It has often been stated that there are surprisingly few instances of non-understanding in the use of English as a lingua franca (ELF) because speakers tend to cooperate and negotiate meaning. Seidlhofer (2004) affirms that: “Misunderstandings are not frequent in ELF interactions; when they do occur, they tend to be resolved either by topic change or, less often, by overt negotiation using communication strategies such as rephrasing and repetition”. One of the reasons for such a high “effort and investment threshold” may be that ELF speakers will need to have a collaborative mindset in order to make themselves understood and to understand, and then to achieve mutual comprehension. In this paper we will be analysing data illustrating that when the propositional content of an interaction is of crucial importance, as in transactional communication, the will to invest in collaborative interaction is higher than in an interactional conversation where the primary function is rapport building or identity affirmation. Firth’s (1996) “let-it-pass principle” suggests that speakers often change topic or resort to other (self- and other-) face-saving strategies when dealing with a misunderstanding, but this is not the case—or it is less so—in transactional communication. Such functional interaction is the focus of this study: naturally occurring ELF discourse in public service settings in Italy between plurilingual migrants and Italian officials from the public and legal services. Our data showed features of both transactional communication (asylum application requests; thus, high-stake interactions) and interactional features (rapport building between the parties, especially those from so-called “collectivist” cultures).

Do Accommodation, Cooperation and Face Strategies in ELF Vary According to Setting? A Case Study of Institutional Power in Migrant Settings

Rudvin
2018

Abstract

It has often been stated that there are surprisingly few instances of non-understanding in the use of English as a lingua franca (ELF) because speakers tend to cooperate and negotiate meaning. Seidlhofer (2004) affirms that: “Misunderstandings are not frequent in ELF interactions; when they do occur, they tend to be resolved either by topic change or, less often, by overt negotiation using communication strategies such as rephrasing and repetition”. One of the reasons for such a high “effort and investment threshold” may be that ELF speakers will need to have a collaborative mindset in order to make themselves understood and to understand, and then to achieve mutual comprehension. In this paper we will be analysing data illustrating that when the propositional content of an interaction is of crucial importance, as in transactional communication, the will to invest in collaborative interaction is higher than in an interactional conversation where the primary function is rapport building or identity affirmation. Firth’s (1996) “let-it-pass principle” suggests that speakers often change topic or resort to other (self- and other-) face-saving strategies when dealing with a misunderstanding, but this is not the case—or it is less so—in transactional communication. Such functional interaction is the focus of this study: naturally occurring ELF discourse in public service settings in Italy between plurilingual migrants and Italian officials from the public and legal services. Our data showed features of both transactional communication (asylum application requests; thus, high-stake interactions) and interactional features (rapport building between the parties, especially those from so-called “collectivist” cultures).
Contextualising English as a Lingua Franca: From Data to Insights
170
189
Rudvin
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/679232
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