Test Cover Image of:  Ethnopragmatics


Understanding Discourse in Cultural Context

Edited by: Cliff Goddard

The studies in this volume show how speech practices can be understood from a culture-internal perspective, in terms of values, norms and beliefs of the speech communities concerned. Focusing on examples from many different cultural locations, the contributing authors ask not only: 'What is distinctive about these particular ways of speaking?', but also: 'Why - from their own point of view - do the people concerned speak in these particular ways? What sense does it make to them?'.

The ethnopragmatic approach stands in opposition to the culture-external universalist pragmatics represented by neo-Gricean pragmatics and politeness theory. Using "cultural scripts" and semantic explications - techniques developed over 20 years work in cross-cultural semantics by Anna Wierzbicka and colleagues - the authors examine a wide range of phenomena, including: speech acts, terms of address, phraseological patterns, jocular irony, facial expressions, interactional routines, discourse particles, expressive derivation, and emotionality. The authors and languages are: Anna Wierzbicka (English), Cliff Goddard (Australian English), Jock Wong (Singapore English), Zhengdao Ye (Chinese), Catherine Travis (Colombian Spanish), Rie Hasada (Japanese) and Felix Ameka (Ewe). Taken together, these studies demonstrate both the profound "cultural shaping" of speech practices, and the power and subtlety of new methods and techniques of a semantically grounded ethnopragmatics.

The book will appeal not only to linguists and anthropologists, but to all scholars and students with an interest in language, communication and culture.

Author Information

Cliff Goddard, University of New England, Armidale NSW, Australia.


"With this book, Cliff Goddard has overseen the production of a new milestone in the Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) approach to meaning. [...] The approach is unique in research on pragmatics and culture - nowhere else do we find these kinds of explicit statements of cultural values in a desscriptive metalanguage whose degree of formalism rivals that of predicate calculus, and whose units are as close to directly expressible in [any) natural language as we can get."
N. J. Enfield in: Intercultural Pragmatics 4-3/2007

"This is a very readable and accessible book."
Lilia Moronovschi in: Linguist List 18.365

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Audience: Students and Researchers of Intercultural Pragmatics, Cognitive Linguistics, Semantics, Discourse Analysis; Libraries, Academic Institutes