Cultural Scripts

Cliff Goddard
Table of contents

The term ‘cultural script’ refers to a technique for articulating culture-specific norms, values, and practices in terms which are clear, precise, and accessible to cultural insiders and outsiders alike. This result is possible because cultural scripts are formulated in the Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) of semantic primes, a highly constrained ‘mini-language’ of simple words and grammatical patterns which evidence suggests have equivalents in all languages. The technique emerged in the mid-1990s, growing out of ‘cross-over research’ between semantics and cross-cultural pragmatics. Recent publications include the collective volumes Cultural Scripts (Goddard & Wierzbicka eds. 2004) and Ethnopragmatics (Goddard ed. 2006). Languages/cultures to which the cultural scripts method has been applied include various varieties of English (mainstream or “Anglo” English, Australian English, American English, Singapore English), Ewe, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Russian, Spanish, and Yankunytjatjara. A representative selection of studies is supplied in the references below.

Full-text access is restricted to subscribers. Log in to obtain additional credentials. For subscription information see Subscription & Price.


Ameka, F.K.
1987A comparative analysis of linguistic routines in two languages: English and Ewe. Journal of Pragmatics 11: 299–326. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1994Areal conversational routines and cross-cultural communication in a multilingual society. In H. Pürschel, E. Bartsch, P. Franklin, U. Schmitz & S. Vandermeeren (eds.) Intercultural Communication: 441–469. Peter Lang.Google Scholar
2006‘When I die, don’t cry’ –The ethnopragmatics of “gratitude” in West African languages. In C. Goddard (ed.) Ethnopragmatics. Understanding Discourse in Cultural Context: 231–267. Mouton.DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Ameka, F.K. & A. Breedveld
2004Areal cultural scripts for social interaction in West African communities. Intercultural Pragmatics 1(2): 167–187. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
D’andrade, R.
2001A cognitivist’s view of the units debate in cultural anthropology. Cross-Cultural Research 35(2): 242–257. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Goddard, C.
1992Traditional Yankunytjatjara ways of speaking—A semantic perspective. Australian Journal of Linguistics 12: 93–122. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1997Cultural values and ‘cultural scripts’ of Malay (Bahasa Melayu). Journal of Pragmatics 27: 183–201. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
2000Communicative style and cultural values—Cultural scripts of Malay (Bahasa Melayu). Anthropological Linguistics 42(1): 81–106.Google Scholar
2004aThe ethnopragmatics and semantics of “active” metaphors. Journal of Pragmatics 36: 1211–1230. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
2004b“Cultural scripts”: A new medium for ethnopragmatic instruction. In M. Achard & S. Niemeier (eds.) Cognitive Linguistics, Second Language Acquisition, and Foreign Language Teaching: 145–165. Mouton. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
2006‘Lift your game Martina!’ – Deadpan jocular irony and the ethnopragmatics of Australian English. In C. Goddard (ed.) Ethnopragmatics. Understanding Discourse in Cultural Context: 65–99. Mouton. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
(ed.) 2006Ethnopragmatics. Understanding Discourse in Cultural Context. Mouton. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Goddard, C. & A. Wierzbicka
1997Discourse and culture. In T.A. Van Dijk (ed.) Discourse as Social Interaction: 231–257. Sage.Google Scholar
Goddard, C.A. Wierzbicka
(eds.) 2002Meaning and Universal Grammar – Theory and Empirical Findings. Vols I & II. John Benjamins. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
(eds.) 2004Cultural scripts. Special Issue of Intercultural Pragmatics 1(2).Google Scholar
Goddard, C. & A. Wierzbicka
To appear). Men, women and children: The semantics of basic social categories.
. (In press 2007) Semantic primes and cultural scripts in language teaching and intercultural communication. In F. Sharifian & G. Palmer (eds.) Applied Cultural Linguistics: Second language learning/teaching and intercultural communication. John Benjamins. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Hasada, R.
1996Some aspects of Japanese cultural ethos embedded in nonverbal communicative behaviour. In F. Poyatos (ed.) Nonverbal Communication in Translation: 83–103. John Benjamins DOI logo  TSBGoogle Scholar
2006Cultural scripts: some glimpses into the Japanese emotion world. In C. Goddard (ed.) Ethnopragmatics. Understanding Discourse in Cultural Context: 171–199. Mouton.DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Peeters, B.
1997Les pièges de la conversation exolingue. Les cas des immigrés français en Australie. Bulletin suisse de linguistique appliquée 65: 103–118.Google Scholar
1999‘Salut! ça va? Vous avez passé un bon weekend?’ Journal of French Language Studies 9: 239–257. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
2000S’engager. In S. Niemeier & R. Dirven (eds.) Evidence for Linguistic Relativity: 193–222. John Benjamins. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Klos Sokol, L.
1997Shortcuts to Poland. IPS Wydawniclwo.Google Scholar
Travis, C.E.
2004The ethnopragmatics of the diminutive in Colombian Spanish. Intercultural Pragmatics 1(2): 249–274. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
2006confianza. In C. Goddard (ed.) Ethnopragmatics. Understanding Discourse in Cultural Context: 199–231. Mouton.Google Scholar
Wierzbicka, A.
1996aSemantics: Primes and Universals. Oxford.  BoPGoogle Scholar
1996bJapanese cultural scripts: Cultural psychology and “cultural grammar”. Ethos 24: 527–555. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1996cContrastive sociolinguistics and the theory of cultural scripts: Chinese vs. English. In M. Hellinger & U. Ammon (eds.) Contrastive Sociolinguistics: 313–344. Mouton.DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1997Understanding Cultures through their Key Words. Oxford.  BoPGoogle Scholar
1998German ‘cultural scripts’: public signs as a key to social attitudes and cultural values. Discourse & Society 9: 241–282. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
1999Emotions across Languages and Cultures. Cambridge. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
2002aRussian cultural scripts: The theory of cultural scripts and its applications. Ethos 30(4): 401–432. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
2002bbloody. Journal of Pragmatics 34: 1167–1209. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
2003[1991] Cross-Cultural Pragmatics. [Expanded 2nd edition]. Mouton. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
2004Jewish cultural scripts and the interpretation of the Bible. Journal of Pragmatics 36: 575–599. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
2006aThe English Language: Meaning and Culture. Oxford. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
2006bAnglo culture scripts against “putting pressure” on other people and their linguistic manifestations. In C. Goddard (ed.) Ethnopragmatics. Understanding Discourse in Cultural Context: 31–65. Mouton.DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Wolfson, N.
1983An empirically based analysis of complimenting in American English. In N. Wolfson & E. Judd (eds.) Sociolinguistics and Language Acquisition: 82–95. Newbury House.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Wong, J.
2004aCultural scripts, ways of speaking, and perceptions of personal autonomy. Intercultural Pragmatics 1(2): 231–248. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
2004bThe particles of Singapore English: a semantic and cultural interpretation. Journal of Pragmatics 36: 739–793. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Ye, Z.
2004aChinese categorization of interpersonal relationships and the cultural logic of Chinese social interaction: an indigenous perspective. Intercultural Pragmatics (2): 211–230. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
2004bThe Chinese folk model of facial expressions: a linguistic perspective. Culture & Psychology 10(2): 195–222. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
2006Why the ‘inscrutable’ Chinese face? Emotionality and facial expression in Chinese. In C. Goddard (ed.) Ethnopragmatics. Understanding Discourse in Cultural Context: 127–171. Mouton.DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Yoon, K.-J.
2004Not just words: Korean social models and the use of honorifics. Intercultural Pragmatics 1(2): 189–210. DOI logoGoogle Scholar