Cultural nuances that creates challenges of Teaching terms of address and terms of endearment in AFL/ASL classroom.

By Hala Abdelmobdy
Submitted to Session P4865 (Formulaic Language and Pragmatic Competence, 2017 Annual Meeting
Cultural Studies;
Learning a foreign language is inseparable from learning its culture (Culpepper, 2015). Students need to not only be able to communicate through the language they learn, but also to have cultural competence to communicate properly in a way that does not cause an offense to whom they communicate with (Fleet, 2006).

Arabic Language, as other languages, is strongly interwoven with culture. And, Arabs culture, like other cultures of the world, value physical appearance and consequently, one’s dress affects the way people perceive and address them. Terms of address and terms of endearment are usually among the many challenges which teachers of Arabic as a foreign language face in teaching students how to address people based on their physical appearance. Students are taught to use terms of address such as “ya Hajj”, “ya ustaaz”, “ya usTa” and other terms to different people in different contexts. Students are also taught terms of endearment such as “ya Habeebi”, and “kull sana winta Tayyib”. For the last expression, subtle socio-cultural factors contribute in adding deeper layers of meaning. While “kul sana winta tayyib” is a greeting used in annual celebrations, students find that it is constantly used in the streets of Cairo. They usually come to the teachers and ask if there is an Egyptian feast/holiday of which they are not aware. In fact, the expression is used in specific contexts as a speech act of asking for money. Moreover, the different social, political, and economic changes that happened in Egypt during the past few decades necessitate that the teachers be monitoring and reviewing curricula because many of the expressions introduced in class might not always correspond to the reality of the current sociolinguistic reality. Consequently, students complain about embarrassing situations they go through due to choosing improper terms of addressing. The terms used by Egyptians reflect social factors such as gender, age, social status, and ethnicity.

This paper addresses the two types of terms within the theoretical frame of inter-cultural competence. The paper’s goal is twofold: 1. To shed light on the idiomatic used of terms of address and terms of endearment, and 2. To address some pedagogical concerns on the part of both teachers and students.