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Intercultural Pragmatics

Editor-in-Chief: Kecskes, Istvan

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Volume 4, Issue 4


Non-acceptances in context

Anita Fetzer
Published Online: 2007-12-04 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/IP.2007.025


The communicative act of non-acceptance expresses the speaker's intention to deny, reject or disagree with a communicative act. Regarding its sequential status, a non-acceptance is a responsive act par excellence, and from an interpersonal perspective it can be assigned the status of a face-threatening act. While its responsive format does not seem to cause any severe communicative problems in intercultural communication, its face-threatening potential makes it a prime candidate for intercultural miscommunication.

The goal of this paper is to systematize the contextual constraints and requirements of a non-acceptance in a dialogue frame of reference based on the dialogue act of a plus/minus-validity claim (Fetzer 2002, 2004), which is anchored to the Gricean cooperative principle (Grice 1975), Habermas' theory of communicative action (Habermas 1987), and Brown and Levinson's theory of politeness (Brown & Levinson 1987). The pragmatic premises of intentionality, rationality, and cooperation are supplemented by the interactional-sociolinguistic universal of contextualization (Gumperz 1996). The dialogue framework allows for a comprehensive examination of culture-preferential modes for the realization and contextualization of nonacceptances and possible perlocutionary effects, illustrated by excerpts from German, British and intercultural German-British political discourse.

About the article

Anita Fetzer

Her research interests focus on the interdependence between natural language communication and context. She has had a series of articles published on the communicative act of rejection, context, political interviews, and intercultural communication. She is the author of Negative Interaktionen (1994) and Recontextualizing Context: Grammaticality Meets Appropriateness (2004), and the co-editor of Rethinking Sequentiality (2002), The Contexts of Social Action (2002), Pragmatic Aspects of Political Discourse in the Media (2006), and Lexical Markers of Common Grounds (2006).

Published Online: 2007-12-04

Published in Print: 2007-11-20

Citation Information: Intercultural Pragmatics, Volume 4, Issue 4, Pages 493–520, ISSN (Online) 1613-365X, ISSN (Print) 1612-295X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/IP.2007.025.

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