The Social Concept of Shame in English and Romanian Based on Quotations

Viorica LIFARI

Résumé


Abstract: Ruth Benedict, an American anthropologist, considers that “shame” is connected with a public exposure of a human being who experiences this feeling. If we speak about the concept of shame on the cultural level it is worth mentioning that the “monopoly of shame” is held by the Japanese culture after she has lost the Second World War.

We are most concerned about the concept of shame in English and Romanian cultures and in the monograph of the famous researcher Ana Wierzbicka we notice that in individualistic types of cultures such as the Anglophone one the interest towards other people’s business is low and the concept of shame is not so important nowadays. At the same time the concept of embarrassment has substituted that of shame and began to play a decisive role in this culture, because it is supported socially. If shame has a moral basis, embarrassment does not include it, the latter implying a confusing situation that happened to somebody. The English language popularity which promotes the Anglophone culture by introducing its borrowings into other languages leads to the rare presence of this concept in the Russian and Romanian and other cultures, only there is a misunderstanding on the cultural level here as people, for example, Moldovans, who try to behave like Americans don’t understand that in the American culture it is a shame to manifest shame in public, as they are educated not to manifest private emotions in public and they hide it carefully. Shame in the individualistic type of culture is not used as a tool of regulating human’s behavior, there are laws for that, in the collectivistic types of culture shame is more important than the law, this culture is based on relationships.


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