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.
About the author
Anthony J. Liddicoat is Professor in Applied Linguistics at the Research Centre for Languages and Cultures at the University of South Australia. His research interests include language and intercultural issues in education, conversation analysis, and language policy and planning. His recent books include Intercultural Language Teaching and Learning (2013, with Angela Scarino) Linguistics and Intercultural Education in Foreign Language Teaching and Learning (2013, with Fred Dervin) and Introduction to Conversation Analysis (2011).
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