Document Type : Research Article
1 Professor, Department of English, Faculty of Letters and Humanities, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran
2 Assistant Professor, Department of Persian Language and Literature, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran
3 Ph.D. Candidate, Department of English, Faculty of Letters and Humanities, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran
4 Assistant Professor of TEFL, Bahar Institute of Higher Education, Mashhad, Iran
Since language is an integral part of a culture, inspecting linguistic expressions can unveil the hidden cultural memes of a society, conceptualized as cultuling (culture in language) analysis. The present study examined the cultuling of ‘making accreditation with English’ used by Persian native speakers from the upper, middle, and lower social classes. To this end, 623 pieces of natural utterances, embracing this cultuling, were extracted from people's conversations in public and private places and from Iranian movies. Then, 279 utterances were analyzed from linguistic, cultural, and psychological perspectives based on the cultuling analysis (CLA) model. Additionally, more data were acquired through semi-structured interviews with 198 participants aged 19 to 54. The results of the study revealed that Iranians use English for various purposes in their conversations, including accreditation, power, education, superior identity, and higher social class in public/ private and formal/ informal contexts. Moreover, the analysis of Iranians’ different reactions to hearing English words in conversations manifested their hidden cultural patterns, including indirectness, power distance, uncertainty avoidance, high context, collectivism, low trust, and overstating
Different researchers have always considered the connection between language and culture (e.g., Byram, 1989, 1994, 1997; Kramsch, 1993, 1998, 2001). Basically, “language and culture as two symbolic systems are intermingled and each language form with a specific meaning entails a culture-related meaning as well” (Nida, 1998, p. 29). On the other hand, since language is formed primarily by interaction within a society, socio-cultural values or beliefs are the most critical factors in an individual's language development (Vygotsky, 1978). Therefore, language embodies social and cultural values.
The interrelatedness of linguistic forms and practices has received considerable scholarly attention from sociolinguists since the 1960s. Researchers have focused on code-switching as one of the most critical areas to investigate this notion since it embodies variation and the relation between linguistic forms and language use as a social activity (Ayeomoni, 2006; Holmes, 2001; Wardhaugh, 2010). Code-switching refers to using more than one linguistic variety by a speaker in a conversation (Gumperz, 1982), and concerns social meaning in linguistic forms (Myers-Scotton, 1993; Rampton, 1995). Considering the importance of the psychological and social aspects of code-switching, most research has focused on determining why speakers code-switch and what the social sense of code-switching is for them. The sociological approach attempts to find the answers to these questions to explain how language functions as a social process. Code-switching can sometimes show the same identity in a group, expressing solidarity with a particular social group (Crystal, 1987), attracting the listeners’ attention, and gaining social prestige (Hosseini, 1999). Code-switching has an essential part in the communication of individuals in a society, and since language and culture are very closely related (Jiang, 2006, 2009; Lazaraton, 2003; Lessard-Clouston, 1996), the study of the use of code-switching in the conversations of individuals in a society sheds light on the culture of that particular community.
One way to investigate the cultural patterns of a society is to gain insight into people's culture by exploring their language, referred to as cultulings (culture in language) by Pishghadam (2013). A commonly used cultuling among Iranians is using English words in their conversations (code-switching) for different purposes, especially for accreditation. The current study intended to discover the underlying reasons for using this cultuling in daily conversations of Iranians from different social classes: lower, middle, and upper. In particular, the primary aim of the study was to derive different cultural patterns from this specific language use through cultuling analysis. To this end, the conceptual model of cultuling analysis (CLA, Pishghadam, Ebrahimi, & Derakhshan, 2020) was used. CLA is regarded as a comprehensive model which examines cultulings linguistically, culturally, and psychologically. In fact, accreditation is a part of our culture reflected in the language and shows itself in different ways when using a second language. The reason for choosing this cultuling is to portray some of the thoughts, attitudes, and culture of the Iranian society towards another language for accreditation and identification of the words so that by examining it, the hidden reasons for using these expressions in Iranian conversations can be found.
Code-switching has always been an interesting topic among researchers. Several studies investigate the reasons for codeswitching and using English among non-native English speakers. For instance, Cárdenas-Claros and Isharyanti (2009) studied the phenomenon of code-switching and code-mixing in non-native English users from both Spanish and Indonesian backgrounds in online conversations. The study found that Indonesian participants were more likely to switch codes, even though the number of exchanges in Spanish was higher and longer. The linguistic function of confirming caused the majority of the alternation. Farewells, computer-related words, academics, and sports were common topics and functions that caused code-switching and code-mixing in both languages. In the same line, Urbäck (2007) investigated Swedish-English codeswitching in online dialogues. Urbäck's (2007) research sought to determine whether Swedish speakers use English widely in online communication and, if so, what the reasons are. The results showed that English was the favored language for communication in the online conversation for both speakers because respondents may have felt more comfortable using English. Additionally, it was discovered that speakers utilize English more in greetings to signal group membership. According to the literature, most of the studies analyze codeswitching linguistically. Therefore, there is a need to look at this phenomenon in more depth and explore it culturally and psychologically.
Numerous hypotheses have been expressed about the relationship between language and culture. Among these, Sapir-Whorf's linguistic determinism hypothesis (1956) holds that the world around us is built on the world of language. In other words, people understand the world based on their native language. Lakoff (1987) also believes that language inspires the behavior of individuals, and to understand the culture of individuals in a society, their language should be studied and analyzed. Therefore, language and culture are inextricably linked, with culture influencing people's ideas and beliefs through language, and language, in turn, determining people's thoughts. As a result, analyzing a particular language can reveal the culture of a particular society. In this regard, Pishghadam (2013) proposed the term “cultuling”, inspired by the ideas of Halliday (1975, 1994), Vygotsky (1978, 1986), Sapir-Whorf (1956), and Agar (1994). Holding the idea that “language can represent the culture of a society”, cultuling refers to the culture derived from the study and analysis of language, called the culturology of language (Pishghadam, 2013, p. 47).
The cultulings of the Persian language have been intensively investigated recently due to their importance in highlighting the hidden cultural memes in the language of the society. Some cases in point are studies on the cultulings of “swearing” (Pishghadam & Attaran, 2014), “cursing” (Pishghadam, Firooziyan Pour Esfahani, & Vahidnia, 2015), “praying” (Pishghadam & Vahidnia, 2016), “religious nicknames (like Haji in Persian)” (Pishghadam & Norouz Kermanshahi, 2016), and “fatalism” (Pishghadam & Attaran, 2016).
The Persian cultuling studies have attempted to identify the hidden but prevailing cultural norms of the society by investigating the members’ language use. For instance, Pishghadam, Firooziyan Pour Esfahani, and Tabatabaee Farani (2018) examined the cultuling of “coquetry” and they indicated that it is mainly used to maintain politeness standards and reject requests, as evidence of the collectivist culture of Iranians. Furthermore, examining the cultuling of “patriarchy and matriarchy”, Pishghadam, Derakhshan, and Jannati Ataei (2020) indicated that the patriarchal cultuling has gradually diminished in the Iranian culture and has gradually given way to the matriarchal cultuling in terms of power in discourse. Studying the cultuling of “uncertainty” Pishghadam and Ebrahimi (2020) found that Iranians cannot tolerate ambiguity. In addition, Mehrabi and Mahmoudi Bakhtiari (2020) studied the cultuling of “swearing” in a Persian novel and found that it was used for expressing contempt, sarcasm, and aggression. In another study, analyzing the cultuling of “degree-orientation”, Pouryazdan-panah Kermani (2021) found that it was prevalent for gaining knowledge, having a brighter future, earning money, showing off, having suitable opportunities for marriage, and gaining social status.
The Conceptual Model of CLA
Concerning the interconnectedness of language and culture, Pishghadam and Ebrahimi (2020) proposed the conceptual model of CLA. This model eloquently explains how phrases or language expressions are formed from socio-cultural values and experiences that represent humans’ characteristics and cultures and are passed down from one generation to another. CLA is an empirical method for understanding the hidden cultural patterns in a society's language expressions. Hence, analyzing cultulings in various cultures is one way to achieve cultural transcendence and euculturing (Pishghadam & Ebrahimi, 2020).
To examine cultulings, different factors such as psychological, sociological, and cultural patterns have to be considered. Considering these factors, the conceptual model of CLA (Pishghadam et al., 2020) consists of three models, including cultural models (CMs), the SPEAKING model, and the emotioncy model. Based on this newly proposed model, cultulings can be investigated and interpreted with a systematic view. For a systematic cultuling analysis, psychosocial variables such as senses and emotions are considered trends that complete the sociological and cultural patterns. Figure 1 proposes the summary of this comprehensive model. Then, its underlying models are discussed.
Figure 1. The Conceptual Model of CLA
Cultural Models (CMs)
The culture of a society is defined by visible and invisible cultural patterns that are set up on the social level through interaction (Markus & Hamedani, 2007). These constructed patterns are related to individuals' values, behaviors, norms, ideologies, and attitudes in society, manifesting their cultural characteristics (D'Andrade & Strauss, 1992). Under such circumstances, community membership requires organized collections of cultures, ideas, attitudes, norms, and social axioms that are enticed throughout our childhood and become internalized through enculturated routines. Accordingly, CM can be defined as the “presupposed, taken-for-granted knowledge shared within a society” (Quinn & Holland, 1987, p. 4).
The literature has highlighted several classifications of CMs. One of them is “power distance” which means that subordinates in a given society anticipate and recognize the disparity in power and wealth. Societies with a high power distance adopt an autocratic management style and accept a hierarchical order. In contrast, societies with a lower power distance adopt a democratic management style, in which individuals can participate in decision-making, express their displeasure with authorities, and work to equalize power distribution (Minkov & Hofstede, 2013). Another CM is “uncertainty avoidance” which depicts how uncomfortable members of a group are with uncertainty, risks, and ambiguity, and whether they feel threatened in such situations. Uncertainty avoidant cultures are unconformable regarding potential uncertainties, whereas societies with a low degree of uncertainty avoidance are more resilient to future ambiguities (Ilagan, 2009; Minkov & Hofstede, 2013). Another classification is “individualism versus collectivism”. In an individualistic culture, individual decisions are crucial, and if people succeed, they attribute their success to their perseverance. On the other hand, collectivists favor collective decisions over individual decisions due to a close-knit framework (Hofstede & Bond, 1984).
Additionally, Fukuyama (1995) suggested the cultural dichotomy of low versus high trust cultures. Individuals in high-trust societies trust each other, and this high level of trust directly translates into a high investment, stable, and long-term economic development. On the other hand, in low-trust societies, trust is low, cultural values are often ignored, individuals do not trust each other comfortably, and the primary emphasis of loyalty is directed to the family rather than to the organization outside of it. Another classification of CM, suggested by Hall (1976), is high versus low-context cultures. Since the interrelationship between individuals depends on individuals and the environment, high-context societies are more likely to pay attention to collectivist practices and do not communicate their intentions directly. They place a high emphasis on interpersonal relationships and mutual understanding. People's relationships in low context societies, on the other hand, are transparent. Finally, Meyer (2014) suggested that societies can be divided into overstating versus understating based on the degree of truthfulness in the words of their speakers. He claimed that societies whose people express themselves without exaggeration are understating. In contrast, societies whose people express their views on a subject with skepticism, ambiguity, hesitation, and indirectness are overstating.
To thoroughly explore the cultural patterns of a society, clarifying the linguistic features matter and inspecting the cultural models of that society. Hence, in the following section, Hymes' (1967) SPEAKING model is presented as an influential model elucidating CLA.
Hymes (1967) proposed the mnemonic device SPEAKING to encapsulate eight dominant and systemic components needed in communicative competence, including setting, participants, ends, act sequence, key, instrumentalities, norms, and genres. Setting or scene (S) refers to the time and location of a speech occurrence (Hymes, 2003). Participants’ (P) age, gender, social status, and interpersonal relationships in speech events can all be used to determine their identity (Farah, 1998). Based on these characteristics, the relationship between the participants in a speech event can be classified into four groups: Equal and formal (e.g., two university professors), equal and intimate (e.g., two friends), unequal and formal (e.g., the head of a department and a student), and unequal and intimate ( e.g., a physician and his/her patient) (Pishghadam et al., 2020).
End (E) refers to each speech event’s inevitable cultural end, manifest or latent, and the aims of the participants in a conversation. These goals are fluid and can change depending on the situation (Fasold, 1990). Act sequence (A) provides knowledge about the sequence and order of interaction, including type and substance (Sarfo, 2011). Key (K) is used to differentiate the sound, manner, or spirit in which an act is carried out. Depressing, serious, diligent, kind, polite, mockery, perfunctory, satirical, amicable, intimidating, animosity, aggressive, etc., are all words that can describe the key.
Instrumentalities (I) refer to the channel and code. The term “channel” refers to the means of communication, which may be oral, written, telegraphic, semaphore, etc., and the term “choice of code” refers to a decision made at the level of distinct languages (Hymes, 1967). Norms (N) refer to the particular behaviors and proprieties that can follow acts of speech and implicate the social framework (Hymes, 1967). Finally, Genres (G) are the different speech acts and events, such as talk, curse, blessing, prayer, lecture, imprecation, and sales pitch (Hymes, 1967).
As can be figured out, Hymes' model only emphasizes socio-cultural knowledge in speech interactions and fails to consider the psychological aspects of the interaction. Expressions may vary by so many other factors, such as sense, amount of frequency, and kind of emotion people experience, which have an undeniable and direct effect on people's awareness, perception, feelings, and interactions; hence, their importance cannot be overlooked in the analysis and interpretation of cultulings (Pishghadam et al., 2020). Accordingly, Pishghadam et al.’s (2015) emotioncy model elucidates a more detailed account of CLA.
Pishghadam, Ebrahimi, Shairi, and Derakhshan (2021) articulated that sense-induced emotions affect the participants' intentions, end, key, and genres and are inextricably linked to the lexicon and language expressions and all other aspects of Hymes' model. In other words, hidden emotions in words and expressions can alter people’s attitudes and positions in a communication encounter and regulate how participants interact. In the same vein, Pishghadam (2015) proposed the emotioncy (emotion+frequency) model, arguing that emotions evoked by senses can relativize individuals’ perceptions of their surrounding world (Pishghadam, Jajarmi, & Shayesteh, 2016). On the other hand, individuals' sense-induced emotions are affected by the frequency they encounter something.
Pishghadam (2015) suggested a hierarchical model for different kinds of emotioncy ranging from null, auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and inner to arch. To explicate, a person in the null stage has never heard of, seen, or encountered an entity or idea. A person in the auditory emotioncy stage has only heard about a word or idea. Individuals have the experience of hearing and seeing the object in the visual emotioncy stage. Kinesthetic emotioncy is the fourth level where people have heard about, seen, and touched a real thing. When people have directly experienced something, they move on to the next level, inner emotioncy. Finally, arch emotioncy occurs when individuals are actively engaged in the learning process and have extensive research to obtain additional knowledge. Furthermore, the three types of emotioncy are avolvement (null emotioncy), exvolvement (auditory, visual, and kinesthetic emotioncies), and involvement (inner and arch emotioncies).
Consequently, Pishghadam, Ebrahimi, and Tabatabaeian (2019) developed the extended model of emotioncy (Figure 2), which included mastery and metavolvement to explain that a person who reaches this climax has fully mastered the materials and can create and teach those materials to others. Hence, metavolvement, refers to an individual's highest degree of emotionality, as measured by his/her senses and emotions.
Figure 2. Emotioncy Levels
At its core, the conceptual model of CLA accentuates that a careful examination of the individuals' sense-induced emotions toward different cultulings will specify whether a cultuling gains or loses traction (Pishghdam et al., 2020).
Overall, as mentioned earlier, the conceptual model of CLA can be regarded as one of the most comprehensive models for analyzing the cultulings of a society. A significant advantage of this model is that it considers sociocultural, linguistic, and psychological factors that affect communication interactions within a given society. Hence, the current study intended to examine one of the prominent cultulings of the Iranian society, that is, the cultuling of making accreditation with the use of English phrases in conversations, drawing on the conceptual model of CLA, in general, and CMs, Hymes’SPEAKING model, and the emotioncy model, in particular. To this end, data were collected from three social classes, namely upper, middle, and lower. The upper social class is a social group of wealthy, well-born, dominant, or a combination of these characteristics (Brown, 2009). The middle class falls socioeconomically between the lower and upper classes and is the most contentious of the three groups (Stearns, 1994). Lastly, the lower class (also known as the working class) refers to people who have low-paying jobs and have no financial security (Brown, 2009).
The study used a convenience sample of 198 (95 female and 103 male) Iranians attending a semi-structured interview. They were in the age range of 19 to 54 years, held different degrees (diploma and lower, Bachelor, Master, and Ph.D.), had other occupations (student, employee, self-employed, professor, housewife, physician, and engineer), and belonged to different social classes (low, middle, and high). They were selected based on their willingness to contribute to the study and were ensured their data confidentiality.
In addition to the semi-structured interviews, the material for analysis consisted of 279 pieces of natural speech that contained the cultuling of accreditation with English in Iranians’ conversations. The authors collected them through observing people's oral conversations in public and private places as well as inspecting conversations in Iranian movies over the course of six months (from October 2020 to March 2021). Particularly useful in studying cultulings (Allen, 2005; Gergen, 1999), movies were adopted to allow a deeper insight into the behaviors and attitudes of Iranians regarding the cultuling of accreditation with English words and phrases applied in their actual-life communications.
The first step in the data collection process was to extract samples of making accreditation with English from the actual-life communications of Iranians. To this end, 279 samples (extracted from daily conversations in public and private places and Iranian movies) were taken from 623 pieces of natural speech, embracing this cultuling. The reason for including 279 samples in the analyses was that the data reached saturation at this point. In addition to observations in the mentioned contexts, 95 Iranian women and 103 male men with various education, occupation, and social status were selected for semi-structured interviews. Therefore, the study's next step comprised a semi-structured interview to obtain further in-depth information on the intended cultuling. These people were selected from various social contexts (English language institutes, offices, universities, hospitals, etc.) and interview questions were sent to them through virtual networks. The questions were:
- How many English words do you use in your conversations?
- In what situations do you use English words the most in your conversations?
- What emotions (positive, negative, etc.) do you have when using English words in conversation?
- How do you feel when somebody uses English words in a conversation?
- For what purposes do you think people use English words in their speech?
- In your opinion, which Iranian cultural aspects are indicated by English words in conversations?
Once the samples were extracted, and the interviews were transcribed, they were put for analysis. Analysis was based on the conceptual framework of CLA proposed by Pishghadam et al. (2020). These questions are designed based on the conceptual model of CLA so that the answers could be then adapted to the observations in different contexts and analyzed based on this model (how much (frequency), emotion and feeling are related to the emotioncy model (question 1, 4, 5), the aim and setting parts are related to the Hymes' model (questions 2 and 6), and question 7 is related to the cultural models.
This study investigated how Iranians gain credit or accredit themselves by using English expressions in speech. In addition, the purposes of using this cultuling and the listeners’ feelings toward it based on their social status were examined. Upon the analysis of the samples and the interviews, three contexts; regarding the interlocutors' reactions to hearing English words in conversations emerged from the data (Figure 3). Then, each context (i.e., A, B, and C) was closely inspected in terms of the conceptual model of CLA.
Figure 3. Three Reactions of People to Hearing English Words in Conversations
CLA of Context A
Regarding the reactions to hearing English expressions in conversations, one category that emerged from the data was the case that the listener has less knowledge about the English language than the speaker. If the speaker uses English phrases in his/her speech, the listener expresses his/her objection by using the following sentences:
- Dumb it down!
- You speak foreigners!
- Do not speak English so that I can understand you!
- Speak a language so that I can get what you say!
- Why there should always be a strange word in your speech! Speak in human language!
The results showed that these phrases are mostly used in informal situations (e.g., friendly parties, restaurants, or shops) and in formal situations (e.g., workplaces or universities) as well as among people with equal and unequal relationships. Example 1 represents a conversation between two friends with equal status in an informal situation. Each example sentence consists of the Persian sentence (P), the literal translation of the Persian sentence (LT), and the English equivalent (E). The original English phrases are italicized.
Friend A: /waʊ, to hænuːz nætu:nesti ɪn moʃkelo hæl koni? tu: tæma:me ɪn modæt hitʃ ka:r nækærdi. come on! tʃeghadr ba:jad va:stim tæsmim begiri? shame on you!/ (P)
Wow, you still could not solve this problem? All this time, You have done nothing. Come on! How long do we have to wait for the decision? Shame on you. (LT)
Wow, you still could not solve this problem? You have done nothing all this time. Come on! How long do we have to wait for the decision? Shame on you. (E)
Friend B: /dæst bærda:r. tʃɪ on me? næfæhmidæm tʃɪ gofti. zire diplom hærf bezæn ma: hæm befæhmim, da:da:ʃ/ (P)
Stop picking on me! What on me?! did not understand I. dumb it down so that I can get it, bro! (LT)
Stop picking on me! What on me?! I did not understand. Dumb it down so that I can get it, bro! (E)
In this example, Friend A seems unwilling to express his regret directly in his mother tongue due to the prevalent culture of indirectness among Iranians. Moreover, a recurrent theme in the interviews was a sense amongst the interviewees that using English expressions in this context demonstrates that the speaker considers himself superior to the listener in terms of English literacy. In their accounts of this event, the participants stated that hearing English expressions in such a situation creates a negative feeling expressed by phrases like “dumb it down”.
Similarly, the results suggested that, among the interlocutors of unequal status, making accreditation with English does not produce a positive emotion in the listener (from a lower social status than that of the speaker). Example 2 confirms this, representing a conversation between a client and an employee with unequal status in a formal situation:
Employee: /lotfæn i:n paper ha ro beza:r u:ndʒa:/ (P)
Please put these papers over there. (LT)
Please put these papers over there. (E)
Client: /bebæxʃɪd! tʃɪ ha: ro beza:ræm?/ (P)
Pardon! What put? (LT)
Pardon! Put what? (E)
Employee: /goftæm papers. i:n na:meha:/ (P)
I said papers. These letters. (LT)
I said papers! These letters. (E)
Client: /a:ha:, lotfæn zɪre dɪplom hærf bezænɪd ke ma: bi:sæva:da: hæm befæhmɪm dʒena:b!/ (P)
Aha, please dumb it down, so we illiterate people understand, sir! (LT)
Aha, please dumb it down so we, illiterate people, could understand, sir! (E)
The Analysis of Context A based on CMs
Different CMs emerged from the analysis, including indirectness (i.e., the speaker implicitly demonstrates the superiority of his knowledge to the listener); power distance (i.e., the speaker shows that he is superior to the listener in terms of English literacy); uncertainty avoidance (i.e, the listener does not experience a pleasant feeling as a result of hearing something ambiguous); and high context (i.e., the listener should infer the meaning which the speaker implies as the use of this cultuling conveys more meaning than what is said).
The Analysis of Context A based on Hymes’ (1967) SPEAKING Model
Setting and scene: Informal/ formal (with a higher frequency of informal position than formal).
Participants: Equal and intimate, equal and formal, unequal and intimate, and unequal and formal (with a high frequency of equal and unequal intimate relationships). This cultuling is used by all age groups; however, it seems to be more frequent among the elderly.
Ends: The speaker aims to show English literacy, humiliate the listener, and show off. The listener aims to show his dissatisfaction and jealousy.
Act sequence: The speaker uses English phrases to accredit what he says. The listener does not understand the speaker because he does not know much about English and uses such phrases as “dumb it down” to express his objection.
Key: Derogatory, offensive, angry, friendly, questioning, sarcastic, etc.
Instrumentalities: Spoken and written (highly frequent in speech).
Norms: People use this cultuling when they consider themselves superior to their listeners and try to show their English knowledge by using English expressions in their communications.
Genre: Everyday conversations, movies, stories, prose, etc.
The Analysis of Context A based on Pishghadam’s (2015) Emotioncy Model
In this context, since people experience a negative emotion when they hear English words, they prefer not to involve more senses and their emotioncy is ultimately limited to the auditory and/or visual level(s), that is, exvolvement.
CLA of Context B
Regarding context B, the use of English phrases in speech indicates social prestige. In this context, even if the listener does not understand what the speaker says, s/he welcomes this situation and considers it as a sign of social prestige. Here, the use of this cultuling may make the speaker the envy of the listener so that the listener may say such statements as:
- Good for you! How well you speak English!
- What language institute have you gone to? Give me the address.
- How classy you speak English!
- Good for you that you know another language! It is so classy.
Similar to context A, the expressions used in context B are used more in informal settings but also in formal ones among people with equal and unequal status. As mentioned earlier, these phrases are used when people do not understand the English expressions they hear; however, they welcome them because they consider their use a kind of social prestige. This cultuling is often seen among the middle social class. Example 3 represents a conversation between two students with an intimate and equal relationship in an informal setting:
Student A: /oh jɑːsmɪn, kodʒɑːiː! delæm vɑːsæt tæŋ ʃode. biɑː berɪm sæfɑː. life is short; Try to enjoy it. tɑː keɪ bodo bodo. Take it easy./ (P)
Uh, Jasmine, where are you! I miss you. Let's have some fun together. Life is short; try to enjoy it. How long are we going to hustle? Take it easy. (LT)
Uh, Jasmine, where are you! I miss you. Let's have some fun together. Life is short; try to enjoy it. How long are we going to hustle? Take it easy. (E)
Student B: /tʃeghadr delæm vɑːsæt tæŋ ʃode bu:d. ra:sti tʃeghadr læhdʒe englisit ghæʃænge. Hænu:z kela:s zæba:n miri? Mænæm mixa:m beræm./ (P)
How much missed you. By the way, how your accent English is beautiful. Are you still studying English? I’d like too to learn English. (LT)
How much I missed you. By the way, how beautiful your English accent is. Are you still studying English? I’d like to learn English too. (E)
Analysis of context B based on CMs
Two CMs emerged from the analysis of the second context, that is, indirectness and collectivism. The former becomes evident when people implicitly indicate a preference for a foreign language rather than using their native language to convey their message, and the latter appears when people care about their communication, and it is pleasant for them to align with the speaker even if they do not have much knowledge about the subject.
Analysis of Context B based on Hymes’ (1967) SPEAKING Model
Setting and scene: Informal/ formal (with a high frequency of informal position)
Participants: Equal and intimate, Equal and formal, unequal and intimate, and unequal and formal (with a high frequency of equal and unequal intimate relationships). This cultuling is seen in this context, among people of all ages. Nevertheless, it seems to be more common among adolescents and the youth than the elderly.
Aims: In addition to making accreditation, the speaker aims to show interest in English, intimacy, and the effort to beautify the language. The listener aims to align with the speaker and tries to imitate and understand the speaker. Sometimes the listener may become jealous of the speaker.
Act sequence: Mainly, the speaker uses English phrases to make accreditation and beautify his speech. Although the listener may not understand the utterance due to his lack of English knowledge, he enjoys hearing it.
Key: Friendly, proud, serious, questioning, and the like.
Instrumentalities: Spoken and written (with a high frequency of spoken form).
Norms: People use this cultuling when they have a relatively good knowledge of English and use it for verbal identification and beautification. Their listener may know a little English and may not be fluent in the language, but be in tune with them and encourage or even envy the speaker.
Genre: Everyday conversations, prose, movies, stories, etc.
Analysis of Context B based on Pishghadam’s (2015) Emotioncy Model
Considering the high frequency of positive emotions experienced in this context, the emotioncy of people towards this cultuling seems to be at the level of tactile and kinesthetic (i.e., exvolvement). In other words, the individuals’ emotioncy toward this cultuling has not yet reached the level of involvement.
CLA of Context C
In this context, the use of English phrases in speech indicates social prestige for both the speaker and the listener. When the speaker uses this cultuling, the listener aligns with him due to his level of English proficiency or experiencing positive emotions. Therefore, after the speaker uses a few English words in his conversation, the listener may give him the complete answer in English, and this will cause the speaker to increase the number of English phrases. It even goes so far as to change the conversation from Persian to English. The conversation in such situations may start with straightforward and basic English sentences but become more complex afterward. Some cases in point are:
- It’s intolerable.
- See you.
- Life is short.
- That’s great! Well done!
- I'm really fed up with all these things!
Like the previous two contexts, these expressions are more common in informal settings among people with equal and intimate, equal and formal, unequal and intimate, and unequal and formal relationships. However, it can also be found in formal situations. This cultuling is often used in such a context by the middle and upper social class. Example 4 represents a conversation between two professors with an intimate and equal relationship in a formal setting:
Professor A: /bɪʃtære bætʃehʌ motivation eʃuːn ro ɪn ru:zha: æz dæst dɑːdæn. fekr nækonæm beʃe ruː hɪtʃ koduːmeʃuːn count kærd. xodɑː sæbr bede. hæme tʃɪ unpredictable ʃode./ (P)
Most students' motivation has lost [sic.] these days. I don't think we can on any of them count anymore. God bless us. Everything unpredictable is. (LT)
Most students have lost their motivation these days. I don't think we can count on any of them anymore. God bless us. Everything is unpredictable. (E)
Professor B: I agree. Now, what are the solutions? (E)
Analysis of Context C based on CMs
Different CMs emerged from the analysis of the third context, including collectivism (the listener’s alignment with the speaker and shifting the conversation to English shows the importance of communication); low trust (people may consider English superior to their mother tongue in some contexts and use English to accredit themselves); and overstating (sometimes people exaggerate the superiority of the English language to their mother tongue for scientific and essential topics).
Analysis of Context C based on Hymes’ (1967) SPEAKING Model
Scene and setting: Informal/ formal (with a high frequency of formal situations).
Participants: Equal and intimate, equal and formal, unequal and intimate, and unequal and formal (with a high frequency of equal and unequal formal relations). This cultuling can be observed in this context among the people of all ages. However, it seems to be used more often among educated individuals of any age.
Aims: The speaker aims to show interest in English, show social prestige, make accreditation, persuade and influence the listener, show off, arouse the listener's feelings, attract attention and get approval, replace taboo words with English words, and express opposition. The listener aims to align with the speaker, show more interest in English, create an identity, make accreditation, attract the speaker's attention, and get approval.
Act sequence: The speaker mostly uses English phrases to accredit and beautify his speech. The listener is also fluent in English and tends to use this cultuling.
Key: Friendly, proud, serious, questioning, humorous, loving, and reasonable.
Instrumentalities: Spoken and written (with a high frequency of the spoken form).
Norms: People use this cultuling when they know the English language well, and use it for verbal identification and beautification. Their listener is also fluent in English and adapts him/herself to it. Making accreditation in this context is higher than the previous ones and using English expressions is regarded as a sign of being knowledgeable.
Genre: Everyday conversations, prose, movies, stories, etc.
Analysis of Context C based on Pishghadam’s (2015) Emotioncy Model
Considering the high frequency of positive emotions, people get involved in using this cultuling in this context. In other words, people’s emotioncy toward the cultuling of making accreditation with English reaches the inner level, that is, involvement.
The current study explored the Iranians’ use of the cultuling of making accreditation by using English phrases in conversations. On close inspection, the participants' three reactions were examined throughout the study based on CMs, Hymes’ SPEAKING model, and Pishghadam’s emotioncy model. The three inspected reactions (contexts) included first, not having positive feelings for hearing English words in conversations; second, having positive feelings despite not understanding the English words; and third, having positive feelings and using English words in conversations.
The present study results are significant in at least two respects. First, they show that making accreditation with English is a part of the Iranians’ culture. Second, the attitudes towards and applying this cultuling vary across different social classes and ages within the same society. More explicitly, the analyses of the data revealed that the first context occurs for the lower class and is more frequent among the elderly. Also, in this context, people with equal and unequal relationships used English words in both informal situations (e.g., friendly parties, restaurants, or shops) and formal situations (e.g., workplaces or universities), and they had negative impressions because of their lack of English knowledge. The second context occurs for the upper class and is more common among adolescents and youth. It was revealed that, in this context, people with equal and unequal status used English words more in informal settings and they have positive impressions because they take it as social prestige. The last context occurs for the middle and the upper classes and is used more often among the educated individuals of any age. In this context, English words are more commonly used in informal settings among people with equal and intimate, equal and formal, unequal and intimate, and unequal and formal relationships. People have positive impressions because of their good level of English proficiency.
The findings also showed that the upper class tended to use English words in their conversations the most because they wanted to make accreditation and show some features such as superiority, higher education, power, and a western identity. Similarly, the use of this cultuling was frequent among the middle class. This could be attributed to their aim to accredit themselves by using English and to indicate that they are educated and possess social prestige. On the other hand, the lower class showed no interest in using or hearing this cultuling. The likely reason for that is their lack of confidence and knowledge of the English language. Another important finding was that when both speakers and listeners are of the same social class (from upper or middle), using this cultuling creates more positive feelings in them.
In line with Hosseini’s (1999) findings, it was observed that using English words in conversations is widespread among Iranians, which indicates the attachment to a Western identity with high social prestige. Therefore, it can be said that people who use English words in their daily conversations do not seem to be much biased towards their cultural shell, so they try to identify themselves by using another language. In fact, in their view, the English language promotes prestige and social class, has a greater impact on the listener, and shows literacy and value (Hosseini, 1999). These results also agree with those obtained by Naji Meidani and Esfandiari (2014) that using foreign language words in speech causes people to draw others’ attention to what they are saying and achieve their goals even better in some cases. The use of foreign words can evoke the superiority of that language in minds and gradually turn the use of that language into a sign of higher culture or social prestige (Naji Meidani & Esfandiari, 2014).
Moreover, the analyses of the participants' three types of reactions pertinent to the cultuling of accreditation with English revealed different cultural models. The results indicated that, in some cases, Iranians utter some words (such as forbidden or obscene words) in the English language rather than their mother tongue and thus express their meaning indirectly. In fact, these English expressions are sometimes so familiar that the use of their Persian equivalents is stranger for the listener. This is in line with Pishghadam and Firooziyan Pour Esfahani (2017), corroborating that, in some cases, Iranians convey taboo words indirectly through foreign words to their listener, which confirms the Iranians’ culture of indirect speaking. This part of the result was partially similar to Urbäck's (2007) study that people feel more comfortable using English instead of their first language in some contexts. This aspect of the Iranian society could also be proof of a prevailing high-context culture (Hall, 1976). The interlocutors prefer to use implicit and indirect ways of communication rather than explicit and direct ones (low-context culture).
In other cases, listeners did not like to hear English words because their English knowledge was not sufficient and they could not understand what the speaker exactly said. This part was in line with Pishghadam's and Ebrahimi's (2020) study that Iranian people are not interested in ambiguity. Also, in the other cases, it was observed that listeners try to align with the speakers using this cultuling to maintain the conversation. This outcome is consistent with those of Hofstede (2007, 2011) and Hofstede and Bond (1984), pointing out the relationship-based culture of the Asians and thus the collectivist culture of the Iranians. This is also in line with previous cultuling analyses studies (e.g., Pishghadam & Attaran, 2014; Pishghadam et al., 2018) that have shown the collectivist aspects of the Iranian culture.
All in all, the results of the interviews and observations of the natural contexts in this study showed that Iranians use this cultuling logically, seriously, flatteringly, and proudly with different purposes such as showing literacy, beautifying and accrediting their speech, imitating, showing social prestige, creating identity, showing off, arousing emotions, persuading the listener, attracting the attention and getting approval of the listener, substituting taboo words and refraining from speaking explicitly. It was also found that this cultuling is used in tones such as derogatory, angry, friendly, questioning, sarcastic, sincere, polite, and respectful. Thus, substantiating the strong bond between language and the cultural conceptualizations coded in it, the evidence from this study suggests that this cultuling reflects some critical aspects of the Iranian culture in which individuals have complex relationships with each other.
In today's world, where economic and political factors affect language and culture more than ever, it is feared that the circle of using the Persian language will be smaller than what we see today. Due to various factors and the weakening of the Persian language, we should be more concerned about the future of the Persian language in Iran. The expansion of the use of virtual networks, on the one hand, and the weakening of the Persian language, on the other hand, have resulted in decreasing the attention to this language among Iranians. To this end, it is crucial to make Iranians aware of this matter. Hence, the present study highlighted the importance of investigating the hidden cultural memes in a language (i.e., cultulings) to make the users aware of the negative or positive aspects of using different cultulings and their impact on their identity. Also, the insights gained from this study may assist researchers in helping societies to step toward enculturation more effectively. Achieving self-confidence and self-awareness are two important factors that people can work on to value their own language more. This means believing that other cultures and languages are not better or superior. In fact, this issue must be resolved internally among the people, especially the young ones, and the belief must be created that Iranian culture and language are not inferior but one of the strongest cultures and languages in the world.
In addition, the findings will be of broad use to language teachers in informing learners of the ways they can evaluate their use of English in conversations while preserving their own identity and cultural values. However, it should be noted that these findings are limited by the use of convenience sampling of participants; therefore, further studies are required to confirm the generalizability of the results to the target population. Moreover, since the cultuling of accreditation with English and its related concepts are embedded in the Persian language and can depict the general outline of the Persian culture, future research can explore this cultuling in more detail by considering other variables such as gender, educational level, ethnicity, and religion.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest to report.