Based on authentic homileic conversations between Brazilians and Germans in which critical incidents occur, I will set out the complexity of factors interplaying in the course of multi-personal interaction. The chosen situations are taken from a videotaped session of a two-hour discussion between four Brazilian and four German students at the University of Belo Horizonte, Brazil. After the video shoot, retrospective interviews were held with each participant in order to comprehend his/her extra-communicative, (self-)reflexive standpoint with respect to their actions. The following analysis brought out a subtle interplay between verbal, nonverbal, and paraverbal contextualization cues in (im)politeness strategies and forms of rapport management, as well as metacommunicative strategies for the management of the gaps between one's “own” and “other culture” experience. It will be shown that the immediate context, as well as the participants' theories on communication and the other culture, have to be considered to understand that so-called “misunderstandings” may in fact often be ascribed to (un)intended face-threatening acts aiming at questioning or negotiating cultural values.
©2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston