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Pragmatics and intercultural mediation in intercultural language learning

Authors
  • Liddicoat, Anthony J.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Intercultural Pragmatics
Publisher
De Gruyter Mouton
Publication Date
May 29, 2014
Volume
11
Issue
2
Pages
259–277
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1515/ip-2014-0011
Source
De Gruyter
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

This paper examines the role that pragmatics plays in language learners' practices of mediating between their own cultural understandings and those of the target culture. It will examine learners' experiences of cultural differences in language use and the ways in which learners develop insights into the culturally determined nature of language in use. It investigates the ways in which learners articulate their awareness of the meaningfulness of pragmatic differences in contexts in which language use shows cultural variation – speech acts, social deixis, politeness, etc. The paper examines ways in which language learners construct awareness of cultural variation in pragmatics both for themselves and for their interlocutors. In both mediation for self and mediation for others, there is a similar process of developing an interpretation of cultural behavior that takes into account both a culture internal perspective and a culture external perspective. The analysis details how language learners use pragmatics as a starting point for intercultural mediation and shows how analysis of language in use can provide an entry point into understandings of culture, and of the connection between language and culture. The behavior described is fundamentally an intercultural one. It is not simply the possession of knowledge about another culture as this is manifested in pragmatic differences but rather the ability to reflect on pragmatics differences as culturally meaningful to formulate positions between cultures as a mechanism to develop and express understandings of another culture. Learners demonstrate that intercultural mediation involves awareness of one's own cultural practices and expectations in relation to the aspect of language use being mediated as well as their knowledge of the target culture.

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