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Pragmatics Festival

at Indiana University


Why are they so weird?”  Pragmatics and Miscommunication Across Cultures

Diana Boxer, University of Florida

Diana Boxer is Professor of Linguistics at University of Florida. Her research and teaching focuses on sociolinguistics, discourse analysis and pragmatics, the ethnography of communication, gender and language, second language acquisition, and general applied linguistics. (see more) (see abstract below)



Variation in Cross-Cultural and Intercultural Pragmatics: The Case of Service Encounters

César Félix-Brasdefer, Indiana University

César Félix-Brasdefer is Associate Professor of Linguistics & Spanish at Indiana University. His research focuses on pragmatics and discourse analysis, speech act theory, pragmatic variation, and interlanguage pragmatics. (see more) (see abstract below)



Abstracts of plenaries

 Why are they so weird?” Pragmatics and Miscommunication Across Cultures

Diana Boxer

Cross-cultural face-to-face interactional competence is increasingly critical in an era of pluralistic workplaces, educational settings, and neighborhoods. Cultural diversity—deriving from ethnic and racial differences, international business and diplomacy, and immigration--carries the pervasive risk of prejudice, stereotyping and alienation. 

This keynote address draws from spontaneous data on cross-cultural miscommunication deriving from family, social, educational, and workplace discourse containing pragmatic misfires. The data that I will share asks us to take a critical look at the concepts of Interlanguage Pragmatics (ILP) and Cross-cultural Pragmatics (CCP), comparing and contrasting their usefulness in a world increasingly characterized by transnationalism and globalization.


Variation in Cross-Cultural and Intercultural Pragmatics: The Case of Service Encounters

César Félix-Brasdefer

Given the plethora of empirical studies in cross-cultural and intercultural pragmatics, variation at the pragmatic/discourse level has received little systematic attention. The vast majority of the studies in this area have investigated topics at the speech act level (mainly the illocutionary act) using experimental data in restricted contexts, thus, limiting the scope of the analysis of social variation and of language use in action.

In this plenary talk, I will focus on three main objectives. First, I will review our current understanding of the concepts of cross-cultural and intercultural pragmatics. Second, I will describe various types of pragmatic and sociolinguistic variation (including variation in (im)politeness orientations) that can further enhance our understanding of cross-cultural and intercultural pragmatics. Finally, I will discuss the impact of sociolinguistic variation in communicative language use at various levels of pragmatic analysis, with particular attention to the interactional level, that is, when people engage in social interaction. To illustrate, I will use examples from native/native and native/non-native speakers in face-to-face interactions taken from service encounters in commercial and non-commercial settings.