Respecting Other People’s Boundaries: A Quintessentially Anglo Cultural Value

  • Jock Wong
Part of the Perspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy & Psychology book series (PEPRPHPS, volume 20)


A challenge that culturally non-Anglo speakers of English face is that of understanding what respecting boundaries, an Anglo cultural value, is about. The cultural value is unfamiliar to many cultures, especially so-called ‘group-orientation’ or ‘collectivist’ cultures. This means that even if a culturally non-Anglo speaker of English has a good mastery of English grammar, they may not be able to connect with culturally Anglo people if they do not respect boundaries. In this paper, what respecting boundaries means to culturally Anglo speakers of English and cultural implications are explored. Meanings and cultural values are represented by semantic explications and cultural scripts. For the purposes of writing semantic explications and cultural scripts, Minimal English is used. Understanding what respecting people’s boundaries is about would also help cultural outsiders understand related Anglo values such as personal rights and personal autonomy. This paper has implications for intercultural communication, cultural adaptation and language pedagogy.


Boundaries Professional boundaries Metaphors Semantic primes Natural semantic metalanguage 



I am grateful to Brian Poole for reading an earlier version of this paper and giving me comments. I would also like to thank Daron Benjamin Loo for his editorial assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jock Wong
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for English Language CommunicationNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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