Unit 14
The gift economy

Overseas Life/Holiday Customs


Share your ideas with your teacher and try to make sentences.

How often do you give gifts? To whom do you give it to?


Repeat  these  sentences  after  your  teacher.

1. social bonds (phr.) 社交關係
Giving gifts strengthens social bonds.

2. abundance (n.) 大量;充足;豐富
I will share my abundance this day!

3. bombarded (n.) 連續轟炸
Did the salesman bombarded you with questions?

4. gift economy (phr.) 禮物經濟
The gift economy is booming during Christmas!

5. obligation (n.) 義務
It is not my obligation to give gifts.

6. reciprocity (n.) 互助;互惠;互換
There is no reciprocity of trade agreements between the two nations.

7. sentimentality (n.) 多愁善感
I would like to give gifts with sentimentality.

8. qualitative (adj.) 質的;性質上的
A good manager should consider qualitative factors such as morale when making a decision.


Read the dialogue aloud with your teacher.

Did you finish all of your holiday shopping, Patrick?

Barely! Checking everyone off my gift list gets more exhausting every year. Why do we do this to ourselves?
還早著呢! 逐個給禮品清單上的人買禮物真是一年比一年累。 我們為什麼要這麼對自己?

Well, giving strengthens social bonds and at the same time brings us an abundance of joy, right?

We’re certainly bombarded with that message every year. But if you think about it, the gift economy has always been based on obligation, not joy.

Courtesy demands reciprocity, that’s true.

But does it demand one trillion dollars’ worth? It’s hard not to see that behind all of the sentimentality is just naked profit-seeking.
但是這值一萬億美元嗎? 不難發現在所有這些情感背後都只是赤裸裸的利益追逐。

Well, just because the gift economy is big business doesn’t preclude me from feeling joy.

Is that why you always give personalized handmade gifts?

I know they’re not all that lavish, but by giving them I want to emphasize that we have a qualitative relationship, not just a transactional one.

I wonder if people feel the same way about my Amazon gift cards!


Just because… doesn’t…

In today’s dialogue we see the sentence “just because the gift economy is big business doesn’t preclude me from feeling joy.” This means that although A may be true, it doesn’t follow that B is also true.

This is a pretty useful pattern for when you are debating with people. Patrick argues that the gift economy is a way for big businesses to make money. Rob’s counterpoint is that while that may be true, the consequences of that do not mean that he cannot still feel joy in giving.

We’re not limited to the word “preclude” in this pattern. A more common pattern is: Just because A doesn’t mean B. This means that although A may be true, it doesn’t follow that B is also true. We can use other words that are synonymous with mean, such as “imply” or “indicate.”

1. Just because she smiled at you doesn’t mean she has a crush on you!

2. Just because certain people have disabilities doesn’t imply that they can’t work.

3. Just because the market is going up doesn’t mean that it won’t come back down.


Make a conversation with your teacher.

1.What was the most expensive gift you have given to others? What was your reason for giving that gift?