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Implicature comprehension in intercultural communication
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Abstract

Previous research in L2 comprehension of implicatures adopted the Gricean and neo-Gricean approaches (Grice, 1975; Sperber & Wilson, 1985), which view comprehension as a process of the listener recognizing the intention in the speaker’s mind by using contextual cues, assumption of relevance, and inferencial processing (Bouton, 1995; Roever, 2005; Taguchi, 2011). However, a different view of meaning comprehension has been proposed recently in the field of intercultural pragmatics. Kecskes (2014) has introduced the socio-cognitive approach, which views intention or meaning as emergent and jointly constructed by the speaker and listener during interaction. This approach attends to two types of intention together –prior intention and emergent intention. Intention is individual, pre-planned and exists prior to action, but intention is also emergent, reflecting actual situational experiences shared among the speakers (Kecskes, 2014). The socio-cognitive approach can usefully explain the process of intercultural communication. Intercultural speakers bring their own priori cultural experiences –assumptions, norms, and expectations– to communication. These L1-based norms and practices are never stable or fixed. They are negotiated and re-defined in the actual situational experience as speakers establish common ground and mutual understanding in the process of interaction. As Kecskes (2016) contends, the socio-cognitive approach emphasizes that individuals’ prior norms eventually develop into new, hybrid norms reflecting the emergent situational characteristics. In this presentation, we will first discuss the theoretical paradigm of the socio-cognitive approach and intercultural pragmatics. Then, we will present an analysis of a 20-minute conversation between a Japanese and Chinese graduate student at an international university in Japan. These students discussed two controversial topics using their second language, English, as a medium of communication. Using a conversation excerpt, we will illustrate how both speakers negotiated and co-constructed meaning of an implicature during their process of common ground seeking while coping with the problems of miscommunication and non-understanding.

Summary

This presentation discusses implicature comprehension from the standpoint of intercultural pragmatics. Adopting the socio-cognitive approach (Kecskes, 2014), we will present an analysis of a conversation between speakers of English as a lingua franca. We will illustrate how speakers jointly construct meaning of implicature while seeking common ground and mutual understanding.

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