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My Big Fat Greek Wedding Essay

1499 words - 6 pages

“My Big Fat Greek Wedding” is a charming romantic comedy that explores cultural differences in a combination of adorable romance and cute humor. The story revolves around Toula, a thirty-year-old Greek American single woman, who lives with her family in the suburb of Chicago. Like many obedient Greek daughters, she works in her family’s business, a restaurant called “Dancing Zorba’s.” Toula belongs to a traditional collective upbringing where all good daughters are expected to marry from their ethnic background. However, she struggles with her father’s limited ambitions for her and she longs for something else in life. She enrolls in college and takes computer classes. With the computer ...view middle of the document...

And in terms of verbal communication style, as it pertains to differences among various nations, it is something that may cause miscommunication due to different approaches in directness, and formality. For elaborateness, the informal and direct approach that characterizes relationships in the United States, represented by Ian, is quite different from the great concern for using proper speech and manner in the Greek side of Toula. One scene that illustrates this example is when Toula’s father reproached Ian for not asking permission to date his daughter. The nonchalant answer of Ian that she does not need his permission not only shows his lack of formality but also exhibits his individualistic approach. In Ian’s mind, Toula is old enough to make her own decision. Her father, however, feels that as the head of his family, his daughter owes him respect and should require his permission and approval to date. This idea is also prevalent in the usage of powerful and powerless language throughout the movie. While Ian is direct in his courtship of Toula and he uses powerful language to ask for what he wants, such as saying “marry me” without hesitation, Toula embraces powerless language and indirectness in her speech. It is apparent that despite her yearning for assertiveness and independence from her collective ties, she still struggles to assert herself. Another example of direct powerful language is clear in the attitude of Toula’s white neighbor when she returns her elusive grandmother to their home. Using a very rude sarcastic tone (a nonverbal cue) she basically hands over the grandmother to the father of Toula and orders him to keep her out of her lawn.
High context and low context are other components of Language that are culturally influenced and widely explicit in the movie. The degree to which Toula and her family rely on factors other than explicit speech to convey their messages is immense. In fact, high context communication is rampant in every interaction of the Greek clan. For instance, when Toula’s brother approaches her dad about redesigning the restaurant’s menu, his father’s response to his work of art is mere “um” with the connotation of “no”. Similarly, when Toula asks her dad in a powerless language if she can attend college, her father’s statement, “Why are you leaving me?” not only implies his refusal, but also infers that Toula is negligent in her collective duty towards her family. The implying and insinuating tendency of Toula’s family not only causes friction within her family but also creates communication problems with the low context-oriented Miller family.
While Ian and his family are the epitome of the individualistic American society, Toula and her family are the stereotypical personification of the collective warm immigrant minority. Ian’s parents outrageously depict the stereotypical notion of the reserved, cold and distant individualistic “WASP” character. The viewer can feel their discomfort at the...

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