanding language as a structure, a system of signs, which reflects the perception of the world. Such approach can increase the independence of students in understanding language phenomena, as they are given the clues to enhance analyses and ability to use analogies in creating their own utterances and texts. And it is interesting and successfully speeds up the process of language interiorization. There could be other aspects of applying cultorological approach to English language teaching which is the unique history of the country but it’s a theme for another study. Here I wanted to stress the importance of cultorological approach to teaching and so that, hopefully, Uzbek native speakers could be surprised to see what Orwell saw in his language saying about its simple grammatical structure. They will just feel it.
- Benedict, R.F. “Patterns of Culture”, A Mentor Book, 1958
- Cotton, D., Falvey, D., Kent, S. “New Market Leader” Elementary Business English Coursebook, Pearson Longman, Harlow, G.B., 2008
- Cunningham, J. and Bell,J. “Face2face” Advanced, Cambridge University Press, 2009
- Ishiguro, K. “The Remains of the Day”, Vintage International Edition, 1993
- Hewings, M. “English Pronunciation in use Advanced”, Cambridge University Press, 2007
- Milne, A.A. “Winnie-the-Pooh”, Puffin Books, 1992