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Sverdlova N.A. SOCIOLINGUISTIC COMPETENCE OF RUSSIAN-CHINESE BILINGUALS: FEATURES OF THE FORMATION (ON THE EXAMPLE OF THE FIGURE OF SPEECH ETIQUETTE “GREETING”) / N.A. Sverdlova, M. Piao // Russian Linguistic Bulletin. — 2020. — № 2 (22). — С. 124—127. — URL: (дата обращения: 20.04.2021. ).


ORCIDСвердлова Н.А.1, Пяо М.2
1 , Иркутский научный центр Сибирского отделения РАН, г. Иркутск, Россия; 2 , ФГБОУ ВО Байкальский государственный университет, г. Иркутск, Россия
В статье затрагивается тема формирования коммуникативной компетенции у билингвов в процессе овладения профессиональными знаниями. Особое внимание уделено одной из составляющих коммуникативной компетенции – социолингвистической, которая формируется с опорой на знание и понимание национально-культурных особенностей коммуникации. Возможности приобретения социолингвистической компетенции билингвами основывается на изучении правил и норм двух и более языков и культур. Их специфическое наполнение представлено авторами в ходе анализа фигуры речевого этикета – приветствия. Сопоставительное изучение коммуникативных ситуаций и особенностей проявления национальной культуры при анализе приветствий в русском и китайском речевом поведении позволило авторам представить содержание социокультурной компетенции, применительно к изучению фигуры речи «приветствие» в русском языке.
Ключевые слова: билингв, социолингвистическая компетенция, фигура речи «приветствие», коммуникативная компетенция.
Страницы: 124 - 127

ORCIDSverdlova N.A.1, Piao M.2
1 , Irkutsk Scientific Center SB RAS, Irkutsk, Russia; 2 , Baikal State University, Irkutsk, Russia
The article deals with the formation of communicative competence in bilinguals in the process of acquiring professional knowledge. Particular attention is paid to sociolinguistic competence, based on knowledge and understanding of the national-cultural features of communication. Opportunities for developing sociolinguistic competence in bilinguals are based on the study of the rules and norms of two or more languages and cultures. Their specific content is presented in the paper in the analysis of a figure of speech etiquette – greetings. Comparative study of communicative situations and speech behavior, and analysis of national culture manifestations in Russian and Chinese greetings allow the authors to present the content of sociocultural competence in relation to the figure of speech “greeting” in Russian.
Keywords: bilingual, sociolinguistic competence, figure of speech “greeting”, communicative competence.
Pages: 124 - 127
Почта авторов / Author Email: nsverdlova[at],


The path of most bilinguals (people who are proficient in two or more languages and use one of them in a certain communicative situation) to acquisition of professional expertise lies through learning and mastering a non-native (studied) language. In addition to the knowledge of the language system, a person has to develop two of the main types of speech activities, namely productive and receptive skills. Thus, communicative competence is a prerequisite for communication in all areas of bilingual activity.

The formation of a foreign language communicative competence rightfully is a major issue in various methodological and pedagogical documents [2]. In foreign practice of teaching foreign languages, communicative competence is presented as a synthesis of four competences: linguistic, sociolinguistic, discourse, and strategic [14].  In Russian science, communicative competence is represented as a synthesis of linguistic, sociolinguistic, sociocultural, compensatory and strategic competences [7]. In the practice of teaching Russian as a foreign language in the context of professionally-oriented training, the formation of communicative competence is carried out on the basis of a number of others: linguistic, sociolinguistic, pragmatic [1].

The most capacious definition of communicative competence we find in V. I. Karasik’s article: “A complex, including the ability to maintain the desired communicative distance, to adequately respond to the changing tonality of communication, to know what the carrier of this culture should know, to develop the topic of speech in a certain way of communication, using the accepted communicative formulas and communication methods, to build texts in different areas of communication according to accepted canons, it is correct to use an ensemble of linguistic and non-verbal means necessary for successful communication in a certain situation ” [4, P. 333]. Some philologists and methodologists agree with Karasik V. I. They emphasize the importance of studying a foreign language in sociocultural contexts, given the peculiarities of the language used by different social groups (Leontovich O. L., Dagbaeva N. Zh., Manukhina Y. V.). But the problem of the formation of sociolinguistic competence remains poorly studied in the theory and practice of teaching a foreign language [3].

Thus, we understand, that efficiency of communication is closely linked to the reality in which it is performed and, of course, language proficiency matters much for successful interaction. “A person’s desire for effective communication is expressed in his adaptive movement towards the formation of a new, appropriated linguistic reality, expressed by a functioning linguistic system” [10, P. 61]. As a bearer of a certain national culture, a participant in communication carries nationally conditioned ideas, which are predetermined by his ethnic visions on life arrangement. The national society and the national linguistic collective dictate the rules for using this information, i.e. “fix” the boundaries of interactive competence [8, P. 31-33]. Language, by definition belonging to sociocultural phenomena, rests on national-cultural dominants, and a communicative competence cannot be formed in a person who lacks such knowledge. For bilinguals, the choice of the language system, knowing and assimilation of the rules of the new non-native world are primarily associated with pragmatic attitudes.

Optimization of communication at all stages of teaching a foreign language will be able to solve the problems of professional foreign language communication. The assessment of the final achievements of a foreigner as a special type of intercultural interaction includes not only determining the level of subject comprehension, but also, more broadly, – demonstrating a model of effective international communication in special conditions of pedagogical measurements” [11].

The most difficult for a bilingual in terms of mastery and adaptation are the components of the new culture, which are associated with the language system and with the pragmatic attitudes of an individual. The most important cultural element is speech etiquette – a set of rules of behavior that are found in speech, which are stable communication formulas for establishing and maintaining verbal contact between the interlocutors [5, P. 413]. There are different communicative semantic groups of speech etiquette according to the meaning of speech intentions [13]. Greetings make up one of them.

Contact-setting, regulating, emotional-modal and target orientation functions are implemented in the greeting [5]. Farewell, as a figure of speech etiquette, “is a complex organization in text and discourse and forms microtext” [6, P. 4].

This is a common social communicative act of addressing someone, when meeting, with an expression of friendliness, goodwill. Greetings is a reciprocal speech act, which is realized in communication of different ethnic and social groups. Greeting is not to convey thoughts, but feelings, as the main goal of greeting is to create harmonious social contacts between people.

Consider and compare the functions of greeting in the Russian and Chinese speech contexts, which will allow us to detect the sociolinguistic features of the studied figure of speech.

Chinese students who speak Russian at the second level (according to the TRFL system — ed.) note that Russians cannot understand Chinese greetings. The Russian people meet and rejoice at what is said to them: Hello (“Здравствуйте»), Good morningДоброе утро»), Good afternoonДобрый день»). Hello (“Здравствуйте») is more often in everyday speech. And the root of the greeting means “health” in Russian. Thus, greetings in Russian are basically health wishes. Chinese greetings such as "Have you eaten?" or "What are you going to do?" are mainly in the form of questions. For this reason, Russian students who do not speak Chinese well enough tend to get perplexed: they think the Chinese want to invite them for a dinner or even ask for something private, which leads to misunderstandings. Therefore, people should be able to recognize various algorithms and schemes of greeting situations possible.

It must be specified that not only the phrases themselves, but also individual social characteristics of participants are important for understanding how to teach or learn how to use the forms of greeting correctly. Different national cultures and social characteristics determine different preferences regarding greetings. Language habits are to be influenced by such factors as age, gender, interpersonal relationships, lifestyle, psychology of society and other.    

Consider some examples of social factors that are important for understanding the precise semantic content that the Chinese and the Russian put into greeting: communicative situations, ethnic and social culture.

Communicative situations

In real communication, the forms of greeting are highly dependent on time and place. For special cases and places, Chinese and Russian greetings have corresponding fixed language forms. For example, Здравствуйте (polite addressing) (您好), Здравствуй (addressing a friend; “neutral” greeting) (你好). These are more typical greetings that are usually applicable in Chinese and Russian. Others, such as Доброе утро (早上好), Добрый день (日安), Добрый вечер (晚上好) are more formal greetings in Russia. The Chinese habitually use «早啊» and «好啊». Добрый день (日安) is used during the day in Russia and it can be replaced with «你好» in Chinese. Greetings in both Russian and Chinese are simply blessings. The root of the Russian greeting Здравствуйте means “health” (健康), and the root of the Chinese greeting can be understood as «», meaning not only health, but also the wish for good in other areas of human life. Thus, the differences in the meaning are obvious.

More cordial, openhearted Russians say stylistically neutral “Здравствуйте” both to friends and strangers to express greetings. The Chinese, more emotionally stable and restrained in character, use very formal greetings dealing with strangers, whereas with friends they can replace it with less formal “Have you eaten?” "Where did you go?"(你吃饭了吗?你去哪里了?). "How do you do?"你过得怎么样? “How are you?”, (你的身体怎么样?) “How is your business?” 你最近怎么样?)

National culture

Obviously, some Russian greetings and those in Chinese are the same in content and meaning, but they are different in use. For example, «日安» may correspond to “Добрый день,” but is not used in China. Russians usually greet, saying “Добрый день, for example, in the situation of entering a library to borrow books. In China, people are accustomed to not offering complicated greetings. When they encounter problems, they simply start a conversation with the greeting «Hello" and then ask for what they need. In our opinion, these differences are based on deep cultural discrepancies between cultures.

It is especially difficult for a bilingual to grasp such cultural discrepancies. ‘Getting rid of cultural accents due to their lack of knowledge is much slower than the “struggle” with violation of linguistic norms’ [9, P. 91].

Social culture

Using greetings is closely related to a person’s social roles. The Chinese, especially young people, usually wave their hands or say " 哎" (“Hi”) to attract people's attention and greet them. Russians are accustomed to giving and receiving warm hugs and kisses, which is due to their national character. Such gestures are accompanied by the usual greetings “How are you?”, “Hello!”. The Chinese are more restrained, that’s why even accidental body touches or taps on the shoulder are absolutely avoided, let alone kisses. This is especially true for greeting people of different sexes. Formal greetings in business are mostly firm handshakes.

Having analyzed the speech samples (38 phrases total) we can categorize the obtained results according to the type of knowledge and skills relevant for communication. Table 1 present the figure of the speech etiquette “greeting” in Chinese regarding to “greeting” in Russian language, particularly the similarities and differences, which are difficult for acquisition of sociocultural competence and a communicative competence as a whole (see Table 1).

Table 1 – Content of sociocultural competence in relation to the figure of speech “greeting” in Russian

Knowledge and skills



Similarities with figures of Russian speech etiquette


Difference from figures of Russian speech etiquette


Linguistic features





Rules of


ways of expressing



Folk wisdom


expressions summarizing the experience of the people


Communication Registers


correspondence to the sphere, communication situation


Recognition of human characteristics

availability at different levels



Obviously, the linguistic characteristics and peculiarities of the figures of the speech etiquette “greeting” vary, depending on the status and relationships (obsolete, official, friendly, both verbal and nonverbal). The rules of courtesy in Chinese and Russian cultures are especially different because of their different attitudes towards the discursive features of greeting, namely the situation in which greeting is taking place (situation of unfriendliness, impatience, inseparability, etc.). The recorded number of set phrases, sayings in the form of a greeting turned out to be insignificant. But they are definitely worth studying, though their national coloring determines some difficulties for a non-native student.  Besides, diversity of communication speech registers (official, neutral, informal) in greetings are also important to study in terms of sociocultural context.  


To solve their pragmatic attitudes, bilinguals using one of the language systems known to him must certainly learn a number of sociolinguistic attitudes to implement this system. Different cultural roots, national character, social development and patterns of thinking determine the complexity of understanding a new foreign culture. Greetings, as the initial language stage of communicative contact, performs important phatic and contact-setting tasks.

For bilinguals, communication success is associated with the development of communicative competence along with the greatest attention to sociological aspects, as they are particularly problematic in terms of pragmatic aspect. Learning to use the norms of speech etiquette focuses on the acquisition of knowledge about culture, the assimilation of the social foundations of a foreign language society. The degree of formation of sociolinguistic competence is associated with the stages of adaptation of a foreign language individual in new living conditions.

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