tourism_english-The_Four_Features_of_Tourism_English by yvtong


									                        The Four Features of Tourism English

                                          WANG Fengxiang
             College of Foreign Studies, Henan Polytechnic University, R.P. China, 454000

Abstract: The paper will analyze the features of tourism English from four aspects. The first is from the
point of linguistics, which includes the lexical and grammatical point of view. The second is from its
performative function-courtesy feature. The third is from its style and the last is from the point of the
Keywords: tourism English, feature, linguistic, performative, style, culture

Identifying the features of tourism English is always necessary when we work on it. The distinctive
features of tourism English distinguish it from the other branches of English, such as technology English,
legal English and business English and so on. The paper will analyze the features from four aspects; the
first is from the point of linguistics, which includes the lexical and grammatical point of view. The
second is from its performative function-courtesy feature. The third is from its style and the last is from
the point of the Culture. It is believable that tourism English will be made clearer according to the
analysis of the exterior and interior tourism English.

1. The Point of Linguistics

1.1 Lexical Feature
“Lexicology is the branch of linguistics concerned with the study of the vocabulary of a given language.
It deals with words, their origin, development, history, formation, meaning and application” , which is
from An Introduction to English Lexicology. (Lin Chengzhang) “Lexicon, in its most general sense, is
synonymous such as legal English or journalism English, tourism English has its own lexical features
besides the very general use of English vocabulary.
1.1.1 The Technical Terms
Terms consist of words and idioms. There are a large number of English words or idioms, which are
specially used in tourism. They are called terms of tourism English. For example, before the flight sets
off, the flight attendants tell the passengers: “Please stow all hand or carry-on luggage under the seat in
front of you or in the overhead compartments.” There are several tourism terms in the sentence, which
might be unclear to the tourist who has a journey by plane for the first time. The things passengers bring
aboard the plane are called “hand or carry-on luggage”. To “stow” them means to put them away. Thus
the whole sentence can be paraphrased as following: Carry-on luggage can fit either under the seat or in
a special compartment (enclosed space) above the seat over the heads of the passengers. Other terms
like “package tour” (the travel agency combining tours and packaging them along with the necessary
transportation and accommodations), “bed-board house” (the hotel providing a continental breakfast of
coffee as well as sleeping accommodation to the guests), or “off season” (a time of the year when most
of tourists do not take vacations or holidays) may appear now and then during one's tour.
1.1.2. The Proper Names
Proper names can be seen almost everywhere in tourism and constitute a large part of tourism English
vocabulary. Proper names in tourism range from the name of the destination of one's tour, such as a
country, a city, or a tourist spot, to the name of hotel, a restaurant, or even a railway station, etc, which
are involved in tourism. These proper names are usually unchangeable and are accepted by people with
fix pronunciations and spellings sometimes even when they are translated from other languages. For
example, The Forbidden City can be divided into two parts-the outer palaces and the inner palace. The
outer palace mainly comprises three magnificent halls- the hall of supreme Harmony The Hall of
Complete Harmony and The Hall of Preserving Harmony. They are flanked by wings- the hall of
literary Glory Wenyuan Pavilion and the Inner Pavilion and the Hall of Miliary Provess. They also have
the Hall of Delight Longevity. The Hall of Vltimate Greatness and so on. They are so many halls and

pavilions in Forbidden City. Not only in Forbidden City, but in other resort. Lijiang, in YunNan
province, boasts of breath-taking wonderful sights, such as Black Dragon Pool, Jade Dragon Snow
Mountain, Tigher Leaping Gorge, Lugu lake and so on. From above, we can see, proper names are very
important in tourism English.
1.1.3. Words and Idioms from Other Languages Like English itself, tourism English in its development
has managed to widen its vocabulary by borrowing words or idioms from other languages. Because
tourism means to travel in different places, go through different Cultures and communicate with people
who speak different languages, it is more likely for tourism English to borrow words from other
languages. For example, in the sentence, “Mapodoufu” is a special food in Sichuan province. It was
created by an old woman. The idiom “Mapodoufu” is borrowed from Chinese character. Another
example, “The large airplane is en route to a country which most of its passengers have never visited
before,” the idiom “en route” is borrowed from French with the meaning of “on the way” in English.
Due to the booming of international tourism, the communication between English and other languages
becomes more frequent and many words or idioms from other languages which are remote from English
step into English vocabulary and become English expressions, such as, “Yangtze”, “cheongsam” from
Chinese, and “kimono” from Japanese.

1.2. Grammatical Feature
As a particular variety of English, Tourism English has its own grammatical distinctive Features.
1.2.1. The Sentence Structure
During the tour, tourists always need to communicate with those who provide all kinds of necessary
information or services, such as the waiters, or guides. The communication between the tourists and
these persons happens orally at any time, and in order to make the communication clear and effective,
the simple sentence structure instead of the complex one is often adopted. This can be well proved by
the following conversation between a tourist and a waitress at a restaurant. Waitress: Anything to drink,
sir? Tourist: Yes. I'd like some coffee, please. Waitress: Do you want cream and sugar? Tourist: No. I'd
like black. Waitress: Can I get you anything else? Tourist: What do you have for dissert? Waitress: We
have fruit pies, chocolate cake, custard pudding and chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry ice cream. Tourist:
I'd like a dish of strawberry ice cream please. The sentence of tourism English is very simple compared
with the technology English. The sentence structure of technology English is very long and complex.
For example, it was understood that atoms were the smallest elements. It is known now those atoms are
further divided into nuclear and electrons, neutrons and such as atoms, nuclear, electrons, neutrons,
protons are included in it.
1.2.2. The Tenses
As mentioned above, one of the language Functions of tourism English is to deliver information. Since
the information delivered is mostly told as the fact or truth, the present tense is often used in tourism
English. For example: Mount Huangshan has 72 distinct peaks, among which the Lotus peaks,
Brightness Top and Celestial capital peaks rise over 1,800 meters above sea level. Every peak has
countless rocks of interesting contours. The three Yangtzi River Gorges refer to Qutang Gorge, Wu Xia
Gorge and Xiling Gorge on the upper reaches. This 193 kilometer-long stretch of the Yangzte River
starts from Baidi Town in Chongqing. Some time, past tense is also adopted to explain the cultural
background information; usually some historical stories or events happened in the tourist-spot. For
instance: Two thousand years ago, the threads of commerce were established that connected Xi’an to the
Middle East and Europe, opening China for the first time to the Western Word. It was in 138 B.C that
the Han emperor Wudi sent an emissary that time until the 14th century, Caravans canying spices, fruits,
and all kinds of goods China’s frontier towns into cosmopolitan trading centers. Compared with
technology English, the past tense always refers to the different order in time. For example, when steam
is condensed again to water, the same amount of heat is given out as was taken in when it was formed.
Here “was taken in” happened before “is given out”. Therefore, the past tense is used here.
1.2.3. The Voices
Unlike other English varieties tourism English tends to use the active voice instead of the passive.
Generally speaking, the passive voice is objective and is used to express the object concerned, which

can make the meaning of the text clearer and more concise and avoid confusing, but it is rather cold and
has little to do with human emotions. Whereas, the active voice is more subjective and flexible in
communication, and can easily express the speakers or writers’ feelings. Since tourism English is often
used for the function of directive or evocative. As explained above, the active voice is preferable than
the passive. For example, Today's Beijing is not only famous for its long history, but also for its rapid
economic and social development. Tian'anmen Square, the Forbidden City, Jingshan Mountain and
Beihai Park situated in its center symbolize a profound traditional Culture, whereas modern skyscrapers
represent the openness and fast tempo of the modem lifestyle. Visitors to Beijing should learn about its
past and its present, so let's have a look at modem Beijing. The passage is used to introduce the modern
beauty of Beijing besides its historic sites. The writer uses active voice throughout the whole paragraph
to describe Beijing's scenery, which makes a vivid and delightful impression on tourists.
1.2.4. The Moods in Tourism English Imperative sentences are often used to give directions and
orders sometimes, or express the speakers' feelings or wishes. For instance, Your passport, please?
Please gather in the lobby at 2 this afternoon. Let's have a look at the Forbidden City at first. Enjoy your
flight. Welcome to China. These imperative sentences are usually used by customs officers, flight
attendants, clerks in hotel or tourist guides who take charge of providing services and operating the
details of the tour for tourists. What is noticeable in such imperative sentences is the use of the word
“please”, which shows the respect and politeness to the tourists from the employee in tourism industry.

2. Courtesy Feature of Tourism English
It is accepted that people should be polite when they are engaged in communication. This is rather true
in tourism industry because setting up a good relationship between tourists and tourist’s organizations is
of great importance for a successful tourism business. It is always preferable that everyone involved in
the tour, either tourists or clerks in airplanes, hotels, restaurants and tourist spots, looks polite and shows
their courtesy to others, which would be delightful for both sides and helpful for the whole tour.
Generally speaking, there are three ways to express courtesy in tourism English. The first one is to use
the word “please” to show the speakers' respect and politeness towards the listeners as mentioned in the
last section. The second way is to use “thank ... for...” pattern to show the gratitude from the speakers.
For example: (1) Bellhop: Is there anything else you need or that I can do for you? Tourist: No, thank
you. You've been very helpful. (2) Security officer: Please empty you pockets into this tray and walk
through the metal detector again. It's all right now. Thank you. Tourist: You are welcome. Thank you
for your courtesy. The third way to express politeness is to often use interrogative sentences with modal
verbs, such as can, could, may, might, would, etc. This way is indirect compared with the first two ways
and needs listeners' full understanding of the whole sentence, even the discourse. For instance: 1) Travel
agent: What would you like to do? Would you like to see different places? Tourist: Would you prefer to
stay at a resort and just relax in the sun? I think I'd like a resort where I could go swimming. (2)
Waitress: May I take you order? Tourist: Yes, please. Although being polite is one of the personalities
of human beings and can easily achieve it, politeness or courtesy is a very important principle in tourism
and is in turn a remarkable feature of tourism English. But this feature is mostly noticeable in oral
communication instead of written material of tourism.

3. Stylistic Feature of Tourism English

Although tourism English is mostly composed by the "common core" of English (the basic language
elements of English), it has its own stylistic feature. In general, tourism English is plain and natural.
Unlike literature works, tourism English tends to use simple language to describe or record the concrete
stuff and facts just like taking a picture. This can be illustrated by the following example: (1) On the
road leading from central Europe to Adriatic coast lays a small Slovenian town of Postojna. Its
subterranean world holds some of Europe's most magnificent underground galleries. Time loses all
meanings in the formation of these underground wonders. The dripstone-stalactites, columns, pillars and

translucent curtains, conjure up unforgettable images... This passage is the main part of introduction of
Postojna Cave in Slovenia. The cave is famous in Europe for its spectacular view of dripstones, but the
writer uses simple words to describe it without any exaggeration. The pronoun “you” is often used to
produce a plain style in tourism English, which can also make the tourists feel relaxed and arouse their
desire to visit that place. The following passage can best explain it. (2) Cornwall is one of Britain's most
spectacular destinations offering a unique holiday experience based on a strong and vibrant Culture and
distinctive traditions. With over 300 miles of coastline you can enjoy walking, beaches, water sports; a
range of visitor attractions from Neolithic stone circles, castles built by Henry VIII, family fun parks to
state-of-the-art satellite telecommunications centers. In order to make the views more concrete and
specified to the visitors, numbers are used in tourism material to express the amount, size or even weight
of the tourist spots. For example: (3) The 34.7-meter-high Tian'anmen Gate is composed of a base, arch
and tower. The base is 1.59 meters high and the arch, made from stone blocks, with each weighing 420
kg, is 14.6 meters in height. There are six small yellow-tiled rooms with red walls and windows at the
eastern and western sides of the gate tower, for soldiers guarding Tian'anmen Gate. Sometimes,
although the simple style is preferable in tourism English, rhetorical devices are also adopted to add
aesthetic effect on it. For example, simile or metaphor is most frequently used. For instance: Tiny
islands are strung around the edge of the Peninsula like a pearl necklace. Hunks of coral reef, coconut
palms and fine white sand...

4. Culture Feature of Tourism English

When language studying is concerned with, Culture should be inevitably considered since both are
closely tied up with each other. “Since Culture is defined succinctly as the totality of beliefs and
practices of a society, nothing is of greater strategic importance than the language through which its
beliefs are expressed and transmitted by which most interaction of its member take place.” In other
words, Culture is something that everybody has in his or her social life, and language is part of Culture,
whereas the content of Culture is carried or transmitted with language. Therefore, languages always
express something with Culture underlying it, so does tourism English. Actually cultural background
information is in most cases the most important and appealing factor to attract tourists. Many famous
tourist spots and sites are remarkable for their historic buildings, events and stories happened there or
special customs which has been developed in the river of history during a long period of time. And now
people from every part of the world come to visit them in order to appreciate the nice scenery, acquire
knowledge about history and enjoy the special customs which are so different from their own. As an
important medium of the communication in international tourism, tourism English is often bound to
express or deliver such cultural background information of history, geographic location or customs in
living, eating, clothing and other aspects of people's social life. This feature of English tourism English
can be approved by the passage below which is used to introduce a famous tourist spot in London, the
House of Parliament, to tourists. (1) Now more commonly known as the Houses of Parliament, the
Palace of Westminster life in 1042 as a royal residence under Edward the Confessor. The major
structure to survive various fires, Westminster Hall was built 1087 and 1100 and is one of the largest
medieval halls in Europe with an unsupported hammer beam roof. During the 14th century the Hall
housed shops and stalls selling wigs, pens and other legal equipment. The courts of law also met there.
Following a fire in 1512, Henry VIII decided to abandon the Palace and from this moment onwards it
became home to the two seats of Parliament-the Commons and the Lords. Thomas More, Charles I, and
those accused of trying to blow-up Parliament (1605), were all tried in Westminster Hall. The Hall
suffered from yet another disastrous fire in 1534 when everything was lost except Westminster Hall and
the Jewel Tower. A competition was launched to redevelop the whole site. Sir Charles Barry was
responsible for the mock Gothic building that has become such a familiar landmark today and home to
both the Clock Tower that houses Big Ben (the bell that chimes on the hour) and the largest clock face
in the country. This feature can also be easily found in English versions used to introduce Chinese
tourist spots since China is famous for its long history and amazing oriental Culture which has been
formed gradually during thousands of years' development of human civilization. For example: (2) It is

said that the northern Song Dynasty poet Su Dongpo, when he served as governor of Hangzhou, used to
go to the temple with his friends and subordinates for a visit. And he is said to have handled a court case
in the cold spring for the owner of a fan shop, for Su was a famous painter, calligrapher as well as a poet.
(3) During the Dragon Boat Festival (which falls on the fifth day of the lunar month in May), it is a
common practice to eat Zongzi, which is a rice pudding wrapped up with weed leaves.

5. Conclusion

The paper mainly deals of the use of tourism English. The features of tourism English include lexical
feature, grammatical feature, courtesy feature, stylistic feature and Culture feature. Through the research,
the distinctive features of tourism English stands out more clearly. It is believable that the research on
the topic can promote the development of tourism English and also can push forward the development
of tourism, economy, Culture in China, and the detailed study on tourism English itself can help the
translation and practice of tourism English.


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