Cross-Cultural Understandings in the Language and Politics of Friendship

Heather Devere


Friendship is a frequently-used word but it is difficult to define it clearly. Friendship in its various configurations links people and communities together in some sort of reciprocally beneficial association that forms societies. Thus friendship is a concept that deserves attention. This paper examines some of the similarities and differences about understandings of friendship which both support and challenge traditional western perspectives. The article argues that an exploration of the experiences and interpretations of friendship outside the western philosophical tradition demonstrates a shared understanding about many aspects, but also some subtle differences which, while challenging some of the western concepts, can also be incorporated into developments of the idea of friendship.
Key words: friendship, western philosophical tradition, cross-cultural understandings, language of friendship, socio-linguistic approach
Résumé: L’amitié est un mot fréquemment utilisé mais il est difficile de le définir clairement. L’amitié lie, dans ses diverses formes, les peuples et les communautés à une sorte d’association réciproquement bénéfique qui forme la société. L’amitié est ainsi un concept qui mérite l’attention. Le présent article examine des similitudes et différences des compréhensions de ce mot, qui supporte et défie à la fois les perspectives occidentales traditionnelles. L’auteur argumente qu’une exploration des expériences et interprétations de l’amitié hors de la tradition philosophique occidentale montre une compréhension partagée sur beaucoup d’aspects, de plus, des différences subtiles qui, tout en défiant des concepts occidentaux, peuvent aussi être intégrées au développement de l’idée d’amitié.
Mots-clés: amitié, tradition philosophique occidentale, compréhension transculturelle, langage d’amitié, approche sociolinguistique

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