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Misplaced in Contexts, Lost in Meaning

Context Change as a Cause for Social Misunderstandings: The Case of Kaliningrad and Königsberg

Valeria Chernyavskaya

Summary

This paper focuses on the meaning-making process as embedded in the situation in which it takes place. It puts forward the key question of what kind of knowledge is relevant to understanding. Thus, there are three central notions in the framework discussed: context, contextualization and context change. The paper is formulated against the background of a theory of metapragmatics, and it is in line with interactional sociolinguistics, as well as cultural linguistics. The results and findings will contribute to the on-going methodological discussions on contexts and contextualization and demonstrate that under certain conditions some external factors may prove to be very strong and determinant. Politically loaded perception and construction of meanings may be decisive in foregrounding some meanings. The paper will show that the dominating political viewpoint in a certain period of time and place may act as a driving force which foregrounds certain meanings and manages a certain way of understanding of texts/utterances. Contextualization can go wrong, and misplacing utterances in contexts may lead to social misunderstandings. As a conclusion, it is stressed that further investigation of context change is a valuable heuristic approach in the metapragmatic and discourse sensitive dimension in linguistic analyses. Conclusions about the samples under discussion can also motivate a deeper consideration of social effects of misunderstandings to protect us from conflicts.


Note

The research is supported by the Russian Science Foundation, project № 18-18–00442 “Mechanisms of meaning production and textualization in social narrative and performative discourses and practices”.


Acknowledgements

This research is supported by the Russian Science Foundation, project N° 18-18-00442 “Mechanisms of meaning production and textualization in social narrative and performative discourses and practices”.

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Published Online: 2020-10-31
Published in Print: 2020-10-30

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