Regulators of the Phatic Style of the National Communicative Culture


The abstract deals with the problem of contact-forming type of phatic style in cross-cultural communication. It’s a common knowledge about the special lingua-cultural peculiarities of national inter-cultural, cross-cultural means of communication. One of these peculiarities is phatic style of communication, partially, regulators. It is believed that phatic or the contact-forming style or type of communication is nationally coloured and specific one. We consider that students have to differentiate special norms (or regulators) of contact-forming type of communication. The regulator usually can be explained by those culturally considered obligations which exist in the mental and cultural spheres of a human being. Comparison of different styles of the regulators of phatic communication makes possible to mind the mentally considered national habits as culturally minded regulators. Mongol-speaking regulators of phatic style are considered to be non-investigated and because of it worth of interest. We are sure that only the comparative aspect of phatic styles, functionally relevant in different cultures and languages are able to reveal them.

Keywords: Contact-forming type, cross-cultural communication, cultural and mental constants, phatic style, regulators


Nowadays, intercultural dialogue plays a decisive role in relations both between communicants and influence even on the state relations. Intercultural competence is highlight in all spheres of the process of education, but we focus the problem as important one in the educational sphere of universities’ community. Therefore, achieving success in intercultural dialogue is relevant. This success depends on the knowledge of the cultures of different nations. In mastering the knowledge of culture, an important place is occupied by the comprehension of the linguistic reflection of the mental and norms of representatives’ behaviour of different cultures. The insufficient degree of study of the theoretic basis of phatic, from one hand, and the urgent need to develop effective ways to describe various aspects of verbal and non-verbal communication, from another hand, makes it relevant to study the phatic function of language, especially in the field of defining regulators as cultural constants of mentality.

Problem Statement

Communicative culture is manifested in the communication of people, where the task of communication is not to convey to the addressee the information necessary for certain purposes, but in the adoption of the phatic ‘style’ of speech. In the course of free communication, the interlocutors support each other in the course of their affairs and moods, inform about events that change the course of life, share impressions, experiences and plans, convey their opinions, advice, argue about tastes, discover their inclinations, sympathize, etc. (Larina, 2015). An extensive zone of communicative units with functions and meanings, communicative interaction of partners, due to the national specifics of speech behaviour, strategies, tactics, speech acts, dialogue-discourses, communication situations, including social relations of partners, is covered by speech etiquette. Following Formanovskaya we appreciate speech etiquette as a special system of socially given (firstly) and (secondly) specific regulators of the rules of speech behaviour, which are nationally coloured. We agree that these specific regulators are quite important in situations of establishing, maintaining and breaking contact by communicants conditioned by their status-role, personal relations in an official, neutral and informal setting of communication (Formanovskaya, 2002b). We support the following thesis about the importance of speech etiquette as special verbal tactics “at the deep level of a person's mentality, speech-behavioral tactics act as an integral meaning-intention, and on the surface it is used in verbal clichéd or semi-clichéd implementations” (Chernysheva & Chan, 2018, p. 1143). Speech etiquette is an example of a pronounced standardized speech behaviour, when the situations of acquaintances, introductions, addresses, greetings, farewells, apologies, thanks, etc. are standard. Naturally, the expressions and speech acts used in these situations are also standard. At the same time there is an incessant process of choosing of the most appropriate means from the vast language arsenal in relation to different registers of communication. Therefore, in the use of units of speech etiquette, the standard and creative formulas are combined which are appreciated as the essence of this communicative system of signs – speech etiquette. It is interesting to consider the dominant features of communicative ethnic styles, which, like cultural scenarios, have a great explanatory possibility and are an effective means of forming intercultural communicative competence. Ter-Minasova (2000) also includes everyday behaviour in a number of "components of culture that carry a nationally specific colouring" (Ter-Minasova, 2000, pp. 27-28). Thus we consider the speech etiquette is nationally specified too as an everyday norm of behaviour.

Research Questions

Speech etiquette is associated with the category of politeness, which are naturally closely related. The category of courtesy refers to functional-semantic ones with pragmatic functions of expression by the speaker's relationship to the partner, which lies in the zone of respect, expressing different functions: respectfulness, gallantry, correctness, courtesy (Formanovskaya, 2002a, Larina, 2009). Drozdova (2020) considers, that “there are special rules that form the cultural uniqueness of speech etiquette, characteristic of each of the languages” (p. 28). There are investigations about “hierarchy of phatic and etiquette cliches by the frequency of their usage in speech is presented” (see: Panfilova, 2020, pp. 151-158). Phatic function is declared to be of importance in business negotiations (see: Gorbacheva & Markin, 2015, pp. 927-932). Politeness, especially in conjunction with speech etiquette, allows the speaker to demonstrate not only attention to the interlocutor, but also interest in his affairs, empathy, willingness to help, desire to contact, etc. All these shades of relationships are fixed in non-verbal and verbal signs during communication: intonation, facial expressions, gestures, postures and in the corresponding statements. It’s known that phatic communication has the main focus on speech contact, on establishing contact and on maintaining speech and social relations by interlocutors, on their regulation. Phatic communication is designed to seek sympathy, empathy and, in general, contact. The area of phatic includes speech etiquette, everyday (or colloquial) speech, filling in pauses, etc. (Arutyunova, 1988, p. 305). For example, in the Russian-speaking communicative culture is important to greet each other more emotionally, emphatically, verbosely as a somewhat dry, semi-formal expression of greeting. We conclude that this greeting paradigm is a customary one, especially in the situation of non-formal, semi-formal expression of greeting. However, this is not the case. Students need to be explained about the existence of a difference in cultural attitudes, taking into account the nationally coloured cultural constants of expressing joy, affection or other positive feelings, sincere both in content and form in Russian culture and restrained in English. In the English-speaking speech-behavioural culture, the basic regulator of the style of phatic communication is distance, expressed by special cliché phrases, the selection of speech etiquette formulas.

Purpose of the Study

This observation suggests a difference in cultural regulators in a phatic style of communication. It is known that the “phatic function” according to Jacobson means: “messages that are intended to establish and then either extend or interrupt the message, i.e. check the communication channel, as well as in order to attract the attention of the interlocutor and keep him if necessary" (Pocheptsov, 2001, p. 69). Soldatova (2009) following Zemskaya considers the category of politeness the regulator of the communicative behaviour of the people. A more cordial, open attitude of a Russian-speaking communicant compared to the style of unobtrusiveness and officialdom accepted in the English-speaking cultural space, interpreted as politeness, is mediated by the distance minimization regulator. Some consider that there are “phatic speech genres” (Vorontsova, 2018, p. 51). Thus, when meeting communicants of different cultures, first of all, they discover the difference in the regulators of the phatic style of behaviour. In the first case, this is the distance controller, in the second case, the approach controller. Regulators of speech-behavioural greeting formulas are primarily due to cultural constants that have become established over time. These constants seem to be basic in determining the type of culture, national images, national stereotypes of behaviour. The concept of the stylistic features of a phatic (contact-establishing) communicative culture is always specific. Note that the term goes back to the concept of "phatic communication", introduced by B. Malinovsky. Phatic communication is a type of speech that “reflects… the desire inherent in the very nature of a person to create “common bonds” between people” and often looks like a simple exchange of words (Markosyan, 2008). The concept of the stylistic features of a phatic (contact-establishing) communicative culture is always specific. That’s why we suppose to note the importance of special description of the regulators in a phatic style because of it’s relation with the national conciseness.

Research Methods

Many researchers in cross-cultural communicative linguistics note foreigners easily forgive lexical grammatical or errors, explaining them by a lack of linguistic knowledge. But at the same time people very sensitive to violations of etiquette norms. Why? Linguists believe that the reason of it in the foreigner’s conviction they were violated intentionally. That’s why one should understand that the choice of means of communication as well as lexical formulas of speech etiquette is not free, especially in the process of communication. Attention to such a linguistic phenomenon as phatic is by no means accidental, since, on the one hand, phatic speech, in contrast to the so-called informative speech, makes it possible to identify social, psychological and some other characteristics of communicants, their language skills, consequently, it is phatic speech that brings us as close as possible to the speaker’s personality. We should also mind, that phatic makes people to identify the specifics of its structure and functioning, based on the peculiarities of the use of phatic means by one or another linguistic personality. Thus, firstly, the methods of comparison of the, first, ways of expressing speech etiquette in different linguacultures should reveal the peculiar national features of communication at all. Secondly, one should mind the national style of communication as a descriptive aspect of the national speech etiquette. Etiquette English “How are you?”, “Are you OK?”, “How do you do?”, “Nice day today!” are, as noted, the formula of the daily greeting, and replace it. The regulatory function of the speech-behavioural tradition of the English-speaking culture is mediated by the impersonality of the address in etiquette greetings. The regulator of such verbal, sometimes semantically empty, behaviour in a situation of meeting little-known / unfamiliar communicators is the tactic of distancing, perceived in national culture as a category of politeness, in a different way, unobtrusive style of phatic. Secondly, the descriptive method of investigation is actual too when we focus on the phenomena of national cultures.


The specificity of Mongolian greetings largely depends on the season and situation, but at the same time, the greeting was always accompanied by good wishes. The greeting-well-wishes carries an ancient magical connotation and therefore it is important to respond to the greeting correctly. To the greeting question: “Sain beena uu?” “Do you live well?” - you cannot give a negative (or neutral) answer, this can be reported in the course of a further conversation. There can be only one response: “Sain, sain beena uu!” "Yes, yes, we live well!". The response in the Mongolian greeting formula is substantively identical to the English etiquette response formula “I’m well!”, “I’m OK!”. In the first case, the regulator of such answers is, in our opinion, the belief in the magical effect of the verbal formula, which is akin to the national well-wishing formulas adopted in nomadic culture. This is akin to the ancient formula “So be it!”, i.e. “As you live well, so we will live well!”. In the English-speaking culture, the regulator of such response formulas is, in our opinion, the motivation for non-interference in private life, a polite answer that does not imply further development (especially discussion) of the topic. And, on the contrary, in the Russian-speaking culture, the distance minimization regulator “forces” communicants to share their problems (primarily) not only to establish, maintain, but also develop communication. In the Russian speech culture of the phatic style of communication, the attitude towards rapprochement, towards the development of relations is clearly expressed. In the English language - on etiquette, formal politeness, in the Mongolian language - on the awareness of the non-randomness of the meeting, on which the future of the communicants largely depends. In the Mongolian-speaking culture, the regulator of speech behaviour is the awareness of the magic of the word, both welcoming and reciprocal. There is the admissibility of pauses, the so-called “small talk”, when a conversation is slowly being held about everyday affairs and along the way an invisible line of trust / distrust is established based on comparison, comparison of common or different points of view on the same things. We suppose that speech etiquette in Buryat is characterized by the absence of verbalized modifier of politeness on the contrary with Russian or English “please” (Zhamsaranova, 2016, pp. 143-147).


The conversation of nomads about the weather, views of the herbage or other topics is similar in function and purpose to the English-language conversation about the weather. This is a contact strategy (see: Likhanova & Haidav, 2016, pp. 72-74). At the same time, if for the British this is a discussion of objective things, the development of which a person cannot influence or change in any way, then in Mongolian culture such a conversation is essentially a kind of preliminary discussion of some kind of subsequent actions (often jointly) to overcome the created conditions. The elements of phatic communication, which are obligatory in the Mongolian greeting, play an important role in the process of communication. These speech regulators of the phatic style serve as special speech elements in order to establish neutral relationships and, of more importance, to reduce uncertainty. Avoidance of uncertainty in conversation is another norm of speech behaviour of the Mongolian-speaking peoples, which is akin to the Russian-speaking openness in communication, due to the cultural constant of catholicity. Whereas individualistic Western culture postulates an element of the value of privacy, often developed in communication. In small talk, emotivity dominates, which “performs the social functions of establishing contact and communicative support for the interlocutor” (Demina & Kartashevskaya 2016, p. 78). The interpretation of the speech ‘behaviour’ of foreigners as the representatives of another cultures should be

based on the recognition and understanding of cultural differences. We consider also that taking into account the regulators of speech behaviour is important too. In intercultural communication one’s own behaviour should also be according the hidden “rules” of communicative discourse, otherwise serious communication failures are possible. As many researchers say, speech mistakes regarding the violation of cultural norms can have serious consequences are perceived extremely painfully and.

Thus, the neglect of knowledge and awareness of the regulators of speech behaviour serves as the “pitfall” of unsuccessful communication. Communicative behaviour, both verbal and non-verbal, is nationally specific. Communicative speech behaviour has these specific features not only due to differences in the means of communication, but also due to nationally “coloured” differences, preference and frequency of their use in certain situations of communication. And the reason of this phenomenon is depend of the mechanism of their choice appreciated as the nationally-coloured regulators of phatic.


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Zhamsaranova, R. G. (2022). Regulators of the Phatic Style of the National Communicative Culture. In V. I. Karasik, & E. V. Ponomarenko (Eds.), Topical Issues of Linguistics and Teaching Methods in Business and Professional Communication - TILTM 2022, vol 4. European Proceedings of Educational Sciences (pp. 88-94). European Publisher.