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Culture-Bound Differences in Text Interpretation of K. Ishiguro’s ‘Family Supper’ – A Comparative Cross-Cultural Survey Research

In an increasingly globalized world, literature serves as a powerful medium for cultural exploration and understanding. The works of renowned authors often transcend geographical boundaries, yet the interpretations of their narratives can vary significantly across different cultures. The main objective of the article is to explore the impact of cultural background on literary text interpretation, taking a post-structuralist approach to sense-making practices in different cultures. The text chosen for interpretation was Kazuo Ishiguro’s “A Family Supper,” – a short story which exposes broken, strained relationships between adult children and parents. Though tension dominates the communication between the father and the son throughout the whole story, the reasons for it are not completely unequivocal to the reader. The study investigates how multiple interpretations of their communication in specific excerpts from the story can be determined by cultural differences in values, traditions, and judgments. The research employs a qualitative approach for data analysis, involving questionnaires with three sets of questions. The first set included demographic questions, while the second one aimed to reveal the cultural traditions and values of the respondents. The third set consisted of open-ended items, with respondents asked to interpret specific parts of the texts. The researcher’s task was to identify correlating patterns between the text interpretation and respondents' cultural backgrounds, including their absence. The study unravels systematic differences in how readers from diverse cultural backgrounds engage with and understand the same text. These differences manifest in two major patterns, corresponding to two geographical regions of respondents' origin: the first pattern encompasses Belarus, Poland, and Ukraine, while the second one pertains to Middle Asian countries. Differences within the in-group and similarities across the out-group were also identified. However, their frequency was too low to assert any specific regularity.

Text, Interpretation, Pattern, Culture, Cultural Values

Nina Shtok. (2023). Culture-Bound Differences in Text Interpretation of K. Ishiguro’s ‘Family Supper’ – A Comparative Cross-Cultural Survey Research. International Journal of Language and Linguistics, 11(5), 156-164.

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This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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