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Topic shift by Japanese and Americans:A cause of misinterpretation in intercultural communication

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  • Communication


In this paper, the differences in communication styles between Japanese and English speakers are analyzed, and the interpersonal function the style conveys is also discussed. The focus is on the style of topic shift in English conversations between these speakers. Conversational data and follow-up interview data were analyzed. The results were as follows: 1. Japanese and Americans prefer different styles of topic shift. 2. Japanese wait for a pause to change the topic. On the other hand, Americans prefer to raise different topics one after another. 3. The interpersonal functions of each topic shift style are also different between the speakers; that is, the Japanese try to be in harmony with the other participants, whereas Americans are collaborative. 4. These differences in topic shift style and its interpersonal function can lead to misinterpretations between Japanese and Americans.

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