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Analysis Of Cross-cultural Pragmatic Failure In Perspective Of Adaptation

Posted on:2009-07-30Degree:MasterType:Thesis
Country:ChinaCandidate:Y WangFull Text:PDF
GTID:2155360248952709Subject:Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Abstract/Summary:PDF Full Text Request
Cross-cultural pragmatic failure is an area which has received little attention from language teachers. Jenny Thomas (1983, cited in He: 688) points out the serious consequences that a cross-cultural pragmatic failure may bring. "While a grammatical error may reveal a speaker to be a less than proficient language user, pragmatic failure reflects badly on him/her as a person." Therefore, she proposed the notion of pragmatic failure in 1983, many linguists, both in China and abroad, have conducted studies and researches on pragmatic failure, especially on cross-cultural pragmatic failure. There have been three major approaches to the study of pragmatic failure: miscommunication research, contrastive pragmatics and interlanguge pragmatic research (ILP research).Researches into cross-cultural pragmatic failure have concentrate on a fairly small set of speech acts. Most researchers attribute the occurrence of pragmatic failure to the speakers. This is actually not the case. In real communication, both the speakers and hearers are responsible for the occurrence of pragmatic failures and both of them have to make adaptation to each other when they communicate.In this thesis, the present researcher is trying to analyze pragmatic failures committed by speakers from different culture backgrounds when communicating in English, which takes English norm as the criteria because English is the target language chosen as a means of communication. We choose Verschueren's Adaptation Theory (2000) as its theoretical foundation. Having integrated many aspects of communication, such as the mental world, the social world and the physical world, Adaptation Theory offers us a more reasonable and comprehensive explanation. By making an investigation from this perspective more root causes of cross-cultural pragmatic failure can be found out. According to Adaptation Theory, pragmatic phenomenon can be studied from four inter-related aspects or angles, i.e., contextual correlates of adaptability, structural objects of adaptability, dynamics of adaptability, and the salience of the adaptation processes. The description or explanation of cross-cultural pragmatic failures can be approached by applying the four angles of adaptation via the basic tools provided by Adaptation Theory. The relevance of intercultural pragmatic failure with structural objects, contextual correlates, dynamics in the process of meaning generation and salience in language user's metapragmatic awareness will be analyzed.In accordance with the four angles of investigation, we have got four tentative conclusions: 1. Cross-cultural pragmatic failures take place because the interlocutors fail to adapt to the different roles of the others or their mental world, social world and physical world. 2. In the process of cross-cultural communication, if the contextual correlates of adaptability and structural objects of adaptability are not interadadaptable, cross-cultural pragmatic failures may occur at different levels of the linguistic structure.3. Scripts followed by interlocutors in cross-cultural setting are not always equally clear. The cultural difference in the scripts of speech activities causes the miscommunication. Scripts have to be interpersonally established for them to function in cross-cultural communication. The makings of choices in general as well as the contributing mental processes may be completely conscious or not conscious at all. Social norms establish patterns of markedness; what is marked will be more clearly noticed, hence more conscious or salient. A cross-cultural misunderstanding is triggered by the speaker's preferences of linguistic choices which allow erroneous interpretation by the addressee. 4. Meaning generation is always dynamic and interactive. The activities or events, products of complex processes of socialization, provide frame of meaning for the speech genres or language games of which they consist. When there are cross-cultural differences in the interpretation frames of meaning of a speech activity or a speech activity, one interlocutor has to produce or interpret linguistic actions according to the frame of meaning of the other, otherwise pragmatic failures may occur. Besides, Adaptation Theory is not only of great explanatory value in investigating cross-cultural pragmatic failures but also a kind of useful strategy by which the interlocutors deal with pragmatic conflicts.
Keywords/Search Tags:Cross-cultural pragmatic failure, Adaptation theory, Contextual correlates of adaptability, Structural objects of adaptability, Dynamics of adaptability, Salience
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