Language, Social Structure, and Culture

A genre analysis of cooking classes in Japan and America

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Comparing Japanese and American interaction, <i>Language, Social Structure, and Culture </i>argues that language use is instrumental in the construction of social structure and culture. In order to ground the work in empirical evidence, verbal interaction in similar situations – Japanese and American cooking classes – is compared. Unlike other studies of verbal interaction, a genre analysis approach is used to examine regular patterns at three levels of language use: interaction, discourse, and grammar. Collectively, these patterns exhibit both similarities and differences across the classes in the two cultures, creating the unique event that has been institutionalized as a cooking class in each culture. In concluding, the author suggests that genre analysis is a useful approach for cross-cultural research in that it provides information about situation-specific language use, but also information about what aspects of linguistic structure are likely to become conventionalized across languages and cultures, across situations, and across time.

Subjects: Germanic linguistics; Discourse studies; Altaic languages; English linguistics

  • Affiliations: 1: University of Wisconsin

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