Suggested Answers

 

1-3:      US-Americans value action and doing over talking, especially if it's talking instead of action

4-6:      Directness

7-8:      Emphasis on accomplishment, achieving things, in addition to being a good person

9-11:    Optimism

12:       Self-determination

13:       Self-reliance, independence

14-15:  Don't judge or be fooled by appearances; look beneath the surface

16:       Risk-taking, experimentation

     
     

 

DISCUSSION

One of the most accessible sources of interesting data from which one can get a good idea about the core values of a society are common everyday expressions. Each culture has thousands of them that everyone in that society knows and understands. Just as examining US-American aphorisms and folk sayings can reveal aspects of US-American society (e.g., stress on individuality, optimistic outlook, self-reliance, self-determination, future orientation), the same can be said for every nation's collection of wisdom.

When you go overseas it is very useful to try and learn something about the local sayings and to attempt to figure out what value(s) they represent in that culture. For example, the Japanese have a saying, "The nail that sticks up gets hammered down." This is not about carpentry, but a social metaphor that stresses Japanese values like conformity, group effort, self-effacement, and unobtrusive public behavior. Such sentiments are polar opposites of most US-American beliefs.

A US-American expression (often connected with a crisis) is, "Donít just stand there, do something," which speaks to an action orientation and a belief that change will be good. The Japanese might respond to the same circumstances by saying, "Donít do something, just stand there," because they believe that precipitous action might have a worse result than no action whatsoever. Change is not considered automatically positive. Vast cultural differences of opinion separate these simple ideas expressed in everyday sayings. Keep an ear out for them overseas, and think about the values behind those sayings you might be tempted to use while abroad. We will explore these values further in the next sections.

 

  INSIGHT..!!  Common expressions become common because they reflect core cultural values.

 


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