Friday, April 11, 2014

Where is the Thesis in an American Essay?

In the article, "Cultural Thought Patterns in Intercultural Discourse," Robert B. Kaplan explains that rhetoric and logic varies from culture to culture creating diverse discourse patterns.

What does that mean?
It means someone growing up in an Asian country might write a paper, paragraph or story with a different style of discourse than someone raised in the United States. Take a second and check out these depictions of discourse patterns according to Kaplan.

Why Does it Matter?
In academic and professional settings we need to analyze our audience so that we can provide them information that is useful. If we understand the discourse pattern of other cultures, we can better influence, inform and entertain our audiences.

Keep in mind that these are general explanations of cultural discourse. It does not mean that every American you speak to will be direct and economical.

Cultural Discourse Patterns

English Language Pattern
    • Linear and sequential
    • Direct
    • Economical
      • Straight to the point
      • Few adjectives, anecdotes, and extended metaphors
    • American paragraphs and essays can be characterized by:
      • Their simplistic structure
        • Main ideas- body text- conclusion
      • Opinions and purpose stated in the beginning
      • Conclusion at the end that restates the main idea
    • Other cultures may view American discourse as oversimplified, impolite, redundant and brash
    • The British discourse pattern is:
      •  Similar to the American pattern, yet it is less direct with more implied meaning
      • The thesis statements and topic sentences usually come at the end of the paragraph or the essay, not at the start
Asian Discourse Pattern
    • Characterized by not being direct.
    • Clues are given, and the reader/listener draws their own conclusions
    • This mode of discourse shows how the topic relates on a larger scale to other connecting topics.
    • American sometimes refer to this discourse pattern as "talking in circles."
Russian Discourse Pattern
    • Similar to Latin
    • Digressive and long sentences
    • Frequent use of metaphors
    • The main idea is stated at the end of the paragraph, essay or story.
Arabic- Semantic Pattern
    • Uses parallels, comparisons and contrasts to illustrate a point
    • Long sentences combined by conjunctions
Latin or Romance Language Patterns
    • Allows for digression
    • Flowery, rich, illustrative and symbolic structures
    • Similar to the Asian discourse, outside information and anecdotes are used to expound upon meaning
    • Americans view this discourse as lengthy, over the top and overwhelming at times

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