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Intercultural miscommunication past and present
 9783631621998, 363162199X

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Intercultural Miscommunication Past and Present

Warsaw Studies in English Language and Literature Edited by Jacek Fisiak Editorial Board Magdalena Bator Assistant to the Editor Members Janusz Arabski (Katowice), Michael Bilynski (Lviv), Andrzej Ceynowa (Gdańsk), Piotr Chruszczewski (Wrocław), Maria Dakowska (Warsaw), Richard Dance (Cambridge), Hans Juergen Diller (Bochum), Katarzyna Dziubalska-Kołaczyk (Poznań), Simon Horobin (Oxford), Dieter Kastovsky (Warsaw/Vienna), Barbara Kowalik (Warsaw), Wiesław Krajka (Lublin), Grzegorz Kleparski (Rzeszów), Marcin Krygier (Poznań), Barbara Kryk-Kastovsky (Warsaw), Tomasz Krzeszowski (Warsaw), Merja Kyto (Uppsala), Donka Minkova (Los Angeles), Rafał Molencki (Katowice), Michiko Ogura (Chibo, Japan), John G. Newman (Brownsville, TX, USA), Dennis Preston (Norman, OK, USA), Geoffrey Russom (Providence, RI, USA), Hans Sauer (Munich), Herbert Schendl (Vienna), Janusz Semrau (Poznań/Warsaw), Liliana Sikorska (Poznań/Warsaw), Marta Sylwanowicz (Warsaw), Aleksander Szwedek (Warsaw), Irma Taavitsainen (Helsinki), Wolfgang Viereck (Bamberg), Jerzy Wełna (Warsaw), Andrzej Wicher (Łódź), Maciej Widawski (Gdańsk), Władysław Witalisz (Cracow), Jacek Witkoś (Poznań), Jerzy Zybert (Warsaw)

Vol. 9


Frankfurt am Main · Berlin · Bern · Bruxelles · NewYork · Oxford · Warszawa · Wien

Barbara Kryk-Kastovsky (ed.)

Intercultural Miscommunication Past and Present


Internationaler Verlag der Wissenschaften

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The publication was financially supported by the Academy of Management, Społeczna Wyższa Szkoła Przedsiębiorczości i Zarządzania. All the books published in the series are reviewed before publication. Typesetting by motivex. Cover Design: © Olaf Gloeckler, Atelier Platen, Friedberg

ISSN 2082-7350 ISBN 978-3-631-62199-8 (Print) ISBN 978-3-653-01353-5 (E-Book) DOI 10.3726/978-3-653-01353-5

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1. Barbara Kryk-Kastovsky: Introduction .................................................................. 7 Part I: Miscommunication in professional communities of practice 2. Zofia Golebiowski: Concessivity in scholarly prose: An intercultural study ...... 15 3. Richard Trappl: Intercultural terminology and its political contexts: Towards a Sino-Western glossary ....................................................................................... 33 4. Matylda Weidner: On some ‘dis-ings’ leading to a possible ‘mis-ing’ ............... 55 Part II: Cultural scripts 5. Anatolij Dorodnych and Anna Kuzio: The role of cultural scripts and contextualization cues in intercultural (mis)communication .............................. 77 6. Cliff Goddard: Cultural scripts and communication style differences in three Anglo Englishes (English English, American English and Australian English) ............................................................................................. 101 7. Anna Wierzbicka: When cultural scripts clash: Miscommunication in “multicultural” Australia ................................................................................... 121 Part III: Miscommunication in modern discourse 8. María Marta García Negroni and María Laura Spoturno: Bridging gaps across cultures: The case of glosses in Caramelo, a Chicana novel ................. 149 9. Denise Gassner: Intercultural miscommunication and the use of ‘vague language’ ........................................................................................................... 161 10. Micha Krzyanowski: (Mis-) communicating Europe? On deficiencies and challenges in political and institutional communication in the European Union ................................................................................................. 185 Part IV: Miscommunication in past discourse 11. Joanna Kopaczyk: Communication gaps in seventeenth century Britain: Explaining legal Scots to English practitioners ................................................. 217 12. Barbara Kryk-Kastovsky: From monarch, through traitor, to martyr and saint: Power shift in the trial of King Charles I ................................................. 245

Introduction Barbara Kryk-Kastovsky The notion of miscommunication has been claimed as an area of interest in various disciplines: theory of communication, ethnomethodology, intercultural studies, discourse analysis, and many more, cf. e.g. Carbaugh (1990), Coupland et al. (1991), Kotthoff and Spencer-Oatey (2007), Scollon and Scollon (1995). The present volume takes a somewhat different angle than all the interdisciplinary studies and proposes a reverse order, i.e. from linguistic issues to intercultural phenomena, thus postulating a case for intercultural miscommunication as a linguistically-based phenomenon in various intercultural milieus. The contributions to this volume address a wide spectrum of instances of intercultural miscommunication in various (possibly confrontational) discourses and employ a number of analytical tools to tackle the problem. These range from miscommunication in professional communities of practice, through cultural scripts, discourse-analytic investigations (professional or political discourse as opposed to literary or everyday discourse), and finally discourse of the past accountable for within the framework of diachronic pragmatics. Two of the papers on institutional and workplace settings discuss the problems in communication occurring in the academic community of practice. In her contribution “Concessivity in scholarly prose: An inter-cultural study” Zofia Golebiowski investigates contrastive rhetorical strategies used in three sociology research papers written in English and published in international sociological journals. The papers have been written by scholars of different linguistic-cultural backgrounds: the first is authored by native speakers of English, the second by a Polish scholar now working in an Anglo community, and the third by a Polish writer from the Polish discourse community. The rhetorical strategies employed in the three papers are analysed from the point of view of their textual function, frequency of occurrence, hierarchical location, discoursal prominence, and explicitness. The main goal of the study is to illustrate to what extent the choice of contrastive structures is culturally-conditioned across the investigated texts and to demonstrate the interface of the variation of their utilisation and the discoursal meaning. The analysis hints at certain tendencies in academic prose authored by representatives of different discourse communities. The similarities might be due to the stylistic conventions and traditions shared by the research community in sociology, whereas the variations in the mode of employment of contrastive structures might be caused by the authors’ differing linguistic backgrounds and discourse community memberships, likely to cause miscommunication in academic discussions. Within the same realm, Matylda Weidner’s paper “On some ‘dis-ings’ leading to a possible ‘mis-ing’” discusses non-conformist cases in Polish institutional culture illustrated by data from doctor-patient interaction. Although traditionally the two social groups have observed a strict division of labour, it is shown that the peculiar social order in the medical domain and the different sets of beliefs and explanatory models stemming from different worlds lead to a clash. The analysis of audio-taped data from Polish hospitals demonstrates how the doctor-patient interaction goes beyond the insti-


Barbara Kryk-Kastovsky

tutionally acculturated models of health communication practice. The relatively new phenomenon of the patient’s active participation in the medical interview (manifested through topic initiation) might give rise to a new perception of the doctor-patient interaction in Poland. Consequently, a new, more flexible model of the doctor-patient interaction, going beyond the traditional institutional roles, might have to be postulated. Another paper touching upon the concept of cultural scripts (by Antolij Dorodnych and Anna Kuzio) “The role of cultural scripts and contextualisation cues in intercultural (mis)communication” aims at analysing the possible areas of difficulty in the communication process between speakers of English, on the one hand, and speakers of Russian and Polish, on the other. The authors assume that despite an increasing intercultural competence among speakers of various languages, most speakers communicate as they would in their familiar linguistic and cultural environment, i.e. without self-monitoring. The paper focuses on the communication among such interlocutors and proposes a three-stage procedure whereby a speaker should check 1) if the same frames/schemata/scripts are evoked by representatives of different cultures, 2) if they adhere to pragmatic principles in similar ways, and 3) if the similarities are a result of a previous experience with such intercultural encounters. The authors illustrate their procedure with examples from the domain of literary translation. The notion of gender is selected as a potential stumbling block since English, as opposed to Russian and Polish, has no grammatical gender distinctions. Thus, as a result of misunderstanding inadequate or even faulty translations might occur. In his contribution “Cultural scripts and communication style differences in three Anglo Englishes (English English, American English and Australian English”) Cliff Goddard applies the notions of cultural keywords and cultural scripts to demonstrate that apart from the obvious common linguistic core the three varieties of English vary and the danger of miscommunication arises especially when national stereotypes and preconceptions come into play. The analysis employs the techniques of contrastive ethnopragmatics to the three varieties of English in two areas: self-presentation and humour styles. It turns out that although the Australian culture has much in common with the British culture, many divergences between the two can be observed. Therefore, the Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) is called for since it can provide a range of semantic primes shared by various languages and cultures, thus also by different varieties of English. Even more significantly, cultural scripts expressed in terms of semantic primes can capture some subtle ways of speaking and understanding the world. Notwithstanding, the paper also warns against the dangers of generalising about “national Englishes” and reproducing stereotypes. Another major topic present in the volume are cultural scripts, one of the analytical tools in intercultural studies worked out in the last few years by Anna Wierzbicka and Cliff Goddard in Australia, which then spread to linguistic communities in other parts of the world. The paper by Anna Wierzbicka “When cultural scripts clash: Miscommunication in “multicultural” Australia” concerns the dangers faced by the English language as a means of international and intercultural communication. The author points to the paradox that endowing what she calls “Anglo-English” with the role of an international medium of communication (“international English”) can lead to miscommunication. The main claim of the paper is that English cannot be treated as a cul-



turally neutral medium of communication but rather as a set of hidden cultural assumptions of which the (both native and non-native) speakers should be made aware. In order for the usage of English to be effective, Wierzbicka proposes boiling down the cultural assumptions to Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) which English shares with other natural languages. “NSM English” consists of about 60 universal concepts already widely used in intercultural and pragmatic studies. The analysis applies NSM to some new areas of investigation, like bilingual experience and some key words in English which underlie Anglo-specific types of discourse and represent Anglo-specific norms, thus they can hinder intercultural communication. The phenomenon of miscommunication cannot possibly be tackled without discussing the obvious intercultural differences which crop up in various nationally- and culturally-determined communities of practice, often ensuing from political contacts, as in the papers discussing the (mis-)communication within the European Union (Krzyzanowski).or the European-Chinese relations (Trappl). As Micha Krzyzanowski points out at the outset of his paper “(Mis-)communicating in Europe? On deficiencies and challenges in political and institutional communication in the European Union”, EU has always had to grapple with the socalled ‘democratic problem’. This might have been due to the different forms of communication within the EU-institutions, so the analysis aims at presenting where and why communication is central to the politics and policy-making process of the European Union. The author focuses on three areas: the internal communication between the EU institutions, the external channels and strategies of communicating the EUpolitics, and the processes of construction of Europe- and EU-related transnational European Public Sphere. He argues that although central for forging democratic legitimacy of the EU, and despite gaining some attention in recent years, communication in the EU system is still often wrongly conceived and suffers from many misconceptions about how it should be organised and managed to the benefit of the Union’s governance and its democratic reconnection with the European demos. Hence the chapter allows assessing different channels and strategies of political communication at several levels of the EU polity - i.e. both within and outside of the institutions of the European Union – from a critical and interdisciplinary perspective drawing on insights from within such fields as, e.g. EU integration research, political sociology, media and communication studies and European social history as well as the more empirically-oriented approaches from within interdisciplinary critical discourse studies (cf. Reisigl and Wodak, 2009; Wodak and Krzyanowski, 2008). Along similar lines, the paper by Richard Trappl concerns the issue of intercultural terminology of two culturally and linguistically remote discourse communities, viz. West European vs. Chinese. The paper deals with the problem of the political implications of the terminology used across national and cultural borders in a bilateral dialogue between the European Union and China. The starting point is the controversy in the Western media concerning the Olympic Games in China 2008, where the different connotations given to certain phenomena in the Western vs. Chinese media led to misunderstandings on individual, national, and intercultural levels. The study investigates a number of terms crucial for international contacts between Western Europe and China and their possible intercultural misinterpretations leading to miscommunication.


Barbara Kryk-Kastovsky

The terms include such fundamental notions as culture, diversity, context, structure, regionalism, etc. The analysis of the Chinese terms from various angles, like encyclopaedic entries and everyday usage in Chinese media, reveals that they have a range of possible equivalents in English, much more complex than simple dictionary definitions. In view of the above, the study hints at a multifaceted usage of political terms on the international and intercultural level between the Western linguistic-cultural tradition and its Chinese (or, more globally, South-East Asian) counterpart(s). The next two contributions focus on miscommunication in (literary and institutional) discourse. The paper by Maria Marta Garcia Negroni and Maria Laura Spoturno “Bridging gaps across cultures: The use of glosses in Chicano literature” stands out from the other contributions since it deals with a literary topic. The authors emphasize that the use of glosses in Chicano literary discourse, like in other minority and diaspora literature and postcolonial writing, constitutes a challenge to the discourse analyst since in such cases the discourses reflect the interaction of linguistic and cultural elements associated with more than one cultural community. The authors illustrate their claim by the analysis of the works of a Chicano writer Cisnero whose use of glosses has a double discursive function. Firstly, it is designed to explain culturallinguistic meanings alien to the Anglo readers, and secondly, it indicates the incapacity of the speakers of English to express certain meanings. As a result of this double function of the glosses, the authors have divided their corpus into two parts. In the first part, the intention to bridge the gap between two cultures through the use of glosses is made manifest. In the second part, the tension between languages and cultures becomes most evident in situation of open conflict. In conclusion, the authors express their conviction that an analysis of glosses will contribute to building an intercultural discourse designed to bridge the gap across communities. The paper by Denise Gassner combines the workplace milieu with discoursal issues, since it compares the use of vague language by L1 and L2 speakers in institutional discourse in Australia. The study discusses various manifestations of vague language, like hedges, modality, approximators, etc., the claim being that although vague language has usually been associated with casual discourse, it can also be observed elsewhere, e.g. in workplace contexts. The analysis of job interviews by L1 and L2 speakers of English reveals various functions served by vague language in the L2 context. On the one hand, vagueness can be a manifestation of the level of pragmatic competence achieved by L2 speakers. On the other hand, it can reveal how an imprecise way of expression sometimes serves as a convenient strategy concealing the learner’s language limitations in L2. Two papers in the collection concern miscommunication from a historical perspective, since both are based on written language materials from the Early Modern English period. The authors operate within the relatively new framework of diachronic socio-pragmatics, which, paradoxically, aims at studying the use of language in the past. The paradox can be solved by selecting the appropriate kind of data. For instance, one can compare terminology in a particular domain (e.g. law) in different discourse communities at a particular period of the past. This approach is taken by Joanna Kopaczyk in her paper “Communication gaps in 17th century Britain: Explaining legal Scots to English practitioners” which studies one of the earliest Scotts-English glossa-



ries of legal terms. The aim of the paper is to demonstrate the significance of the glossary of 184 Scottish genre-specific legal terms, which the author of the glossary considered different from the terminology known to the English lawyers, hence there would be a possible source of a misunderstanding. The sources of potential problems could be semantic and pragmatic in nature. The semantic problems include borrowings occurring in one language but not in the other and specialised meanings of individual lexical items, whereas the pragmatic problems concern the uses of legal terms in particular contexts. As is demonstrated by Kopaczyk, the underlying idea of the glossary was to foster the uniqueness and independence of the Scottish legal system as compared to its English counterpart. Another possible way to study the sociopragmatics of the language spoken in the past is to select written language sources with a high degree of orality (i.e. texts which relatively closely represent the spoken idiom of the past). Among the genres with a high degree of orality are courtroom records, which are the topic of the paper by Barbara Kryk-Kastovsky. In her analysis of the trial of King Charles I the author shows how miscommunication is also possible between two communities of practice representing two different social roles, i.e. the king as the defendant and the House of Commons as the court trying him. The miscommunication happened between the two parties on the opposite sides of the bar, i.e. the interrogators and the interrogated (in this case the defendant was King Charles I, who was accused of high treason). The clash and reversal of power relations (in this context the king who lost his power and his prosecutors, whose social status was normally much lower, became the powerful party) created a fertile ground for misunderstanding and miscommunication. Moreover, the miscommunication in that case was not only a linguistic problem but also a legal and political issue. No law could be found in the entire English history which dealt with the trial of a monarch, so that the trial proceedings were organized according to the guidelines written by a Dutch lawyer Dorislaus who did not apply the English case law system but based his work on Roman law stating that the government could legally overthrow a tyrant. It has been shown in the last two contributions that miscommunication between various communities of practice was an issue as much in the past as it is in the present. Moreover, miscommunication seems to be crossing the historical as much as the sociopragmatic boundaries and produce revealing results for synchronic and diachronic studies in various areas, like NSM, legal language, professional, political and classroom discourse, literary studies, and possibly many others. It is hoped that the contributions to this volume will widen the perspectives on intercultural (mis-)communication by including some new angles of looking at the relevant issues. For instance, it turns out that many problems in intercultural (mis-)communication can be solved by resorting to the analytical tool of Semantic Metalanguage. Moreover, the political dimension is presented not only as a problem in Critical Discourse Analysis but also a lexicographic problem, whereas the hitherto underestimated diachronic perspective of miscommunication as retrievable from speech-based old language materials throws some new light on the entire domain. Last, but not least, communication difficulties leading to miscommunication in language teaching can be solved by avoiding vagueness or supplying glosses of untranslatable terms.


Barbara Kryk-Kastovsky

In conclusion, miscommunication seems to be omnipresent (especially according to some studies which claim that mis-communication is more frequent than unproblematic communication). Thus, apart from the obvious contexts of everyday interaction, one can talk of miscommunication in professional, political and historical contexts. Whether in those milieus miscommunication would be prevalent over “everyday communication” is to be judged by the researchers attending to the issues in the future.

References Carbaugh, D. (ed.). 1990. Cultural Communication and Intercultural Contact. Hillsdale, N.J.: Earlbaum. Coupland, N., H. Giles and J. M. Wienemann (eds.). 1991.“Miscommunication” and Problematic Talk. London: Sage. Kotthoff, H. and H. Spencer-Oatey (eds.). 2007. Handbook of Intercultural Communication. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Reisigl, M. and R. Wodak. 2009. The discourse-historical approach (DHA). In: R. Wodak and M. Meyer. (eds.). Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis. Second Edition. London: Sage, 87-121. Scollon, R. and S. W. Scollon. 1995. Intercultural Communication. A Discourse Approach. Oxford: Blackwell. Wodak, R. and M. Krzyanowski. (eds.). 2008. Qualitative Discourse Analysis in the Social Sciences. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Acknowledgements This book would have never been published without the support, generosity and good will of a number of friends and colleagues. My sincere thanks go to Peter Lang Publishers and Professor Jacek Fisiak, editor of the series Warsaw Studies in English Language and Literature for making it possible to publish this volume in the series. My gratitude extends also to Micha Jankowski for his invaluable help with the intricacies of the editing process. I am also grateful to my husband, Dieter Kastovsky, for his expertise with the manuscript and his infallible patience with the impatient editor-in-spe. Last, but not least, I am indebted to all the contributors to this volume for their cooperation and patience during the extended publishing process. Needless to say, all the inadequacies and faults are my sole responsibility. Barbara Kryk-Kastovsky

Part I Miscommunication in professional communities of practice

Concessivity in scholarly prose: An intercultural study Zofia Golebiowski, Deakin University 1. Introduction The skill to argue successfully is essential in academic writing. Academic argumentation requires presenting novel frameworks and often challenges existing paradigms. In order not to be perceived as too assertive or be accused of making bold claims without sufficient grounds, writers tend to employ strategies aiming at toning down the strength of their argumentation. Failure to modulate successfully has been viewed as a feature of an undergraduate student (Skelton 1988: 40). Refraining from making strong and straightforward assertions is related to the positions academic writers wish to adopt in their research discourse communities and communities of their readers. It has been pointed out that while varying degrees of deference maybe expressed in relations between individual researchers, in research writing authors face the entire discourse community of readers, before whom “they need to humble themselves” (Myers 1989: 13). This results in authors making scientific claims “provisional, pending acceptance by the community” (Myers 1989: 13). The strategies aimed at reducing the certainty and precision of propositions have been usually researched under the rubric of “hedging”. Studies on academic hedging include the examination and comparison of downtoning across fields of study and across cultures. Among the former we find studies comparing hedging constructions in the sciences and humanities (e.g., Skelton 1988), social sciences and hard sciences (e.g., Crismore 1989), as well as more specific disciplinary investigations, such as those dealing with academic literary texts (Simpson 1990), texts in economics (Channell 1990), medicine (Salager-Meyer 1994, Nwogu 1990, Skelton 1988), biology (Butler 1990, Myers 1990), and physics (Butler 1990, Hanania and Akbar 1985). With the exception of some work carried out on German and Finnish texts (e.g., Markkanen and Schröder 1989), research into academic hedging in languages other than English emerged in the 90’s (cf., Clyne 1994, 1991 in German; Duszak 1998, 1994 in Polish; mejrková and Daneš 1997 in Check; Luukka and Markkanen 1997 and Ventola 1997 in Finnish; Namsarev 1997 in Russian; Vassileva 1997 in Bulgarian) and is still somewhat restricted. The findings of the above studies however, tend to be inconsistent and, in some instances, contradictory. It has been argued that the discrepancies in the reported results may be related to the level of scientific novelty of the informative material, the academic discipline, the degree of the critical/polemic nature of the examined text or the scholarly and social status of its author(s) (see Markkanen and Schröder 1997, Namsarev 1997, Wilss 1997). Yet, the inconclusive, and sometimes hard to interpret results are also likely to be caused by the lack of universally accepted criteria about what constitutes a “hedge” and the fact that “hedges” play different roles in different languages and cultural traditions (cf., Clyne 1994). The absence of a clear definition of a “hedge” results in difficulties in obtaining a satisfactory tertium comparationis: dif-


Zofia Golebiowski

ferent analysts tend to target different research objects, all subsumed under the rubric of “hedging”. Some views include in the category of hedges both detensifiers (downtoning, decreasing the force) and intensifiers (strengthening the value), (e.g. Brown and Levinson 1987), whereas others limit the term to signify that “the match between a piece of knowledge and a category is less than perfect” (Chafe 1986: 270). While Ventola (1997) narrows her research to the examination of the role of modalisation of probability, Luukka and Markkanen (1997) investigate a strategy of avoidance of explicit personal reference, Duszak (1994) discusses the employment of macro-level rhetorical moves, and mejrková and Daneš (1997) look at the concept of epistemic modality. It is thus apparent that hedging in academic writing is not an adequately defined research object and its definition and typology still require clarification. In spite of various attempts to redefine the concept of hedging (Blum-Kulka and Olshtain 1984, Prince 1982, Rounds 1982, House and Kasper 1981), or to use it very narrowly (Skelton 1997), there is a general discomfort among linguists as to what the term precisely designates. Because of its functional variation across languacultures it also seems to be an inappropriate concept to be used in intercultural comparisons. The view proposed in this paper is that there is no clear list of hedges. Instead, I argue that text may acquire a hedging quality through its rhetorical organisation and that the downtoning of the propositional strength of argumentation is achieved through relational configurations. The reported study explores how writers express tentativeness and flexibility in their argumentation and how they position themselves in their research communities as well as vis-à-vis their audience through the utilisation of textual relational structure. I look at a specific type of relational structure – I investigate concessional textual configurations which concede and mitigate claims. In particular, I examine the function of the relation of Concession in the weakening or restricting of claims and forestalling objections and, consequently, in assisting in the achievement of acceptance of the writer’s argumentation by the community of readers. The study reported is this paper is intercultural. It aims to contribute to these studies of the intercultural variation of the organisation of academic texts that examine the relationship between textual structure and cultural rules of appropriateness in academic discourse. In my investigation of the relational rhetoric I compare the mode of occurrence of Concessive relations in research articles written in English in the Anglo and Polish research communities. I investigate how native English and native Polish speaker writers employ concessive structures to achieve propositional modulation and flexibility and how such structures are associated with the value attached to politeness and solidarity among the participants of academic discussion.

2. The study: methodology The view of concessive relations presented in this paper is a discourse view. I study Concession as a text relation, examining its discourse organisational functions and exploring its expression through textual context and configurations. The definition of Concession relation used here is based on the one suggested in the Framework for the

Concessivity in scholarly prose: An intercultural study


Analysis of the Relational Structure of texts (FARS) proposed by Golebiowski 2002, and subsequently discussed in Golebiowski 2006 and Golebiowski 2009. Conceding is one way in which speakers and writers express potentially controversial or opposite views. In a concessional schema, the writer recognises the simultaneous existence of two potentially incompatible perspectives, acknowledges another point of view, and concedes in the context of making his own potentially contrasting point. Like its predecessor, the Rhetorical Structure Theory (Man and Thompson 1992), FARS provides a functional account of the text organisation in terms of the writer’s communicative purposes. It assumes that coherence in discourse is reflected in its relational structure. The relational taxonomy of FARS entails the clusters of coherence relations listed in table 1. Table 1:

FARS taxonomy of coherence relations proposed by Golebiowski (2002)

Relational cluster Elaboration Causal Adversative Assessing Facilitation Digression List

Delicacy within cluster Extension, Amplification, Explanation, Reformulation, Instantiation, Addition Cause, Circumstance, Condition, Evidence, Means Concession, Contrast, Collateral, Comparison Conclusion, Evaluation, Interpretation Framing, Organising (Introduction, Enumeration, Advance Organising) Explanation, Instantiation, Addition, Extended Reference Collection, Sequence

As seen in Table 1, Concession relation is a part of the Adversative cluster, alongside the Contrastive subgroup that comprises Comparison, Contrast and Collateral relations. The difference between Concessive and Contrastive relations is that Concession accepts both propositions presented in a relational schema, prefacing disagreement with agreement (cf., Man and Thompson 1992, Couper-Kuhlen and Thompson 2000: 405), while Contrastive schemata present propositions that are contradictory (cf., König 1985, Snoek Henhensen 2000). While in Contrastive schemata both propositions can be of even textual prominence, the very nature of Concession assumes a functional imbalance of two adversatively placed propositions. The Antecedent (the concessive component of a Concession schema) presents potential or actual situation, which is generally incompatible with the situation presented in the Consequent. The Antecedent cannot function as the focus of the utterance (cf., König 2000). Its role is to facilitate the introduction of the Consequent, which plays a more prominent textual role. Depending on its place in textual hierarchy, Concession, in a way similar to other FARS relations, may link clauses, paragraphs or groups of paragraphs. Although concessivity is often indicated in text by connectives such as but, although, yet, or however, traditionally categorised as adversative, I see Concession relations as existing independently of linguistic signals and marked or realised by different linguistic means. As a way of example, consider the following part of text from the introductory section of this paper, which is presented in the form of a Concession schema.


Zofia Golebiowski

Example 1 A


It has been argued that the discrepancies in the reported results may be related to the level of the scientific novelty of the informative material, the academic discipline, the degree of the critical/polemic nature of the examined text or the scholarly and social status of its author(s) (see Markkanen and Schröder 1997, Namsarev 1997, Wilss 1997). Yet, the inconclusive, and sometimes hard to interpret findings are more likely to be caused by the lack of universally accepted criteria about what constitutes a “hedge” and the fact that hedges play different roles in different languages and cultural traditions (cf., Clyne 1994). The absence of a clear definition of a “hedge” results in difficulties in obtaining a satisfactory tertium comparationis: different analysts tend to target different research objects, all subsumed under the rubric of “hedging”. Some views include in the category of hedges both detensifiers (downtoning, decreasing the force) and intensifiers (strengthening the value), e.g. Brown and Levinson (1987), whereas others limit the term to signify that “the match between a piece of knowledge and a category is less than perfect” (Chafe 1986 270). While Ventola (1997) narrows her research to the examination of the role of modalisation of probability, (Luukka and Markkanen 1997) investigate a strategy of avoidance of explicit personal reference, Duszak (1994) discusses the employment of macro-level rhetorical moves, and mejrková and Daneš (1997) look at the concept of epistemic modality.

The text in Example 1 includes potentially contradictory propositions which attribute the discrepancies in research findings to different causes. In Antecedent (A) I concede that others claimed that the discrepancies in research findings “may be related to the level of scientific novelty of informative material, academic discipline, the degree of the critical/polemic nature of the contents of the paper and the scientific and social status of its author(s)”. However, the argument presented in Consequent (B) has the preferred status. I favour and put forward an alternative suggestion that “the inconclusive, and sometimes hard to interpret findings are more likely to be caused by the lack of universally accepted criteria about what constitutes a hedge”. This suggestion, which disagrees with previously stated possibilities, is elaborated at length and functionally more prominent. Researchers have disagreed whether Concession relations are semantic (König 1985, König and Siemund 2000) or rhetorical (interactional) (Barth 2000; Thompson 1985; Couper-Kuhlen and Thompson 2000, 1998; Mann and Thompson 1987). I view them as being both semantic and interactional, combining the semantic approach that focuses on the meaning of the concessional relations independently, and the interactional approach that addresses their functioning in relation to context. However, my focus is predominantly on the presentational/interactional function of concessions. In this dimension, the conceding part of the schema serves as a strategy to mitigate a possible imposition inherent in the act of disagreeing with or dismissing previous theories or views, and/or positing new points and interpretations. Such rhetorical / presentational role of Concession relations is connected with value attached to politeness and solidarity among the participants of the academic discussion (cf. Schiffrin 1990, 1987). Potentially face-threatening acts (FTA’s), such as disagreement and criticism, tend to be preceded by face-saving moves (cf. pragmatic theory of politeness, Brown and Levinson 1987). In example 1, the FTA present in the suggestion that there is a “lack of accepted criteria about what constitutes a hedge” is mitigated by an acknowledgment

Concessivity in scholarly prose: An intercultural study


that there are other possible reasons for “the discrepancies” in research findings. As will be shown in the course of this paper, concessivity displays an inherently interactive nature, with Concessive relations modulating FTA’s present in text that includes adversary or novel content.

3. Corpus The following research articles have been selected for close description. In the course of the paper I refer to them as text 1, text 2 and text 3 respectively. Text 1

Text 2

Text 3

Are social classes dying? Paper written by native speakers of English and produced in the Anglo (American) sociological discourse community (Clark and Lipset 1991); The dying of class or of Marxist class theory? Paper written by a native speaker of Polish and produced in the Anglo (Australian) sociological discourse community (Pakulski 1993); The Pragmatic Shift in Polish Social Consciousness. With or Against the Tide of Rising Postmaterialism? Paper written by a native speaker of Polish and produced in the Polish academic sociological discourse community (Ziókowski 1994).

The examined corpus comprises discourse stretches of 18,950 words in total. The selected texts satisfy the criteria for parallelism, as defined by Duszak (1998) and Hartmann (1980), and comparability, as explicated by Krzeszowski (1990, 1989). They represent the same genre, exist in comparable communicative contexts, and the circumstances leading to their production have been similar. All three texts constitute research articles written in English within the discipline of sociology. They have been published in the same type of journal attracting articles of cross-cultural relevance for the international sociological community. The topic of all texts is societal change and their titles pose questions addressing various aspects of this change. All texts propose novel claims which are in opposition to former theories and previously held views. In terms of academic reputation, their authors enjoy similar academic status – all four are scholars of authority, held in high esteem by their readership.

4. Concessiveness in the analysed texts I will analyse and describe the utilisation of Concession relations by the authors of the studied texts and provide textual illustrations of characteristic concessive structures. Although the corpus selected for the study is limited to only three research papers, sociology, often seen as an “oppositional” science, is rich in antithetical rhetoric, and the selected texts provide multiple examples of adversative relational discourse including concessional configurations.


Zofia Golebiowski

Text 1 Concessions constitute 7.5% of all relations in this article. They are the second most pervasive relations in the text (after Amplifications, which constitute 13% of all relations). They are also the most frequently occurring Adversative subcategory, comprising over 43.5% of all relations in the Adversative cluster (see table 2). Table 2:

The occurrence of Adversative relations in text 1

RELATION Concession Collateral Contrast Comparison

Number of relations 26 17 12 5

Occurrence within cluster 43.5 % 28 % 20 % 8%

Concessive relations are particularly pervasive in the article’s introductory section which prepares the groundwork for the presentation of the author’s main thesis. Potentially face threatening propositions, referring to the waning and declining nature of the concept of class, are consistently redressed through concessive statements. Example 2 shows how Clark and Lipset mitigate a controversial proposition about the “outmoded” nature of the class concept (segment B) by concessive reference to the historical appropriacy of the concept (segment A): Example 2 A B

although it is at times appropriate to earlier historical periods class is an increasingly outmoded concept

Examples 3 and 4 illustrate concessive tentative structures employed in the review of prominent class theorists. Both the statement about Marx, that the recognition of instances of “relationships between class position and the attitudes of class members” did not change his theory, and the criticism of Weber, that he did not break from Marx in his writings, are preceded by concessive statements. Example 3 A


Marx never actually said that there would necessarily have to be a relationship between class position and the attitudes of class members. But if he recognised ‘exceptions’ in his historical and journalistic writings, they did not change his main theory.

Example 4 A B

Writing about class, Weber broadened the concept, but did not essentially break from Marx.

3A comprises an acknowledgement that Marx recognised exceptions in his views on the relationship between class position and attitudes of class; and 4A concedes that Weber broadened the concept of class. In the section following the review of Marx and Weber, the paper argues that there has already been a significant move towards discarding the concept of class and encapsulating the fragmentation of stratification. The authors support their claim with multiple examples of class theory and social stratification and engage in a debate with

Concessivity in scholarly prose: An intercultural study


such prominent class theorists as Dahrendorf, Wright, Giddens, Parkin, Dahl, Clark, Ferguson and Shils. This polemic is presented in a style showing various degrees of deference towards the class researchers whose theories are being discussed. Deference and respect are expressed through concessional configurations along other modulatory rhetorical devices (e.g., justifications, explanations and a specific choice of lexis). For instance, in Example 5 the claim that many theorists have already altered the concept of class is conceded by an acknowledgement that this is “not immediately obvious” and by an additional explanation that the lack of clarity is caused by the authority accorded to Marx and Weber (5A). Example 5 A


If one looks at class theories in recent decades, it is striking how much class has changed. This is not immediately obvious since most theorists claim direct descendance from Marx and Weber. But many have in fact fundamentally altered the concept of class toward what we term the fragmentation of stratification.

The concessive style of this text is further strengthened by recursive nature of Concession relations, e.a., the embedding of concessional relations within larger concessional relational schemata. Example 6 illustrates such embedding in the form of double concessional configuration. Example 6 A B C

Dahrendorf might have abandoned the concept of class, but instead retained the term while redefining it to include all sorts of groups in political or social conflict: “class” signifies conflict groups that are generated by the differential distribution of authority in imperatively coordinated associations’ [sic] (Dahrendorf 1859 204).

The claim that Dahrendorf retained the term (B) is conceded by his possible abandonment of the class concept (A); and the claim about Dahrendorf’s redefining of the term (C) is conceded in B. Concessive structures become less frequent closer to the heart of the article, where the tentative style that was employed in presenting the novel claims in the introductory section is no longer essential. Here the language becomes less flexible, with crucial theoretical propositions presented in a more direct and relatively unmodulated manner. However, as seen in Example 7, taken from the middle section of the paper, concessive style does not completely disappear. Example 7 A


These trends are congruent with the ‘post-industrial trends identified by Daniel Bell and Alain Touraine, and the ‘post-materialist (earlier termed ‘post-bourgeois’) patterns identified by Ronald Inglehart (1990) – stressing ‘self-actualisation’ via aesthetic intellectual and participatory concerns. Scott Flanagan (1980) suggests a shift from traditional consciousness to libertarian consciousness. But one should not overstate the changes: Alan Marsh, analysing British data, finds that ‘materialists’ and ‘postmaterialists’ do not differ in their concern for having enough money, which both share. The post-materialists, however, ‘are distinguished by their relative youth, wealth, education and by their concern for ideology’ (Marsh 1975: 28).


Zofia Golebiowski

Example 7 constitutes another instance of concessive recursiveness. The statement that “one should not overstate the changes” (7B) is conceded in 7A. Caution exercised by the authors is seen in their search for support from other researchers. Both propositions, the claim about the trends towards the declining of the concept of class in 7A, and the expression of caution about not overestimating the changes in 7B, are supported by references from literature. Another concessive relation is embedded in the Consequent segment: although “‘materialists’ and ‘postmaterialists’ do not differ in their concern for having enough money” (7C), post-materialists “are distinguished by their relative youth, wealth, education and by their concern for ideology” (7D). Text 2 Concessive schemata constitute 4.3% of all relational schemata in this paper. They are the 7th in the total frequency of relational occurrence in this text, after Collections (which constitute 21% of all relations), Amplifications (11% of all relations), Digression Additions (5%), and Cause (5%). Concessive relations of text 2 are the most frequent Adversative relations, comprising 38% of relations in this cluster (see table 3). Table 3:

The occurrence of Adversative relations in text 2

RELATION Concession Collateral Contrast Comparison

Number of relations 19 14 15 5

Occurrence within cluster 38 % 26 % 28 % 9%

In a way similar to their distribution in text 1, concessive schemata appear predominantly in the introductory section of the article where the author outlines his reservations to claims forwarded by Clark and Lipset and by those who produced rejoinders to their paper. However, his critical appraisal of Clark and Lipset’s article is often substantially modulated, and preceded by descriptions of its merits. Consider how text in Example 8 presents the main message of the introductory section of this paper: Example 8 A B

Although Clark and Lipset’s arguments on social change are poignant and persuasive, their conclusions as to the utility of the class concept, and the theoretical frameworks in which these conclusions are coated, need elucidation.

We find a similar employment of concessive structure in Example 7, further in the paper: Example 9 A B

While these aspects of Clark and Lipset’s arguments are persuasive, albeit hardly original, their criticism of the Weberian tradition, especially its relevance for the analysis of stratification and conflict in industrialised West, is much less convincing.

Both Examples 8 and 9 provide illustrations of face-threatening moves redressed by face-saving moves of Concession. The indication of the need to “elucidate” Clark and

Concessivity in scholarly prose: An intercultural study


Lipset’s conclusion and theoretical framework in Example 8 and the evaluation of their review of Weber in Example 9 are preceded by an acknowledgement that “Clark and Lipset’s arguments on systemic change are poignant and persuasive” and that “these aspects of Clark and Lipset’s arguments are persuasive, albeit hardly original”. The author’s refraining from being too assertive is also seen in his choice of lexis and efforts aimed at downtoning through adjectival detensifying: Clark and Lipset conclusion only “need elucidation” (8B), and their criticism of the Weberian tradition is “much less convincing” (9B). The demonstrations of respect for other researchers who have written responses to Clark and Lipset’s paper are also observable in this text’s reviews of the theoretical treatment of class. However, the language here is less tentative than in the evaluation of Clark and Lipset, whose views are never openly dismissed. Example 10 illustrates the appraisal of the rejoinder by Hout et al. (1993), where considerably critical and evaluative statements, such as “they insist on retaining some key elements” and “they ignore the central issue in Clark and Lipset” (10B), are modulated by a concessive acknowledgement in the antecedent (10A). Example 10 A B

Although the authors [Hout et al] acknowledge that ‘class structures have undergone important changes in recent decades, with the rise of post-industrial societies’ they insist on retaining some key elements of the Marxist class concept, and they ignore the central issues in Clark and Lipset of the fragmentation and relative importance of class inequalities and class conflicts.

The author’s caution in approaching his new classification of class theories is reflected in the employment of tentative rhetoric that demonstrates deference before class researchers whose positions are being evaluated. Such vigilance is seen examples 11 and 12, where the outlining of distinctions between “structural objectivists” and “actional objectivists” is preceded by acknowledgements of similarities between these groups. Classes are “ubiquitous” for both groups of class theorists, but are “hidden from an ‘empiricist’ gaze” for structural objectivists (11B), and are “more tangible” for actional objectivists (12B). Example 11 A B

For the former [structural objectivists] (eg., Althusser), classes are ubiquitous but typically hidden from an ‘empiricist’ gaze; class conflicts permeate social reality but reveal themselves only to those who use the right method of analysis.

Example 12 A B

For the latter [actional objectivists] (eg.,Touraine), classes are also ubiquitous but more tangible: they appear whenever solidary groups form and challenge the dominant values, norms and institutions.

In addition to concessional formations in these examples, the author utilises adjectival detensifiers (typically hidden, more tangible) and explanatory statements (the text following the semicolon in 11B and the colon in 12B). The author is careful not be too categorical in his typology and his appraisal is often provisional or estimated. An illustration of such caution is provided in Example 13, where the suggestion that the “categorical/descriptive” theorists draw inspiration from


Zofia Golebiowski

Weber (13A) is immediately followed by a concessive statement that Weber’s analytical and historical delineations are not always respected by this group (13B). Example 13 A B

This [categorical/descriptive] way of conceptualising classes typically draws inspiration from the Weberian tradition, although Weber’s (1978) careful analytical and historical delineations (for example, between classes, status groups and parties) are not always respected by the users in the categorical/descriptive camp.

In a manner similar to one adopted by the authors of text 1, the rhetoric of text 2 becomes less modulated in the central part of the paper when the author presents his main claims. However, purposeful weakening of claims can be still observed, as in Example 14. Arguing about the changing concept of class the author forwards a claim that the imagined communities “do not reflect social proximity or shared economic or political position” (14B), and then weakens it, conceding that they “provide identities, encourage a sense of solidarity, and prompt a common action” (14A). Example 14 A B

Such imagined communities provide identities, and even encourage a sense of solidarity, and prompt a common action, yet they do not reflect social proximity or shared economic or political position.

Barts 431 lose paraphrasing, possible (READ): although-constructions in additional to conceding fulfil other discourse organisational functions, such as restricting (the validity of ) previous claims, Text 3 In the whole of text 3 only 2.5% of relations are clearly concessive. Concessions constitute only 19% of all Adversatives in text 3, being the second smallest Adversative subgroup (after Comparison) in this text (see table 4). Table 4:

The occurrence of Adversative relations in text 3 RELATION Concession Collateral Contrast Comparison

Number of relations 17 27 39 6

Occurrence within cluster (%) 19 30 44 7

In contrast to styles employed in the introductions of texts 1 and 2, the introductory section of this text is almost entirely devoid of concessive formulations. Some concessional structures employed in the later part of the paper but they tend to play minor roles, appearing in parts of text of secondary importance (often parenthesized), or perform quasi–presentational functions, aimed at forestalling objections through the introduction of additional material or summaries of previously presented arguments. Example 15 illustrates such quasi–concessional schema where the concessive state-

Concessivity in scholarly prose: An intercultural study


ment “Although I do not reject this interpretation completely” is extensively foregrounded. Before presenting his interpretation of the four systems of systemic transformation in 15B, the author describes previous dispreferred interpretation (15A). In spite of the utilisation of the although construction, characteristically employed in concessive expressions, the style of this relational schema utilises a relatively straightforward or even critical language. While the new proposed interpretation is referred to as “more flexible and open”, the validity of Evans and Whitefield’s interpretation is restricted. Their position is partially rejected, with the consecutiveness of the phases of change in values and interests questioned. Example 15 A


According to the first interpretation, suggested by Evans and Whitefield, the predominance of each of the systems may be viewed as consecutive hypothetical phases and model phases of transformation – phases which point out to the basic logic and chronology of changing group interests and values. These changes – which follow in the footsteps of the “transformational honeymoon” – apparently go through four consecutive phases, beginning with the dominance of nonmaterial values, through basic choices as to the shape of the economic order and the search for detailed economic solutions, to the dominance of post-materialistic values. Although I do not reject this interpretation completely I prefer a second, more flexible and open one. I believe that these four systems of interests and values not only coexist and compete with each other in societies undergoing transformation, but also manifest themselves in different ways and reflect different phenomena.

Concessive constructions of text 3 also seem to express the author’s caution about making his claims too definite or serve to defend him from anticipated criticisms. For instance, Example 16 makes a strong claim that the distribution of interests and values in Polish society is primarily related to one’s experiences in and responses to the process of systemic transformation and the role played by the authorities (16B). However, in order to protect himself from being seen as too assertive or, possibly, from being accused of having insufficient grounds for his argumentation, the author purposefully weakens the propositional strength of this claim. This is achieved by the introduction of a concessional statement that, to some degree, one’s interests and values depend on one’s experience in the communist system (16A). Example 16 A B

To a certain extent the distribution of interests and values in Polish society after 1989 depends on what experience one had under the old system. However, this distribution is first and foremost a function of current experiences and changing responses to the ongoing process of systemic transformation – especially in the economic sphere – and to the role played in this process by the authorities, i.e., central state institution.

In Example 17 the author again “defends” himself from possible criticism by mentioning hypothetical or non-existing possibilities and situations, but emphasising his support for, and stressing the salience of, the information relating to the existing situation which is being described.


Zofia Golebiowski

Example 17 A B

I am not referring here to the opposition between the official “pompous“ values of socialist ideology and the values in every day social practice (cf. Wnuk-Lipinski, 1982) but [I am referring] to the duality of values experienced, and many a time implemented by the individual.

Concessional structures such as the one illustrated in Example 17 exhibit a considerable degree of binary opposition. In their binary configurations they are close to the Collateral subcategory of Adversative relations as illustrated by Example 18: Example 18 A B

social order is achieved not through “vertical” conformity, i.e., subordination to power and authority, but [is achieved through] “horizontal conformity,” i.e., subordination to traditional beliefs adhered to by the majority of society.

According to Golebiowski (2002, 2005, 2009) Collateral relations occur in the irrealis vs realis type of schemata. The irrealis component which presents a collateral, nonevent type information, conveying what did not happen, cannot, could / could not happen, or might have happened, is generally incompatible with the situation presented in the realis component, which describes a real event. Apart from indicating spatial or temporal relation between events, Collateral relations have the capacity, in a way similar to Concessions, of fulfilling presentational functions. In advancing the argument presented in realis over the argument presented in irrealis, they emphasise support for the situation or point of view presented in realis. Instances of such rhetorical strategies are seen in examples 19–21 where collateral information about what does/did not take place and cannot be done is contrasted with what does/did happen and what “is”. Example 19 A B

The distinction into “Solidarity people” and “people from the “ancien régime” is becoming increasingly less pronounced. Nowadays the electorate prefers to divide politicians into “ideologists” and “doctrinaires” on the one hand and “pragmaticists” on the other hand. This distinction is largely independent of any historical genealogies. Many people felt that SLD was the most pragmatic party, partly because SLD consistently avoided all ideological themes in its programmes (making a virtue out of necessity, for otherwise it would have had to come to terms with its communist provenance).

Example 20 A B

The initial social approval for the economic change did not imply active participation in the transformation. The majority of Polish society was more inclined to give passive approval, accompanied by the assumption that sooner or later the situation would automatically improve as a result of the new market mechanisms and as a natural reward for the sacrifices but virtually without one’s own personal involvement or initiative.

Example 21 A

these interests and values can not be reduced to actually held individual beliefs and group beliefs;

Concessivity in scholarly prose: An intercultural study B


they are also an important element of the “social communicative space”, an essential component of social, and particularly political, rhetoric.

The text in Example 19 contrasts two types of political categorisations, with an indication of the author’s support for categorisation specified in 19B, preceded by a mention of a “less pronounced” categorisation in 19A. Example 20 juxtaposes what “social approval of economic change” implied preceded by what it did not imply. And Example 21 explains the author’s view on what interests and values are against what they should not be “reduced to”.

5. Discussion Texts investigated for the purpose of this study are comparable in terms of functional aims and thematic content. All are research articles written for academic audiences, and all explore societal changes offering new suggestions for their examination. Yet the analysis of the relational structure of these texts reveals a discernible variation in the way authors engage with readers which is reflected in their approach to the presentation of the speculative nature of findings and to the creation of the atmosphere of solidarity. This variation is clearly visible in the degree of the attenuation of propositional strength and the effort exercised towards the avoidance of absolute statements. In particular, the analysis of the structure of the three texts shows differences in the authors’ utilisation of textual relational configurations, specifically pointing to a differential distribution of Concession relations. These differences obtain in the textual hierarchy of Concessions, their presentation within the Adversative cluster, and the frequency of the occurrence of Concession relations across the entire relational structures of texts. We saw that the native speaker text 1 is most visibly concessionally structured of the three papers. The comparison of the ratio of Concession to all relational types shows this text to be highly prolific in its employment of this Adversative relational subtype. The authors employ Concessions almost twice as frequently as the author of text 2, and three times more frequently than the author of text 3 (Table 5). Concessions also comprise the largest Adversative subgroup in this text, closely followed by text 2, with text 3 making a considerable lesser use of Concessive structures. Table 5

Frequency of employment of Concessional relational structures Texts TEXT 1 TEXT 2 TEXT 3

Rate of relational occurrence 7.5% 4.3% 2.5%

To a great degree the concessive pervasiveness of text 1 is related to the pioneering claims it makes: it argues for the modification of class theory in view of the decline of traditional hierarchies and new social structures. Because of the importance of the concept of class in ideological confrontations, claims about the decline in the explanatory value of class analyses are likely to cause controversy in the sociological


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readership community. The authors thus seem to be fully aware that their novel proposal constitutes an imposition on views of class theorists opposed to their claims. It constitutes not only a threat to their opponents’ “negative face” (the want not to be imposed upon by others and a need to be distinct, autonomous, and not inhibited by others (Brown and Levinson (1987)) but they also risk the threat to their own “positive face” (the desire for appreciation, respect, assimilation and inclusion (Brown and Levinson 1987)). Before presenting their novel framework, the authors appraise critical theories of class stratification which used to be influential. Caution exercised by the writers in this appraisal, together with their acknowledgement of previous research and their consistent search for support from other researchers is itself concessive. The review of class theories is followed by an argumentation about the decline of the explanatory value of class analyses. It is noticeable that in spite of the fact that the authors are leaders in the field, they consider it in their interest to stay within reasonable consensus with members of sociological research community in general, and class theorists in particular. To minimise the tension in the academic polemic, they utilise rhetorical strategies aiming at saving both their own and their opponents’ faces. Such strategies are clearly visible in the concessive relational configurations of this text. The non-native speaker text 2, produced in Australian academia, also features prolific employment of Concession relations. We saw that it is placed in the middle of the concessional frequency continuum, between texts 1 and 3, both in terms of an overall rate of occurrence of Concessive relation, and in terms of its incidence in the Adversative relational group. The aim of text 2 is to propose of a new class typology. The assigning of researchers to theoretical and ideological groupings constitutes an imposition of various degrees and is thus potentially face-threatening. This text not only evaluates the framework proposed in text 1, but also takes a stand in relation to the responses of other researchers to this framework. As it constitutes a rejoinder to text 1, the nature of this paper’s polemic is intrinsically critical. Its rhetorical structure, dictated by its functional purpose, is deemed to be highly evaluative. Yet, the texts’s rhetoric never displays an outright criticism. While acknowledging the views of others and making his own contrastive point, the author carefully prepares room to manoeuvre between saving both his own and his opponents’ faces. Because of Clark and Lipset’s prestige in the international research community of sociology, he exercises extreme caution in his appraisal of their theoretical paradigm. A considerably tentative rhetoric shows the author’s awareness of potential FTA’s in his argumentation. The presentational role of Concession relations in this text, similar to that in text 2, is often to mitigate opposition. As a consequence, potentially face-threatening moves such as disagreement and criticism, tend to be preceded by face-saving moves. A non-native speaker text 3, whose author is a member of Polish academic discourse community, features the lowest frequency of concessions, both in comparison to the employment of the remaining Adversative subtypes, and in terms of an overall relational distribution. Text 3 discusses systemic changes and the development of the normative order in Polish society in the post-communist period. With a view of interpreting the societal materialistic shift in interests and values, the author introduces his

Concessivity in scholarly prose: An intercultural study


understandings of these concepts. In an attempt to define interests and values in the opening section of the paper he seeks support from previous research in the field. Numerous references to others’ work are made, including frequent quotations from literature. However, references to other researchers tend to be used more to uphold the author’s understanding of the discussed concepts than to express deference before scholars whose works are cited. Further sections of this paper seem to suggest that the politeness in text 3 is achieved through frequent explanations and justifications of positions taken by the author, with concessive relations playing a minor role. Overall, concessive structures of this text are also much less defined than in texts 1 and 2. Unlike subordinate concessive structures in texts 1 and 2, rare concessive schemata of this text are on the border of being coordinate, with the author first granting some weight to one argument, and then contrasting it with another, seeming to suggest only at the end which of the two arguments is preferable, and therefore dominant. In the examples quoted we saw that the strategy of lending equal weight to two adversative propositions blurs distinction between concessions and collaterals. The Collateral relations of this text perform quasi-presentational roles, in some ways fulfilling the face-saving functions of Concessions. Before advancing the argument presented in the thesis, the author “defends” himself from possible criticism by presenting hypothetical or non-existing possibilities and situations, but emphasising his support for, or stressing the salience of the information relating to the existing situation which is presented in the main thesis. The reliance on Collateral structures is reflected in the amount of textual space utilised – Collateral segments of text 3 are more extensive than those of the other texts studied, with Collateral discourse blocks extending over entire sections of this article. A pragmatic approach to the utilisation of language, distinguished by an interactive dialogue-type style, has been seen as characteristic of the written discourse produced in the Anglo culture, which attaches a high value to the communicative role of language (Clyne et al. 1988, Duszak 1998, Scollon and Scollon 1995). It has also been claimed that although criticism is valued in English academic prose, uncompromising criticism of an opposing view is considered impolite and violates solidarity (cf. Brown and Levinson 1987). This approach is clearly visible in texts 1 and 2. It is of interest however that in spite of higher evaluative requirements in the rhetoric of text 2, text 1 still exceeds it in its concessional strength. Such interactive stylistic approach has been seen as characteristic of prose produced in Anglo-American academic discourse communities. For example, Watts (1989) claims that while Anglo-American writers tend to share the text, Europeans put forward their point of view. Galtung’s (1985) offers an observation with respect to German academic prose, where the writer takes all necessary precautions in advance, in order to avoid a severe criticism of his/her peers. We clearly saw this “precaution” stance in text 3, where the employment of Collateral structures fulfils foregrounding functions, introducing and discussing possible objections of readers.


Zofia Golebiowski

6. Conclusion The importance of the possession of skills of presenting novel theoretical frameworks and views that challenge existing paradigms cannot be overstated. Uncertainty is a fundamental characteristic of scientific enquiry and the way new knowledge is presented is directly related to its acceptance by readers. There is an accumulating body of research demonstrating that the avoidance of absolute statements and attenuation of propositional strength of scientific claims are expectations that members of AngloAmerican academic discourse communities share. Authors of text 1 call these communities home. A the same time, the rhetorical organisation of the non-native speaker text 3, suggests that the rhetorical structure of a research paper produced by a non-native English writers cannot escape being conditioned by the cultural traditions and conventions underlying the discourse community into which the author has been socialised. Text 2, whose author has been socialised in both Anglo and Polish discourse communities shares rhetorical features of both cultural styles. It has been argued that academic styles of continental Europe are deeply rooted in Aristotelian rhetoric, developed as an art of “giving effectiveness to truth”, as opposed to the sophistic rhetoric often reflected in the Anglo expository discourse, which was seen as the art of “giving effectiveness to the speaker” (cf. Baldwin 1928). It is hoped that this study will contribute to the non-native English writers’ awareness of their own rhetorical patterns, and the way they vary from the generally accepted structure of a native English academic text, as well as help to familiarise native English speaking publication gatekeepers with other than Anglo forms of text structure. With an established hegemony of English language in scientific communication and an ever-increasing number of non-native speaker publications in English, it would be beneficial for more work in this line on enquiry to be pursued, both across academic discourse communities, native and non-native English writing as well as other academic genres. This may assist in avoiding mis-communication and facilitate the perception of styles with alien discourse patterns as different rather than inferior or unacceptable.

References Blum-Kulka, S. and E. Olshtain. 1984. Requests and apologies: A cross-cultural study of speech act realisation patterns. Applied Linguistics 5, 196-213. Brown, P. and S. Levinson. 1987. Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Butler, C. 1990. Qualifications in science: Modal meanings in scientific texts. In: Nash, W. (ed.). The Writing Scholar. Studies in Academic Discourse. Newbury Park: Sage, 137-170. Chafe, W. 1986. Evidentiality in English conversation and academic writing. In: W. Chafe and J. Nichols (eds.). Evidentiality: The Linguistic Coding of Epistemology. Norwood, NJ: Ablex. 261272. Channell, J. 1990. Precise and vague quantities in writing economics. In: Nash, W. (ed.). The Writing Scholar. Studies in Academic Discourse. Newbury Park: Sage, 95-117. Clyne, M. 1991. The sociocultural dimension: The dilemma of the German-speaking scholar. In: Schröder, H. (ed.). Subject Oriented Texts. Language for Special Purposes and Text Theory. Berlin: de Gruyter, 49-67.

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Clyne, M. 1994. Intercultural Communication at Work. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. mejrková, S. and F. Daneš. 1997. Academic writing and cultural identity. In Duszak, A. (ed.). Culture and Styles of Academic Discourse. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 41-61. Couper-Kuhlen, E. and S. Thompson. 2000. Concessive patterns in conversation. In Couper-Kuhlen, E. and B. Kortmann (eds.). Cause – Condition – Concession – Contrast. Cognitive and Discourse Perspectives. New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 381-410. Crismore, A. 1989. Talking with Readers. Metadiscourse as a Rhetorical Act. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. Duszak, A. 1994. Academic discourse and intellectual styles. Journal of Pragmatics 21, 291-313. Duszak, A. 1998. Tekst, dyskurs, komunikacja midzykulturowa. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN. Duszak, A. (ed.). 1997. Culture and Styles of Academic Discourse. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter. Golebiowski, Z. 2002. The Rhetorical Organisation of Academic Texts in English. Unpublished Ph. D. dissertation. Melbourne: Monash University. Golebiowski, Z. 2005. Globalisation of academic communities and the style of research reporting. Transcultural Studies 1, 57-72. Golebiowski, Z. 2006. The distribution of discoursal salience in research papers: Relational hypotaxis and parataxis. Discourse Studies 8.2, 259-278. Golebiowski, Z. 2007. What organising strategies do academic writers use? A Polish–English study. In: Arabski, J. (ed.). On Foreign Language Acquisition and Effective Learning. Katowice: WUS, 171-183. Golebiowski, Z. 2009. Prominent messages in education and applied linguistic abstracts: How do authors appeal to their prospective readers? Journal of Pragmatics 41.4, 753-769. Hanania, E. and K. Akhtar. 1985. Verb form and rhetorical function in science writing: A study of MS theses in biology, chemistry and physics. The ESP Journal 4, 49-58. House, J. and G. Kasper. 1981. Politeness markers in English and German. In: Coulmas, F. (ed.). Conversation Routine. The Hague: Mouton, 157-185. König, E. 1985. On the history of concessive connectives in English: diachronic and synchronic evidence. Lingua 66, 1-19. Krzeszowski, T. 1989. Towards a typology of contrastive studies. In Oleksy, W. (ed.). Contrastive pragmatics. Amsterdam: John. Benjamins, 55-72. Krzeszowski, T. 1990. Contrasting Languages. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Luukka, M. and R. Markkanen. 1997. Impersonalisation as a form of hedging. In Markkanen, R. and H. Schröder (eds.). Hedging and Discourse. Approaches to the Analysis of a Pragmatic Phenomenon in Academic Texts. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 168-187. Mann, W. and S. Thompson. 1987. Rhetorical structure theory: A theory of text organisation. ISI/RS Report 87-190, 2-82. Mann, W. and S. Thompson (eds.). 1992. Discourse Description. Diverse Linguistic Analyses of a Fund-raising Text. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Markkanen, R. and H. Schröder. 1989. Hedging as a translation problem in scientific texts. In: Laurén, C. and M. Nordmann (eds.). Special Languages: From Human Thinking to Thinking Machines. London: Multilingual Matters, 171-179. Myers, G. 1989. The pragmatics of politeness in scientific articles. Applied Linguistics 10.1, 35. Myers, G. 1990. Writing Biology. Texts in the Social Construction of Scientific Knowledge. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press. Namsaraev, V. 1997. Hedging in Russian academic writing in sociological texts. In: Markkanen, R. and H. Schröder (eds.). Hedging and Discourse. Approaches to the analysis of a Pragmatic phenomenon in Academic Texts. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 64-80. Nwogu, N. 1990. Discourse Variation in Medical Texts: Schema, Theme and Cohesion on Professional and Journalistic Accounts. Nottingham: Department of English Studies, University of Nottingham.


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Prince, G. 1982. Narratology: The Form and Function of Narrative. Berlin: Mouton. Rounds, P. 1982. Hedging in written academic discourse: Precision and flexibility. MI. Mimeo. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan. Salager-Meyer, F. 1994. Hedges and textual communicative function in medical English written discourse. English for Specific Purposes 13, 149-170. Schröder, H. (ed.) 1991. Subject Oriented Texts. Language for Special Purposes and Text Theory. Berlin: de Gruyter. Simpson, P. 1990. Modality in literary-critical discourse. In Nash, W. (ed.). The Writing Scholar. Studies in Academic Discourse. Newbury Park: Sage, 63-94. Skelton, J. 1997. How to tell the truth in The British Medical Journal: Patterns of judgement in the 19th and 20th centuries. In: Markkanen, R. and H. Schröder (eds.). Hedging and Discourse. Approaches to the Analysis of a Pragmatic Phenomenon in Academic Texts. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 42-63. Skelton, J. 1988. The care and maintenance of hedges. ELT Journal 42, 37-43. Vassileva, I. 1997. Hedging in English and Bulgarian academic writing. In: Duszak, A. (ed.). Culture and Styles of Academic Discourse. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 203-221. Ventola, E. 1997. Modalization: Probability – an exploration into its role in academic writing. In: Duszak, A. (ed.). Culture and Styles of Academic Discourse. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 157-179. Wilss, W. 1997. Hedging in expert language reviews. In Markkanen, R. and H. Schröder (eds.). Hedging and Discourse. Approaches to the Analysis of a Pragmatic Phenomenon in Academic Texts. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 134-150.

Intercultural terminology and its political contexts: Towards a Sino-Western glossary Richard Trappl, University of Vienna 1. Introduction: Political background Inter-cultural dialogue is not only a slogan in a globalized world. It is a nucleus for future developments: either in a positive or in a negative way. Cultures and their representatives may share historical experiences and innovative approaches, or they may contribute towards a better understanding worldwide, or may even inspire people towards mutual appreciation. However, if instead of a dialogue between the representatives of different nations and cultures nationalistic and/or opportunistic interests prevail, history and daily accounts in the media show how quickly the situation may deteriorate, leading to aggression and even to war. This paper is a study on terminology in the field of culture as manifested in recent Chinese printed and internet sources, which have so far not been translated into Western languages. Hence the analysis focuses primarily on the presentation of textual evidence of new concepts or definitions rather than on theoretical considerations. The paper introduces a larger research project: a compilation of A Sino-Western Glossary of Intercultural Terms, i.e. terms, which have gained relevance in the cultural and political dialogue between China and the West. The project has emerged out of and is a contribution to a particular case of cultural dialogue between Europe and China, specifically between EUNIC (European National Institutes of Culture) and CNAA (Chinese National Academy of Arts). The first Chinese-European Cultural Dialogue took place in Beijing, October 2008, the second Dialogue’s venue was Copenhagen (2009), the third Dialogue took place in Shanghai (2010), and the fourth round has been planned for Luxembourg (2011). The more extended future project will investigate different historical, sociopsychological and political connotations of specific terms in Chinese and English, such as e.g. hexie versus its English counterpart/translation equivalent harmony. The controversy in some Western media and in public discourse around the Olympic Games in China 2008 offers examples of how different connotations of some “culture-laden” terms used in China versus in the West may lead to misunderstandings or even to aggression between nations, cultures and individuals. It is worth noting that some other contributions to this volume deal with analogous problems. Thus Wierzbicka offers an analysis of cultural keywords in different languages within the framework of Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM). Along the same lines, Goddard applies NSM to his analysis of potential misunderstandings between native speakers of three varieties of Anglo English (British, American and Australian). The NSM apparatus is also employed in Dorodnych and Kuzio’s integrated approach to miscommunication in order to explain the problems in translation encountered by Russian and Polish learners of English. Finally, Garcia Negroni and Spoturno base their analysis of a Chicano novel on glosses as metadiscursive devices connecting


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distinct languages and cultures, in this case English-speaking and Spanish-speaking communities. Thus, my remarks on the problems with finding relatively close English equivalents of some Chinese terms crucial in the political and cultural life of the country seem to be of relevance to the tenor of this volume.

2. A brief description of the glossary project The project of the glossary investigates frequently used terms of Chinese – English inter-cultural communication, such as ‘culture’ (wenhua), ‘cultural industry’ (wenhua chanye), ‘harmonious society’ (hexie shehui), ‘education’ (jiaoyu), ‘values’ (jiazhiguan), ‘cultural pluralism’ (wenhua duoyuanxing), ‘cultural relativism’ (jiazhi xiangduilun), etc. In the initial phase, the Chinese terms are collected from various printed and internet sources, from academic and political institutions, and translated into English. Only in the second phase will the Chinese definitions be commented on in contrast to their English equivalents. My hypothesis is that the English “equivalents” might prove to be not at all as equivalent as it might originally seem from a word-to-word translation performed with the help of dictionaries. I hope that the results of this study may offer some contribution towards a more reflected usage of these terms in the intercultural discourse between China and the West.

3. Some examples of the definitions included in the project: In the main part of this paper major quotations from selected definitions are presented and briefly commented on. The samples demonstrate the highly political status and significance of official language usage in the PR of China. The terms will first be presented in their English translation, followed by the official Chinese transcription Hanyu pinyin. As will be seen below, the core term which reappears in the other selected definitions is the issue of culture. The first sample to be considered here is taken from a dictionary, whose title is already indicative of its focus on the Chinese culture. 3.1. ‘Culture’ (wenhua) In Dictionary of Chinese Culture (Feng 2001: 1ff) we find the following definition: Culture, also called humanization, is the objectification of human values, namely, the general process of utility value that people have created, being transformed into wealth, including all humanizing phenomena as opposed to purely natural phenomena, therefore called “great culture”.

If we try to comment on the encyclopedic definitions which have been published in the PR of China, we always have to consider the concrete period, i.e. the political context in which a certain text appeared. The quoted book was published in 2001, which is 12 years after the “Tiananmen Incident” of June 4, 1989. In 2001, the opening up and re-

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form process of the Chinese state had gained momentum again, and although ideological constraints for academic publications had not been overcome yet, a more pluralistic situation emerged. As is the case with definitions in the realm of culture and hence in cultural politics, the mechanisms of censorship by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) and its related political institutions must be taken into account. Thus, a comparison of the original definitions with analogous definitions published a decade or so later offers insights into the political and social history of the country. Let us now have a closer look at how Feng differentiates between specific features of the notion of culture, cf. Feng (2001: 1ff): a) ‘Universality’ (pubianxing): Culture, in a broader sense, refers to cultural similarities, that is, the social nature of a human being as human, unusually called “human nature”. In a narrow sense, culture refers to cultural personality, namely, an essential characteristic which distinguishes culture in one group or community from that in another, and which embodies the common value criterion and code of conduct within one group or community. b) ‘Nationality’ (minzuxing): As a nation originates, develops, aggregates and divides, culture represents varieties of peculiar national forms, and establishes a national cultural mode or cultural value system based on the national lifestyle, national psychology, national language and national traditions. c) ‘Class nature’ (jiejixing): In a class society, culture reflects the differences in class levels and confrontational nature. Ideological components in culture embody the most distinctive class characteristic, and the will of the ruling class occupies a dominant position in spiritual culture. d) ‘Continuity’ (yanxuxing): Culture exists and develops in succession. The historical continuity of social material production is a prerequisite for the continuous development of culture. All cultural fruits have been achieved and accumulated on the basis of cultural wealth created in the past. The cultural activities of “descendants”, directly or indirectly, all rely on culture, technology, experience and theory invented previously. e) ‘Epochal nature’ (shidaixing): Culture is inherited critically, reflecting the development from a lower to a higher level. Every social stage witnesses different cultural patterns and different cultural achievements. Individuals cannot live beyond the culture of their era. f) ‘Regularity’ (guilüxing): The creation and dissemination of culture as well as its generation and development, all have their own objective motion laws. The most basic law of cultural activities is to satisfy the needs of human life.

At this point Feng puts together various paraphrases of definitions and descriptions of culture in China and abroad:


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– The combination of the material property and spiritual wealth created by human beings in the historic course of their social practice. It is regarded as “culture in its broad sense”. – Social ideology, or ideology and its materialization of all institutions and organizations, namely, “culture in its narrow sense”. – Synonymous with the overall sense of life, like lifestyle or the typical way of life. – Equivalent to society. Usually that refers to the social structure or the social system. – National spirit and its manifestations. – The system of ideas and values that determines lifestyle. – The whole human symbol system. – The knowledge, inherited in the process of the development of the society, or the combination of education and training shared by that all the members of the society. In this sense, it is also known as “small culture”. – The preservation and dissemination of information. – In ancient China, culture used to refer to civil administration and education. – In the non-academic world the common sense understanding of the notion of culture overlaps with that of civilization. For instance, material culture and spiritual culture can also be referred to as material civilization and spiritual civilization, respectively. Let us now have a look at a more recent definition of culture. Hao Xiajun in Encyclopedia of China Online defines culture as: Abilities obtained and achievements created by human beings in the course of social practice. In the West, “culture” stems from the Latin word “cultura”, whose original intention is “to work on the land and cultivate the plants”, and later its extended meaning is to cultivate human’s body and spirit.

Hao stresses an aspect of culture that might be somewhat astonishing for Western observers. He says that in ancient Chinese books “culture refers to civil administration and education.” So in a broader sense “culture embodies the abilities of material production and spiritual production as well as all material and spiritual products”. In a narrower sense, culture refers to “spiritual capacity and spiritual products, all forms of social consciousness included. Sometimes, it especially indicates knowledge related to education, science, literature, art, hygiene, sports and so forth, which is distinguished from such ideologies as world outlook, political thought, and morality. Positive achievements in culture mark the human progress and civilized conditions, which is civilization.” Hao points out that culture can be defined as: “a specific historical phenomenon. Culture has different characteristics at the different historical stages of human society. Different nations endow them with different cultural national features.” Again the political message with definitions in the PRC comes through when the society is seen as a “class society” in which culture “more or less, was given a distinctive brand of a class. New culture develops on the basis of critically reforming old culture, as well as inheritance and development of an old one. Cultures in different nations and different classes influence and permeate each other “. Hao sees “socialist culture” as a development which “has critically absorbed the essence of every national culture in the world and summarized new experience, which makes its nature absolutely distin-

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guished from all old cultures.” Hao presents the development of human culture as something that “reveals a general trend which aims at weeding through the old to bring forth the new. New and progressive culture constantly develops by overcoming decadent and reactionary cultures. Human civilization has always been based on progressive culture, without whose development there would be no development of civilization”. Having presented some definitions of culture from selected Chinese encyclopedias and dictionaries, let us consider a term, which might have diverse interpretations in China as compared to the Western term harmony and its related combinations such as harmonious society. 3.2. Harmonious society (hexie shehui) A quotation from a resolution by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party demonstrates the high political relevance, which such a seemingly “purely philosophical” term can have in the PR China: The Resolution on Major Issues Regarding the Building of Harmonious Socialist Society: (…) As a harmonious socialist society we are going to create a harmonious society, built and shared by all Chinese people along the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics and under the leadership of the CCP. We must adhere to the guidance of MarxismLeninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, and the important thought of “Three Representatives”, adhere to the Party’s basic line, basic program and basic experience, adhere to the guidance of the scientific concept of development in overall economic and social development, follow the general requirement of building a democratic society under the rule of law, a society based on equity and justice, an honest and caring society, a society full of vigor and a stable and orderly society in which humans live in harmony with nature, strive to develop social services, promote social equity and justice, foster a culture of harmony, improve public administration, enhance creativity of the society, pursue the road of common prosperity, and push forward coordinated development of social construction, economic construction, political construction and cultural construction with the emphasis on solving the issues people care about most and issues that concern their most immediate and most realistic interests.

The main objectives and tasks for building a harmonious socialist society by 2020 are as follows: further improvement of the socialist democratic and legal system; implementation of the fundamental principle of administering the country according to law; guaranteeing respect for people’s rights and interests; narrowing the gap between urban and rural development and between different regions; favoring the emergence of a reasonable and orderly income distribution pattern; increase of household wealth and enabling people to lead more affluent lives; a relatively high employment rate and the establishment of a social security system covering both urban and rural residents; further improvements to the basic public service system and significant improvements to government administrative and service levels; enhanced ideological and moral qualities, scientific and cultural qualities and health condition of the whole nation; further progress in fostering a sound moral atmosphere and harmonious interpersonal relationships; enhanced creativity of society as a whole and the development of an innovationbased nation; the public administration system needs further improvement and social


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order needs to be maintained; resources need to be used more efficiently and the ecological environment visibly improved; progress must be made in building a moderately prosperous society to benefit the Chinese people of more than 1 billion; people must be encouraged to do their best according to their abilities, everyone should be provided for and people should live together in harmony. The following principles must be observed in building a harmonious socialist society: a) b) c) d) e)

Adhering to putting people first (…) Adhering to the society’s development in a scientific way (…) Adhering to reform and opening up (…) Adhering to democracy and the rule of law (…) Adhering to properly handling the relationships between reform, development and stability (…) f) Adhering to participation of the whole society under the leadership of the Party. Let us pass on to another concept closely related to the notion of culture in the Chinese context, i.e. the so-called ‘cultural industry’, discussed in the next section. 3.3. Cultural industry (wenhua chanye) ‘Cultural industry’ is a term which seems to be of high relevance in the Chinese cultural-political discourse. In fact, this phrase might be rather obscure to the representatives of Western languages and cultures who are unfamiliar with the concept. Thus many heated discussions took place during the Chinese-Western Cultural Dialogue on what ‘cultural industry’ actually means and what its function in society should be. In order to demonstrate the broad variety of sources for definitions that are used in the Glossary a quotation from the National Bureau of Statistics of China has been selected as an example. In 2004 the National Bureau of Statistics of China undertook studies together with the Central Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party and relevant departments of the State Council and as a result formulated the so-called Classification of Cultural and Related Industries. On the basis of the relevant state policies and principles observed by “the study group” as well as the current situation in China, cultural and related industries are defined as “a collection of activities associated with cultural or recreational products and services provided for the public”. According to this definition, the range of cultural industries is as follows: 1. Activities providing the public with the recreational products in physical form, such as the publishing, producing and issuing of books and newspapers, etc. 2. Activities providing cultural services and entertainment for the public to participate in and choose from, such as radio, TV, film, theater performances, etc. 3. Activities providing cultural management and studies aiming at the protection of cultural relics and cultural heritage, as well as library services and cultural social group activities. 4. Production and sales of equipment and materials needed by cultural and recreational institutions, such as production of printing equipment and stationary.

Intercultural terminology and its political contexts ...


5. Production and sales of equipment and materials needed by cultural and recreational institutions, such as radio and television equipment as well as film equipment. 6. Other activities related to culture and entertainment, such as arts, crafts, and design. The Research Center for Lexicography of Commercial Press in their Xinhua Dictionary of New Words (2003: 342) offers the following description of ‘cultural industry’: Commercial industries are engaged in production of culture and providing cultural services. Cultural industry is a concept that corresponds with public cultural undertakings. Cultural institutions are mainly supported by governments and sponsored by society, providing culture services for the public, while cultural industry institutions are primarily legal marketoriented management with self-accumulation and self-development, mainly including theatre industry, film and television industry, audio-visual industry, culture and recreation industry, cultural tourism, art training industry, art industry and so forth.

Liu, Jianmin (2003: 29) gives the following characteristics of the phenomenon: (…) Joint investigation team of cultural industry by the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the Ministry of Culture made a field survey in some domestic provinces and cities in 2001. Based on the summary of provincial practice, cultural industry refers to commercial industries engaged in production of culture and provision of cultural services. Cultural industry is an important part of cultural construction, which embodies cultural industry and public welfare. Cultural industry is mainly involved in the fields of culture and art, cultural publication, radio, film and television, cultural tourism, etc.

A notion which the PR China advocates in international context and discourse and which is highly relevant especially in relation to the USA and other political powers is the concept of “cultural pluralism”. Hence its definitions in publications of the PR China are of major importance in order to understand the Chinese expectations and ambitions. 3.4. Cultural pluralism (wenhua duoyuanxing) Yuan Shiquan and Tao Feng in the Great Dictionary of Chinese Encyclopedia (1990: 392) define ‘cultural pluralism’ as follows: Two or more cultural systems, after a long period of continuous contact, adjust and adapt to each other, allow every cultural system to maintain its special way of life, and then a stable state of cultural pluralism is formed. In this state, asymmetric symbiotic relationships usually exist between every group to provide individual special functions.

Chen Guoqiang in the Concise Dictionary of Cultural Anthropology (1990: 78-79), gives the following definition: Cultural pluralism refers to the phenomenon of the existence of different national cultures within the same society. It is obvious to all these different national cultures co-exist in a multinational country. For instance, Canada is a country in which French-speaking Canadians co-exist with English-speaking Canadians. In China, there are few nationalities which live in an isolated communities, since most Chinese live in mixed residences, so it is quite common that different national cultures co-exist. What will it be like in the future? Some anthropologists think that with the increased fusion, every culture in the world will mingle to


Richard Trappl be a culture of great harmony, while some think that in the future we will still live in a multi-cultural society. Though currently, material life of every nation in some countries tends to be uniform, the particular character of its culture does not decrease but increase. Therefore, even if material life of every nation in the whole world tends to be uniform, the particularity of their cultures will not disappear. At that time, however, all nations may live together more harmoniously and amicably than ever.

A further example in the broader field of culture within the context of ChineseWestern cultural dialogue is ‘cultural relativism’. 3.5. Cultural relativism (wenhua duixiang lun) Wu, Wenzao in “Encyclopedia of China Online, Volume: Nations” defines it as follows: Cultural relativism is a concept in the field of American anthropology and ethnology. This theory is also called “value theory”, as a result of the fact that cultural relativists frequently discuss the issues of cultural value. It dates back to the beginning of the eighteenth century, when some French scholars proclaimed that the American Indian cultures and thoughts should not be judged by European moral standards when they analyzed American Indians from the perspective of ethnology. Thereafter the founder of the “American culture history school” and anthropologist Franz Boas enunciated the thought. However, it was at the beginning of the 1950s that cultural relativism became comparatively popular in this historical background: since the twentieth century, especially after the Second World War, the development of national liberation movements in Asia, Africa and other continents inflict a devastating blow on Euro-centrism and other similar theories. Consequently, it was a practical problem to evaluate the “value” of every nation’s culture. Under such historical conditions, cultural relativism was strongly promoted by Melville Jean Herskovits, a student of Boas, and others and has been popular. The basic argument of cultural relativism is that every culture has its originality and sufficient value; hence, the idea of ethnocentrism which focused on Western culture must be discarded. The cultural relativists think that every national culture usually has a “culture core”, the symbol of the most important features in this national culture. (…) Different as the manifestation of every national feature is, their essences and their values are the same, that is, they can serve to unite their own nation and perform as a whole to the external world. (…) The viewpoints of cultural relativism have aroused the controversies in the academic circles. Now that cultural relativism holds that every culture has the same value and should be respected, some American scholars argue, the fascist culture is a culture, but is there no need to lash out at it? Cultural relativists advocate abandoning Euro-centrism and American centrism, respecting every nation’s culture and opposing the use of violence to interfere with backward national culture, which is of positive significance. They do not do any analysis but regard all cultures as cultures with equal values, neglect the social development level, and discourage helping the backward nations to enhance their culture, which contains the awakening of Asian and African people, and makes the less developed areas still being dominated by the colonialists and still being in a backward state.

It is obvious how Wu is biased by the Chinese ideology in the area of linguistic relativity and comes up with sweeping generalizations concerning the Western view of culture. He mentions only briefly the classical representatives of the trend, while ignoring the more recent approaches which acknowledge the one-sidedness of the Sapir-Whorf

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hypothesis and propose different, more refined solutions, cf. e.g. Gumperz and Levinson (1996). He is also oblivious to a very influential trend in the area of intercultural studies, i.e. the Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) which solves many problems in intercultural communication, cf. the studies by Wierzbicka and Goddard (this volume). 3.6. Further terms and concepts related to the notions of ‘culture’ and ‘cultural politics’ found recently in the publications of the authorities in the PR of China To illustrate the relation between theoretical discourse and its practical implications and effects in the public (cultural) life in the PRC the following definitions have been selected. First of all, in relation to the definitions of culture the notion of education is of high relevance. Let us consider the following definitions of the concept: 3.6.1. Education (jiaoyu) Shiquan, Yuan. and Tao Feng (1990: 459f) define the notion of education as follows: Education (jiaoyu) is a kind of social activity to cultivate human beings, and also a necessary means of passing down production experience and social life experience. In a broader sense, it refers to all activities, which can promote human knowledge and skills, and influence human ideology and morality, including family education, school education and social education. In a narrow sense, it mainly refers to school education. Sometimes, it is used as the synonym of moral education. The word of education first appeared in Mencius·Jin Xin Shang who says “the third happiness that a man of noble character enjoys is to find the talented people and then cultivate them”. According to Shuowen Jiezi (Origin of Chinese Characters), “Jiao (teaching) means the upper people teach, and the lower people imitate it.” “Yu (cultivating) is to educate the children to do good deeds.” Education came into being as society arose, and develops with the development of society. It has an essential relationship with the development of society, and is restricted by the regular pattern of physical and mental development of the educational object. The development of modern production and science and technology puts forward a higher demand on education. Great importance has been gradually attached to education by countries all over the world.

3.6.2. ‘Quality-oriented education’ (sushi jiaoyu) The “Xinhua Dictionary of New Words” (2003: 342) quotes the following definition: Based on the actual needs of human and social development, quality-oriented education, the leading educational thought in the 1980s’ education reform of China, is to comprehensively improve the overall quality of individuals, cultivate their ability and develop their personality. In 1999, On Decision of Deepening Educational reform and Promoting Quality Education in an All-round Way was issued, which stated that carrying out quality-oriented education is to fully implement the Party’s educational policy, fundamentally aiming at improving national quality and putting emphasis on cultivating students’ creative spirit and practical ability, and training socialist builders and successors featuring an all-round development in morality, intelligence, physique and art. The comprehensive promotion of quality-oriented education is based on the extension of a universal nine-year compulsory education to all people and the elimination of adult illiteracy from the society.


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A further important semantic field associated with culture is the area of (social) values, which include the following conepts: 3.6.3. Values (jiazhiguan) Zhou Yunqing (in Encyclopedia of China Online. Volume: Sociology) defines the notion as follows: Values refer to a criterion which social members use to evaluate behaviors and things, as well as to choose their appropriate one from various kinds of possible targets. Values are reflected by people’s behavior and their evaluation and attitude towards things. They are the core of the world outlook and the internal motivation to drive human behavior. They dominate and regulate all social behaviors and involve all aspects of social life. Values are people’s reflections on social existence. Natural environment and social environment, in which people live, together with their social status and material living conditions, determine human values. People in the same natural and social environments will share almost the same values. In every society exist some universally recognized value standards which entail a generally accepted behavior, also called social behavior mode, such as the pursuit of knowledge or the worship of authority. Among different classes, stratums and groups of the same society, the different conditions will lead to different or even opposite values and different or even contrary judgments on the same thing, so different or even opposite attitudes and behaviors will occur. Values are developed after birth and cultivated through socialization. Such groups as families and schools play a pivotal role in the development of an individual’s values. So do other social environments. Public and implicit education inculcate the young with existing traditional values, which are internalized as one’s code of conduct and the yardstick for judging what is right or wrong, good or bad, good or evil and beautiful or ugly. Individuals do not always passively accept traditional values. They will enrich the traditional values according to their understanding and life experience while accepting them. The formation of individual values is gradually established with the increase of knowledge and accumulation of life experience. Once established, individual values will be relatively stable, and become certain value orientation and set behavior, which are not easy to change. However, the values of the society and social groups constantly change because of the personnel turnover and environmental changes. Traditional values are endlessly challenged by new values. The conflict of values leads to the general trend that the former gradually gives way to the latter. The change of values is the premise of social reform, and at the same time, the inevitable result of social reform. Yu, Kou (Encyclopedia of China Online. Volume: Psychology) gives the following definition: Values refer to a criterion which subjects use to judge and choose objective things in accordance with their significance or importance to subjects themselves and the society. They

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play a role in guiding or regulating individual thought and behavior, so that the individual thought and behavior point to a certain target or have a certain tendency.

It is generally assumed that values have the following properties: 1. Subjectivity: Values are internal standards and subjective concepts which individuals have at their disposal to evaluate the value of general concepts and phenomena. 2. Selectivity: Values are acquired through a process of selection. This selection is not obligatory but freely made out of a range of optional choices. Values are a selection resulting from careful consideration. 3. Stability: Values are connected to an individual’s long-lasting belief, with which the individual can judge whether a behavior or its result is good or bad, proper or improper, right or wrong. This more stable belief consistently leads individual behaviors towards a certain target or a certain tendency. 4. Social and historical factors: Individual values are acquired and a result of long-term socialization and internalization. Different social environments and cultural backgrounds make humans develop completely distinct values. Consequently, values are a reflection of the spirit of the times. 5. The developmental factor: The degree of importance of values is developmental, changeable, and relative. People at different psychological levels, especially people with different formal thinking ability, hold different values. As humans gradually mature, they develop a deep understanding of social problems, so that their every need and target changes, and so do their values. 6. Orientation of behaviors: Values are the most basic internal guide. The formation of individual values is out of love and appreciation, apart from selection, according to which individuals behave. Values are repeatedly performed as a way of life; therefore, they are standards used to guide every behavior and play a leading role in choosing a way of behavior. 7. Systematic: Values do not exist in isolation, but are linked with each other according to a certain logic and significance and they operate on a certain structure level or within a selfcontained system. It is only within the entire value system that single values can show their role and significance.

When discussing the concept of culture within a nation or in inter-cultural spaces, some aspects of law, legal system and the philosophy of law should also be taken into consideration. Some relevant definitions are given below. 3.6.4. Rule of law (fazhi) Wu Shuchen and Ma Xiaohong (2000: 206f) offer the following definition: Rule of law is the governing principles put forward by the Legalists in the Warring States of ancient China. It originated from the thoughts of such innovators in the Spring and Autumn period as Guan Zhong, Zi Chan and Deng Xi. (…) Han Fei epitomized these thoughts, which Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of the Qin, set as the guiding ideology of developing his country, and strongly carried out in his practice. The theory of “rule of law” generally includes the following aspects. First, emphasis is put on “ruling the country by law”. Rule of law is considered superior to rule of morality, rule of rites and rule by man. The legalists think that compared with rites, law is more objective and just, embodying fairness. (…) Second, it is stressed that “rule of law” is the inevitable outcome of the historical development. With the development of society, the Legalists thought, (…) the Confucian or ethical code and the moral preaching could not solve disputes


Richard Trappl and upheavals. (…) the Legalists claimed that the era of rule of rites had ended, and the era of “rule of law” had already come. The country would be strong if ruled by law, while the country would perish under rule of rites. Third, the Legalists conclude the way to implement “rule of law”. For one thing, “rule of law” should be carried out on condition that there are laws to go by and regulations to follow, and law is the principle. (…) For another, implementation of “rule of law” should strictly enforce law. (…) Next, to implement “rule of law” should combine law, power and tactics. Not only did monarchs act in accordance with law, but firmly hold the supreme authority of the monarch as the backing. (…) the theory of “rule of law” plays an enormous role in promoting the development of ancient Chinese laws. The Qin Dynasty established a sound legal system under the guidance of the theory of “rule of law”. However, this theory puts great emphasis on “heavy sentence” and it is unilateral to praise highly the role of violence; thus, it provides a theoretical basis for the ruling class to use stiff penalty and cruel torture. “Rule of law” refers to ruling the country by law. This theory embodies different contents and natures in different countries and areas in different times. (…) Aristotle thought that rule of law meant that law had been generally obeyed, and the law people obeyed was a well made law. Modern Western bourgeoisie connected rule of law with democracy, and fought against autocratic monarchy and feudal privileges. The bourgeois “rule of law” asserted that law was supreme and everyone was equal before the law. Besides, they claimed that the state should exercise authority by law and unlawful deprivation of people’s rights was prohibited.

The thought of rule of lay played an active part in the development of Chinese history. However, this theory has serious defects in itself. First, the Legalists put emphasis on the supremacy of monarchical power, and law could hardly restrict monarchs. Because monarchs placed themselves above law, true “rule of law” could not be realized. Second, the Legalists’ rule of law featured severity and mercilessness. It only emphasized complicated laws and torture to restrain people, and advocated heavy punishment for light crimes, which easily sharpen the social contradiction. (…) It is commented that since the Han Dynasty in Chinese feudal society, the ruling class had adopted the Confucian thoughts and the system of the Legalist school. 3.6.5. Formalism (xingshizhuyi) Li, Huaichun (in: “Encyclopedia of China Online. Volume: “Philosophy”) offers the following definition: Formalism is a metaphysical point of view and method which dissevers organic connections between form and content, and pursues form unilaterally but neglect content. The word “formalism” stems from Greek, meaning superficial form. Formalism greatly exaggerates the role of form and denies the decisive and dominant position of content; makes no concrete analysis of a thing’s contradiction and takes no account of its nature; classifies things according to their external markers in place of the cognition of things’ nature; satisfies the listing of phenomena, regardless of the nature. In the literary and artistic creation, formalism is separated from social life, neglects the ideological content of art, and puts one-sided emphasis on artistic manifestation. In the literary and artistic creation of modern bourgeoisie, some formalist schools advocate “art for art’s sake” in various ways to propagandize and practice. The metaphysical point of view and method of formalism is closely connected with subjectivism. It does not investigate the thing’s essence, and has a great subjectivity and blindness in the cognitive activity and practical activity. Marxism, according to the dialecti-

Intercultural terminology and its political contexts ...


cal principle of form and content, affirms the position and role of form in the development of things, but firmly opposes any tendency to formalism. There are essential differences between formalism and formal method in epistemology, and they cannot be confused with each other. Formalization is a scientific method that people use in a certain symbol system to describe the form and content of things, and reveal the objective connection of things and their development law. It is the development and deepening of human scientific cognition. As a scientific cognitive methodology, formalization doesn’t deny the dialectical relationship between content and form.

3.6.6. Ideology (yishi xingtai) Zhan, Guo (in: Encyclopedia of China Online. Volume: Philosophy) defines the concept as follows: Ideology is an ideological system which systematically, consciously and directly reflects the social economic form and political system, and it is a part of various forms of social consciousness which constitutes the ideal superstructure. In the class society, ideology has the class nature and in a concentrated way reflects the interest and demand of a certain class. (…) Marx and Engels regarded ideology as an important category of historical materialism which is corresponding to economic form. The content and form of ideology: Ideology is the sum total of ideas, point of view and concepts which is directly linked to a certain social economy and politics, including such ideological forms as political and legal thought, morality, literature and art, religion, philosophy and other social sciences. The content of ideology is a reflection of social economic basis and political system, as well as the economic relations and political relations among people. Every form of ideology originates from social material life on the basis of productive labor. (…) Ideology changes as economic basic changes. Political thought, legal thought, morality, art, religion, philosophy and other social sciences reflect the realistic social life from different aspects in respectively special way. They are interrelated and mutually restricted, and constitute the organic whole of ideology. The relationship between ideology and social consciousness: Social consciousness is a reflection of social existence, and summarizes all the achievements of social spiritual life. Ideology is part of social consciousness. The form of social consciousness is the conscious and stereotyped social consciousness, which has various kinds of relatively stable forms. (…) Types of ideology According to its class contents and the social economic formation that it reflects, namely, production relations, ideology can be divided into: ideology of slave owners which reflects the slave social relations of production; ideology of feudal lords, reflecting relations of production of the feudal system; bourgeois ideology which reflects capitalist relations of production and which is the reflection of socialist production relations. (…) Ideology in every society is complicated and usually has three kinds of different systems: 1. the dominant ideology which reflects and serves the predominant economic and political system in this society; 2. the residual ideology which reflects the eliminated old economic and political system; 3. the new ideology which reflects new social factors that the existing society is pregnant with and serve the establishment of new economic and political system. The struggle between different ideologies constitutes an important element of class struggle. (…) Ideologies of different exploiting classes are the reflection of private ownership, and therefore, they have something in common. Proletarian ideology is fundamentally different from ideologies of all exploiting classes. The Communist revolution is the most radical rupture with traditional ownership relations, and the most radical rupture with traditional ideas. Proletarian ideology is not based on private ownership but on the basis of public ownership. It is the most scientific and progressive ideology in the human history. It is


Richard Trappl inevitable that new ideology will take place of old one, just as new social system replaces old one.

3.6.7. Humanism (rendaozhuyi) Wang Shuren et al. (in: Encyclopedia of China Online, Volume: Philosophy) offer the following definition: Humanism refers to the thought and theory concerning human nature, missions, values and personality development. It is a philosophical category of development and changes. Humanitarian ideology came into existence as human beings entered the period of civilization. Humanism, however, as a thought and theory of times, was gradually formed after the fifteenth century, initially reflected in literature and art, and then gradually penetrating into other fields. The word of “humanism” stems from Latin “humanistas”, initiated by ancient Roman thinker Marcus Tullius Cicero, referring to an education system with a humanitarian spirit which can foster maximum development of individual abilities, which is the original meaning of humanism. To the new bourgeois thinkers of the fifteenth century, humanism means the spirit of the Renaissance, that is, the full development of human abilities by learning and carrying forward ancient Greek and Roman cultures, which is a pursuit and ideal with a profound content proposed by new Bourgeoisie. In the course of the bourgeois revolution, humanism fought against the autocracy of the feudal church and called for the full development of the human personality. Not until the nineteenth century was humanism always the important Ideological weapon with which the bourgeoisie established and strengthened the capitalist system. With the loss of the bourgeois revolutionary nature and the upsurge of the proletarian revolutionary movement, the bourgeois humanism gradually lost its progressive historical role. In the modern times, though Western thinkers are still holding the banner of humanism, their theories on humanism are more or less colored with nihilism or pessimism, because they cannot find their way out when they are uncertain about the future of the capitalist system, especially faced with various serious problems of capitalist society, such as spiritual crisis.

3.6.8. Individualism (gerenzhuyi) According to Zhang Haishan (in: Encyclopedia of China. CD 04: Philosphy) Individualism is a kind of individual-centered ideological and theoretical attitude towards society and others, along with altruism, liberalism, anarchism or other forms as its manifestation. Individualism stems from Latin individuum, meaning inseparable things. Ancient Greek philosopher Protagoras puts forward the proposition of “Man is the measure of all things”, an important expression of individualism. Thinkers in modern bourgeois revolutionary periods, such as English philosopher Hobbes, universalize individualism as eternal and unchanged human nature, and make it as the main content of morality and the important criterion of judging good and evil. German philosophers in the nineteenth century, like Nietzsche, further to systematize the theory of individualism, taking it as the base of values and the only criterion to evaluate society. From the perspective of individualism, individuals are in opposition to the society; everything proceeds from personal needs and personal well-being; it is against united social value standards. If individualism goes to extremes, one will unscrupulously do harm to society or others for his own profit. Private ownership is the practical eco-

Intercultural terminology and its political contexts ...


nomic foundation on which individualism emerges and develops. During the period of the rise of capitalism, individualism was used as a powerful ideological weapon by the bourgeois to play a positive role in emancipating people’s minds. (…) Socialism does not deny individual interests and personal needs, but advocates that only through realizing overall interest of socialist society, can individual interests be achieved and satisfied. 3.6.9. Humanity (renxing) Wang Ruisheng (Encyclopedia of China Online. Volume: Philosophy) gives the following description of the concept: Ancient Greek philosophers like Democlit, Plato and Aristotle, etc. all once talked about humanity. Aristotle once put forward the famous proposition that human being is “political animal” by nature. In feudal society, the notion of humanity was further developed. Humanity is the basic feature and nature which distinguishes human being from other animals, which mainly means the capacity of production.

It has been long for human being to recognize their nature from the perspective of philosophy. The term humanity can be traced back to ancient times. Masterpieces from the Confucianists during the period of Spring and Autumn mentioned human nature. The Book of Rites, chapter Liyun, says that “food and sex are the strong desire of human being.” Gao zi from the period of War States put forward that food and sex is the nature of human being. Menfucius interprets the nature of human being in the sense that moral concept is endowed by God and people are born with virtuousness. However, Xunzi takes the opposite position. He advocates that people are born evil and if they are good, it is just because they pretend to be good. Zhu Xi from the Chinese Song dynasty explained humanity with ration, bringing forward the idea that “nature is ration”, namely human nature, is the embodiment of heavenly principles. Scholastic philosophers of European’s medieval time on the other hand interpreted human nature as divinity, so as to be in consistency of the absolute ruling of theology. Historical materialists think that the so-called humanity is the basic distinction between human being and animals, which lies in social labor. With contrast to the view of holding the God in the center and degrading human being, bourgeoisie thinkers bring forward the idea of respecting human nature and centering human being. They regard human nature as the good nature or ration of human being. The main views about humanity in history are as follows. a. Humanity is divine nature. b. Understand humanity as the natural property of human being. c. Assume humanity as a changeless temperament or some sort of abstract concept. However, due to the limitations of time and cognition, all these views cannot give an accurate definition of humanity. Meanwhile, they have achieved some positive results about the probe of humanity, which therefore accumulate precious materials for thought with regard to solving the problem of human nature in a scientific way.


Richard Trappl

Realistic social labor and all social life always conducted under certain social forms, i.e. production relations, without which human being can neither produce or survive, and human being can no longer be human being. Production relations and other social relations are the basic and decisive elements in forming humanity. Realistic and concrete humanity are generally embodied as a kind of humanity with class character. Of course, the degree of awareness of the class character is complicated and so are the mutual relationships among different classes. The communication between opposite classes share something in common, such as using common language for communication, mutual love and hatred on some aspects, common national psychological quality, etc. However, the mutual fights between opposite classes are after all the main characteristics of the history of class society, which inevitably exert profound impact on concrete human nature. The concept of humanity, as the abstract form of the concrete and realistic humanity in different historic period, reflects the common nature of human being. This leads us to another related concept, i.e. power: 3.6.10. Power (quanli) Shen Zongling (in: Encyclopedia of China Online. Volume: Law) defines the concept as follows: Power is to vest the national organizations and their staffs the authority, the qualification and duties to handle public affairs. In ancient China, national power is restricted to “monarchy” (…) In the late 19 centuries, some modern Chinese thinkers advocate “people´s power” in opposition to monarchy (…) In modern Chinese lexicon and law regulations, right and power, especially citizen rights and national power are strictly distinguished.

National power either refers to People´s Congress (power departments), or functions and powers and their limits from the government and government departments and institutions. In the normal civil legal relationship where Staffs of the government departments and institutions purchase in stores in the name of their departments or institutions, the government departments and institutions (as a buyer) enjoy the same legal right as an ordinary citizen, i.e. that they enjoy certain civil rights and take correspondent civil obligations. However, among the legal relationships involving government departments and institutions, the amount of civil and commercial legal relationships are too insignificant to mention. Most of the legal activities involving government are the ones within the limits of functions and powers. In Chinese, “rights” and “power” can sometimes be interchangeable, and sometimes remarkably different. In English, “rights” and “power” are generally used separately. Take the American Independence Declaration in 1776 and the Constitution and its Amendment in 1987 as an example, “rights” and “power” were widely used in them with the unambiguous connation that people enjoy rights and the government exercises power. However, in some American and English jurists´ works, these two words tend to be interchangeable.

Intercultural terminology and its political contexts ...


3.6.11. Honesty (cheng) Pan Fuen (in: Encyclopedia of China. CD 04: Philosophy) gives the following definition: Honesty belongs to the category of Chinese ancient philosophy, which means being honest and not cheating. The Book of Rites-Golden Mean says “honesty” is the essential nature of God, while trying to reach the stage of being honest is the way to be a human being. (…) The Book of Rites advocates that the existence of everything lies in honesty. Mencius thinks that reaching the stage of honesty by self-reflection is the greatest joy. Xunzi holds the view that although it is not necessary to know the rule of heaven, it is still important to take “honesty” as the means and ultimate stage of refined morality. Here, honesty is also thought of as the criteria of moral politics. The Great Learning quotes the theory of honesty from the Golden Mean, which says honesty is the foundation of governing a country, harmonizing in families, cultivating one’s moral characters, stabilizing one´s state of mind. Li Ao in Tang dynasty integrates the thoughts of Confucianism and Buddhism and draws a conclusion that honest means the full display of one’s nature or one’s double nature. He thinks that the nature of the human being is pure kindheartedness, which is, however, beclouded by lust. Therefore, people should get rid of lust so as to achieve an inner stage of being quiet and agile. Zhou Dunyi considers honesty as the nature of human being. The School of Cheng brothers and Zhu Xi think honesty is the essence of heavenly principles. Wang Fuzhi of the end of Ming Dynasty and the beginning of Qing Dynasty claims that the thoughts of honesty and morality are two different names with the same meaning. According to him, honesty is the objective principle of the objective world while sometimes he interprets honesty as “practically owning”, which is used to indicate the factuality of the objective world.

3.6.12. (Road to) principles (dao) Liu Weihua (in: Encyclopedia of China. CD 04: Philosophy) defines dao as follows: Dao is an important category in ancient Chinese philosophy, which is used to describe the origin, the noumenon, rules or principles. Its meaning varies in different philosophy systems. The original connotation of Tao is ‘road’ or ‘royal road’, which gradually develops into the meaning of principles, expressing the regularity of things. The transformation took a considerably long historical procedure. In the end of the Spring and Autumn period, Laozi was the first to consider Tao as the origin and general principle of the universe and therefore he became the founder of the Tao school. Laozi began to inquire into the origin of heaven. He believes that all the things in the world originate from Tao. He says, “Something mysteriously formed, born before heaven and Earth. In the silence and the void, standing alone and unchanging, ever present and in motion. Perhaps it is the mother of ten thousand things. I do not know its name. Call it Tao.” Laozi thinks the course of Tao begetting everything is “The Tao begot one. One begot two. Two begot three. And three begot the ten thousand things.” (Chapter 42) After begetting everything, Tao lies in everything as the evidence of their existence. Tai is prevailing, existing everywhere and covering everything. Although Tao exists in everything, it is different from perceivable concrete things in the sense that it is not visible, hearable or obtainable while it is what constructs the common essence of all things. The evolvement of Tao theory Fanli, who was born shortly after Laozi, takes heaven’s law as the rule of everything’s development. During the period of Warring States, Taoists of the Qi State School, from the perspective of materialism describe Tao as the energy which is prevailing and full of life. The theory of energy exerts great effect on the subsequent development of Chinese medicine.


Richard Trappl Zhuanzi is a representative of the Tao School in the middle and late period of Warring states. In his opinion, Tao is the ultimate root of the whole world. Tao is the noumenon of the universe, which covers everything, bearing the weight of everything, self-emerging, selfdeveloping and lasting forever. He also thinks that there is nothing that goes beyond the dominance of Tao. He also thinks that Tao cannot be given an explicit definition. There are sayings like “Tao should not be named”, “Tao is evident but not speakable”, “Even if something is named as Tao, it is also used in the name of Tao”. Therefore, we can only say that Tao is something that has feeling and credit, which at the same time has no function and no shape; Tao is teachable but not receivable, obtainable but invisible. Tao is self-rooted. It has existed in the universe since ancient time. (…) Zhuangzi creates the theory on the interrelationship among Tao, Virtue and rationality. The theory is used to handle the interrelationship critically. He takes Tao as the general rule for the material world and as the foundation of the existence and development of everything. He regards the relationship between Tao, De and Li as the dialectic unity of the university and particularity, unlimitedness and limitedness.

In the history of Chinese Philosophy, the concept of Tao is put forward by Tao School, which has later been widely accepted by all schools. Although it is interpreted in various ways, it has received another name for the arche and general principle of the universe. 3.6.13. Benevolence, virtue (ren) Ma Zhenduo and Li Xi (Encyclopedia of China. CD 04: Philosophy) claim that: Ren (‘Benevolence’ or ‘Virtue’) is the highest moral principle in Confucianism, and it is also the core of the Confucian ideology. The original meaning of Ren refers to a kind of close and friendly relationship between people. Confucius defines Ren as “loving people”, and expounds that “now the man of perfect virtue, wishing to be established himself, seeks also to establish others; wishing to be enlarged himself, he seeks also to enlarge others”, and “not to do to others as you would not wish done to yourself”. Confucius regards Ren as the highest ideal of the pursuit of life, claiming that “the determined scholar and the man of virtue will not seek to live at the expense of injuring their virtue. They will even sacrifice their lives to preserve their virtue complete”. This is one of the great contributions Confucius has made to the human civilization and spirit. Confucius speaks highly of Ren and he argues that only by one’s subjective efforts is it not difficult to be benevolent, saying “to be able to judge of others by what is nigh in ourselves;—this may be called the art of virtue”; “the practice of perfect virtue is from a man himself”; “I wish to be virtuous, and virtue is at hand”; “to subdue one’s self and return to propriety is perfect virtue. If a man can for one day subdue him and return to propriety, all under heaven will ascribe perfect virtue to him”. When answering questions raised by Zizhang about perfect virtue, Confucius clarifies the contents of Ren “to be able to practice five things everywhere under heaven constitutes a perfect virtue, the five things being gravity, generosity, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness”. Besides Confucius explains what malevolence is, saying “fine words and an insinuating appearance are seldom associated with true virtue”. Confucius’ ideas about Ren embody his generosity to laborers, “if you are generous, you will win all” and “if you are kind, this will enable you to employ the services of others”. Confucius’ benevolent attitude towards laborers is the progressive factor in the theory of Ren. Confucius holds the view that the core of Ren is to establish oneself as well as others. (…) Mencius develops Confucius’ theory of Ren by combining benevolence with righteousness, considering them as the highest principle of moral conduct. Mencius’ idea of benevolence refers to moral nature, that is, “the feeling of commiseration”, which belongs to

Intercultural terminology and its political contexts ...


all men; his concept of righteousness means straight path, i.e. “righteousness is man’s straight path”. Mencius wants to keep a vein on kings and ordinary people through his idea of benevolence and righteousness so as to achieve his ideal that “he is affectionate to his parents, and lovingly disposed to people generally. He is lovingly disposed to people generally, and kind to creatures”. Han Dynasty scholar Dong Zhongshu further develops the ideas of Confucius and Mencius by explicitly differentiating benevolence and righteousness as how to deal with oneself and others (…). He expounds the relationship between benevolence and wisdom more clearly than his predecessors. (…)To further develop the idea of Ren, Cheng Hao, a Song Dynasty scholar, combines Ren together with everything else in the world; and the modern scholar Tan Sitong in his famous work On benevolence sees Ren as the origin of all creatures. However, these ideas have strayed from original Confucius’ theory of Ren.

3.6.14. Qi Zhang Dainian and Li Xi (Encyclopedia of China. CD 04: Philosophy) quote the following explanation of the term: In ancient Chinese philosophy, Qi serves as the basic category indicating the existence of substance. Its original meaning refers to the existent in the vapor state, a general term of floating clouds, vapor, flue gas and breath. Ancient Chinese thinkers argued that solid and liquid objects were condensed by gas; therefore, Qi had gradually been endowed with philosophical meaning, mainly used to refer to a kind of original substance which constitutes all physical things, indicating objective existence which can move and take up space. In the development of Chinese philosophy and thoughts, the notion of Qi has gradually changed and developed. (…) Qi in the pre-Qin days is summarized as a kind of original substance, the base of birth and knowledge, which forms every physical and living creature. (…) From the end of Han Dynasty till Sui and Tang Dynasties, Taoist priests did breathing exercises to discipline their temperament because they thought Qi in their bodies and in the world was linked, and had energy, Qi and vigor combined well they would have achieved longevity. (…) From Song Dynasty until Ming and Qing Dynasties, Chinese materialist philosophers regarded Qi as the most important category. Qi in ancient Chinese books has a far broader denotation, referring in general to every phenomenon, including both material phenomenon and spiritual phenomenon. (…)

3.6.15. Harmony of Man with Heaven (Tian ren he yi) Yu Dunkang (in: Encyclopedia of China. CD 04: Philosophy) offers the following description of the phenomenon: It is a viewpoint concerning the relationship between Heaven and Man in ancient Chinese philosophy with emphasis on their close and inseparable relationship. It originates from the Mandate of Heaven in Western Zhou (Xizhou), (…) in which Heaven powerfully dominates the personal gods with will, Nature and society. Therefore, the relationship between Heaven and Man is actually that between gods and man. (…) During the Spring and Autumn Period, as materialism and atheism are on the upgrade, it is suspected that Heaven is related to personal god. The primitive idea of relationship between Heaven and Man has gradually developed in the direction of philosophy, which progresses along two different lines, one to mould Heaven according to social relations (…), and the other to see Heaven as boundlessly broad Nature. (…) In the Warring States Period, Mencius and Zhuangzi put forward two different types of theories. According to Mencius’ philosophical system, there are two relations: 1. Heaven or


Richard Trappl the Mandate of Heaven is the irresistible force which determines the development of all things, (…) 2. Heaven is the first principle of human moral concepts, (…). Another type is Zhuangzi’s idea of harmony of Man with Heaven. He holds the view that Heaven is Nature, while Man is part of Nature, and that therefore, Heaven and Man are in harmony. He argues, however, that people formulate various decrees and regulations as well as moral norms, destroying the disposition of Nature, which leads to Heaven confronting Man. (…) In Han Dynasty, the thought of harmony of Man with Heaven evolves into theological teleology concerning the interaction between Heaven and Man put forward by Dong Zhongshu, (…) which has been attacked by materialism and idealism, and then gradually declines and comes to an end. In Song Dynasty, this thought becomes a dominant philosophical orientation, almost received by every school of philosophers. (…) Zhang Zai (…) explicitly advances the proposition of “harmony of Man with Heaven”. At the time of Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty, carrying on Zhang Zai’s theory, Wang Fuzhi affirms that harmony of Man with Heaven is based on Qi, and that Way of Man and Way of Heaven (that is, moral principles and natural law) are identical. (…)

3.6.16. Justice (Zhengyi) Bao Lianzong (in: Encyclopedia of China. CD 04: Philosophy) defines the notion as follows: Justice is one of basic categories in political science, sociology and ethics. In ethics, justice usually refers to people doing what they should do according to given moral standards under certain conditions, and at the same time, it also indicates a kind of judgment that society pass on human moral and immoral behaviors. (…) In China, the word “justice” first appears in “Xunzi”, in which he says “those who have no education, lack rectitude and moral principles, and consider wealth and material gain as exalted are vulgar common people”.(…) The concept of justice originates from the equal feelings of primitive men, and the concepts of justice and injustice come into being after the emergence of private property. In ancient Greece, justice is one of four Cardinal Virtues. Justice is, Plato thinks, that everyone in society does what they should do according to their own rank. Christian ethical thinkers in the Middle Ages argue that human body should be obedient to soul, and that soul should be commended to God. Modern bourgeois thinkers interpret behaviors conforming to bourgeois moral standards as “justice”, which they think is “eternal”. According to Marxist ethics, justice is a concrete and historical category, different understandings about it in different times and classes. Whether human behaviors are in conformity with justice, in the ultimate analysis, depends on whether they can propel social history forward and meet the interest of the people.

3.6.17. Well-being (Xingfu) Bao Lianzong (in: “Encyclopedia of China. CD 04: Philosophy”) gives the following definition: Well-being is one of the basic categories in ethics, referring to a kind of inner satisfaction which people feel by fulfilling or approaching their goal or ideal in certain social practice. In China, the notion of “well-being” came into existence long ago. In “The Shu King, or Book of Historical Documents” of the pre-Qin days, “five well-beings” are mentioned, that is, first, long life; second, being wealthy; third, being healthy and free from worry; fourth, being benevolent, generous and quiet; fifth, dying a natural death, which are regarded as the biggest happiness at that time. Well-being is also an important category in

Intercultural terminology and its political contexts ...


Western ethics. Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus explicitly puts forward that the aim of life is to pursue pleasure and happiness (…). Theologians in the Middle Ages deny the happiness of this life but propose well-being lie in devout belief in God and go to Paradise after death. Modern materialist thinkers hold that the primary content of well-being embodies the satisfaction of one’s individual life desire, and that it is natural right and natural instinct to pursue well-being. (…) According to Marxist ethics, human outlook on well-being are inseparable from their understanding about the goal and meaning of life, and moreover, in essence, it is determined by economic relationship and living conditions in a given society. (…) Marxist conception of well-being is a collectivist outlook, considering that individual happiness is indivisible from collective happiness, which is the base of the former, and more important than the former, but Marxist conception of well-being does not deny individual happiness. (…) Besides, in the opinion of Marxist ethics, human well-being includes material life as well as spiritual life. Based on the development of production, human proper need for material life is continuously satisfied, which is an indispensable requirement for attaining a happy life. However, well-being does not merely lie in the satisfaction of material life, but a plenitudinous spiritual life serves as an important respect in a happy life as well.

3.6.18. Rites (Li) Ma Zhenduo and Li, Xi, Li (Encyclopedia of China. CD 04: Philosophy) offer the following definition: Li (Rite) is the institutions in China’s slave society, and the moral norm in slave society and feudal society. As institutions, it is a manifestation of the political system of slave society; the etiquette to maintain patriarchal and hierarchical superstructure and corresponding interpersonal relationships. As a moral norm, it is the code of conduct for slave owners and the feudal landlord class. As ideology, Li in the Confucian system is inseparable from Ren (Virtue). Mencius considers benevolence, righteousness, rite and wisdom as the basic code of ethics. (…) Xunzi attaches more importance to Li than Mencius. His great work Ritual Theory demonstrates the origin of Li and its role in society. (…) In the long history of development, Li, as the moral norm and living standards in China’s feudal society, plays an essential role in cultivating the spiritual qualities of the Chinese people. But at the same time, with social change and development, especially in the late feudal society, it increasingly bounds human thinking and behaviors, affecting the social and historical progress and development.

4. Concluding remarks As stated above, this paper is only an initial report of a project in progress. The first part, i.e. the publication of the project is scheduled for one of the next “ChineseEuropean Cultural Dialogues”. The project will also involve scholars from Chinese partner institutions. The initial phase is being carried out by the author together with colleagues from the Confucius Institute at the University of Vienna. All translations from the Chinese sources quoted in this paper have been done by my teacher colleagues Zhang Ning and Cai Shaolian. I would also like to express my sincere thanks to Barbara Kryk-Kastovsky for her great patience and many suggestions for improving the draft version.


Richard Trappl

References Bao, L. 2004. Justice. In: Encyclopedia of China Online. CD 04: Philosophy. Chen, G. (ed.). 1990. Concise Dictionary of Cultural Anthropology. Hangzhou: Zhejiang People’s Publishing House. Dorodnych, A. and A. Kuzio. This volume. The role of cultural scripts and contextualization cues in intercultural (mis-)communication. Feng, Tianyu (ed.). 2001. Dictionary of Chinese Culture. Wuchang: Wuhang University Press. Garcia Negroni, M. M. and M. L. Spoturno. This volume. Bridging gaps across cultures: The case of glosses in Caramelo, a Chicana novel. Goddard, C. This volume. Cultural scripts and communication style: differences in three Anglo Englishes (English English, American English and Australian English). Gumperz, J. and S. Levinson (eds.). 1996. Rethinking Linguistic Relativity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hao, X. 2004. Culture. In: Encyclopedia of China Online. CD 04: Philosophy. http://202.112.118. 40:918/web/index.htm. Li, H. 2004. Formalism. In: Encyclopedia of China Online. CD 04: Philosophy. http://202.112.118. 40:918/web/index.htm. Liu, J. 2003. On the Development Stages of Cultural Industry. China Culture Daily. January 29. 2003. Liu, W. 2004. National Bureau of Statistics of China. In: Encyclopedia of China Online. CD 04: Philosophy. Ma, Z. and X. Li. 2004. In: Encyclopedia of China Online. CD 04: Philosophy. http://202.204.214. 134:918/web/index.htm. Pan, F. 2004. In: Encyclopedia of China Online. CD 04: Philosophy. Shen, Z. 2004. Power. In: Encyclopedia of China Online. CD 05: Law web/index.htm. Wang, R. 2004. Humanity. In: Encyclopedia of China Online. CD 04. Philosophy. Wang, S., Y. Zhao, G. Zhou and T. Jing. 2004. Humanism. In: Encyclopedia of China Online. CD 04. Philosophy. Wierzbicka, A. This volume. When cultural scripts clash: Miscommunication in “multicultural” Australia. Wu, S., and X. Ma. 2000. Legal history. In: Rao, X. (ed.). Peking University Encyclopedia of Jurisprudence. Legal, History. Beijing: Peking University Press, 206-207. Wu, W. 2004. Cultural relativism. In: Encyclopedia of China Online. CD 09. Ethnology. (http:// Xinhua Dictionary of New Words. 2003. Beijing: Research Center for Lexicography of Commercial Press. Yu, D. 2004. In: Encyclopedia of China Online. CD 04: Philosophy. Yu, K. 2004. Values. In: Encyclopedia of China Online. CD 04. Psychology. (http://202.112.118. 40:918/web/index.htm) Yuan, S. and F. Tao (eds.). 1990. Great Dictionary of Chinese Encyclopedia. Beijing: Huaxia Publishing House. Zhan, G. 2004. Ideology. In: Encyclopedia of China Online. CD 04. Philosophy. http://202.112. 118.40:918/web/index.htm. Zhang, D. and X. Li. 2004. In: Encyclopedia of China Online. CD 04: Philosophy. Zhang, H. 2004. In: Encyclopedia of China Online. CD 04: Philosophy. Zhou, Y. 2004. Values. In: Encyclopedia of China Online. CD 09. Sociology. 918/web/index.htm.

On some ‘dis-ings’1 leading to a possible ‘mis-ing’ Matylda Weidner, University of Antwerp 1. Introduction This chapter looks at how the doctor and the patient negotiate alignment and affiliation in the course of their interaction. When co-constructing interaction in concert with one another, the participants build sequences of actions by attending to both the structural and the functional strata of interactional cooperation. The participants orientation to the former will be revealed in their (dis-)aligning behavior, whereas their management of the latter will contribute to their (dis-)affiliating behavior. The basis for this observation lies in the distinction proposed by Stivers (Stivers 2008; Stivers et al. 2010: 23) that whereas being aligned is reflected in: 1) promoting the proposed activity or sequence; 2) accepting the presuppositions and terms of the proposed action or activity; 3) matching the formal design preference of the turn, being affiliative is demonstrated in: 1) adopting the same evaluative stance as the prior speaker; 2) displaying empathy; 3) matching the action level preference of the turn. Drawing on this distinction, the analysis presented in this chapter will show how participants locally manage the course of interaction in an institutional setting. Institutional interaction, such as medical consultations, is systematically different from ordinary conversation in that it “involves reductions of the range of options and opportunities for action” made available to the participants and it frequently involves some “specializations and respecifications of the interactional functions of the activities that remain” (Drew and Heritage 1992b: 26). As a consequence, the manner in which the doctor and the patient produce and interpret actions is calibrated to the institutional tasks and the parties’ own institutional identities. The forms of adaptation of the participant’s asymmetrical perspectives and epistemological rights surface interactionally as the doctor and the patient successfully manage alignment and affiliation in their successive courses of actions. However, this is not always the case. As the parties engage in disjunctive trajectories of action and disharmonize in their evaluative stance, their locally produced actions might generate a ‘mismatch’ of understanding or lead to the collision of their respective epistemic cultures as a cumulative consequence. It is in this sense that the aspect of miscommunication will be approached in the present chapter. 1

In reference to the paper by Drew and Walker (2009: 2405), where the authors refer to the collection ‘dis-ings’ (disagreements, discord, complainings, disputes, etc.) compiled by Gail Jefferson.


Matylda Weidner

The remaining sections of this chapter will be devoted to locating the analytical categories of (dis-) alignment and (dis-) affiliation in the participant’s own interpretations of and orientations toward their actions on a turn-by-turn basis.

2. Data and methodology The analysis in this chapter is based on data fragments selected from an audiotaped corpus of doctor-patient interactions in a large Polish city. The data were transcribed according to the now widely-recognized conventions originally developed by Gail Jefferson (see Atkinson and Heritage 1984: ix-xvi). The transcripts contain three lines: the Polish original, the morpho-syntactic translation and the idiomatic English translation. The method used for the analysis of the data is conversation analysis, which emphasizes the importance of identifying and understanding the structural organization of social interaction and the participants’ normative orientation to this organization.

3. Building Solidarity Before proceeding with the discussion of the fragment presented below, let me offer some background on what the consultation is about. The patient is a man in his early forties, who used to do a physically demanding work at the time of his first admission to the hospital. The consultation takes place prior to the patient’s discharge from the hospital. As the doctor and the patient go over the patient’s past and current symptoms, the doctor discusses the implications of the diagnosis (severe lesions in multiple segments of the spine and a hernia) and points to the fact that the only effective treatment is surgery. Immediately after the diagnosis and the treatment have been presented, the doctor starts making formal arrangements for the surgery. Accordingly, the doctor raises the issue of tests and vaccinations that the patient must undergo and also tells the patient which drugs to avoid and what kind of diet the patient should follow prior to the surgery. Additionally, the doctor mentions that she will give the patient some extra days of sick leave so as to cover his absence from work during the period of preand post-surgery. When it seems that the consultation could have been nearing closing, the patient asks for more information regarding the procedure of the surgery and the post-surgical physiotherapy. In response, the doctor refers to numerous reasons (the patient’s age, lack of diabetes, slender build) to manage an argument about why the patient should not postpone the surgery. When the patient agrees, the doctor resumes her previous activity of summarizing the consultation. This is where we meet the parties as example 1 begins. The doctor is engaged in making final arrangements and thus moving the consultation towards its closing phase (lines 1 to 7). (1) [HNeu 00:14:20-00:15:03] 01 D:

Tu jest recepta na ten= here be3SG prescription PRP this Here you have a prescription for the=

On some ‘dis-ings’ leading to a possible ‘mis-ing’ 02

03 P:

=Ketonal, [ta:k¿] ketonal yes =Ketonal, [ye:s¿] [°tak.°] tak [°yes.°]



05 D:

I jeszcze Pan mi tylko dosta::rczy::¿ and still mister meDAT only deliver3SG And youV’ll only bri::ng me::¿



07 D:

Dob[rze::? goodADV Al[i::ght?

08 P:

[Jest taka sprawa, be3SG such issue [There is an issue,

09 D:

=Tak, yes =Yes,

10 P:

=Bo ja nie mam y::::: (.) jak z tych= CONJ I no have1SG how PRP these =Cause I don’t have u:::::h (.) when I was=


=szwów (.) zostaem przywiezi[ony¿]= stitchPLGEN become1SGPT drivePERFPVPrT =brought back (.) from the stit[ches¿]=

12 D:

13 P:


[tak,] yes [yes, ] =ju braem zwolnienie lekarskie. yet take1SGPT leaveACC doctorADJ =I was already taking a sick leave.

At lines 5 and 7 the doctor requests that the patient needs to bring his health insurance booklet, so that all the formal requirements in preparation for the surgery can be satisfied. The request is formatted as a declarative plus tag with the modal verb “will”, which displays the doctor’s high entitlement to make the request and does not acknowledge any contingencies associated with fulfilling that request (Curl and Drew 2008). Also the declarative + tag (“Dobrze::?” Alri::ght?) elicits confirmation and prefers a “yes”-response (Heritage 2010: 52). However, the patient’s next action disaligns with the formal design preference of the prior turn. Instead of responding to the re-


Matylda Weidner

quest for confirmation further solicited by the doctor’s upward intoned “Dobrze::?” Alri::ght? (line 7), the patient pre-announces some issue “Jest taka sprawa,” There is an issue, (line 8), which signals that there is an agenda to be elaborated on (see Schegloff 2007: 38-44). Given the sequential organization of the medical consultation, the doctor’s turns at lines 1 through 7 are sequence closure implicative. In view of this, the patient’s subsequent turn at line 8 does not promote the proposed course of action and thus escapes the sequence closing direction that the doctor’s prior turn was heading toward. By not accepting the terms of the proposed activity, the patient manages to bounce the sequence and re-opens it by pre-announcing a new issue. In response to the pre-announcement the patient gets a go-ahead from the doctor (“Tak,” Yes,) at line 9, which facilitates the trajectory of the pre-announced telling. Therefore it aligns with the course of action proposed by the patient, which is the fact that he would like to raise another issue. Beginning at line 10, the patient informs the doctor that he doesn’t have any sick days left (line 13), which might be problematic in the context of an upcoming surgery and the need to stay in the hospital for a longer period of time. The patient starts with “Bo ja nie mam” Cause I don’t have at line 10, which by means of its being a causative (subordinate) clause is incomplete and projects the occurrence of some other unit (a main clause). However, in this case the patient abandons the turn-constructional unit in progress, shifts gears and begins his telling from a different angle. What begins as an ambiguous ‘gloss’ “Bo ja nie mam” Cause I don’t have, at line 10, gets unpacked as the patient’s turn develops (Jefferson 1986). At lines 11 and 13 the patient announces that he has already used up all of his sick days during his previous hospital stay. It is formulated in such a way as to volunteer the information, rather than explicitly request help from the doctor2. Consequently, the manner in which the information is packaged makes it available to be treated in different ways. This is how the doctor takes it up in her subsequent turn.



14 D:

Tak, to nie ma znaczenia. (0.2) To °nie= yes it no have3SG meaningGEN it no Yes, it doesn’t matter. (0.2) It °doesn’t=


=ma znaczenia.° have3SG meaningGEN =matter.°

16 D:

No bo ja musz Panu wypisa zwolnienie= PART CONJ I must1SG misterDAT writeINF leaveACC 3 No cause I have to give youV sick=

In Poland the doctor has the possibility of issuing a sick leave to the patient covered by the health insurance. The sick leave grants the patient a sick pay, which is payable to employees for periods of their incapacity for work. Due to the present author’s lack of an unequivocal understanding of the interactional function of the particle “no” in Polish, it will not be translated into English. Conversation analytic explanation of the sequential positioning and the interactional import of this idiosyncratic particle is still awaiting research. Therefore “no” will remain unchanged in the English translation and italicized (no) to signal to the reader that they should not mistake it with the English negative particle “no”.

On some ‘dis-ings’ leading to a possible ‘mis-ing’ 17

=lekarskie na O^Kres (0.2) pobYtu (.) w= doctorADJ PRP period stayGEN PRP =leave for the duR^Ation (0.2) of your stAy (.) in=


=szpitalu¿ y::: dlathego e:: y za okres= hospitalLOC because that PRP period =hospital¿ u:::h because ∅ uh for=


=pobytu w szpitalu z tego co ja wiem,= stayACC PRP hospital PRP this what I know1SG =hospital stays as far as I know,=


=y:: inaczej ZUS y::::: (powiedzmy)= differently zus say1PL 4 =u::h ZUS gives u:::::h (so to speak)=


=zalicza. Take (.) .hh ja Panu wypisuj= count3SG so I misterDAT write1SG =different credit. So (.) .hh I’m giving youV=


=zwolnienie o↑d momentu przyjcia do= leaveACC PRP moment comeNGEN PRP =sick leave fro↑m the day you came to (the)=


=szpitala, (.) na ca^y okres pobytu= hospitalGEN PRP whole periodACC stayGEN =hospital, (.) for the enti^re duration of=


=w szpita^lu¿ (.) pLUs (.) trzydzieci= PRP hospitalLOC plus thirty =your sta^y¿ (.) pLUs (.) thirty (days) of=


=poszpitalne:go, i myl e (.)= post-hospitalGEN and think1SG that =post-ho:spital (leave), and I think (.)=


=prawdopodobnie zaapie [Pan probably catch3SGFT mister =youV’ll probably bridge [it

27 P:



[°(to wystarczy,)° it be3SGFT enough [°(it’ll be enough,)°

For a non-conversation analytic approach to “no” see: Wierzbicka, Anna. 2003. Cross-cultural pragmatics. Mouton de Gruyter; Kryk-Kastovsky, Barbara. 2002. Synchronic and diachronic investigations in pragmatics. Pozna: Motivex. ZUS is an abbreviation used commonly to refer to Zakad Ubezpiecze Spoecznych Social Insurance Institution, which is a state-owned organization with a capacity to manage social insurance.


Matylda Weidner 28 D:

=Tak. (0.2) tho:: do momentu y::::= yes it PRP momentGEN =Yes. (0.2) i::t till the time of u::::h=


=zabiegu. treatmentGEN =the surgery.

The doctor might be hearing the patient’s turn as a request soliciting some response, which in this case would be to take action in order to grant sick days to the patient. However, it should be pointed out that earlier on in the consultation (following the discussion of treatment), the doctor has already offered to write out a sick leave for the patient for both the pre- and the post-operative period. As it turns out, the patient has failed to internalize the doctor’s offer before, which is evidenced by his raising the issue of his lack of sick days as if it were a new issue on the agenda. The doctor first acknowledges the issue voiced by the patient with a turn-initial “Tak,” Yes, (line 14), but then undermines its validity by informing the patient that “to nie ma znaczenia.” it doesn’t matter. (line 14 and 15). The doctor’s turn at lines 14 and 15 is thus a pivot that reorients the patient’s prior announcement. Whereas the patient (at lines 10 to 13) orients to the lack and unavailability of sick days, the doctor accommodates this perspective and expresses a diametric view. By saying “to nie ma znaczenia. (0.2) To °nie ma znaczenia.°” it doesn’t matter. (0.2) It °doesn’t matter.° the doctor shifts the focus from the unavilability to the availability of sick days. This shift in focus is further reflected in the doctor’s subsequent turn. The “No bo” No cause that pre-frames the whole turn, sets up a relationship with the doctor’s prior talk, where she has already offered to take care of the patient’s sick leave. Accordingly, the beginning of line 16 points to the known-information status of the doctor’s turn and as a consequence disaffirms the weight of the issue raised by the patient at lines 10 through 13. In what turns out to be a repeated offer on the part of the doctor, she now emphasizes the temporal validity of the sick leave “o↑d momentu” fro↑m the day; “na ca^y okres” for the enti^re duration; “pLUs” pLUs (at lines 22, 23 and 24 respectively). The patient orients to the doctor’s repeated offer at line 27, by acknowledging its preferred responsiveness to the patient’s initial concern – the reported lack of sick days. Being a declarative, the patient’s utterance at line 27, “°°to wystarczy,°°” °°it’ll be enough,°°, recapitulates the doctor’s offer and sets it up for confirmation, which the doctor provides in the next turn at line 28 (“Tak.” Yes.). Even though it looks like the progression of sequences is endangered both by the patient’s initial disalignment with the course of action proposed by the doctor and the doctor’s subsequent disaffirmation of the ‘newness’ of patient’s concern, it’s the affiliative undertone that matters at the end of the day. In this particular example the doctor has managed to reassure the patient that there is no need to worry about his apparent lack of sick days.

On some ‘dis-ings’ leading to a possible ‘mis-ing’


4. Tug of war The fragment presented above illustrates that as the sequence progresses, both participants work to align their respective actions. In this example the patient and the doctor have managed to co-construct solidarity as the interactional outcome (see Clayman 2002). However, this is not always the case. Let’s look at how the participant’s engagement in different courses of action might steer the interaction onto a trajectory fraught with disalignment and disaffiliation. Example 2 is different from Example 1, as this time it’s the first encounter between the doctor and the patient as opposed to a follow-up visit presented above. The patient had been experiencing severe lumbar pains for three years’ time during which he received injections to alleviate the pain. As the doctor reads the patient’s medical record it appears that the patient registered to the ward three months prior to his effective admission to the hospital. The fragment of the consultation shown below comes from its initial phase, where the doctor is still engaged in the activity of taking the patient’s history. The excerpt begins with the doctor’s question about the qualitative correspondence between the patient’s pain “wtenczas” then (line 2) and “w tej chwili” right now (line 4), which is offered up for confirmation. Some features of this question are worth pointing out. First, by virtue of being formatted as a declarative, it is grammatically designed to prefer a “yes” response (Heritage 2002, 2010). Second, as a declarative, the question encodes a flattened epistemic gradient (Heritage and Raymond frth; Raymond and Heritage 2006) and conveys a rather high degree of doctor’s certainty concerning the matter being assessed (in this case, the patient’s subjective sensation of pain is what is being assessed). Third, it polarizes the choices, suggesting a contrast between the quality of pain as experienced by the patient. The doctor qualifies the pain on a time scale ranging from then (line 2) to now (line 4) and categorizes he pain as “stosunkowo silny” relatively strong (line 3) and “mn↑iejszy.” sm↑aller. (line 4) respectively. It’s the latter alternative that’s being offered up for confirmation by the doctor. (2) [SDNeu 00:02:25-00:02:51] 01 D:

.hhh I:: y:::: jak Pan si zapisywa (.)= and how mister R enlist3SGPT .hhh And:: u::::h at the time youV were (.)=


=wtenczas do nas na o↑ddzia to wtenczas= then to usGEN on wardACC it then =registering to our w↑ard at that time=


=ten ból (.) by: taki stosunkowo silny?= this pain be3SGPT such relatively strong =the pain (.) was: ∅ relatively strong?=


=a w tej chwili ten bó^l jest mn↑iejszy. and in this moment this pain be3SG smaller =and right now the pa^in is sm↑aller.


Matylda Weidner 05


06 P:

y:: to byo wtedy tak, e:: (.) no jak to= it be3SGPT then yes that PART how it u::h at that time it was ∅, tha::t (.) no as=


=zwykle, usually =usual,



09 D:

n[:o:? PART n[:o:?

10 P:

[s terminy, be3SG datePL [there are waiting lists,



The patient’s response at line 6 does not match the formal preference for confirmation set up by the doctor’s question. The response is delayed by a slight pause and subsequent production turn-initial ”y”, which disrupts the progressivity of the proffered sequence (Weidner, in prep). Moreover, as the patient’s utterance at lines 6 and 7 begins ‘dis-ing’ with the doctor’s prior turn it turns out that that the whole response gets a disaligning and disaffiliating spin. With reference to the former, the patient declines to facilitate the course of action set up by the doctor’s question and also rejects the question’s bias and agenda. Adding to this is the patient’s refusal to go along with the action-level preference made relevant by the doctor’s question (which would be to confirm the doctor’s candidate assessment that the pain is smaller now). Instead, the patient embarks on a disjunctive trajectory of action and departs from the alternatives set up by the question. On the level of action, the patient’s turns “y:: to byo wtedy tak, e:: (.) no jak to zwykle, […] s terminy,” u::h at that time it was ∅, tha::t (.) no as usual, […] there are waiting lists, is a hearable complaint. The utterance starting at line 6 “y:: to byo wtedy tak,” u::h at that time it was ∅, doesn’t begin as a complaint, but the “complainable matter” gets “alluded to” as the turn unfolds only to be fully “topicalised” by the end of line 10, when the patient delivers his punch line “s terminy,” there are waiting lists, (Drew and Walker 2009: 2412). On the level of action, complaining calls for a relevant next action performed by the recipient of the complaint, who might either agree or disagree with the complaint. In this configuration, the former is a preferred and affiliative response whereas the latter is a dispreferred and disaffiliative response. Bearing that in mind, let’s take a look at the doctor’s response at line 12. 12 D:

N:o ja rozu^[miem, wic do tego zmierzam, e PART I understand1SG so to this wend1SG that N:o I ge^[t it, so that’s what I’m driving at, ∅

On some ‘dis-ings’ leading to a possible ‘mis-ing’ 13 P:

[ta::k? s terminy. tak jest,= yes be3PL datePL yes be3SG [ye::s? there’re waiting lists. that’s right=

14 P:

=termi^ny:: (1.4) y: wtedy by taki bó:l,= datePL then be3SGPT such pain =wa^iting lists:: (1.4) u:h at that time there was=


=(.) >o ile dobrze pamitam bo to naprawdas far as I can remember ’cause honestly=


=czas [i to tak czowiek nie pamita] nie?= time and it yes human no remember3SG no =time< goes by [and one doesn’t remember] no?

17 D:

[no=no=no, ja wiem. ja wiem.] PART PART PART I know1SG I know1SG [no=no=no, I know. I know.]

18 P:

=ale o ile dobrze pamitam to wtedy by= but PRP how goodADV remember1SG it then be3SGPT =but as far as I can remember at that time=


=taki wanie najwikszy ból, nie? such just biggest pain no =there was this biggest pain, no?

20 D:

u:[hm:¿ mhm m:[hm:¿

21 P:

[powiedzmy (0.8) kt[óry po prostu (miaem)]= say1PLIMP which PRP straight have1SGPT [so to speak (0.8) fr[om the ones I’ve had ]=

22 D:


[który Pan ( ) mia] which mister have3SGPT [the ones youV ( ) had]

Now that the doctor knows where the patient’s prior turn was going, the doctor, at line 12, tries to re-direct the talk back to the originally initiated course of action and the agenda set by the initial question (which had as its focus pain and not waiting lists). Following the turn-initial particle “n:o” n:o at the beginning of line 12, the doctor’s “ja rozu^miem,” I ge^t it, seems to be aligning and affiliating with the patient. Still it turns out to be more complex than that. A couple of observations might help to provide clarity to what is going on interactionally at this moment the consultation. The doctor’s turn at line 12 is designed in a special way. The utterance “n:o ja roz^umiem,” n:o I ge^t it, contains a pro-term “ja”, which is ‘grammatically’ redundant in Polish. This ‘grammatical’ redundancy has been found to have a conversation-analytic significance in a language with a similar convention of pro-term usage, namely Hebrew. Hacohen


Matylda Weidner

and Schegloff (2005) point to the fact that given the “preference for minimization of person reference” adding a pro-term where it’s ‘grammatically’ redundant and “referentially vacuous” may signal some interactional trouble (Pomerantz 1984; see Sacks and Schegloff 1979 on the issue of reference to persons; Sacks 1987 [1973] for the issue of preference more generally). In Polish, like in Hebrew, person, number and gender are inflected on the verb. Additional freestanding pro-terms are therefore ‘grammatically’ redundant and so when speakers use these free standing pro-terms they go against the preference for minimization of person reference5. This in turn may alert both the interactants and the analyst to the fact that something besides referring may be occuring. Let’s see if this is the case in the fragment under discussion. Keeping in mind the previous argument about interactional exceptionality of free standing pro-terms in Polish, the doctor’s turn “N:o ja rozu^miem, wic do tego zmierzam, e” N:o I ge^t it, so that’s what I’m driving at, ∅ treats the patient’s complaint as an environment of trouble. On the surface it looks like the doctor is agreeing with the patient, but underneath the doctor moves out of the alignment by agreement and tries to steer the conversation in a different direction. At line 13, the patient comes in with what might have been targetted to be a ‘last item onset’ overlap6 (Drew 2009; Jefferson and Schegloff 1975; Jefferson 2004). However, as it turns out the doctor continues speaking (line 12) and so the parties find themselves talking in overlap for quite some time. In the turn beginning in overlap with the doctor’s turn in progress (line 13), the patient privileges to continue with what he has been saying (that is to focus on the time issue and the waiting lists) over what the doctor seems to be trying to get the patient to say (that is to respond to the question). The patient makes an attempt at pursuing a different kind of response from the doctor when, in fact, the doctor has already started to respond. In this way, the patient rejects the relevance of the doctor’s prior response “N:o ja rozu^miem,” N:o I ge^t it, that failed to address the patient’s complaint but merely acknowledged it. The pursuit “ta::k?” ye::s? (line 13) occurs after the patient’s prior utterance, to which it might have belonged as a tag question, has been completed (line 10) and commences in the course of the doctor’s talk (line 12). Such a positioning makes the patient’s “ta::k?” ye::s? a perfect candidate ‘Abominable’, which is to say “a particularly nasty device whereby a prior speaker might attempt to counter, override, interrupt, an ‘unfavorable’ response.” (Jefferson 1981: 10). As Jefferson further notes, the ‘post-responseinitiation response solicitation’ is an object that is both contemplative of prior talk and prefatory to the talk that comes next. Accordingly, the patient’s “ta::k?” ye::s? (at line 13) is “marking that a prior component was point-laden, and prefacing a next component which ‘brings home the point’” (Jefferson 1981: 21). The point that the doctor should have addressed is the fact that there are waiting lists (lines 10 and 13). In absence of an appropriate uptake from the doctor, the patient operates on the doctor’s just prior utterance (line 12) to “bring the problematic co-participant into line”. Still, even though a next opportunity has been offered for the point to be taken, the pursuit has not been very successful, as the doctor pursues her own line of talk (line 12). Fol5 6

According to the preference for minimization, reference should be accomplished with a single reference form. (see Sacks and Schegloff 1979: 16) Given that “N:o ja rozu^miem,” is a grammatically possibly complete TCU.

On some ‘dis-ings’ leading to a possible ‘mis-ing’


lowing the ‘abominable’ “ta::k?” ye::s? and the repetition of the point-laden “s terminy.” there’re waiting lists., the patient takes an epistemologically authoritative stance in relation to the doctor’s prior utterance. His “tak jest,” that’s right, (line 13) makes the confirmation of the point-laden utterance the primary business at hand. In this interaction, it’s the patient, who has a greater authority to talk about the experience of waiting lists. Even though both participants speak parallelly (lines 12 and 13), they are nevertheless able to monitor their interlocutor’s co-occurring talk, so as to target (and possibly address) eventual problems arising in the interaction here and now7 (Clayman and Whalen 1988/9; Schegloff 1988/9). Hence, in what looks like an interactional struggle, the patient’s intra-overlap “ta::k?” ye::s? (line 13) is responsive to the doctor’s “N:o ja rozu^miem,” N:o I ge^t it, in that it challenges the doctor’s provisional agreement then and there. In the course of the parties’ competing talk the doctor makes an unsuccessful attempt at regaining the floor, but eventually loses the competition to the patient. Finally, when the doctor drops out and the patient continues, still rather than addressing the doctor’s question about the quality of pain, the patient gives primacy to addressing the issue of time relating to his currect hospital stay and the current consultation (lines 13 through 16). In response to that, the doctor makes another attempt at progressing the course of action at line 17, which manifests itself interactionally as what Stivers (2004) refers to as ‘multiple sayings’. At line 17, the doctor orients to the patient’s course of action by taking up a disaffiliative stance towards its further development. More specifically, the doctor’s multiple “no=no=no,” no=no=no,8 communicates to the patient that he should stop talking about time delay (complain) and move to answering the doctor’s initial question. Stivers also observes that ‘multiple sayings’ are commonly positioned in overlap with the prior speaker’s turn. This relates directly to the fragment under discussion, because the doctor’s “no=no=no,” no=no=no, at line 17 occurs in overlap with the patient’s turn at line 16. Finally, a response to the doctor’s initial question, which has been deferred over the course of several turns, gets delivered at lines 18 and 19 and specified at line 21. Even though the patient reveals that “wtedy by taki wanie najwikszy ból,” at that time there was this biggest pain, and thus orients to the questions’ agenda (pain), he disaligns with the actionpreference of the question, which would be to confirm that the pain is smaller now. This case shows both parties to be engaged in a kind of interactional tug-of-war. The doctor focuses on the medical task at hand and attempts to move the consultation forward. The patient refers to a cause and effect relationship between the time he was admitted to the hospital and his fading ability to recollect his pain and uses this relationship as an account for why he is unable to give a straightforward answer. In this way, the patient prioritizes giving an account over giving an answer and therefore disaligns with the action preference set up by the question. As their talk progresses, both parties disalign with their respective courses of action and disaffiliate with one another’s evaluative stance. 7


I’d like to thank Tanya Romaniuk for drawing my attention to the interactional similarity of these two overlapping turns (lines 12 and 13) to the overlapping talk in the Bush/Rather encounter discussed in Clayman and Whalen 1988/9 and Schegloff 1988/9. The italicized no should not be mistaken with the English negative particle “no” (see footnote 2).


Matylda Weidner

5. Cross-cultural miscommunication? Whereas Example 2 illustrated how the participants find themselves (dis-)aligning and (dis-)affiliating over a relatively short stretch of interaction, Example 3 is a more complex case. It illustrates that as the sequences unfold and the interactional wheel spins, the participants’ epistemic cultures collide. First, let me provide some background about the topical engagement of the participants as we meet them at the beginning of the excerpt below. The patient is a young man who presents with multiple symptoms such as blurred double vision, hearing problems, vertigoes and spasms. He has undergone several tests, but no definitive diagnosis has been made. When this consultation takes place the doctor is still waiting for the results of the magnetic resonance test. However, the patient, in anticipation of the results discloses his intuitive feeling that he might have a tumor. The doctor strongly refuses to accept the patient’s suspicion and urges him to wait for the test results. Subsequently, the patient topically diverges from his previous line of talk and reports that he can only be on the sick leave till the end of the current month, because he is not eligible for L49. The patient talks about how it came about that he didn’t sign the work contract with a consequence that his health insurance only covers him till the end of the current month. In response to the patient’s telling, the doctor comes up with a solution to the problem, which is where the sequence presented below begins. The doctor’s turn at line 1 is responsive to the patient’s description (data not shown), where he outlines his complicated situation regarding the lack of health insurance. The doctor’s utterance “to nie jest znowu ju a taka tragedia:” it’s not that much of a tragedy: conveys the doctor’s stance toward the problem presented by the patient, by minimizing its weightiness. In the remaining of her turn (lines 2 to 5), the doctor nevertheless addresses the problem and offers a remedy. The doctor’s utterance “nawet jeeli wyjdziesz ze szpitala,” even if you leave the hospital, (lines 2 and 3) contains a negative polarity item “nawet” even, which in conjunction with a conditionalimplicative “jeeli” if introduces a grain of uncertainty as to whether the patient will leave the hospital at all. This will not be without consequence for the global interactional outcome of this sequence. However, this issue will be addressed later on. (3) [KGNeu 00:09:44-00:10:22]


01 D:

N^o dobrze (.) a:le:: to nie jest znowu ju= PART good but it no be3SG again yet N^o alright (.) bu::t: it’s not that much of a=


=a taka tragedia: dlate:go e: nawet jeeli= so suchFEM tragedy because that even if =tragedy: becau:se ∅ even if you=

L4 refers to a common name of a certificate from a doctor, who signed a contract with the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) and therefore issues such a certificate on the ZUS ZLA form. The certificate covers the patients’ absence from work without depriving them of their monthly remuneration.

On some ‘dis-ings’ leading to a possible ‘mis-ing’ 03

=wyjdziesz ze szpitala, to musisz si= go2SG out PRP hospital it must2SG R =leave the hospital, you have to=


=nathychmiast na bezrobociu (0.7) zarejestrowa= immediately on unemploymentLOC registerINF =ihmmediately register (0.7) for unemployment=


=(.) i ubezpieczenie bedziesz mi^a:. and insuranceACC be2SGFT have3SGPT =benefits (.) and you’ll h^a:ve the insurance.




In a sequence consisting of a problem presentation and a subsequent remedy to the problem, the latter is sequence closure implicative. Accordingly, in terms of action the second component of the sequence – remedy to the patient’s problem offered by the doctor – is moving the sequence toward closure. Had the patient accepted the solution offered by the doctor (that is to register for the unemployment benefits), the course of action would have been promoted. Yet, the patient disaligns with the direction toward which the sequence is headed, as he rejects the doctor’s remedy and expands the sequence (at line 7 below). 07 P:

No to ja wiem, znaczy t-ja mam t’ ju= PART it I know1SG mean3SG I have1SG yet No I know that, I mean i-I have already worked it=


=zaatwione e kiedykolwiek kiedy ja wyjde:= arrangePERFPASSPrT that any time when I go1SG out =out in such a way that no matter when I lea:ve=


=przykadowo czy wyjd bym wyszed y: dzisiaj= exampleADV CONJ go1SG out be1SGCOND go3SGPT today =for example if I leave I left u:h the hospital=


=na dobre ze szpitala¿ on goodADV PRP hospital =for good today¿

11 D:

=ta[:k, yes =ye[:s,

12 P:


[czy za tydzie czy za dwa:¿ (.) ten= CONJ PRP week CONJ PRP two thisMASC [or in a week or ∅ two:¿ (.) that= =czowiek mi miejsce trzymie. (.) [przyjmie]= human being meDAT placeACC keep3SG accept3SGFT =man is holding a place for me. (.) [he’ll hire]=


Matylda Weidner 14 D:

15 P:

[ah:a:::¿] aha [ah:a:::¿ ] =mnie od razu i umow da. meACC PRP once and contract give3SGFT =me immediately and he’ll get me a contract.

Beginning at line 7, the patient rejects the doctor’s advice in favor of his own solution to the problem. It’s worth registering that the patient’s turn begins with “No to ja wiem,” No I know that, (line 7) that communicates the patient’s position as an ‘already knowledgeable’ recipient of the ‘already known’ information. Therefore, whereas the doctor’s solution presupposes no epistemic access to that solution on the part of the patient, the patient’s rejection of this presupposition with a turn-initial “No to ja wiem,” No I know that, is disaligning. As his turn unfolds, the patient establishes a rather high degree of certainty concerning his leaving the hospital “kiedykolwiek kiedy ja wyjde:” no matter when I lea:ve (line 8), which contrasts with the doctor’s ‘conditional’ statement “nawet jeeli” even if (line 2 above). Furthermore, the patient explains that he has an informal agreement with his former boss (lines 7 and 8), under which the patient has a guaranteed job (and thus health insurance) (lines 13 and 15) no matter whether he leaves the hospital “za tydzie czy za dwa:” in a week or ∅ two:. This is where the difference in the patient’s and the doctor’s access to knowledge begins to surface (Stivers et al. 2010). While the doctor comes up with a remedy to the patient’s problem, suggesting that he should register for the unemployment benefits, the patient already knows that he has an alternative solution. The doctor, however, has no access to this type of knowledge. The interactional evidence for this observation can be found in the doctor’s turn at line 14. As the patient presents his plan, the doctor receives it with a change-of-state token “ah:a:::¿” ah:a:::¿ (Heritage 1984), thus registering the patient’s utterance as news. This positions the participants on unequal grounds with respect to their epistemic access. By means of rejecting the doctor’s advice and replacing it with his own solution encoded in an epistemically loaded turn, the patient adopts a different evaluative stance toward his problem. In response to the patient’s telling (lines 7 to 15 above), the doctor produces an assessment of the patient’s plan to go back to work (line 16). The assessment, first delivered at line 16 and then repeated at line 19, seems to be evaluating the plan in a positive way. 16 D:

17 P:


.hh No to d^obrze, no to j^eszcze [lepiej] PART it goodADV PART it still better .hh No that’s g^ood, no that’s e^ven [better ] [mam ta]k = have1SG yes [I worked]= =zaatwione. arrangePERFPASSPrT =it out that way.

On some ‘dis-ings’ leading to a possible ‘mis-ing’ 19 D:

No to dobrze, to je^szcze lepiej, tylko= PART it goodADV it still better only No that’s good, ∅ that’s e^ven better, only=


=e wie:sz, ja ci w tej chwili: (.) nie mog= that know2SG I youDAT in this moment no can1SG =that you kno:w, right no:w I can’t (.) tell=


=powiedzie na sto proce[nt, czy ty] wyjdziesz= tellINF on hundred per cent CONJ you go2SG out =you in hundred per ce[nt, whether you]’ll leave=

22 P:


[no:: wiem.] PART know1SG [no:: I know. ]

23 D:

=za dwa tygodnie czy za trzy. (0.3) ‘naczy= PRP two weekPL CONJ PRP three mean3SG =in two weeks or in three weeks. (0.3) That=


=sie ze szpitala myle e w^yjdziesz,= R PRP hospital think1SG that go2SG out =is I think you’ll l^eave the hospital,=


=natomiast kiedy bdziesz zdolny do pracy to= however when be2SGFT capable to work it =however when you will be able to work I don’t=


=nie wiem. B↑y m^oe (.) m^asz r^acj. (.)= no know1SG beINF maybe have2SG rightACC =know that. Ma↑ybe ∅ (.) yo^uV’re r^ight. (.)=


=N↓ie wygl da to na:: adnego guza, no look3SG it on none tumorACC =It d↓oesn’t look like:: a tumor,

The doctor’s utterance “No to dobrze, to je^szcze lepiej” No that’s good, ∅ that’s e^ven better, at lines 16 and 19 shows both lexical and intonational upgrading from “good” to “better” which could indicate a strong agreement (Ogden 2006; Pomerantz 1984). However, as Pomerantz (1984: 74f) notes, “agreement-components” are to be found in close proximity to disagreements. Here, the upgraded agreement turns out to be a segue to an objection introduced by “tylko e wie:sz,” only that you kno:w, at line 19/20. Subsequently the doctor counterbalances the patient’s expectations concerning his early discharge from the hospital (at lines 20, 21 and 23). Note that the doctor’s utterance “ja ci w tej chwili: (.) nie mog powiedzie” right no:w I can’t (.) tell you at line 20/21, contains a pro-term “ja” I that is grammatically redundant (see Example 2 for relevant discussion) but conversationally interesting, since it may signal interactional trouble. Indeed, the doctor’s following utterance (at line 24) “ze szpitala myle e w^yjdziesz,” I think you’ll l^eave the hospital, fails to adopt the same evaluative stance toward the patient’s high degree of certainty regarding his leaving the hospital. The disaffiliative character of the doctor’s turn comes about as a consequence of the


Matylda Weidner

doctor’s epistemic primacy in making assessments about when the patient can leave the hospital. One of the features of interactions in institutional settings, such as medical consultation, is the asymmetry between the patients’ and the doctors’ “differential states of knowledge” (Drew and Heritage 1992a: 50). The participants’ asymmetrical access to knowledge is reflected in their interactionally negotiated epistemic primacy and authority. Doctors, in general, have primary rights to assess their patients’ health and decide when their patients are ready to be discharged. The example presented above illustrates a case where the epistemic access of the patient and the doctor are not synchronized. At the moment when the remedy is being offered (lines 1 to 5), the doctor doesn’t have epistemic access to the patient’s plan (lines 7 to 15). The patient’s epistemic access lays the ground for his rejecting the doctor’s advice in favor of his own solution. Subsequently, however, the patient’s rejection and alternative solution are rejected by the doctor, whose more specialized epistemic access makes her cool the patient’s optimism regarding his early discharge (lines 19 to 26). The doctor’s inability to provide a specific time frame, an estimate of when the patient will be able to go back to work (at lines 25 and 26) generates a discordance with the patient’s turn discussed above (at lines 7 to 18). As the interaction unfolds the participants find themselves talking at cross purposes as both the patient and the doctor produce epistemically loaded turns, to which they don’t have an equal access at the moment of their production. Accordingly, the doctor lacks epistemic access to the patient’s plan and the patient lacks epistemic access to what the doctor might know from her experience as a neurologist. In the case presented here, the doctor draws on her epistemic primacy and epistemic authority to overcompensate the patient’s premature optimism concerning his plans. Given that the doctor has a more substantial knowledge of how such conditions as the one the patient presents with develop (epistemic access), she has primary rights to pass judgment on when the patient will leave the hospital (epistemic authority). As a result, both parties embark on an epistemically disjunctive terrain, which is engraved with their discrepant evaluative stance that breeds disaffiliation. Before closing off the discussion of this example, it might be worth noticing that throughout this interaction both participants orient to degree of certainty about when the patient will be able to leave the hospital. This merits attention, bearing in mind that the patient’s condition has not been decidedly diagnosed. Therefore, on the one hand, in the light of absence of a clear diagnosis, the doctor needs to weigh her promises concerning the patient’s date of discharge from the hospital and his ability to work. On the other hand, given the fact that the patient suspects that he might have a tumor, the doctor’s actions of disposing of these promises may confirm the patient’s intuitive feeling. This dilemma relates to the differential types of knowledge that the patient and the doctor have and the ways in which this knowledge is negotiated in the course of interaction. In the example discussed here, the doctor’s epistemic responsibility is reflected in her interactional decisions about how to manage the disclosure of knowledge in a delicate situation arising from the absence of a clear diagnosis. As the turns unfold, the doctor is faced with a difficult task of dealing with the patient’s pronounced optimism and managing the patient’s naive view concerning his leaving the hospital.

On some ‘dis-ings’ leading to a possible ‘mis-ing’


Consequently, in the course of the sequential co-construction of the interaction, a mismatch of expectations has surfaced as the patient and the doctor found themselves engaged in epistemic negotiations. Due to the differential states of knowledge, the patient’s and the doctor’s epistemic cultures collided, the result of which has been reflected in the participants’ disaligning and disaffiliating behaviors (while potential matters of life and death might be at stake).

6. Conclusion In the beginning of this chapter a distinction has been drawn between the participants’ (dis-)aligning and (dis-) affiliating behaviors. It has been pointed out that whereas alignment operates on the structural level of interaction, affiliation is to be found in its functional level. The analysis of data revealed that this analytic distinction is relevantly encapsulated in the participants’ own interpretations and understandings of their successive turns at talk. The first example illustrated how the participants worked on the sequential progression of the interaction and aligned with respect to their actions. The patient’s concern about his lack of sick days encoded in the design of his first action was matched by the doctor’s corresponding action of reassuring the patient that his problem is easily remediable. As a result the patient and the doctor managed to co-construct solidarity as the interactional outcome. Example 2 showed both parties to be engaged in a kind of interactional tug-of-war, where the doctor and the patient each pulled the rope toward their non-matching ends. Whereas the doctor stuck closely to the medical task at hand and focused on advancing the course of the history taking, the patient prioritized the issue of addressing the faults of the health care system over answering the doctor’s diagnostic question. As the tug-of-war developed, both parties were disaligning with their respective courses of action and disaffiliating with one another’s evaluative stance. The last example presented a case where a significant mismatch of expectations surfaced as the patient and the doctor found themselves involved in epistemic struggle. The parties’ successive ‘dis-ings’ contributed to an overall ‘mis-ing’. On the one hand, the participants’ sequential practices generated disalignment and disaffiliation. On the other hand, their knowledge-based and knowledge-propelled negotiations led to a visible clash of epistemic cultures as the cumulative consequence. While the patient and the doctor talked at cross-purposes, the epistemic bedrock that lay beneath their respective arguments found its way to the interactional surface. It’s the focus on various forms of ‘dis-ings’ that accounts for this chapter’s particular approach to miscommunication. In showing how the participants (dis-)align with their respective actions and manage (dis-)affiliation with their evaluative stance, the chapter has documented three distinctive cases where the patient and the doctor achieve solidarity, engage in a tug-of-war and talk pass one another respectively. The last example analyzed in this chapter provides forceful evidence of what may happen when the patient’s and the doctor’s epistemic positioning with respect to one another is asynchronous. The analysis has revealed that as the parties’ epistemic worlds collide, cross-cultural miscommunication overshadows affiliation, solidarity and reassurance.


Matylda Weidner

Acknowledgments I would like to thank John Heritage for his informative feedback that helped me clarify and refine the principal argument of this chapter. I also want to thank Tanya Romaniuk for her encouragement and support and Barbara Kryk-Kastovsky, thanks to whom I could become a part of this project. The chapter was written during my research stay at UCLA, which was funded by the Research Foundation Flanders, whose support I gratefully acknowledge.

References Atkinson, J. Maxwell and J. Heritage (eds.) 1984. Structures of Social Action: Studies in Conversation Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Clayman, S. E. 2002. Sequence and solidarity. In: Edward J. Lawler and S. R. Thye (eds.). Advances in Group Processes: Group Cohesion, Trust and Solidarity. Oxford: Elsevier Science, 229-253. Clayman, S. E. and J. Whalen. 1988/9. When the medium becomes the message: The case of the Rather – Bush encounter. Research on Language and Social Interaction 22, 241-272. Curl, T. S. and Paul Drew. 2008. Contingency and action: a comparison of two forms of requesting. Research on Language and Social Interaction 41.2., 1-25. Drew, P. 2009. “Quit talking while I’m interrupting:” (A comparison between) positions of overlap onset in conversation. In M. Haakana, M. Laakso and J. Lindstrom (eds.). Talk in Interaction: Comparative Dimensions. Finnish Literature Society, 70-93. Drew, P. and J. Heritage. 1992a. Analyzing talk at work: An introduction. In: P. Drew and J. Heritage (eds.). Talk at Work. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 3-65. Drew, P. and J. Heritage, eds. 1992b. Talk at Work: Language Use in Institutional and Work-Place Settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Drew, P. and T. Walker. 2009. Going too far: Complaining, escalating and disaffiliation. Journal of Pragmatics 41.12, 2400-2414. Hacohen, G. and E. A. Schegloff, 2005. On the preference for minimization in referring to persons: Evidence from Hebrew conversation. Paper presented at the Conference on Person Reference at Max Planck Institute, the Netherlands, 1-16. Heritage, J. 1984. A change-of-state token and aspects of its sequential placement. In: J. M. Atkinson and J. Heritage (eds.) Structures of Social Action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 299345. Heritage, J. 2002. The limits of questioning: Negative interrogatives and hostile question content. Journal of Pragmatics 34.10-11, 1427-1446. Heritage, J. 2010. Questioning in medicine. In: A. F. Freed and S. Ehrlich (eds.). "Why Do you Ask?": The Function of Questions in Institutional Discourse. New York: Oxford University Press, 42-68. Heritage, J. and G. Raymond. Forthcoming. Navigating epistemic landscapes: Acquiescence, agency and resistance in responses to polar questions. In: J. P. de Ruiter (ed.). Questions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Jefferson, G. 1981. The Abominable ‘Ne?’: A Working Paper Exploring the Phenomenon of PostResponse Pursuit of Response. Occasional Paper No.6, Department of Sociology. Manchester: University of Manchester. Jefferson, G. 1986. On The interactional unpackaging of a gloss. Language in Society 14, 435-466. Jefferson, G. 2004. A sketch of some orderly aspects of overlap in natural conversation. In: G. Lerner (ed.). Conversation Analysis: Studies from the First Generation. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 43-59.

On some ‘dis-ings’ leading to a possible ‘mis-ing’


Jefferson, G. and Schegloff, E. 1975. Sketch: Some orderly aspects of overlap onset in natural conversation. Paper presented at the 74th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Mexico City. Kryk-Kastovsky, B. 2002. Synchronic and Diachronic Investigations in Pragmatics. Pozna: Motivex. Ogden, R. 2006. Phonetics and social action in agreements and disagreements. Journal of Pragmatics 38. 1752-1775. Pomerantz, A. M. 1984. Agreeing and disagreeing with assessments: Some features of preferred/dispreferred turn shapes. In: J. M. Atkinson and J. Heritage (eds.). Structures of Social Action: Studies in Conversation Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 57-101. Raymond, G. and Heritage, J. 2006. The epistemics of social relations: Owning grandchildren. Language in Society 35, 677-705. Sacks, H.. 1987 [1973]. On the preferences for agreement and contiguity in sequences in conversation. In: G. Button and J. R. E. Lee (eds.). Talk and Social Organisation. Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters, 54-69. Sacks, H. and Schegloff, E. A. 1979. Two preferences in the organization of reference to persons and their interaction. In: G. Psathas. (ed.). Everyday Language: Studies in Ethnomethodology. New York: Irvington Publishers, 15-21. Schegloff, E. A. 1988/9. From interview to confrontation: Observations on the Bush – Rather Encounter. Research on Language and Social Interaction 22, 215-240. Schegloff, E. A. 2007. Sequence Organization in Interaction: A Primer in Conversation Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Stivers, T. 2004. “No no no” and other types of multiple sayings in social interaction. Human Communication Research 30.2, 260-293. Stivers, T. 2008. Stance, alignment and affiliation during story telling: When nodding is a token of affiliation. Research on Language and Social Interaction 47.1, 31-57. Stivers, T., L. Mondada and J. Steensig. 2010. The Morality of Knowledge in Conversation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Weidner, M. In prep. On the interactionally relevant sloppiness of ‘y’. Wierzbicka, A.. 2003. Cross-cultural Pragmatics. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Part II Cultural Scripts

The role of cultural scripts and contextualization cues in intercultural (mis)communication Anatolij Dorodnych and Anna Kuzio, Adam Mickiewicz University, Pozna, Poland Motto: It is a core of cultural studies that language does not mirror an independent object world but constructs and constitutes it. (Barker and Galasiski 2001: 1)

1. Introduction The importance of intercultural communication skills was appreciated a long way back in human history. In the first letter to Corinthians (9.19), Apostle Paul expresses his method for managing intercultural communication: For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews; to those under the law I became as one under the law – though not being myself under the law - that I might win those who are under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law [...] that I might win those outside the law To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. (The Holy Bible 1962: 161)

Paul’s rhetoric shows his awareness that in order to communicate efficiently with representatives of another culture, there needs to be a level of empathy or identification with the principles of that culture. Since the second half of the 20th century, long after the works by Yakubinski (1923) and Voloshinov (1929) were published, attempts have been made to overcome the structural bias in linguistic studies. Both Russian authors gave priority to utterance and dialogic speech, and, what is important for our further discussion, Yakubinski wrote that speech is produced mostly automatically, and understanding of it is aperceptive, it requires that the listener knows what is going on (1923: 38, 43). The work to be reported here falls under the framework of contrastive pragmatics, or cross-cultural pragmatics defined as a field of inquiry which compares the ways, in which two or more languages are used in communication (House and Edmondson 1986: 282, quoted in Barron 2003: 23). In their opinion, cross-cultural pragmatics is an important new branch of contrastive linguistics because in any two languages different features of the social contexts may be found to be relevant in decoding what can be expressed and how it is conventionally expressed.


Anatolij Dorodnych and Anna Kuzio

2. General discussion In the context of globalization and integration, it has become vitally important to avoid misunderstanding and possible conflicts, cf. Trappl (this volume). Contrastive pragmatics may be helpful in preventing miscommunication by raising intercultural awareness, and more and more colleges and universities offer courses in intercultural communication. In Russia, for example, courses designated as ‘linguistics and intercultural communication’ are offered in 42 higher education establishments.1 But before discussing intercultural communication and miscommunication, it seems proper to assess what various scholars understand by ‘communication’ and ‘culture’ and look into a few other issues connected with communication across cultures. As Edward T. Hall (1976: 14) put it, “Culture is communication and communication is culture.” 2. 1. Communication Although communication is omnipresent, it appears nonetheless not easy to define. Burgoon et al. (1994: 21) view communication as intentional, although they mention that receiver-oriented approaches would definitely say that even if the speaker does not intend to communicate, but someone believes they do, such an event would be communication. Samovar et al. (1998: 23) find the concept of intentionality too limiting as they believe that “communication takes place whenever people attach meaning to behaviour, even if the sender of the message does not expect his or her actions to be communicated.” Our research experience may serve as support for this point of view. Some scholars define communication as the transmission of information, ideas, attitudes, emotions and skills from one person or group to another (or others) through the use of symbols (Berelson and Steiner 1964: 527; Theodorson and Theodorson 1969: 13-14; Motley 1990: 1-20). Lustig and Koester (1996: 29) also define communication as “a symbolic process in which people create shared meanings”. A symbol in this definition refers to a word, action or object that represents a meaning. Thus, meaning is a perception, thought or feeling experienced and communicated by a person. Meaning is often a personal experience which cannot be shared with others as such, but needs to be conveyed and interpreted (negotiated) through a message. Messages, in turn, are sets of symbols, and receivers interpret and understand them according to expectations based on their experience. Communication is a dynamic interpretive process: as people experience the world, they create and share meanings with other individuals and groups. Many, if not all, communication situations are unique, and the process can be seen as “a sequence of distinct but interrelated steps” (Lustig and Koester 1996: 30). 2.2. Culture Culture is an integral part of human environment as it comprises “what people think, what they do, or how they feel.” (Peterson 2004: 17). However, definitions of culture vary in accuracy and explanatory power. 1

Baza dannyh vysšyh u ebnyh zavedeniy Rossiyskoy Federatsii:

The role of cultural scripts and contextualization cues ...


Linton’s definition (1945: 5) of culture is most laconic: “A culture is a configuration of learned behaviours and results of behaviour whose component elements are shared and transmitted by the members of a particular society.” The definition formulated by Kluckhohn and Kelly (1945: 97) is important, because it brings into focus culture’s implicit, background conscious aspect: “[b]y culture we mean all those historically created designs for living, explicit and implicit, rational, irrational, and nonrational, which exist at any given time as potential guides for the behaviour of men.” Kroeber and Kluckhohn’s (1952: 357) definition is possibly the most frequently cited one: Culture consists of patterns, explicit and implicit, of and for behavior acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievements of human groups, including their embodiments in artifacts; the essential core of culture consists of traditional (i.e. historically derived and selected) ideas and especially their attached values; culture systems may, on the one hand, be considered as products of action, and on the other as conditioning elements of further action. It follows from this definition that people identify reality and form expectations with respect to it by linking ongoing events with pre-existing stable patterns of behaviour. Geertz (1973: 89,93) defines culture as a historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which men communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life. Culture patterns have an intrinsic double aspect: they give meaning, that is, objective conceptual form, to social and psychological reality both by shaping themselves to it and by shaping it to themselves. He views culture as “the shared patterns that set the tone, character, and quality of people’s lives.” (ibid. 216) Hall (1983: 230) compares culture to an invisible control mechanism operating in our thoughts: we become only aware of this control mechanism when it is severely challenged, for example by exposure to a different culture, whereas Hofstede (1984: 51) defines culture as “the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the member of one group or category of people from another”. These mental programmes refer to approved ways of performing actions, and vary in relation to the level of uniqueness. At a rather higher level of uniqueness culture is perceived to be the mental programming shared by people belonging to a definite group. Lederach’s (1995: 9) definition is important for our further discussion as it states that “culture is the shared knowledge and schemes created by a set of people for perceiving, interpreting, expressing, and responding to the social realities around them.” It follows from this definition that when people communicate, they, consciously or subconsciously, invoke and evoke frames, schemata and scripts. According to Spencer-Oatey (2000: 4): Culture is a fuzzy set of attitudes, beliefs, behavioural norms, and basic assumptions and values that are shared by a group of people, and that influence each member’s behaviour and his/her interpretations of the “meaning” of other people’s behaviour.

Spencer-Oatey’s introduction of the interpretative aspect considerably expands and clarifies Hall’s view of the role of culture as an influence factor for behaviour as well as an interpretation factor of behaviour. The interpretative role of culture is especially


Anatolij Dorodnych and Anna Kuzio

important when considering cross-cultural interaction. Consequently, culture, once it is ‘programmed’, i.e. learned/internalized, is subconscious most of the time. Roughly, ‘culture’ consists of two levels: an invisible level of values, and a visible level of resultant behaviour. Hofstede (2001: 10f) proposes a detailed model, an ‘onion diagram’ representing different layers of culture: the core layer, values; then rituals, followed by heroes and symbols, respectively. Symbols, heroes and rituals, subsumed under the term practices, are visible to an outside observer, although their cultural meanings are invisible, interpretable only to insiders. We are of the opinion that the concept ‘heroes’ is inherently variable and derivative of values, therefore irrelevant for our research 2.3. Frames, schemata and scripts As understanding discourse is “essentially a process of retrieving stored information from memory and relating it to the encountered discourse” (Brown and Yule 1983: 236), several models have been suggested to deal with the organisation of knowledge in memory, based on the concepts of frames, scripts, scenarios, and schemata. These representations of mental structures should be understood as convenient metaphors. They imply that even if some details are omitted in a piece of discourse, they will be assumed to be present as default elements. The concept of frames is not new, it has been exploited in the works of Bartlett (1932), Bateson (1972), Goffman (1974), and Minsky (1975). Frames are often defined as symbolic-interpretive constructs. They are said to comprise beliefs, images or symbols shared by people in a given society. Each society disposes of a limited pool of such interpretive schemes which people employ to make sense of the world. Charniak, as Brown and Yule (1983: 239) defines discourse understanding as ‘a process of fitting what one is told into the framework established by what one already knows’. Furthermore, the process is facilitated by flexibility of the mind, which allows discarding a previously activated frame and search for the one that fits. Although reading some scholars (e.g. Brown and Yule 1983) one might get the impression that the concept of frame was conceived of first, it should be mentioned that Bartlett (1932: 210) wrote about a sort of “organised mass of experiences”, called a “schema”, the term, which, according to him, was first used by Head. And, quite in consonance with modern beliefs, he characterised the schema as “not merely something that works the organism, but something with which the organism can work.” The concept of schemata has been employed to account for functions similar to those of a frame (Kelley 1972). Furthermore, other terms such as “script”, “scenario” and “package” have been introduced to overcome the alleged static character of the frame. Kaufman and Smith (1999: 166) claim that in addition to establishing the goals which guide decisions, people seem to hinge on cognitive shortcuts to lessen the information processing burden of decision making. It appears that shortcuts are typically used by humans in all kinds of activities. Those shortcuts are possible due to the existence of cognitive patterns, which are variously referred to as frames, scripts, or schemata. Yet, those patterns or mind-sets are culture-specific, hence there is a possibility of misinterpretation, wrong attributions and, consequently, miscommunication. Evi-

The role of cultural scripts and contextualization cues ...


dence from Bartlett’s experimental psychology is that an individual appears to have an “over-mastering tendency simply to get a general impression of the whole, and, on the basis of this, [...] constructs the probable details” (1932: 206), which increases the probability of distortion. Cultural frames provide people with the tools which they can use to construct meaning from information they encounter to make sense of their world, however, as Donati (1992: 139) suggests, cultural frames themselves are not “finished constructions” and arrays of cultural frames in different cultures are often not consistent with each other. This cognitive-psychological heuristics has two significant implications. First, that people appear to perceive selectively since they react to those perceptive elements that are more familiar to them. Moreover, the elements that fit into pre-existing cognitive frames are more effortlessly identifiable. They acquire prominence and distinctiveness with respect to other stimuli provided by a text or message. The second implication is that conception and understanding are also based on these pre-organized patterns. As Eco claims along the lines of Donati (1994: 5), one tends to perceive the world through cognitive frames that are already present in the perceiver’s or reader’s culture or memory.2 Thus, the meaning of the world or of a text is provided by culture, namely the culture of the user, perceiver or reader, more than by external objects, situations, persons or texts. Furthermore, the prognostic function of frames has been investigated, as it is considered that frames offer capacity to propose specific courses of action. As mentioned above, sometimes understanding of ‘script’ is not very different from that of ‘frame’: according to Raskin (1985: 81), it is “a large chunk of semantic information surrounding the word or evoked by it. The script is a cognitive structure internalized by the native speaker and it represents the native speaker’s knowledge of a small part of the world.” Scripts are more than that, they are also used to represent the general knowledge of particular processes, basic procedures, standard situations, the order of performing certain actions, etc. They can be subcategorized into scripts of common sense, which comprise general routines, normal procedures etc. An individual’s totality of experience and his/her background bear on the formation of individual scripts, and, finally, scripts exclusively shared with a particular group of speakers, and not with the whole speech community function as restricted scripts. Recently, due to ever growing attention to intercultural communication, especially miscommunication, the concept of cultural scripts is gaining popularity as it is believed to possess great explanatory power. 2.4. Cross-cultural/intercultural communication Understanding (and translating) literature written in a foreign language can be perceived as a cross-cultural activity, and, as a result, it can involve miscommunication. When one faces texts belonging to different epochs, lands, peoples, and traditions, or engages in communication with representatives of other cultures, it is essential to 2

Eco (1979) speaks about encyclopedias that each individual has at their disposal to make sense of their world. These encyclopedias are provided by culture and previous experience of the individual. Thus, asserts Eco, meaning is shaped by social cognition which helps people in making sense of objects, texts or situations.


Anatolij Dorodnych and Anna Kuzio

know particular ‘cultural scripts’ (cf. Wierzbicka 1996; Goddard and Wierzbicka, eds. 2004), which shaped the ways of thinking and the ways of speaking reflected in those texts. Most of the work on cultural scripts, however, concerns oral cross-cultural discourse. It seems that ‘cultural scripts’ are useful, first and foremost, because they have considerable explanatory power. Also, they can be of help in teaching, to raise people’s intercultural awareness. The above authors have developed what are termed ‘semantic primes,’ which are a step towards ‘cultural notation’ (cf. Hall 1976: 166). Although we highly appreciate the work of Goddard and Wierzbicka, we will not even try to apply semantic primes when referring to similarities or differences in verbal behaviour of the members of the three (Anglo, Polish and Russian) cultures who served as our respondents. Our task is simpler, it is to compare the respective language and culture systems to be able to ”predict what the trouble spots will be” (Lado 1987: 55) in intercultural encounters. 2.5. Miscommunication Consciousness and language are believed to have evolved together. Yet, much of what people say or do is produced subconsciously. With ‘habitual thinking’ in mind, Benjamin Lee Whorf aptly remarked, “scientist and yokel, scholar and tribesman, all use their personal consciousness in the same dim-witted sort of way, and get into similar kinds of logical impasse (1956: 257). Habitual thinking is non-reflexive and often operates with commonplaces such as ‘If …, then…’, at best it is ‘reasoning by feature association’ which is not deductive but ‘probabilistic-pragmatic’, or, roughly, ‘hypothetical-abductive’ (Givón 2005: 52), the latter described as follows: The surprising fact C is observed; but if A were true, C would be a matter of course; Hence, there is a reason to suspect that A is true (Peirce 1940: 151 cited in Givón 2005: 206). Miscommunication occurs when, communicating cross-culturally, people are not aware of the fact that others might be applying different rules for speaking (Wolfson 1981) or cultural scripts (Goddard 2007), or contextualization cues (Gumperz 1982). As Riley (1989: 234) puts it, “[p]ragmatic errors are the result of an interactant’s imposing the social rules of one culture on his communicative behavior in a situation where the social rules of another culture would be more appropriate.” Similar behavior was described by Kuzio (2008: 81-94). The research done by John Gumperz provides numerous examples of such behaviour, and not only on the part of members of different cultures and language communities. We will briefly mention the case of Indian and Pakistani waitresses in a staff cafeteria at a British airport who, as the British customers complained, were surly and uncooperative, simply because they used the wrong intonation; and the misunderstanding between an African-American student and his white instructor when each misinterpreted the discursive strategies of the other (Gumperz 1982: 173; Gumperz and Tannen 1979: 315).3 The latter case is interesting, because a discussion was needed to ar3

Incidentally, lack of contextualization cues may result in misunderstanding even in intra-cultural communication: Gumperz and Tannen (1979:309) provide an example where, in a telephone

The role of cultural scripts and contextualization cues ...


rive at the explanation. A student called his instructor and, instead of starting with a greeting he said “How’s the family’ to which, after a pause, the puzzled instructor replied “Fine”. Shortly after that telephone conversation they met and when the instructor refused to give him a grade without seeing his finished paper the student was annoyed as he had expected special consideration. The judges familiar with AfroAmerican rhetoric explained that the student wanted to establish a less formal footing, but the white instructor could not read the cue, and the student did not notice the awkward pause. According to Gumperz, “constellations of surface features of message form are the means by which speakers signal and listeners interpret what the activity is.” He calls these signals in situated communication ‘contextualization cues’. In his own words, “a contextualization cue is any feature of linguistic form that contributes to the signalling of contextual presuppositions” (1982: 131). A member of a culture possesses knowledge of how to employ and how to understand the cues, which are conventionalized and taken for granted. When a listener does not react to a cue or misinterprets its function, interaction results in misunderstanding and conflict may ensue. Miscommunication of this type is regarded as a social faux pas and leads to misjudgements of the speaker’s intent; it is not likely to be identified as a mere linguistic error. (Gumperz 1982: 132). Non-awareness of possible differences in discursive patterns and other cultural scripts results in the speaker’s adherence to the patterns common in their native culture, that is, in pragmatic transfer. 2.6. Pragmatic transfer As a result of examining learners’ errors, the concept of “interlanguage” was introduced (Selinker and Douglas 1985: 6) to explain learners’ performance in L2, but occasionally this highly transient entity (interlanguage) came to be treated as an end in itself. Past contrastive research, which concentrated on interference, transfer of habitually used grammatical structures of L1 to speech in L2 (Selinker, 1971; Dulay et al., 1982; Blum-Kulka and Levenston, 1983; Dechert, 1983; Bialystok, 1990) had a strong structural bias. However, conversation proceeds along two simultaneous, convergent axes: one of substantive information exchange and the other of interpersonal, face-related communication. Negotiation of meaning between speakers normally occurs on the information or ideational axis, but disruptions on that axis can affect the interpersonal one (cf. Ulichny 1997). This applies to intercultural communication as well. According to Kasper (1992), while there has been a lively controversy about the role of transfer in the traditional areas of second language research such as syntax, morphology, semantics, there has been little theoretical and methodological debate about transfer in inter-language pragmatics. The latter is pragmatic transfer, which can be defined as “the carryover of culture-specific knowledge from a situation of intracultural communication to a situation of intercultural communication” (Žegarac – Penconversation, A said “Come here for dinner” referring to C’s house, while B assumed that A was phoning from home.


Anatolij Dorodnych and Anna Kuzio

nington 2004: 167). Pragmatic transfer can be positive or negative. The latter is more salient for explaining miscommunication and “is observable when a pragmatic feature in the interlanguage is (structurally, functionally, distributionally) the same as in L1 but different from L2” (Kasper 2007). Pragmatic transfer often causes the formation of stereotypical judgments about representatives of other cultures, especially in the case of radically different cultural scripts. 2.7. Stereotyping Stereotyping is the result of generalizations on the basis of a few superficial individual encounters with representatives of another culture. Carbaugh (2005: 39-41) gives an example of such superficial judgements: “After spending several months in Finland, and after a nice afternoon coffee, I was asked the following question by a Finnish friend and colleague: “Would you write something about why Americans are so superficial?” To explain this stereotypical comment, Carbaugh recounts: Kirsti, a Finnish girl, has spent some time in the USA. One day, on the street, she sees Mary, an American girl from the same office and they engage in what the American perceives as “small talk”, but the Finnish girl sees it as the beginning of a relationship and feels hurt when Mary doesn’t stop to talk to her when they meet in the office the next day. So, she starts to think that Americans are superficial. Americans, in turn, talk about ‘silent Finns’ oblivious of the fact that the latter behave in keeping with their cultural script which dictates that they should avoid stating the obvious, which is characteristic of American small talk – another reason for Finns to think Americans are superficial.4 To avoid stereotyping, it must also be remembered that no individual member of a group embodies all of his or her group’s characteristics (Scollon and Wong-Scollon 1995: 157). 2.8. Discussion of present research The purpose of the research reported here was to employ an integrated theoretical approach in examining causes of intercultural miscommunication and possible conflict, thus taking the contrastive perspective to a higher (socio-pragmatic and intercultural) level. As van Dijk (2008) rightly observes, the urgent task now is to integrate studies in pragmatics, (critical) discourse analysis, cognitive and social-psychological issues of


Finnish cultural script: 1. One should not state what is obvious; 2. If speaking, one should say something worthy of everyone’s attention; 3. One should not invoke topics or themes that are contentious or conflictual (or more positively, one should keep present relations on harmonious ground); 4. One should be personally committed to or invested in what one says; 5. What you say properly—the unobvious, socially worthwhile, noncontentious, personally involving statements—forms a basis for subsequent interactions and social relations. These rules can function in a very demanding way. With just the first rule, one feels one ought to say something that is not obvious. This requires some thought, sometimes considerable thought, perhaps in forms of quietude (in Finnish, mietiskelle or omissa oloissaan), prior to speaking.(Carbaugh 2005:42)

The role of cultural scripts and contextualization cues ...


speech production and comprehension, and give more meaning to concepts such as communicative competence and performance, cultural awareness, etc. In our opinion, studies on intercultural communication competence and performance (pragmatic competence) should integrate with research on linguistic competence and performance, applying the tested contrastive methodology. Some authors, e.g. Tang and Johnson (2002: 105), have begun to see a connection between interlanguage and intercultural communication skills: [Y]oung Chinese emigrants abroad do not use their traditional modest way to refuse invitations outwardly, while, conversely, Japanese emigrants use more direct language than they do in Japan.

The proposed integrated approach should incorporate language structure –in such an approach structure and action will be seen as two interpenetrating perspectives (Linell 2005: 4). The matter is that speakers are constrained by the structure of their native language: in “constructing utterances in discourse one fits one’s thoughts into available linguistic frames” (Slobin1996: 76). Such “linguistic frames” are often not available to students of English. Because of this, what some writers describe as pragmatic transfer, e.g. Russian or Polish proverbial “directness” or “bluntness”, is often a result of L1 interference, because the Russian language has the imperative verb forms correlating with the informal ty and formal, polite, Vy forms of address (Polish ty and Pan, Pani respectively). When speaking English, the Poles and the Russians often use imperative forms, forgetting that English has long lost the distinction between thou and you and related verb inflections but has syntactic means to compensate for the loss. Labels like directness derive from ethnocentricity, as quite a few pragmatic theories have been proposed by members of Anglo-Saxon cultures, but with a claim to universality. 5 Contemporary Russian linguists realize that misunderstandings are often due to the fact that much of discourse is produced and interpreted on the subconscious level (cf. Sternin 1992: 287). Having compared the English and Russian ways of expressing gratitude, Tsurikova (2008) concluded that although the schemata of discursive events were generally similar in the minds of the speakers of English and Russian, they invoked and evoked sets of scripts that differed in both structure and content. This may be the case, but it is quite plausible that even when interlocutors coming from different language communities want to invoke the same or similar cultural scripts, they use different structural devices, so when they communicate, the one who is not a native speaker is likely to subconsciously resort to the patterns habitually used in his or her native language community. Either way, there is the probability of miscommunication due to a faulty speech production and/or speech processing as well as inappropriate body language. In other words, miscommunication arises due to the absence or misuse of contextualization cues. Native speakers are usually tolerant to foreigners with a poor command of their native language, but if a fluent speaker of their language misuses contextualization cues, they attribute it to evil design. Responses to contextualization cues are automatic, and, what complicates the issue, conclusions are made not about the other person’s use 5

See, for example, the review of critique of Brown and Levinson’s theory of politeness in O’Driscoll (1996).


Anatolij Dorodnych and Anna Kuzio

of language but about their intentions, and “inferences drawn from indirect interpretation of cues seem as ‘real’ as those drawn from what is directly said.” (Gumperz and Tannen 1979: 323). One reason for this phenomenon is that our understanding of others is driven by expectations (Brown and Yule 1983: 242). Instances of violated expectations can be found in many works on intercultural communication. Scollon and Scollon (2001: 5) give the following example: on board of a plane an American businessman meets a businessman from Hong Kong. After they exchange cards, the American addresses the man from Hong Kong by his Chinese first name and the man smiles. The American thinks that the man is pleased but in fact the Chinese businessman feels embarrassed. Politeness has often been associated with indirectness, and directness with impoliteness (cf. Brown and Levinson 1987 and subsequent research based on their theory). In fact, native speakers of English have often interpreted some direct speech acts produced by non-native speakers of English as impolite (cf. Ronowicz 1995).6 On the other hand, as Culpeper et al. (2003: 1549) write, impolite utterances should not always be associated with the bald on record strategy. They draw attention to the fact that indirectness can increase impoliteness and cite Leech’s (1983: 171) observation that “You have something to declare” is an impolite belief, and more indirect kinds of question [e.g. “Haven’t you something to declare?”] are progressively more impolite, more threatening, than the ordinary yes–no question. Even within the same language community, there may be differences in preferred politeness strategies: “In Yorkshire, what are seen as soft Southern ways, epitomised by negative politeness, are often characterised as negative and effete.” (Mills 2009: 1057). 2.9. Methods of research In Hofstede’s (1984; 2005) scores based on five dimensions of national cultures: Power Distance, Uncertainty Avoidance, Individualism, Masculinity and Long Term Orientation, the Russian culture is characterized as predominantly collectivist in contrast to British and American culture, but things have changed since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and now individualism is becoming a dominant feature of Russian culture, which shows that culture is a dynamic system. What follows from this is that the data obtained for Hofstede as well as other data obtained before the collapse of the Soviet Union should be considered obsolescent. Hofstede’s model was not used in our research as it is too general to work on the micro-level, where sensitive instruments like contextualization cues would be more useful. Our research and analysis were based on the slightly modified model of communication proposed by Lasswell, as in Burgoon et al. (1994: 25): Who – Says What – To Whom – In Which Situation – With 6

One of us (A.D.) overheard a comment from a British female teaching English at the University of Kharkov, Ukraine on the way a student ordered coffee in the university cafeteria. She remarked that if that student had said something like that to an English woman behind the counter, he would have got coffee thrown into his face. She, having learnt some Russian, heard his Dajtie kofe as ‘Give (me) coffee’, oblivious of the fact that he used the plural form of the verb dajtie (implying the polite address form Vy) when addressing a single person, which allows the Russian direct speech act sound much milder than her interpretation ‘Give (me) coffee’.

The role of cultural scripts and contextualization cues ...


What Effect. The data presented below are a part of a project involving a contrastive study of some aspects of communicative behaviour of individuals representing Anglo, Russian/Ukrainian, and Polish cultures. Some results have already been reported (e.g. requests and, briefly, invitations in Dorodnych 1995; Dorodnych 2000). It was found that what might be called Russian polite imperative, e.g. skažytie ‘tell us’ (2nd.pers. pl.) was lost when our respondents performed in English. Also, transferred into English, the Russian polite structures with the negative particle nie might be the cause of misunderstanding, e.g. Vy nie podskažetie kotoryi as? ‘Won t you tell me the time?’ would sound rather rude. Another example of such transfer is Do you mind ...? and, even more so, “Don’t you mind…?”7 Both invitation and compliment are usually considered as speech acts addressing other’s positive face, yet they can be face-threatening.8 Bettinghaus and Cody (1994: 297-298) provide the following example: Sid praises Sally by saying that she is a great cook and a very sensitive person. There are different attributions Sally can make: (1) that Sid is not sincere or has an ulterior motive; (2) that Sid is sincere, so Sid will elicit increased liking from her.

Obviously, if invitations and compliments are prone to be misinterpreted in the intracultural context, this may be even more so in intercultural communication. To find out if there were differences and similarities in extending invitations and paying compliments, a questionnaire was prepared and responses to it were obtained from 50 speakers of American English and 51 speakers of Polish, the latter via the Internet. 20 speakers of Russian were asked to give responses in Russian, and 50 - in English. The responses of Russians in English were then handed for comments to 5 judges, native speakers of English (3 Americans, 1 English and 1 Canadian). 2.9.1. Compliments as an area of study Compliments in English have been studied by quite a few researchers (Pomerantz 1978; Wierzbicka 1991; Wolfson 1981; Holmes 1988; Herbert 1991; Serebriakova 2001; Spencer – Oatey 2003). Our study was conducted along similar lines: a) Compliments were categorised as referring to appearance, attire, achievement, character, possessions; b) The responses to compliments were categorized as: acceptance without thanking, just thanking, thanking and adding an additional comment, ignoring the compli-



In English, negative interrogatives “challenge a negative expectation that has been assumed to exist in the context.” (Biber et al. 1999:1114). For instance, a question like “Don’t you like her?” would be interpreted as an expression of surprise. “I don’t mean to embarrass you,” the large, red-faced woman said, handing Scotty her furcollared coat, “but you and Lora just make the most wonderful couple.” “Thanks,” Scotty said awkwardly. “I am embarrassing you. I’m sorry,” Mrs. Farberson said, taking the coat-check ticket from him. “But you’re just so cute together.” Scotty smiled, an uncomfortable smile. “Thanks,” he said again. (R.L. Stine. 1992. The Girlfriend. London: Hippo Books, 57-58)


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ment and responding to accompanying act (e.g. an inquiry), disagreeing, shifting credit to someone else, downgrading. 2.9.2. Discussion of the results The results will be reported in two large sections: Russian vs. English, and Polish vs. English: Russian vs. English The number of Russian respondents who submitted compliments in Russian was small because there was a possibility to refer to previous research (Serebriakova 2001). According to Serebriakova’s findings, the English and Russian compliments differed mostly in reference to appearance (23% and 31% respectively), inner moral qualities (18% and 10% respectively), abilities and professionalism (14% and 19% respectively). These results do not give any cue to possible gaffs which the English and Russians might commit in interactions between them. For this purpose, 50 Russian respondents (students of the Department of English Studies at National University of Kharkov) were asked to give versions of compliments in symmetrical (friend to friend) and asymmetrical situations (employer to employee, employee to employer). To make the analysis more objective, the versions of dialogues produced by non-native speakers of English were presented to native speakers of English for comments. Although the native speakers marked the deviations from usage in their culture as “inappropriate”, often enough errors were marked with the label “ungrammatical”. However, one of the authors of this paper has noticed that what could be explained as grammatical transfer can affect the socio-pragmatic aspect as well. To illustrate, in Russian it is quite polite to say Ty nie mog by odolžy ruchku? But translated into English literally, something like ‘Couldn’t you lend me a pen?’ would sound impolite. An African student at the then Lumumba University in Moscow complained that when he asked an elderly lady [in what was very correct Russian], “Vy nie skažetie gdie naxoditsa Bibliotieka Inostrannoi Literatury? (literally:’Won’t you tell me where the Library of Foreign Literature is?’) she refused to tell him. In fact, he missed the intonation of regret with which she said, Niet, nie skažu (literally ‘No, I won’t’). 9 The use of a performative verb in English (and in Russian as well) would sound rather formal, but in Polish one can invite a friend for a cup of coffee by saying Zapraszam cie na kaw (literally: ‘I invite you for coffee’). Russian compliments in Russian A. Friend to friend As the number of respondents was small (20) and the number of valid returned questionnaires was even smaller (18), we decided to apply a broader classification into: 9

Now People’s Friendship University of Russia

The role of cultural scripts and contextualization cues ...


compliments referring to appearance and to accomplishments. Russian males complimented each other mostly on broadly understood accomplishments, and females on appearance. Females did not differ very much in these categories when complimenting other women – but their ‘accomplishments’ were different: it was mainly a new hairdo, a new piece of clothing, etc. When complimenting men, women mainly referred to their accomplishments, but often enough to their appearance – 38.89%. As for responses, males scored thus: accept without thanking – 22%, thanks – 17%, thanks plus (answer question, comment, etc.) – 22%, ignore – 33%, no acceptance – 6%. The score for females was as follows: accept without thanking – 21%, thanks – 16%, thanks plus – 21%, thanks, return compliment – 5.3%, ignore – 5.3%, shift credit to other – 21%, downgrade – 5.3%, ironic response – 5.3%. Women responded to a compliment with a thank you more often than men, both men and women expressed gratitude more often when the author of a compliment was of the opposite sex. Generally, Russians often do not thank even if they acknowledge the compliment, which might be considered impolite by the representatives of Anglo cultures. B. Employee to employer In all situations, when compliments were paid, males preferred direct forms (male to male – 55.6%, male to female – 76.47%). Females chose more direct forms when addressing males – 64.7%, than when addressing females – 41.2 %. Significantly, the responses contained more acceptances than non-acceptances in all dyads, the highest percentage in the case of ‘male to male’ – 94.4%. There was suspicion of flattery (manipulation) in a few situations: (1)


Anna Lvovna, Vy sovsem nie stareyetie. Vygliaditie na vse sto! ‘Anna Lvovna, you don’t look a day older. You look like a million dollars’ Vy mnie lstitie kak vsegda ‘You flatter me, as usual’

[Possible irony – the Russian idiom ‘Vygladitie na vse sto’ could be interpreted as ‘you look a hundred years old’] In this asymmetrical situation, as one female respondent commented, an employee addresses an employer on issues relating to work, and there is no place for personal compliments. Others (let us remember their task was to role-play) happily agreed to produce compliments. And like in situation A, compliments by both men and women were mostly accepted with thanks or no thanks. Female employers thanked more than male ones, especially when they received a compliment from the opposite sex. These findings agree with the results of another questionnaire: Twenty Russian subjects (students at Kharkov National University ) were asked to give responses to three questions, ticking off any or all of the given three choices. The first question was “Who do you pay compliments to?” The responses reveal that they mostly pay compliments to males and females of their own age (90% and 95%, respectively) and of the same social status (75% and 75%, respectively). But they also pay compliments to


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older males and females (60% and 75%) whose status is higher than theirs (55% and 55%).The answers to the question “What do you compliment on?” were: appearance – 95%, accomplishments – 80%, possessions – 40%. The third question was: “What is your purpose for paying compliments?” The answers were: to please someone – 95%, to ingratiate themselves – 15%, to cheer someone up – 15%, before asking for a favor – 10%. C. Employer to employee We originally included the section ‘employer to employee’ in our questionnaire but then realized that in many societies, especially Anglo, employers are expected to praise their employees rather than compliment them to avoid accusations of sexual harassment. It turns out that Russian male employers pay compliments to their female employees more often than their American counterparts. The few examples from Americans are as follows: (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)

M-M: – – M-F: – – M-F: – – F-M: – – F-F: – – F-F: – –

You look dressed up today, what’s the occasion? I just thought that I dress up for a change. You look nice. Well, thank you. You look nice today. Well, thank you. Did you get your hair cut over the weekend? It looks nice. Yes, I got it cut when I went home, it’s kind of short, though. Cute outfit. Oh, this old rag. Love your sweater. Thanks. Russians giving and receiving compliments in English As we intuitively expected, the members of Anglo cultures who judged the Russian utterances, marked as inappropriate the submitted versions of quite a few Russian respondents – 26 out of the total 50, i.e. 52%. The commonest error was the use of the same register for both formal and informal situations. In the ‘friend to friend’ situation one compliment sounded too formal, ‘May I …?’. Some inappropriate compliments were addressed to an employer and some were used by an employer to an employee).10 The comments by native speakers were laying it too thick , what a creep , sexual harassment , flattery . Some compliments paid by employees to their employers are given below: 10

Quite a few inappropriate versions were found in invitations. For example, May I invite you...? addressed to a friend, which was found to be too formal, another, also to invite a friend, began with Look here... , and one (a male employer insisting on taking out his female employee) was characterized as sexual harassment.

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– –


Maria Petrovna, you look exceptionally beautiful today Misha, you keep telling me this every day, what are you driving at?

[Takes that as flattery, is suspicious] (9)


I would like to mention that this brilliant ring of yours is so splendid that I can’t help looking at it with admiration. It is just for you and it stresses your charm and beauty. [should be ‘diamond’ – A.D.]

Comment by a native speaker: Sounds too effusive, my immediate response is “What a creep.” (10) -F: –

Mrs. Smith, you look just great! I always knew that I have the most beautiful boss.

Comment by a native speaker: What a creep! In many work environments this might well be seen as sexual harassment.) (11) F-M: –

You look wonderful today. This suit fits you very much.

Comment by a native speaker: Rather personal, not sure about saying it to a boss – it depends upon the relationship.11 In Russian culture, there are no sanctions for this kind of verbal behavior, even if it is clear that a compliment on the appearance of a female employee signals the desire to switch to a more intimate footing. Sometimes possible misunderstanding was due to a lexical error, like this compliment paid to a friend: You look very solemn in that suit (bad translation of the Russian toržestvennyi) or You look extravagant (ekstravagantnyi in Russian means something like exotic and has nothing to do with wasting money). Another “compliment” addressed to a female was “You look delicate.” A number of authors (cf. Pomerantz 1978; Wolfson 1981), are of he opinion that compliments for Americans are part of small talk, and responses to them are formulaic, while Fox (2004) points out that the English find it difficult to accept compliments. Serebriakova (2001) also found that Russians and, to a lesser extent, the English tended to downgrade what was complimented upon or reject a compliment. As scores in section “A – Friend to Friend” show, males do not often downgrade nor do females, the latter tend more to shift credit to a third person. The questionnaires returned by Americans did not quite confirm the conclusion made by Wolfson (1981) that compliments for Americans are part of small talk, and are formulaic. It was not the compliments, but the responses to compliments that were formulaic. On the average, about 53.93% of the responses contained ‘thank you’. The figure for Russians was noticeably lower – 34.66 %. As for compliments, in the ‘em-


In an earlier study, where one of the authors (A.D.) had the opportunity of feedback with the respondents who were native speakers of English, one of them explained why he had used “Gimme” for a request addressed to his employer: he said that he and his employer were close friends.


Anatolij Dorodnych and Anna Kuzio

ployer/employee’ situation there was noticeable variation, i.e. they were not formulaic12. Polish vs. English To show that representatives of Polish culture are sometimes misinterpreted by their Anglo interlocutors, and the other way round, we will quote Mike Reynolds description of one such experience: He was travelling together with a new acquaintance who spoke, as he said, excellent English. There was a long pause in their conversation, and he said looking through the window “How many trees are there in Poland?” Her reaction was “I wonder who would want to know that.” At first he felt he had been put down, on second thought, however, he realized that she had missed the cue that he had been engaged in phatic communication (Reynolds 1995). Misunderstandings like this lead to the emergence of stereotypes like those aptly summed up in Ronowicz’s (1995) title Aussies are friendly and Poles aren’t rude. A typical feature of Polish communicative behaviour is directness (cf. Ronowicz 1995). Complimenting seems to be no exception: (12)

Ale ty dzisiaj elegancka ‘You look so smart today’

For Poles, indirectness appears to be a rare phenomenon while paying compliments. On the other hand, they often resort to supportive moves and/or small talk. A supportive move appears to be a possible element that serves to intensify the complimentary force of a given compliment: (13)

Masz wspania figur, powinna by modelk ‘Your figure is great, you should become a model’

The following compliment may be perceived as an introduction to an inquiry: (14)


Ty to masz zawsze adna fryzur ... jak ty to robisz? ‘Your haircut always looks great. How do you do that?’ A, uywam specjalnego szamponu. ‘Oh, I use some special shampoo.’ Ale masz fajny zegarek. Gdzie go kupie ? ‘What a nice watch. Where did you buy it?’ No, niezy. Dostaem od ojca. ‘Yea, not too bad. Got it from my father’

Although complimenting, compared to requesting, commonly imposes less burden on the addressee (Brown and Levinson, 1987), supportive moves can still be found in the Polish data collected for this study.The data suggest that, whereas the complimenting utterances of Americans are mostly straightforward, and use few supportive 12

Strictly speaking, in the case of an employer commenting on the performance of their employee, the description should be praise rather than compliment

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moves, Polish speakers employ such moves much more often so that many of their complimenting sequences have a tendency to be longer, as can be seen in the following examples: (16)

wietny szalik, pasuje do twoich butów i makijau, podoba mi si takie zestawienie. sama wybieraa , czy inspirowaa si jakimi gazetami? ‘Great scarf. It goes well with your make-up and shoes. I like this combination. Did you select it yourself or have you been inspired by some magazines?’


Podoba mi si sposób twojego my lenia, zawsze szukasz pozytywnych rzeczy w najbardziej beznadziejnych sytuacjach. ‘I like your way of reasoning. You always see something positive even in most hopeless situations.’

In practice, native Polish speakers’ use of supportive moves has to do with a sociocultural convention that embraces a communicative style valuing mutual face work very highly. Resorting to such moves is a tactic by which both parties can continuously evaluate ongoing conversation so as to make appropriate face adjustments to each other whenever needed. That is, small talk or supportive moves can help both the speaker and addressee observe each other’s mood as well as attitude, thereby finetuning the face, distance and relationship between them and generating a harmonious atmosphere to conduct interpersonal transactions. With this kind of interactive adjustment, a balance of face between interlocutors can be achieved (cf. Scollon and WongScollon 1991: 116). Compliment frequency and function The finding that native speakers of Polish appear to pay compliments considerably less often than Americans seems to imply that Americans consider complimenting as part of small talk. Compliments have also been found to occur in a much wider variety of speech situations in American culture than in other cultures (Wolfson 1989). For example, it is common for Americans to compliment a stranger to show their friendliness, but if a Polish speaker did so in a Polish context, this act could be a cause of some embarrassment for the addressee, as observed in the following compliment exchanges: (18)


Ale ty jeste silny! ‘How strong you are!’ – (zawstydzony) Dzikuj ‘Thank you. (feels awkward).’ Twoje nogi sigaj do nieba, a w przy tym twoja uroda jest boska. ‘Your legs reach the sky. Your beauty is simply heavenly.’ Hihi, ale …jestem …dostepna dla takiego … miartelnika jak ty. (laughing) ‘But I’m accessible to a mortal like you.’

As the last exchange shows, compliments sometimes function as conversation openers for the speaker to try to create some rapport with the addressee. Generally, American


Anatolij Dorodnych and Anna Kuzio

English speakers would not find such situations particularly strange or troubling, for as suggested previously, one of the core functions compliments serve in American English is to establish solidarity with the addressee. It is not so for the speakers of Polish. This may be the reason why in the Polish example above, the addressee seems to be embarrassed. In fact, it is often the case that the act of complimenting a stranger would be considered an imposition. A further analysis of how the manner and degree of cross-cultural behaviour is varied reveals that the primary factor behind the cultural norm is face, which is related to whether or not speakers’ behaviour can be regarded as appropriate or polite. In Polish culture, the speaker is usually expected to make use of compliments as assertions of admiration. The failure to live up to this cultural expectation may imply that the speaker does not take the addressee’s face into account, thereby damaging his or her own face. It is not only that Americans employ compliments just to negotiate solidarity, whereas the Polish praise only when they want to show genuine admiration. There are, in fact, many commonalities in compliment function between the two cultures. As it is shown in the data, Poles also make use of compliments to negotiate solidarity, while Americans pay compliments when they want to show real admiration. Compliment topics It has been shown that most compliments concentrate on only a few topics. For example, it is found that compliments in American English mostly fall into two main categories: (a) appearance and/or possessions; and (b) ability and/or performance (cf. Knapp, Hopper and Bell 1984; cf. Manes 1983; cf. Wolfson 1989). Studies of other varieties of English (cf. Herbert 1989; cf. Holmes 1989) and other languages (cf. Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk 1989) also indicated that these topics were the most freuent ones. Moreover, whereas there were fewer Polish speakers who complimented on “ability and/or performance” and other topics, there were more who complimented on “appearance and/or possessions”. Typical compliments on appearance and/or possessions in Polish are shown in the following examples: (20) (21) (22) (23)

Fajnie cia wosy. ‘Great haircut’. adnie dzi wygldasz. ‘You look great today’. Takiego przystojniaka to ju dawno nie widziaam. ‘I haven’t seen such a handsome man for ages’. wietna spódnica! ‘Great skirt!’

Typical compliments on ability and/or performance in Polish are shown in the following examples: (24) (25)

wietnie wykonane zadanie, trzymaj tak dalej. ‘Well done, keep going!’ Pani potrafi wietnie poradzi sobie z kad trudn sytuacj. ‘You can cope with any difficult situation’.

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Wykonae swoje zadanie perfekcyjnie! Jeste profesjonalist! ‘You’ve coped with the task perfectly! You are a professional’.

The majority of compliments on “other topics” concern personality/whole person, as illustrated by the following examples: (27) (28)

Niesamowita z ciebie dziewczyna. ‘You’re a great girl’. Ale to co pani robi, jest niesamowite! ‘What you are doing is out of this world!’

Our data may suggest that the Polish tendency to compliment more on ability and/or performance is due to the desire to emphasize the virtues and qualities of individuals as having greater social value than good looks or possessions. In contrast, it appears that the major function of compliments for American English speakers is to create solidarity between speaker and addressee. Their inclination to compliment on appearance and/or possessions (cf. Holmes 1988, Knapp, Hopper and Bell 1984) has to do with the fact that originality is very highly valued in American society. Thus, offering a compliment is appropriate whenever an acquaintance is seen with something new (cf. Wolfson 1989). This is the type of praise most often heard, and it is generally employed as an expression of solidarity (cf. Holmes 1988). Addresser-addressee relationship and compliments It has been stated that the relationship between addresser and addressee is a vital factor affecting compliment behaviour because “who” and “whom” elements often constitute the most important components of any sociolinguistic or speech act study (cf. Wolfson 1989). This relationship reveals two important parameters in pragmatics research, namely, social status and distance. A speaker’s social status is an essential variable in language use. This applies to compliments without exception, for it seems apparent that people of different social status show a discrepancy in their strategies, topics, and frequency of complimenting. Taking into account Polish and English speakers, one can notice that the great majority of compliments occur in interactions between people of equal status. This finding seems to be consistent with Holmes’ (1988) study on New Zealand English and Wolfson’s (1981) study on American English. In Polish tradition it is apparent that lower status individuals are discouraged from taking the initiative in talking to higher-status persons unless some legitimate reasons exist. If the lower status individual should violate this implicit social convention, this may offend the higher status person or be considered as shameless flattery by their peers. Conversely, in American culture, relative power is not significant and asymmetric power relations in conversational interaction are often not recognized. Hence, taking the initiative of paying a compliment to a person of higher status will usually not incur offence. This may explain why Polish speakers have a tendency to give fewer compliments to higher status addressees than do American English speakers. Social distance is a crucial parameter for researchers in identifying variation in language use. Speakers with different social status vary in deciding whether or not to


Anatolij Dorodnych and Anna Kuzio

compliment, or to what extent they feel motivated and/or comfortable to compliment, depending on how well they know each other

3. Conclusion The versions obtained from the respondents were in fact simulations of communicative events, yet they pointed to cultural differences in verbal behaviour even if the respondents had been asked to role-play. The compliments produced by the Russians in English can be characterised as examples of both cross linguistic transfer and pragmatic transfer. The results for Russian and Polish have not revealed anything radically different from the data presented in previous research. Much of the data based on the studies of intra-cultural communication does not allow to conclude with certainty where to expect a faux pas in situations of intercultural communication. Of more value are the results of studies on the ways non-native speakers fare in encounters with native speakers. Although the simulations of dialogues produced by Russian speakers in English cannot compare with observation of real intercultural communication, the method of soliciting comments by native speakers helps to make up for the artificiality of responses to questionnaires, as such comments can be indicative of possible areas of miscommunication in real-life interactions with native speakers of English.

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Cultural scripts and communication style differences in three Anglo Englishes (English English, American English and Australian English) Cliff Goddard, University of New England, Australia 1. Cultural scripts and Anglo communication styles The literature in linguistic pragmatics has thus far had relatively little to say about communication style differences between varieties of Anglo English. As Barron and Schneider (2008: 3) observe, in the first book-length collection on the pragmatics of Irish English: “Recently published overviews of some of the (regional) varieties of English ... do not consider the pragmatic level of language at all”. It is a different story in non-scholarly books, magazines, blogs, etc., where the testimony of travellers, travel writers, immigrants, and others with intercultural experience suggests that there are substantial communication style differences, even between “New World” Anglo varieties, such as American English and Australian English. Consider, for example, the following comments by the writer and film-maker Oren Siedler, whose documentary film Bruce and me is a memoir of a childhood split between her divorced parents – her American father Bruce (a con man and scammer) and her Australian mother. The young Oren had the experience of attending schools in both countries. It was, she says, “just very different”. [W]hen I was in the United States ... the brief times that I was in school ... I found that the American kids were really interested to talk to me about where I was from, and they were intrigued about Australia, and they wanted to know who I was, they wanted to hear my accent. They were friendly, and they sort of celebrated my differences. And if I did well in school they congratulated me. … And then I would come back to school in Australia, and it would be the complete opposite. I’d very quickly learn to downplay any successes, I have to hide – not wear, the new clothes I’d bought because I’d be told I was stuck up, and up myself, and my accent … And yeah, any successes in school, because I became a very conscientious student, they didn’t like that. There was no congratulations for doing well in school. (ABC Radio National ‘Life Matters’ program, 7/05/09)

The thesis of the present study is that there are substantial communication style differences between American English and Australian English, as there are between Australian English and English English, and between English English and American English. These varieties of Anglo English have speech cultures that are “similar yet different”, with the result that the differences are easily misunderstood and mistaken for negative personality traits. For example, one source in the business world reports that in the workplace Americans tend to see Australians as “arrogant, unreliable, lazy, ironic, and impossible to impress”, while Australians see Americans as “boring, nitpickers, pushy, agreeable and show[ing] a strong need to be liked” (Cultural Resources Centre 2001). The same source traces these perceptions (largely correctly, in my view) to unrecognised differences in cultural values concerning authority, status and decision-making. In his Cultures in Conversation, Carbaugh (2005: xxii-xxiii) referred to difficulties like these as “invisible misunderstandings”.


Cliff Goddard

This study applies the methods of contrastive ethnopragmatics (Wierzbicka, 2003; Goddard ed., 2006; Goddard 2009a; Goddard and Wierzbicka eds., 2004) to these three Anglo Englishes, with the goal of identifying for each a distinctive suite of cultural scripts that characterise the preferred or expected communication style between interlocutors who do not know each other well, i.e. roughly speaking, during the “getting to know you” stage of interaction. The general premise behind ethnopragmatics is shared by kindred research traditions such as the ethnography of communication (Hymes 1962) and cultural discourse analysis (Carbaugh 2005), namely: “that speech practices are best understood from a culture-internal perspective ... ask[ing] 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?’” (Goddard 2006a: 2). What makes the ethnopragmatic approach distinctive is, above all, the distinctive method (cultural scripts) by which it represents culturally-based norms and values associated with ways of speaking. Instead of describing these norms in terms taken from the technical lexicon of linguistic pragmatics or social science (such as ‘negative politeness’, ‘positive politeness’, ‘face’, ‘solidarity’, ‘individualism’, ‘collectivism’, etc.), cultural scripts are formulated using combinations of semantically simple words; for example: ‘many people think like this’, ‘this someone is someone like me’, ‘if I don’t know someone well, it is good if I don’t say much to this someone’, ‘if I do this, this someone can feel something bad’, and so on. No technical terms, and no other words known to lack exact semantic equivalents in other languages, are allowed in cultural scripts. Because the wording is so simple, the scripts should be intuitively very clear in meaning and can plausibly be taken as representing something conceptually real for ordinary speakers, notwithstanding that using a small vocabulary sometimes creates a stylistically unusual effect (and that some NSM expressions, such as ‘this someone’, are not particularly idiomatic). The metalanguage in which cultural scripts are composed has been derived from decades of research in linguistic semantics, conducted by researchers in the Natural Semantic Metalanguage framework (Wierzbicka, 1996; Goddard and Wierzbicka Eds., 2002; Goddard Ed., 2008). The inventory of semantic primes is given in Appendix 1. It is not possible (or necessary) to deal with it in any detail here, except to say that evidence suggests that semantic primes and their inherent grammar are shared by all languages, in the sense that expressions phrased in semantic primes ought be precisely translatable into other languages. An important advantage of using the metalanguage of semantic primes both for formulating cultural scripts and for lexical-semantic analysis is that it enables us to uncover connections between culturally shaped ways of speaking, on the one hand, and heavily culture-laden words and expressions, on the other. Ethnopragmatic investigations can draw upon evidence of a variety of kinds. In this study we will make considerable use of what may be termed “soft” cultural evidence: personal (anecdotal) observations, observations taken from cross-cultural training books and resources, and studies in cultural history. Besemeres and Wierzbicka (Eds, 2007) and Wierzbicka (this volume) show that the literature of cross-cultural and bilingual life experience can fruitfully be used as a source. In addition, we will refer in each section to linguistic analysis of two main kinds. The first is lexical-semantic

Cultural scripts and communication style differences ...


analyses of key words and expressions from the different Anglo varieties, drawn for the most part from previously published works by Anna Wierzbicka (1992, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2006, in press) and the present author (Goddard 2006b, 2009b). The second is comparative frequency data on significant expressions in corpora of British English and American English, namely, (i) the Corpus of Contemporary American English or COCA (385 million words) and (ii) the British National Corpus or BYUBNC (100 million words), cf. Davis (2004, 2008). Other sources of evidence that will be referred to at times include cross-cultural psychology (Triandis 1995), analysis of naturalistic interaction (Haugh 2008), and a quasi-experimental study involving a discourse production task (Schneider 2008). From a methodological point of view, however, the main contention of the present study is that whatever forms of evidence can be drawn on, it is of fundamental importance to be able to interpret the evidence and to construct from it a coherent set of explanatory hypotheses. The cultural scripts to be proposed in this study constitute such a set of explanatory hypotheses. I will begin with English English, then move to American English, and then to Australian English. It must be admitted, of course, that English (even Anglo English) is spoken in many varieties in each of these countries, and that each country has more than one “communication culture”, so to speak. At the inevitable risk of oversimplification, the cultural scripts that I will propose are intended to characterise what might be called the predominant or mainstream communication culture for each national variety. I would not want to deny that there is considerable geographical, social and situational variation in communicative style within each country. For reasons of space, the exposition will be somewhat abbreviated at times.

2. Some English English cultural scripts England is of course the ancestral homeland of the English language and the cradle of Anglo culture (Wierzbicka 2006a, 2006b, 2010). Many important Anglo concepts such as ‘privacy’, ‘reasonableness’ and ‘rights’ that emerged from the British Enlightenment have become foundational elements of the Anglo culture in all its varieties, and the words that embody these concepts are cultural keywords across the entire Anglosphere. This does not mean, however, that there are no specifically English English cultural concepts and cultural keywords. On any account, one of the chief among these must surely be what the English term ‘class’. We cannot here undertake a proper lexical-semantic analysis of the folk concept of ‘class’, in the English English sense, much less trace its historical evolution from its origins in a system of hereditary social stratification to its contemporary sense. According to social anthropologist Kate Fox (2004: 72), ‘class’ pervades all aspects of English life and culture, from dress codes, home and garden, games and hobbies, food preferences and practices, and above all, perhaps, ways of speaking and ways of interacting. As a starting point I suggest that one of the fundamentals of ‘class’, as a folk concept in everyday English English, is simply consciousness of social difference; or more precisely, taking for granted that people generally are conscious of social difference. To be still more precise, we can advance the cultural script in [A]. It spells out a


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shared assumption which, it is claimed, forms part of the interpretative backdrop to social interaction in England; namely, taking it for granted that many people often assess other people as ‘someone not like me’. [A] English cultural script capturing consciousness of “social difference”. many people think like this: at many times many people think like this about many other people: “this someone is someone not like me”

This script is, no doubt, only one part of the picture, because it concerns social difference without touching on the aspect of stratification, i.e. the sense that, roughly speaking, people can have different positions in society that put them either above or below other people. As numerous commentators have observed, perceptions of social difference in England are overwhelmingly connected with one’s way of speaking. Talking about English “dis-ease” (roughly, expected awkwardness) in initial conversations, Fox (2004) puts it as follows: One cannot talk about English conversation codes without talking about class. And one cannot talk at all without immediately revealing one’s own social class. … there are two main factors involved ... terminology and pronunciation – the words you use and how you say them. (p72) … Class in England has nothing to do with money, and very little to do with occupation. Speech is all-important. (Fox, 2004: 72, 82)

The role of speech differences as an indicator of social difference can be captured in script [B]. Crucially however, it goes a lot further than this. Not only does one’s speech invite judgements of sameness and difference, it also invites potential disapproval and negativity. Commenting on Britain’s great variety of identifiable accents, the popularist cultural critic A. A. Gil (2004: 43-4) has said that “every single one of them makes someone else laugh or wince, or scowl ... You can mock an accent with impunity, and everyone does. ... Accent and pronunciation are a never-ending source of subtle snobbery and fury for the English”. I would not suggest that someone like Gil is always a reliable source, but on this score his comments echo those of many others. Script [C] attempts to capture some of the relevant attitudes. Notice that it is phrased in such a way as to embrace both aspects of verbal performance identified by Fox (2004: 63) as salient in matters of class identification: “terminology and pronunciation – the words you use and how you say them”. [B] English English cultural script recognising speech differences as an indicator of social difference. many people think like this: at many times when someone is with someone else, this someone can think like this: “when this someone says something, this someone doesn’t say it like I can say something like this because of this, I know that this someone is someone not like me”

Cultural scripts and communication style differences ...


[C] English English cultural script for awareness of possible disapproval about how one speaks many people think like this: at many times when I am with someone else, if this someone doesn’t know me well, when I say something, this someone can think like this about me: “it is not good if someone says words like this it is not good if someone says words like/as this someone says words”

Note that these scripts suggest that many people may feel potential anxiety or apprehension associated with speaking to someone they don’t know well, on account of not knowing how their way of speaking will be received by the interlocutor. This is, however, not at all the main factor conditioning the initial stance of the English English speaker when he or she is with someone that he or she does not know well. Rather, there is a complex cluster of values connected with classic English ideals of ‘nonimposition’, ‘non-intrusion’, and ‘privacy’. For reasons of space we can only address these matters in part here (but see Wierzbicka, 2006b), just in so far as they influence initial interactions. Sharwood-Smith (1999) explains that interpersonal encounters with “strangers” should be treated “with caution” (p62): “You should assess whether someone wants to be left alone or wants to engage in conversation and react accordingly” (p66). A little later he speaks of “a concern not to impose on other people, a concern not to demand attention and friendship from other people who may prefer to be left alone” (p70). The following script attempts to capture one part of the attitude Sharwood-Smith is describing. [D] English English cultural script for avoiding the appearance of “imposing” on someone one doesn’t know well. many people think like this: at many times when I am with someone else, if I don’t know this other someone well, it is not good if this someone thinks that I want this someone to do something good for me if this someone thinks this, he/she can feel something bad because of this

Of course, we don’t want this script to (mis)apply to structured situations in which it is expected that one person will do something for another as a matter of course, for example, in service encounters, consultations with professionals, etc. This is not a problem, however, because the wording of the first line of the script (‘at many times when I am with someone else ...’) would hardly be applicable to service encounters and other such situations. One does not normally construe such situations as ‘being with someone else’. Notice also that the wording of the final line of the script is general enough that it extends, as required, to speaking, responding to a question, etc., as well as to undertaking specific actions (such as, for example, helping the speaker out in some way). There is evidence for an additional script that constrains speakers from directly seeking ‘personal information’ about the interlocutor. Fox (2004) explains at length that, although English interlocutors are often curious about the social details of their


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interlocutors, they feel strongly inhibited to inquire directly about them, in line with the powerful cultural injunctions to ‘mind one’s own business’, ‘to keep ourselves to ourselves’ and, above all, not to ‘pry’ (p42). According to Fox, in many contexts this extends to avoiding direct questions about what one’s interlocutor does for a living. “[I]t is not considered entirely polite, for example, to ask someone directly ‘what do you do?’ ... etiquette requires us to find a more roundabout, indirect way of discovering what people do for a living” (Fox 2004: 44). It even extends to a direct inquiry about one’s interlocutor’s name. The culturally endorsed attitude can be stated as in script [E]. (As Fox emphasises, the attitude concerns the impression one wishes to convey. In reality, people are often intensely interested in obtaining information about someone they have newly met, but they feel obliged to proceed in an indirect fashion.) [E] English English cultural script for avoiding the appearance of being “intrusively” interested in someone one doesn’t know well. many people think like this: at many times when I am with someone else, if I don’t know this other someone well, it is not good if this someone thinks that I want to know something about this someone if this someone thinks this, he/she can feel something bad because of this

From the point of view of Americans and Australians, the canonically English attitude being described by Fox (2004) seems quite peculiar: [Y]ou do not go up to someone at a party (or in any other social setting where conversation with strangers is permitted, such as at a pub counter) and say ‘Hello, I’m John Smith’, or even ‘Hello, I’m John’. … The ‘brash American’ approach, ‘Hi, I’m Bill from Iowa’, particularly if accompanied by an outstretched hand and beaming smile, makes the English wince and cringe. (Fox 2004: 38-9).

Though there may be an element of overstatement in Fox’s formulation, there is other evidence, quantitative in nature, that supports the claim that there are significant differences among Anglo Englishes in relation to exchange of names, occupational, and other personal information. Schneider (2008) studied the preferred opening turns of small talk at parties, via a dialogue production task undertaken by a sample of teenage respondent speakers of English English, American English and Irish English. Table 1 below shows the distribution of ‘move types’ represented in the data obtained for English English as opposed to American English. Essentially it represents what speakers of these varieties report would be the most likely conversational exchange at a party, upon speaking for the first time with someone that one does not already know. The preferred pattern is markedly different in each variety. Of present relevance is the finding that both self-identification and request for an addressee’s name are strikingly less frequent in the English English data, than in the American English data. Speakers of American English almost always volunteered their name (SELF-ID) along with the greeting, and often asked the interlocutor’s name at the same time (REQ-ID). For example: Hi, my name is Nikki. (What’s yours?). Speakers of English English, in contrast, only rarely offered their own names, and even more rarely requested the other person’s name. That is, the typical pattern is: A: Hi. B: Hi. As Schneider (2008: 127) notes: “it appears that requests for further information about the interlocutor are


Cultural scripts and communication style differences ...

avoided completely in EngE party small talk”.1 Though data of this kind must be handled with care in view of their normative nature, small sample sizes, etc. they are highly suggestive. Table 1:

Distribution of move types across the 30 opening turns in two varieties of English (after Schneider 2008, table 8) GREET SELF-ID REQ-ID APPR COMPL Other

English English 93.3% (28) 13.3% (4) 6.7% (2) 13.3% (4) 10.0% (3) 3.3% (1)

American English 96.7% (29) 70.0% (21) 43.3% (13) 13.3% (4) — 3.3% (1)

Contrastive corpus analysis is also consistent with Fox’s (2004) claim that direct information-seeking about a new interlocutor is dispreferred in many contexts in English English. Table 2 reports frequency figures per million in the Corpus of Contemporary American English and British National Corpus for the questions ‘What do you do?’ and ‘What do you do for a living?’. Various sources on American English (e.g. Althen, 2003; Lanier, 2005; Renwick, 1980) state that such questions are often among the earliest in getting-to-know-you conversations in the United States. Though a largescale comparison like this is by nature a very rough measure, the figures seem to confirm that there is a substantial difference between the two varieties. Table 2:

Frequency figures for two occupation-related questions in Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) and British National Corpus (BNY-BYU) (Davis 2004, 2008) COCA per million words

BNC-BYU per million words

Ratio COCA : BNC

‘What do you do?’



1.8: 1

‘What do you do for a living’



1.9: 1

In view of the potential perceived difficulties connected with interacting with people one doesn’t know well, and the concern not to ‘intrude’, ‘impose’, etc., it is hardly surprising that, as many observers have noted, initial interactions in English English are often characterised by a degree of ‘reserve’. As Sharwood-Smith (1999: 70) puts it: “The British are by no means unfriendly but it is unfortunate that some of their behaviour, particularly in southern and southeastern parts of England, does strike outsiders as reserved, sometimes even as cold”.2 As a final script, summing up one of the conse1


Schneider’s (2008) data on Irish English exhibited a third pattern, which can be interpreted as a mutual exchange of solidarity messages. It involved no use of names at all; rather, the initial greeting was invariably followed by an ‘appreciative’ comment, which was usually reciprocated. Typical pattern: A: Hi! Great party, isn’t it? B: Yeah. (Great music). Note Sharwood-Smith’s (1999) qualification ‘particularly in southern and southeastern parts of England’. Anecdotal evidence suggests that communicative style in this respect is somewhat different in northern and northwestern parts of England.


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quences of, from an interactional behavioural point of view, we can consider script [F], which simply encourages individuals not to want to say too much when speaking with unfamiliar people. [F] English English cultural script for ‘reserve’ in speaking with people one doesn’t know well. many people think like this: at many times when I am with someone else, if I don’t know this other someone well, it is good if I don’t say much to this other someone

3. Some Anglo-American cultural scripts We now turn to American English cultural scripts. Although I am chiefly interested in describing these scripts in their own terms, it is useful to keep one eye on how they contrast with those of English English. The differences, as we will see, are very considerable, as one would expect given the divergent histories of the two countries; in particular, the radically different early social conditions and ideological foundations of the USA, its vast size, huge volume of immigration, and historically high levels of social mobility. Cultural keywords for American English that have been identified and studied semantically include freedom, fun, and happiness (Wierzbicka 1992, 1999, in press, forthcoming), and to these I would add choice, dream, win, and success. It will also be helpful to anticipate some aspects of contrast with Australian English, which will be dealt with in the following section. In the standard social literature USA and Australia are both notable for their high levels of “individualism”. In Gert Hofstede’s (1997, 2001) well known questionnaire-based study of 53 countries the USA and Australia are ranked first and second, respectively, on the Individualism scale (with the UK coming in third place).3 At the same time, however, social psychologists (Triandis, 1995; Singelis et al., 1995) have also identified a significant difference which is usually discussed in terms of ‘vertical’ vs. ‘horizontal’ individualism: the USA is notable for its vertical individualism, as compared with the horizontal individualism of Australia. In the vertical pattern, as in the USA, “people often want to become distinguished and acquire status, and they do this in individual competition with others” (Triandis and Gelfand, 1998: 119). That is to say, American-style individualism is fully compatible with social differentiation (being, and being perceived as, different from others) and with competition. Indeed, in the USA being ‘successful’ in competition with others is one of the primary cultural bases for social differentiation. 3

I would be among the first to point out the methodological drawbacks of large-scale studies such as those of Hofstede (2001) and Triandis (1995) and also to highlight that the dimensions of comparison being employed (‘individualism vs. collectivism’, ‘vertical vs. horizontal individualism’, and the like), being technical terms from social science, cannot shed much light on cultureinternal perspectives of the societies being described. Nevertheless, the Individualism results (and similarly closely-placed rankings on several other measures) bears witness to the fact that Australia, USA and Great Britain are very similar to one another, at least when compared with countries like France, China, Malaysia and Costa Rica.

Cultural scripts and communication style differences ...


But we are getting ahead of ourselves. To begin with, consider script [G] below. It embodies the claim that in America people generally have a strong consciousness of social diversity; but, in contrast with English attitudes in this respect, this awareness of social diversity is not particularly linked with hierarchical attitudes or with apprehension of disapproval. [G] Anglo-American cultural script expressing consciousness of social diversity. many people think like this: there are many people in this place, these people are people of many kinds some of these people are people like me, some of these people are people not like me

Moving to American style in initial interactions, I believe that Donal Carbaugh (2005) has captured some of the most salient features, as seen from an insider perspective, in the following description: This peculiarly American character can speak a lot about almost anything, but seems especially fond of the “self”. The cultural preference or rules for this kind of conversation revolve around the belief that one can and should speak, that one can and should speak about the “self”, its history, experiences and opinions ... In a country where everyone is presumably different, on personal and other levels, it is incumbent on each to say what they have to say, so that some common life can be woven out of these threads of difference (Carbaugh, 2005: 22).

In this passage Carbaugh at once characterises a particularly American stance (“that one can and should speak about the ‘self’”) and at the same time links this with broad assumptions about society (“... in a country where everyone is presumably different, on personal and other levels”). Of course, such a compact formulation necessarily leaves implicit some of the intervening steps in the cultural logic. For example, it seems implicit in Carbaugh’s formulation that talk about oneself serves, as the same author has put it elsewhere, as “a means of self creation and display” (Carbaugh, 1988: 67-8). Furthermore, such self-display can be expected, in normal conditions, to be mutual or reciprocal, i.e. both parties in an initial interaction will display some picture of their “history, experience, and opinions”. In the process, then, each party will be able to make an assessment of the other, to decide whether they have enough in common to make further interaction promising or interesting, and to identify any exceptional qualities in the other person. Before moving on from the general framing of “self-display” or disclosure, I would like to draw attention to one further aspect. This relates to timing, to pace, to the desirability of getting through the mutual social display quickly, thus enabling what Lanier (2005) calls “fast assessment”. This brings us to script [H]. Note that the first part of this script (‘... it is good if this someone can know some things about me, at the same time it good if I can know some things about this someone’) is phrased in such a way as to suggest that interlocutors are likely to volunteer or display ‘information’ about themselves, without much prompting or questioning being necessary.


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[H] Anglo-American cultural script for self-disclosure and “fast assessment” of new people. many people think like this: at many times when I am with someone, if I don’t know this someone well, it is good if after a short time this someone can know some things about me at the same time it is good if I can know some things about this someone if this someone is someone like me, it is good if I can know this after a short time if this someone is someone not like many other people, because people can know very good things about this someone, it is good if I can know this after a short time

Assuming now that one of the goals of initial American English conversational interaction is “self definition”, the question arises: What counts as ‘self’ in this context? Drawing again on Carbaugh’s work, I suggest that what it means in this context is the capacity to articulate (i.e. to say clearly and effectively) what one’s goals, ambitions and capabilities are, so as to delineate a combination of personal choices and qualities that (appear to) make one different to other people. The script in [I] attempts to spell out the configuration of value assumptions involved, from a first-person perspective. Essentially it captures the notions that it is valued to see oneself as ‘not like many other people’, but rather as ‘me’; that it is valued to be consciously aware of one’s personal intentions, goals and capabilities; and, furthermore, that it is valued to be able to verbally articulate all these things. (Cf. Wierzbicka (2010) on the semantics of English expressions based on the word sense, including sense of self.) [I] Anglo-American cultural script for having a clear ‘sense of self’ and being able to articulate it. many people think like this: it is good if someone can think like this: “I am someone not like many other people, I am me I know that I want to do some things, I can say what these things are I know that I want some things to happen to me, I can say what these things are I know that I can do many things, I can say what these things are”

The last line of script [I] states that it is a valued personal attribute, in the American English cultural context, to think about oneself ‘I can do many things’, and furthermore, to be able to identify these things. From an English English and Australian English point of view, statements about one’s personal abilities are liable to violate cultural proscriptions favouring maintaining the appearance of modesty (and in the Australian case, ordinariness) and cautioning against the possibility of being seen as ‘blowing one’s own trumpet’, having a ‘big head’, being ‘up oneself’, etc. (cf. Peeters (2004a, 2004b) on the Australian “tall poppy syndrome”). In the American cultural context, however, identifying one’s own achievements and abilities – and seeking out and recognising those of others – is expected and accepted in many contexts. Space prevents us from exploring these aspects here in the detail that they deserve. I will advance only the following three cultural scripts. Script [J] expresses an individual’s entitlement to have and to project a positive self-image. Scripts [K] and [L] encourage individuals to think positively and optimistically about their own capabilities and future prospects (cf. Wierzbicka 1999). Ehrenreich (2009: 4-5) speaks of an “ide-

Cultural scripts and communication style differences ...


ology of positive thinking”, which consists not only of the positive thoughts themselves, but also of “the practice, or discipline, of trying to think in a positive way”. [J] Anglo-American cultural script for having a “positive self-image”. it is good if someone can think like this: “people can know many good things about me people can know that I am someone not like many other people”

[K] Anglo-American cultural script encouraging “positive thinking”. it is good if at many times someone thinks like this: “I can do many things many good things can happen to me because of this"

[L] Anglo-American cultural script encouraging a dynamic “can do” attitude. it is good if at many times someone thinks like this: “if I want something to happen, it can happen if I do some things for some time I can do these things if I want to do them”

The three scripts above are not directly about communication style but they help to condition the general tenor of many conversations, and they have important consequences for mutual misperceptions in interactions between Americans and speakers of other varieties of Anglo English. In his cross-cultural study of Australians and Americans, Renwick (1991[1980]: 21) identified the reluctance of Australians to speak up about their status and accomplishments as one of the most important sites of misunderstanding: “Americans, in contrast, emphasize the identification and regard of exceptional qualities … to develop such qualities and to look for and respect them in others”. Comparing American and Japanese communication styles, Yamada (1997: 101) points out that: “Recognition is an important ritual in American interaction ... a standard way for Americans to recognize each other is through praise”. Coming now to several scripts that are directly concerned with communication, it is important to recognise that the overall American theme of “positivity” extends also to the displaying good feelings (wherever possible) in everyday interaction. Anna Wierzbicka (1999, 2006a) has explored this in a number of publications. The following scripts are based on her work.4 [M] Anglo-American cultural script favouring feeling good in general and showing it in general. many people think like this: it is good if someone can feel something good at many times at many times when someone feels something good, it is good if other people can know it


Anglo-Australian cultural scripts also encourage people to, roughly speaking, maintain a ‘good mood’ whenever possible, but the effect is more ‘low key’ than upbeat American positivity. Wierzbicka (2002) and Goddard (2006a) discuss Australian scripts for actively resisting and minimising bad feelings, and for down-playing the expression of bad feelings (anti-whinging scripts).


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[N] Anglo-American cultural script for projecting good feelings in verbal interactions. many people think like this: at many times when I say something to someone else, it is good if this someone thinks that I feel something good at this time

Contrastive corpus analysis supports the many qualitative observations in the cultural commentary literature about the preferred positive and ‘upbeat’ character of American verbal interaction. Table 3 shows that “expressive superlatives” like Wow, great and wonderful occur at much higher frequencies in the American corpus, as compared with British corpus. The one exception is the specifically English English expression Brilliant!, but its occurrences in the British corpus do not bring the total frequency of positive exclamations anywhere close to that in the American corpus. (For reasons of space only a selection of results is shown, but they are representative of the overall pattern.) While on the topic of contrastive corpus data, it is interesting also to consider Table 4. This shows frequency figures for the expression ‘my dream’ in various contexts in the two corpora. The word dream (in the sense, roughly, of a high ambition) is arguably an American cultural keyword and in the phrase ‘my dream’, it almost always has this sense (not the plain sense associated with dreaming while sleeping). The figures in Table 4 show that this expression can be up to five times more common in the American corpus.5 Table 3:

Frequency figures for several expressive exclamations and descriptors in Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) and British National Corpus (BNY-BYU) (Davis 2004, 2008)

COCA per million words


BNC per million words

Ratio COCA : BNC













really great




really wonderful




[be] great




[be] wonderful




Though large corpora have brought new rigour and replicablity to many areas of linguistics, the prospects for variational pragmatics are limited. First, large standard corpora are heavily weighted to written texts. Second, from a variationalist point of view, even corpora of 100 million words have been shown to be too small to enable systematic comparisons of regional lexical markers (Mair 2007). Third, except for British and American English, accessible corpora of other national Englishes are relatively small. For efforts to use ‘Web as corpus’ methods for contrastive pragmatics, see Goddard (2009).


Cultural scripts and communication style differences ... Table 4:

Frequency figures for expressions with the string ‘my dream’ (usually equivalent to ‘my ambition’) in Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) and British National Corpus (BNY-BYU) (Davis 2004, 2008)

COCA per million words

BNC per million words

Ratio COCA : BNC

my dream [be]/[will]/[have]




[be] my dream




To close this section, I would like to discuss one additional difference between early interactions in American English and other varieties of Anglo English. It too is loosely connected with the theme of “positivity”. The phenomenon is what I will term ‘phatic complimenting’, which qualitative evidence suggests occurs at a much higher rate and in a more ‘effusive’ fashion in American English than in other Anglo varieties. (Contrastive corpus analysis would support this claim. For example, at the time of writing, strings of the form ‘look/s great|wonderful|terrific|fantastic’ are between two and four times more common in COCA than in the BNC-BYU.) Consider the following set of quotations from linguist Lynne Murphy’s blog “separated by a common language”, which is chiefly dedicated to differences between British and American English []. In an exchange in June 2008, respondents were discussing different ‘complimenting’ practices in British English and American English. A British respondent (John B.) stated (with a critical tone) that he finds American compliments such as the following to be “insincere” and “highly exaggerated”: You look great; You’re so intelligent; You play the guitar so beautifully; You’re the best employee we have. Not so, responded two American bloggers: I am an American and I very deliberately and consciously do what you’ve described. Especially when I encounter someone I don’t have a lot in common with, I deliberately seek out something about them I like to compliment them on. ... I didn’t realise that other cultures might see this as insincere – it’s not. [Robin 11 June 2008 21:27] John B, I find it curious that you find those compliments highly exaggerated. I don’t see any of them as exaggerated. [Ellen K 12 June 2008 21:34]

Two other Americans with intercultural experience made contributions that help bring the American culture-internal perspective to light. As an American living abroad ... I do miss compliments! They may seem meaningless, but they’re such a part of our culture that frequent meaningless comments become a sort of baseline [Kel (11 June 2008, 18:15)] We are so used to it, that we crave it even from strangers. I live in northern Germany, where people ... do not engage in small talk with strangers. They do not give compliments to create some sort of social connection. [Judy Wyatt 13 June 21:34]

From an English English point of view (or an Anglo-Australian one, for that matter), it is hard to see how compliments such as those under discussion can seem other than insincere, if they are taken literally, but to take them literally would be missing the point. From an American English perspective, the point of ‘compliments’ like these is


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to show good feelings towards the interlocutor – as respondent Judy Wyatt says, “to create some sort of social connection”. From this point of view, such compliments can be ‘sincere’ if the feeling being expressed is genuinely felt. I would therefore advance script [O] below. [O] Anglo-American cultural script for ‘phatic complimenting’ to show good feelings towards an addressee. many people think like this: at many times when I am with someone else, if I feel something good towards this someone, it is good if this someone knows it this someone can know it if I say something good about this someone to this someone at this time

I am not sure that the form of this script is entirely optimal, but it seems important to draw attention to what is, in my experience, one of the most misunderstood and disfavoured features of American English interactional style, so far as speakers of English English and Australian English are concerned.

4. Some Anglo-Australian cultural scripts Some specifically Anglo-Australian cultural key words and expressions that have been explored in previous work include fair go, mate, no worries, not too seriously, whinging, taking the piss/mickey, tall poppy (syndrome) (Wierzbicka 1992, 1997, 2001, 2002; Goddard 2006b, 2009b; Peeters 2004a, 2004b, Stollznow 2004). In cross-cultural perspective the preferred communication style of Australian English is rather unusual, characterised as it is by a very high degree of ‘informality’, in the sense of “purposeful rejection of any overt show of respect, with implications of familiarity, friendliness and equality” (Wierzbicka, 2003: 150). Historian John Hirst (2006: 301) says that an “egalitarianism of manners” has long been a part of Australian social life. Importantly, lest this be misunderstood, the claim is not one about objective social structure, in terms of differentials in power, status and wealth, but rather about “the feel of Australian society”. Some people claim that Australian society is not egalitarian because there are wide differences of income, which may now be getting wider. This misses the point of Australian egalitarianism. It is the way Australians blot out differences when people meet face to face. They talk to each other as if they are equals and they will put down anyone claiming social superiority (Hirst, 2006: 301; emphasis added).

Backing up this point, Hirst observes that the egalitarianism of manners was already apparent to outside observers in the 1850s, when differences in social standing and income were much greater than in recent times. Some social historians trace its origins back to the first 50 years of the convict settlement at Sydney where a ‘levelling’ attitude entrenched itself in the new society dominated by formerly lower class individuals (Smith, 2008). Harking back to the contrast between so-called vertical and horizontial individualism, in the work of Triandis and colleagues, it should come as no surprise that Austra-

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lia (in sharp distinction from the United States) is characterised by ‘horizontal’ individualism. Other countries exhibiting ‘horizontal’ individualism (at somewhat higher levels to Australia) include Denmark and Sweden. The hallmark of horizontal individualism is that it is regarded as preferable that “people should be similar on most attributes, especially status” (Triandis, 1995: 44). In such societies, according to their own self-reports at least, people “are not especially interested in becoming distinguished or in having high status” (Triandis and Gelfand, 1998: 119). Needless to say, social science terms such as ‘horizontal individualism’ cannot disclose the perspectives of cultural insiders. For Australia at least, I believe that the cultural critic Donald Horne (1964: 20) came closer to an insider perspective when he opined that the Australian “cult of informality”, as he called it, is “derived from a deep belief in the essential sameness and ordinariness of mankind …’. Echoing Horne’s turn of phrase, recent ethnopragmatic research (Wierzbicka, 2002; Goddard, 2006b; Haugh, 2008) has referred to the underlying cultural theme as favouring and valuing something like ‘shared ordinariness’. [P] Anglo-Australian cultural script presuming and valuing perceived ‘shared ordinariness’. many people think like this: it is good if someone can think like this at many times about many other people: “this someone is someone like me”

It is of course striking that this high-level Australian English cultural script is more or less the converse of a comparably high-level script of English English. The English script [A] recognises ‘social difference’ as a fact of life, while the Australian script (and others flowing from it, as we will see in a moment) rejects social difference and presumes solidarity. Again, this makes sense inasmuch as traditional Australian social ideology defined itself, to a large extent, by its rejection of the traditional class, status and authority structures of England. We now proceed to more specific scripts concerned with interaction. The next three scripts follow rather directly from the ‘master script’ given above. Script [Q] simply says that it is valued if as a speaker I can project the impression of thinking that I regard my interlocutor as ‘someone like me’. It is evidenced by the range of solidarity features displayed in typical Australian interactions, such as preference for firstname address and/or use of ‘matey’ epithets such as mate (from men, and younger women) and love (from older women), and the early use of jocular irony and mockery (Goddard, 2006b; Haugh, 2008, in press). In relation to forms of address, it is worth noting that Australian English goes even further than American English in favouring first-name address; for example, at Australian universities many students spontaneously address their lecturers by their first names from the time of their first meeting.6 Slightly less to be expected, perhaps, are scripts [R] and [S]. The first discourages in6

First-name only is often in Australia to refer to political leaders, as well as to address them. In 2007 and 2000 there were national elections in Australia and the United States, respectively, In Australia, one of the bumper stickers for the successful candidate Kevin Rudd was Kevin07, using the future Prime Minister’s first name. In the USA, the corresponding sticker was Obama08.


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dividuals from thinking of themselves as ‘someone very good’ and ‘not like other people’ (which would clash with the ideal of ‘shared ordinariness’). The second discourages people from seeming to want to impress or attract the admiration of other people, for much the same reason. To want to impress would (or at least, could) imply that one thinks of oneself as better than and different to other people. (It would also likely incur retaliatory ‘anti-pretentious’ speech-acts such as taking the piss/mickey; Haugh (2008)). [P] Anglo-Australian cultural script for projecting presumed solidarity in interaction. many people think like this: when I say something to someone, it is good if this someone can know that I think about this someone like this: “this someone is someone like me”

[Q] Anglo-Australian cultural script discouraging feelings of “specialness”. it is bad if someone thinks like this: “I am someone very good, I am not like other people”

[R] Anglo-Australian cultural script discouraging wanting other people’s admiration. many people think like this: it is bad if someone thinks like this: “I want other people to think like this about me: ‘this is someone very good, this someone is not like other people’”

Needless to say, these scripts run counter to those American English cultural scripts that encourage display of one’s achievements and distinctive qualities. The difference manifests itself in a broad range of contexts, as can be illustrated with the following quotations. The first of these quotes comes from a popular culture guide Culture Shock! Australia, where the author is commenting on the working environment in Australia. The second concerns specifically professional or executive roles. The Australian does not want to appear too good at what he or she does, lest this in some way offend or put down other people around him or her ... [A]n Australian worker will sometimes look and sound much less competent or professional than he really is ... Remember, you must play the game if you are to get on with Australians. If you are successful or intelligent, hide it, or at least actively play it down. (Sharpe, 2001: 110-11) [I]t is in the overt acknowledgement of superior/inferior status that the two countries mainly differ. Americans derive status from their company position and professional title and want the title used accurately. Australians react quite negatively to this kind of demonstration of status. (Renwick, 1991[1980]): 15-16)

A third comment, which expresses an ‘insider perspective’ in characteristically Australian vocabulary7, comes from the Australian actor Simon Baker, star of the TV show 7

English English cultural scripts and values also militate against making positive statements about oneself (‘blowing your own trumpet’) as offences against ‘modesty’, and encourage people, if they must make such statements on particular occasions, to balance them with some ironic self-

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The Mentalist. He was being interviewed in the Australian Women’s Weekly (Oct 2008: 79). “You’re never really allowed to get too proud of yourself in Australia because you’ll look like a wanker, but I’m absolutely happy with what I’ve done” says LA based Simon.

5. Concluding remarks This study has sought to shed light on communicative style differences between three varieties of Anglo English using the methodology of cultural scripts and other techniques of contrastive ethnopragmatics. I have demonstrated, I believe, that there are significant differences in expected communication style between English English, American English and Australian English, and that these differences can produce miscommunication in the sense of mutual misperception and negative attributions.GOOD! I would readily acknowledge that this study has been incomplete and tentative in some respects. Partly this is because we are attempting to characterise communication style differences at a greater level of subtlety than with comparisons across entirely different languages and cultures. Partly it is on account of difficulties with obtaining cross-dialectal data of comparable quality to that available for cross-language comparisons. Above all, it is still early days in the study of contrastive pragmatics across English varieties. Nevertheless I believe that it is apparent that the methodology of cultural scripts has a great deal to offer both in at the level of description and, perhaps more importantly, at the level of explanation. In cross-dialectal pragmatics, as much as in cross-linguistic pragmatics, an explanatory account can only emerge from methodology that allows us to tap into insider perspectives on the speech practices in question, linking them with the values and attitudes of the people concerned. Cultural scripts and the other methods of ethnopragmatics make such explanatory accounts possible.

Acknowledgements Earlier versions of this study were presented at the 2009 IPrA conference in Melbourne, Australia, held in July 2009, and a presentation at University of Massachusetts, in October the same year. I thank the participants of these events for their helpful comments. I am also very grateful for valuable input received from Anna Wierzbicka, Donal Carbaugh, Carol Priestley, and Kerry Mullan. Parts of this research have been reported in condensed form in Goddard (in press). The research was supported by a grant from the United States Studies Centre.

deprecation. Self-deprecating comments are also highly appreciated, in many contexts, in Australian speech culture. Despite these overlaps and similarities (especially as compared with the American situation), I believe that somewhat different configurations of cultural scripts and values are at play. The topic of self-deprecating speech practices is fascinating and complex, and deserves a separate study in its own right.


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Appendix English exponents of semantic primes (2010) I, YOU, SOMEONE, SOMETHING~THING, PEOPLE, BODY

substantives relational substantives determiners THIS, THE SAME, OTHER~ELSE quantifiers ONE, TWO, SOME, ALL, MUCH~MANY GOOD, BAD evaluators BIG, SMALL descriptors THINK, KNOW, WANT, FEEL, SEE, HEAR mental predicates SAY, WORDS, TRUE speech DO, HAPPEN, MOVE, TOUCH action, events, movement, contact BE (SOMEWHERE), THERE IS, HAVE, BE (SOMEONE/SOMETHING) location, existence, possession, specification LIVE, DIE life and death WHEN/TIME, NOW, BEFORE, AFTER, A LONG TIME, A SHORT time TIME, FOR SOME TIME, MOMENT WHERE~PLACE, HERE, ABOVE, BELOW, FAR, NEAR, SIDE, INSIDE space NOT, MAYBE, CAN, BECAUSE, IF logical concepts VERY, MORE intensifier, augmentor LIKE similarity KIND, PART

Notes: • Primes exist as the meanings of lexical units (not at the level of lexemes) • Exponents of primes may be words, bound morphemes, or phrasemes • They can be formally complex • They can have combinatorial variants (allolexes shown with ~) • Each prime has well-specified syntactic (combinatorial) properties.

References Althen, G. 2003. American Ways: A Guide for Foreigners in the United States. 2nd ed. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press. Barron, A. and K. P. Schneider. 2005. Irish English: A focus on language in action. In: Barron, A. and K. P. Schneider (eds.). The Pragmatics of Irish English. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 3-16. Besemeres, M. and A. Wierzbicka (eds.). 2007. Translating Lives: Living with Two Languages and Cultures. St. Lucia, Queensland: QUP Press. Carbaugh, D. 1988. Talking American: Cultural Discourses on Donahue. Norwood, NJ: Ablex. Carbaugh, D. 2005. Cultures in Conversation. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Cultural Resources Centre. 2001. Misunderstandings between Australians and Americans. [http://], accessed 10th February 1009. Davies, M. 2004 –. BYU-BNC: The British National Corpus. Available online at http://corpus.byu. edu/bnc. Davies, M. 2008 –. The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA): 385 million words, 1990-present. Available online at Ehrenreich, B. 2009. Bright-sided. How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

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Fox, K. 2004. Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour. London: Hodder. Gill, A. A. 2004. The Angry Island: Hunting the English. Weidenfeld and Nicolson Ltd. Goddard, C. 2006a. Ethnopragmatics: A new paradigm. In Goddard, C. (ed.), Ethnopragmatics: Understanding discourse in cultural context. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1-30. Goddard, Cliff. 2006b. “Lift your game, Martina!” – Deadpan jocular irony and the ethnopragmatics of Australian English. In: C. Goddard, (ed.). Ethnopragmatics: Understanding Discourse in Cultural Context. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 65-97. Goddard, C. 2009a. Cultural scripts. In: G. Senft, J.-O. Östman and Jef Verschueren (eds.). Culture and Language Use. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 68-80. [First published in Handbook of Pragmatics, 2nd edition, 2006.] Goddard, C. 2009b. Not taking yourself too seriously in Australian English: semantics, ethnopragmatics, corpus evidence. Intercultural Pragmatics 9.1, 29-53. Goddard, C. In press. ‘Early interactions’ in Australian English, American English, and English English: Cultural differences and cultural scripts. Journal of Pragmatics (Special Issue on ‘(Im)politeness across Englishes’, edited by M. Haugh and K. P. Schneider). Goddard, C. (ed.). 2006. Ethnopragmatics: Understanding Discourse in Cultural Context. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Goddard, C. (ed.). 2008. Cross-Linguistic Semantics. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Goddard, C. and A. Wierzbicka (eds.). 2002. Meaning and Universal Grammar – Theory and Empirical Findings. Vols I and II. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Goddard, C. and A. Wierzbicka (eds.). 2004. Cultural Scripts. [Special Issue of Intercultural Pragmatics 1.2)]. Haugh, M. 2008. ‘Taking the piss’: Jocular mockery and face in Australian English. Australian Linguistics Society Annual Conference, University of Sydney, 2-4 July 2008. Haugh, M. In press. Jocular mockery, (dis)affiliation and face. Journal of Pragmatics 42. Hirst, J. 2006. Sense and Nonsense in Australian History. Melbourne: Black Inc. Agenda. Hofstede, G. 1997. Cultures and Organisations. Software of the Mind. [Revised edition] New York: McGraw-Hill. Hofstede, G. 2001. Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organisations across Nations. 2nd ed. London: Sage. Horne, D. 1986 [1964]. The Lucky Country. 3rd.edn. Melbourne: Penguin Books. Hymes, D. H. 1962. The ethnography of speaking. Reprinted in J. Fishman (ed.), Readings on the Sociology of Language. The Hague: Mouton, 1968, 99-138. Lanier, A. R. 2005. Living in the USA. (6th edn). Revised by J. C. Davis. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press. Mair, Ch. 2007. Varieties of English around the world: Collocational and cultural profiles. In: Skandera, P. (ed.) Phraseology and Culture in English. Mouton de Gruyter, 437-468. Murphy, L. Separated by a common language. Lynnequist. http://separatedbyacommonlanguage. Accessed 17th June 2009. Peeters, B. 2004a. ‘Thou shalt not be a tall poppy’. Describing an Australian communicative and behavorial norm. Intercultural Pragmatics 1, 71–92. Peeters, B. 2004b. Tall poppies and egalitarianism in Australian discourse: From key word to cultural value. English World-Wide 25.1, 1–25. Renwick, G. W. 1991[1980]. Interact: Guidelines for Australians and North Americans. Yarmouth: Intercultural Press. Schneider, K. P. 2008. Small Talk in England, Ireland, and the USA. In: A. Barron and K. P. Schneider (eds.), Variational Pragmatics: Focus on Regional Varieties in Pluricentric Languages. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 99–39. Sharp, I. 2001. Culture Shock! Australia. [revised edn] Portland, OR: Graphic Arts Center Publishing. Sharwood-Smith, M. 1999. British shibboleths. In: E. Ronowicz and C. Yallop (eds.), English: One Language, Different Cultures. London: Continuum, 46-82.


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Singelis, Th. M., H. C. Triandis, D. P. S. Bhawuk and M. J. Gelfand. 1995. Horizontal and vertical dimensions of individualism and collectivism: A theoretical and measurement refinement. CrossCultural Research 29.3, 240–275. Smith, B. 2008. Australia’s Birthstain. Melbourne: Allen and Unwin. Stewart, E. C. and M. J Bennett. 1991. American Cultural Patterns. A Cross-Cultural Perspective. [Revised edition]. Yarmouth, Maine: Intercultural Press. Stollznow, K. 2004. Whinger! Wowser! Wanker! Aussie English: deprecatory language and the Australian ethos. In: Ch. Moskovsky (ed.), Proceedings of the 2003 Conference of the Australian Linguistic Society. // Triandis, H. C. 1995. Individualism and Collectivism. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Triandis, H. C. and M. J. Gelfand. 1998. Converging measurement of horizontal and vertical individualism and collectivism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 74.1, 118-128. Wierzbicka, A. 1992. Semantics: Culture and Cognition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Wierzbicka, A. 1996. Semantics: Primes and Universals. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Wierzbicka, A. 1997. Understanding Cultures through their Key Words. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Wierzbicka, A. 1999. Emotions across Languages and Cultures: Diversity and Universals. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wierzbicka, A. 2001. Australian culture and Australian English: A response to William Ramson. Australian Journal of Linguistics 21.2, 195–214. Wierzbicka, A. 2002. Australian cultural scripts – bloody revisited. Journal of Pragmatics 34.9, 1167– 1209. Wierzbicka, A. 2003. Cross-Cultural Pragmatics [expanded 2nd edition]. Mouton de Gruyter. Wierzbicka, A. 2006a. English: Meaning and Culture. New York: Oxford University Press. Wierzbicka, A. 2006b. Anglo scripts against “putting pressure” on other people and their linguistic manifestations. In C. Goddard (ed.), Ethnopragmatics: Understanding Discourse in Cultural Context. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 31-63. Wierzbicka, A. 2009. Exploring English phraseology with two tools: NSM semantic methodology and Google. Journal of English Linguistics 37.2, 101-129. Wierzbicka, A. 2010. Evidence, Experience, Sense: The Hidden Cultural Legacy of English. New York: Oxford University Press. Wierzbicka, A. In press. The ‘history of emotions’ and the future of emotion research. Emotion Review. Wierzbicka, A. In press (this volume). When cultural scripts clash: Miscommunication in “multicultural” Australia. Wierzbicka, A. Forthcoming. Why not “happiness studies”? The cultural semantics of happiness, bonheur, Glück and sas’te. In L. Iomdin et al. (eds.). Moscow: Jazyki Russkoj Kultury. Yamada, H. 1997. Different Games, Different Rules. New York: Oxford University Press.

When cultural scripts clash: Miscommunication in “multicultural” Australia Anna Wierzbicka, Australian National University 1. Introduction: The reality of culture and the theory of cultural scripts The term “cultural scripts” is used to refer to tacit norms and values widely shared, and widely known (on an intuitive level) in a given society. In a more technical sense, it is also used to refer to a powerful technique for articulating cultural norms and values in terms which are clear, precise, and accessible to both cultural insiders and cultural outsiders. This result is only possible because cultural scripts in this sense of the term are formulated in a tightly constrained, yet expressively flexible, mini-language (NSM) consisting of simple words and grammatical patterns which have equivalents in all languages (see section 3). Because the ways of speaking and thinking prevailing in a given society often vary, to some extent, from person to person and from one group to another, there is often a great reluctance to formulate any general “rules” and there is a wide-spread concern about stereotyping and “essentialism”. This applies, in particular, to Englishspeaking societies, such as the United States, Britain and Australia, which are indeed highly differentiated internally, as well as different from one another. On the other hand, the failure to formulate any such “rules” clearly and precisely often leads to a great deal of miscommunication. In particular, it handicaps the immigrants to Englishspeaking countries who need to learn what the prevailing local norms and expectations are in order to build successful lives for themselves within the host society. The reality of cultural scripts is confirmed, with particular clarity and force, in the testimonies of immigrants who have experienced in their own life the shock of collision between one set of tacit rules – that of their old country, and another – that of their country of immigration. For example, Eva Hoffman, who as a teenager emigrated with her family from Poland to America and who had to learn the unspoken cultural scripts of her new country, writes: I learn also that certain kinds of truth are impolite. One shouldn’t criticize the person one is with, at least not directly. You shouldn’t say, “You are wrong about that” – though you may say, “On the other hand, there is that to consider.” You shouldn’t say, “This doesn’t look good on you,” though you may say, “I like you better in the other outfit.” I learn to tone down my sharpness, to do a more careful conversational minuet. (Hoffman 1989: 146) Such perception of different cultural scripts operating in different societies is a common feature of cross-cultural texts reflecting immigrant experience. For example, in Monica Ali’s novel Brick Lane (2003) describing the life of a Bangladeshi woman in London, the heroine, Nazneen, is living with, and caught between, two cultures. Nazneen herself does not talk about “two cultures”, but she and her friends repeatedly contrast two ways of living and two ways of thinking. Similarly, in Bengali-American writer Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel The Namesake (2003), a Bengali heroine living with her


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Bengali husband in America repeatedly contrasts in her mind American ways of speaking, thinking and living with the Bengali ones. As I will discuss in detail in this paper, the novel The Slap by the Greek Australian author Christos Tsiolkas illustrates similar contrasts between Greek and Anglo-Australian “cultural scripts”. The cultural script approach to culture and communication rejects the universality assumptions of Griceans and neo-Griceans, recognizes the reality of the differences in tacit cultural norms and offers a methodology for identifying such norms in a way which can be both illuminating and practically useful.

2. Cultural scripts and cultural values The cultural scripts approach was initiated in a 1985 article by the present author, entitled “Different cultures, different languages, different speech acts: English vs. Polish”. The basic claim advanced in that article was that in different societies there are different culture-specific speech practices and interactional norms, and that the different ways of speaking prevailing in different societies are linked with, and make sense in terms of, different local cultural values, or at least, different cultural priorities as far as values are concerned. This article provided a nucleus for the book Cross-cultural Pragmatics (Wierzbicka 1991), with an expanded second edition published in 2003. Subsequent landmarks in the development of this approach include the special issue of Intercultural Pragmatics titled “Cultural Scripts” (Goddard and Wierzbicka eds. (2004), and the volume Ethnopragmatics (Goddard ed. 2006). From the outset, the main goal of the cultural scripts approach was to understand speech practices, norms and values from the perspective of the speakers themselves. The proponents of this approach argue that, for this purpose, it is essential to draw on the techniques of cross-cultural semantics. In particular, they point out that to understand speech practices in terms which make sense to the people concerned, we must be able to understand the meanings of the many culturally important words – words for local values, social categories, speech acts, and so on. Important words and phrases of this kind often qualify for the status of cultural key words (Wierzbicka 1997). For example, important insights into the insiders’ perspective on their own speech practices and values can be gained through the semantic analysis of cultural key words and expressions such as iskrennost’ in Russian (Wierzbicka 2002), noin ‘respected old people’ in Korean (Yoon 2004), zìj rén ‘insider, one of us’ in Chinese (Ye 2004), calor humano in Spanish (Travis 2006), or personal remarks in English (Wierzbicka 2008; for general discussion, see Goddard and Wierzbicka 2004). The cultural scripts approach demonstrates that the same semantic metalanguage based on simple and universal human concepts (NSM) can be used both for explicating cultural key words and for writing cultural scripts from the insider’s point of view, and thus can help bring to light the inherent connections between the two. The next section (section 3) gives a brief sketch of the NSM theory of language of which the theory of cultural scripts is an offshoot and on which it crucially depends.

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3. The Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) NSM is a technique for the investigation of meanings and ideas which is based on, and interpretable through, natural language – any natural language. The central idea on which this technique is based, supported by extensive empirical investigations by a number of researchers, is that despite their enormous diversity, all natural languages share a common core: a small vocabulary of 65 or so “conceptual primes” and a “universal grammar” (the combinatory properties of the primes). This core is languagelike, and can be regarded as a natural semantic metalanguage (NSM), with as many versions as there are languages. The set of universal conceptual primes identifiable as distinct word-meanings in all languages includes elements such as SOMEONE, SOMETHING, PEOPLE, GOOD, BAD, KNOW, THINK, WANT, FEEL, and so on. The full set of these primes is given in Table 1. (Cf. Wierzbicka 1996; Goddard 1998; Goddard and Wierzbicka eds. 1994, 2002). The inventory of semantic primes given in Table 1 below uses English exponents, but equivalent lists have been drawn up for many languages. Because semantic primes and their grammar are shared across languages, it is possible to construct equivalent “NSMs” on the basis of any language: there is an English NSM, but there is also a Chinese NSM, a Malay NSM, a Spanish NSM, a Japanese NSM, and so on (see especially the chapters in Goddard and Wierzbicka eds. 2002; Peeters ed. 2006; Goddard ed. 2008). The use of NSM as a system of conceptual analysis depends on being able to break down complex language-specific meanings and ideas into extended explanatory paraphrases, known as explications. Table 1:

Universal semantic primes (in capitals), grouped into categories


substantives relational substantives determiners quantifiers evaluators descriptors mental predicates speech action, events, movement, contact location, existence, possession, specification life and death time space logical concepts intensifier, augmentor similarity

Notes: • Primes exist as the meanings of lexical units (not at the level of lexemes) • Exponents of primes may be words, bound morphemes, or phrasemes • They can be formally complex • They can have combinatorial variants (allolexes) • Each prime has well-specified syntactic (combinatorial) properties.


Anna Wierzbicka

The meanings of many kinds of words (such as emotion words, value terms, epistemic adverbs, speech act verbs, discourse particles) can be explicated directly in terms of semantic primes. Other kinds of words, especially in the area of concrete lexicon, must be explicated in stages, using “semantic molecules” in addition to semantic primes (Goddard 1998, Ch. 9, Wierzbicka 2009, Goddard In press). For example, to explicate verbs such as eat, bite, walk and throw we need to use intermediate level concepts such as ‘mouth’, ‘teeth’, ‘legs’ and ‘hands’. Semantic molecules are complex meanings which function as units in the explications of other, even more complex meanings. All semantic molecules can be explicated, either directly or in stages, via semantic primes. The use of semantic molecules in NSM is highly constrained. In explications, all molecules are marked by the symbol [m]. Cultural scripts rarely require the use of molecules. Sometimes, however, they do refer to social categories such as, for example, ‘children’, ‘women’, or ‘men’, ‘mother’ and ‘father’, or to predicates such as ‘be born’, which underlie references to people’s age or relative age. Evidence suggests that these particular molecules (‘children’, ‘men’, women’, ‘mother’, ‘father’ and ‘be born’) , which are the only ones to be used in the scripts included in this paper, are universal. The NSM approach to semantic and cultural analysis has been employed in hundreds of studies across many languages and cultures. A large bibliography is available at the NSM Homepage: Unlike complex English-specific terms like ‘criticism’, ‘compliments’, ‘apology’, ‘sincerity’, ‘hypocrisy’, ‘bluntness’, or ‘directness’, the mini-language of universal conceptual primes can be used for discussing ways of thinking, feeling, acting and living without cultural or linguistic biases, without theoretical preconceptions, and in a unified framework (cf. Wierzbicka 2006a). The fact that cultural scripts formulated in NSM can be readily translated into any language is of fundamental importance from a theoretical as well as practical point of view. Goddard (2007: 537) highlights in particular three aspects of this importance. First, it means that the cultural scripts are accessible to the people whose speech practices are being described. Native speaker consultants can discuss, assess, and comment on them. This makes for increased verifiability and opens up new avenues for evidence. Second, translatability is crucial to the practical value of cultural scripts in intercultural education and communication, i.e., in real-world situations of trying to bridge some kind of cultural gap, with immigrants, language-learners, in international negotiations, etc. (cf. Goddard and Wierzbicka 2004, 2007). Third, the fact that cultural scripts are expressible in the native language of speakers gives them a prima facie better claim to cognitive reality than technical formalisms which are altogether unrecognizable to native speakers. A fourth, and closely related, point is that descriptions of different speech practices and communicative styles which are formulated in English (full-blown English, rather than “NSM English”) are necessarily Anglocentric. The fact that cultural scripts are couched not in full-blown English but in a mini-English isomorphic with similar subsets of all other languages frees the description of speech practices and cultural norms from an Anglocentric bias and allows a culture-independent perspective that is ruled out in other approaches by the use of English as a metalanguage. All these points

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will be illustrated in sections 4-9, which will focus primarily on miscommunication in cross-cultural family groups portrayed in Christos Tsiolkas’ novel The Slap (2008).

4. Family obligations – how far do they extend? The Slap opens with a suburban barbeque in Melbourne, in the course of which one of the guests, Harry Apostolou, who is of Greek extraction, slaps an obnoxious small boy. The little boy’s Anglo-Australian parents, Rosie and Gary, are furious, and the other people present, the host and the guests, take sides. The hosts are a mixed couple, the man, Hector, of a Greek background and the woman, Aisha, of an Anglo-Indian background. The guests are also ethnically diverse. Hector’s Greek parents are fiercely loyal to Harry, who is their nephew (and Hector’s cousin). Aisha feels no special loyalty to her husband’s family but is strongly loyal to her old friend Rosie, the little boy’s mother. The incident has a strong effect on the relations between the people in the group, whose reactions bring to light the conflicting cultural scripts associated with the different ethnic and cultural backgrounds of different members of the group. Harry and his wife Sandi, whom the outraged parents of the slapped child take to court over the incident, decide some time later to give a party of their own (ostensibly, for Harry’s birthday) and expect their relatives to show them support by coming. At that point, two sets of cultural scripts, Greek and Anglo, come into a head-on collision. Hector’s father, Manolis, wants his son and his wife to show family solidarity with Harry by going to his birthday party. He knows that his daughter-in-law Aisha is a close friend of the offended mother, Rosie, and doesn’t want to go to the party, but he expects that if he asks her to do so she will have to comply. The two meet in a café. At first, Manolis doesn’t know what to say, so it is Aisha who speaks first. ‘Manoli, why did you want to meet with me?’ Her eyes gave nothing away. However, they seemed to penetrate right into him. She knew, of course. She knew. ‘Aisha, I want you to go to Harry and Sandi’s house for his birthday.’ She placed her coffee cup on the table. ‘Please,’ he added suddenly. ‘I thought it was going to be about this’. She shook her head. ‘No, I’m not going.’ (p.336)

At first sight, the clash may seem to be one about the conflicting values of family and friendship, because Manolis keeps referring to the former and Aisha, to the latter: ‘Aisha, you are family.’ She laughed. (…) ‘I have known Rosie much longer than I have known your family,’ she said quickly. ‘It’s about my friendship with Rosie. Harry humiliated me in my own home. And he did something unforgiveable to my friend and her son.’ (p.338)

In fact, however, it would not be accurate to summarise the conflict in terms of a different hierarchy of values: family over friendship or friendship over family. It is only


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Manolis who thinks about one’s basic obligations in terms of one’s relations with other people. Aisha, on the other hand, thinks about a person’s obligations in more abstract and less personal terms. Roughly speaking, for her, ethical norms are defined on the level of individuals, not groups; and they are conceived of in terms of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, not in terms of ‘family’ and ‘family solidarity’. For example, if one thinks that it is wrong to hit a child, then this judgment must apply to anyone, regardless of one’s relationship with the perpetrator. In fact, for Aisha, any show of solidarity with the perpetrator (based on a family loyalty) is ethically wrong, and she reproaches Manolis for having supported Harry. ‘You went to the courthouse with him, Rosie told me. She was very hurt.’ This took him by surprise. Of course he’d gone with Harry to the court. What did these crazy Australian women expect? The boy’s parents were dead, he was obliged to be there supporting his wife’s nephew. If he hadn’t been there his wife would not have forgiven him for not standing next to her brother’s child. Surely Aisha understood that. She wasn’t a bloody barbarian. Did he have to remind her of loyalty and honour? ‘I was disappointed myself, Manoli. You shouldn’t have gone.’ (p. 338)

Manolis didn’t expect Aisha to be “a bloody barbarian”, like Anglo-Australians, because of her immigrant, Indian background. It transpires, however, that culturally, she is a typical Anglo-Australian, and is not guided in her thinking by family-based scripts like the following one, which is vital to people like Manolis1:


The English word family is polysemous. The meaning intended here can be illustrated by the phrase “a family reunion”. The corresponding Greek word is oikogeneia. Like family, oikogeneia is semantically complex. It is not a molecule entering into the meanings of many other words. Arguably, however, it functions as a unitary concept in a number of Greek cultural scripts. It can be explicated as follows: family · something of one kind · many people can be part of something of this kind · at many times, many people are parts of something of this kind when it is like this: – some of these people are children [m] – two of these people are not children [m] – one of these two people is the mother [m] of these children [m] – the other one of these two people is the father [m] of these children [m] – all these people live in one place · sometimes many people are parts of something of this kind, sometimes not many people are parts of something of this kind, · sometimes some of these people are children [m], sometimes all these people are not children [m] anymore

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[A] A Greek cultural script (roughly ‘family loyalty’, ‘family solidarity’) many people think like this: “I am part of a family [m], many other people are part of this family [m], this is good I don’t want bad things to happen to these people, like I don’t want bad things to happen to me I want good things to happen to these people, like I want good things to happen to me”

Clearly, Aisha doesn’t think in such terms. Instead, she thinks in terms of more abstract, impersonal scripts such as the following one: [B] An Anglo cultural script (roughly, ‘common sense ethics’) many people think like this about something at many times: “someone is doing something here now it is not good if someone does something like this if someone thinks about it well, this someone can know this”

For example, Aisha believes that it is wrong if someone hits a child. She also thinks that this belief can be justified with rational arguments which any thinking person could recognize and accept. There is no concomitant assumption that such arguments are more important than family considerations: family does not seem to loom large in Aisha’s cultural scripts, as it does in Manolis’.

5. Imposing one’s will on someone else: ‘love and respect’ vs. ‘personal autonomy’ There are two further cultural scripts that Manolis takes for granted ant that Aisha does not share. In the novel, Manolis links them with the words ‘respect’ and ‘love’. Roughly speaking, Manolis assumes that since Aisha ‘respects’ him she will ‘obey’ him, and also, that since she ‘loves’ him she will do what he asks. Accordingly, he is convinced that she will ‘listen to him’ and come to Harry’s party. Elisavet (Hector’s sister), who grew up in Australia, can see how unrealistic her father’s expectations are in an Australian context: ‘Dad, she won’t’. But Manolis is convinced that respect and love entail obedience: “She respected him, she loved him. She will listen to him.” (p. 333) When Manolis and Aisha meet, it transpires that Elisavet was right and Manolis, wrong. ‘You are going to the party next week.’ She turned to look at him in disbelief. There was a glimmer of an astonished, respectful smile. ‘I’m not.’ ‘Yes, you are.’ ‘No.’ ‘Yes.’ He wanted to insist until she agreed. (…) This time he could read the flashing fire in her eyes.’ (p. 330)


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The “flashing fire” in Aisha’s eyes indicates anger and a deep conviction that Manolis has no right to put pressure on her to do what she doesn’t want to do. The scripts she takes for granted are those of personal autonomy, which include scripts [C] and [D]. [C] An Anglo cultural script (roughly, against ‘ordering people about’) many people think like this: it is bad if someone says something like this to someone else about something: “I want you to do it, because of this you can’t not-do it

[D] An Anglo cultural script (roughly, autonomy and ‘negative freedom’) many people think like this: if someone doesn’t want to do something, this someone can not-do it if someone else says something like this to this someone: “I want you to do it, because of this you can’t not-do it” this someone can always say something like this to someone: “I don’t want to do it, because of this I can not-do it” this is good

Aisha is indignant that Manolis violates what she sees as unquestionably valid cultural scripts (such as scripts [C] and [D]). For his part, Manolis is indignant that Aisha violates cultural scripts that he sees as unquestionably valid, roughly speaking, the scripts which require that people have to try to comply with the wishes of those whom they love and respect. Indeed for him this is almost part of the definition of “love” and “respect”: to love and respect someone implies wanting to do what this someone wants us to do. He wished he could slap her. So it all meant nothing, all those years of shared jokes, of affection, of defending her, of caring for her children, of assisting her and Hector with money and with time. Love and family meant nothing to her? Nothing mattered to her but her pride. Did she think she was being brave in disobeying him? (…) He meant nothing to her because like all of them she was truly selfish. p. 340)

These reflections suggest two Greek cultural scripts, both related to doing something that someone else wants us to do. They can be formulated as follows: [E] A Greek cultural script (roughly, ‘family and emotional pressure’) many people think like this: “I am part of a family [m], many other people are part of this family [m], this is good I feel something good towards these people, these people feel something good towards me if I want one of these people to do something good for me, this someone can’t not-do it if this someone doesn’t do it, I can’t not feel something very bad because of this this someone can know this”

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[F] A Greek cultural script (roughly, ‘family and respect’) many people think like this about someone at many times: I want this someone to do something I am part of a family [m], this someone is part of the same family [m] I feel something good towards this someone, this someone feels something good towards me I was born [m] a long time before this someone was born [m] because of this, when I want this someone to do something good for me, this someone can’t say: I don’t want to do it

Manolis’ way of thinking about his daughter-in-law is strongly reminiscent of the Polish concept of al, which a second-generation Australian of Polish origin Mary Besemeres discusses in her essay “Between al and emotional blackmail”. al, Besemeres notes, “is the feeling that someone has towards a person they love, who they think has wronged them – a feeling that’s likely to lead to a wyrzut or a strong ‘reproach’” (2007: 135) As she further notes, the ‘wronging’ that is relevant here is usually failing to do what the other person wants us to do, and thus showing a lack of warmth towards the other person. “I’ve encountered this feeling often with my Polish relatives, and with Polish Australians who are close to our family.” Commenting on her own bicultural experience, she writes: “When I have mentioned episodes like these to Australian friends, their perception has often been that the Polish person has been trying to manipulate me emotionally, resorting to ‘emotional blackmail.’” This is very much Aisha’s way of thinking in Tsiolkas’ novel. But Manolis does not think like that. Accordingly, he feels wounded and confused – like Mary Besemeres’ Polish relatives when they feel ‘al’ towards her. Needless to say, I am not suggesting that Polish cultural scripts relating to ‘al’ are identical to Greek cultural scripts relating to the concept of ‘family’ (in Greek, oikogeneia). There is, however, an analogy here, and some similar contrasts with Anglo cultural scripts. The literature on Greek culture and society emphasizes the great importance of the “in-group/out-group” distinction in Greece (see e.g. Triandis and Vasiliou 1972, Campbell 1975, Herzfeld 1980 and Sifianou 1992). Sifianou (1992: 41) speaks in this context of a “fundamental difference” in “politeness phenomena (…) between Greek and English”: The English seem to place a higher value on privacy and individuality (…), whereas the Greeks seem to emphasize involvement and in-group relations. (…) For Greeks the limits to personal territories seem to be looser among the individuals who belong to the same ingroup. (…) Very often the individual’s needs, desires, expectations and even actions are determined by considering those of the other members of the group. (p. 41)

According to Sifianou (1992: 93), “this in-group – out-group distinction is so deeply ingrained in the society that it actually determines individual behaviour”. Sifianou seeks to interpret the differences between the Greek and English ways of speaking through the prism of Levinson’s and Brown’s “negative face”. In doing so, however, she unwittingly imposes on Greek culture concepts which are alien to it. As Manolis’ thinking portrayed in Tsiolkas’ novel illustrates, what matters most from a Greek insider’s point of view is not concepts like “imposition”, “territory”, “negative face”, “positive face”, “privacy”, “individuality” or even “in-group” and “out-group”, but


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“family”. No doubt many cultural scripts based on the concept of “family” are often extended in Greek culture to people who are seen as “like family” rather than “family” in a strict sense of the word (Triandis and Vasiliou (1972) define the “in-group” as “one’s family, relatives, friends and friends of friends”, quoted in Sifianou 1992: 41). But it is the concept of the ‘family’ which appears to function as a prototype in Greek cultural norms as seen from an insider’s point of view. As Tsiolkas’ novel illustrates, in a ‘multicultural’ society like Australia (which has a large proportion of immigrants from Greece, or their children) cultural scripts based on the concept of ‘family’ and ‘good feelings’ within the family clash with Anglo scripts framed in terms of, roughly speaking, an individual’s wants and ‘rights’.

6. Direct criticisms: do they need to be avoided? There are two further aspects of the conversation between Aisha and Manolis which point to miscommunication stemming from different cultural scripts. They both involve certain words used by Aisha that Manolis finds confusing and disconcerting. One of these words is “disappointed” and the other, “sorry”. When Aisha says “I was disappointed, Manoli. You shouldn’t have gone”, he feels so oppressed that he can hardly breathe. “Did he understand her correctly? He was unsure of that perplexing English word: disappointed. Was she angry because he had made it difficult between herself and her stupid friend, that mad Australeza, Rosie?” (p. 338)

Manolis finds the Anglo-Australian use of the word ‘disappointed’ confusing, because he senses that it is not used by Aisha to describe, or express, what she really feels. “I’m disappointed” is a phrase which can be used in English when one doesn’t want to directly criticise the person one is with and when one wants to express one’s disapproval for this person in a somewhat oblique way. What Aisha really seems to think is “you did something bad (when you went with Harry to the court)”, but she doesn’t say so, in accordance with the Anglo cultural norm “don’t criticise the person you are with, at least not directly” (Hoffman 1989). Instead, she phrases her disapproval in an impersonal way, implying that something happened that she didn’t expect to happen and that she didn’t want to happen, but without saying bluntly “you did something bad”. This is consistent with the following script: [G] An Anglo cultural script (roughly, against ‘direct criticisms’) many people think like this: if someone thinks like this about someone else when this someone is with this other someone: “some time before this someone did something bad” it is not good if this someone says this to this other someone it can be good if this someone says something else it can be good if this someone says something like this: “something bad happened a short time before, I feel something bad when I think about this”

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With scripts such as this ringing at the back of her mind, Aisha says to Manolis “I’m disappointed”. Manolis, however, finds this confusing, because in Greek culture there is no script like this which guides his own behaviour and expectations. In fact, when Manolis and his wife Koula first arrive in the house of Hector and Aisha, Koula does not hesitate to criticise her daughter-in-law for letting the children watch the television instead of sending them to play outside. ‘It’s a beautiful day, you should be outside playing.’ The four children ignored their grandmother. ‘It’s alright, Koula, let them watch a movie.’ His mother ignored Aisha and instead turned to Hector, speaking in Greek. ‘They’re always in front of that damn television.’ ‘So were we, Mum.’ ‘That’s just not true.’ And with that, his mother brushed him aside and went into the kitchen. She took the knife from Aisha’s hands. ‘I’ll do that, love.’ He noticed that his wife’s back had stiffened. (. 17)

There are several reasons here for Aisha’s back to stiffen. First, her mother-in-law is criticising her pedagogical decisions in front of her (and in front of the children). Second, she ignores Aisha’s (conciliatory) response to her criticism, and turns to her son Hector. Third, she speaks to Hector in Greek, thus excluding Aisha from conversation. Fourth, in talking to Hector she continues her criticisms of Aisha as a mother (“They are always in front of that damn television.”). Fifth, she doesn’t respect Aisha’s autonomy and takes the knife from Aisha’s hands. In doing all these things, Koula is clearly unaware that she is upsetting Aisha or that she is violating Aisha’s cultural scripts. When she addresses Aisha as ‘love’ she may be showing genuine good feelings for her. In fact, despite her initial resentment of the fact that her son should have a relationship with an Indian girl, she now values her daughter-in-law very highly. “You’re lucky to have her”, she would remind him in Greek, ‘God knows what gypsy you could have ended up with if you hadn’t found her. You have no control. You’ve never had control.’ (p. 11) If, nonetheless, Koula repeatedly upsets her daughter-in-law and makes her angry it is because she is not aware of many cultural scripts that Aisha takes for granted, such as the following ones: [H] An Anglo cultural script (roughly, against taking over what someone else is doing) many people think like this: when someone is doing something, someone else can’t say something like this to this someone: “I can do this well, you can’t do this well because of this I don’t want you to do it anymore, I want to do it”


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[I] An Anglo cultural script (roughly, favouring ‘non-interference’) many people think like this: when someone is doing something, someone else can’t say something like this to this someone: “I don’t want you to do this, because of this you can’t do it”

These scripts build on some simpler and more general scripts, such as those which proscribe telling someone what to do or what not to do. Such scripts are often violated unwittingly by immigrants to English-speaking countries. This applies, in particular, to the use of the imperative, to which I will now turn.

7. The use of the imperative When Manolis insists that Aisha must go to Harry’s birthday party he clearly violates Aisha’s scripts of ‘freedom’ and ‘autonomy’; and his evident assumption that he has the right to impose his will on her causes her righteous anger as well as disbelief. This reaction suggests that Aisha has internalized the scripts of “negative and positive freedom” which can be stated along the following lines: [J] An Anglo cultural script (roughly, against preventing someone from doing something that they want to do) many people think like this: when someone wants to do something, other people can’t say something like this to this someone:

“I don’t want you to do this, because of this you can’t do it”

[K] An Anglo cultural script (roughly, against imposing one’s will on someone else; cf. script [D]) many people think like this: when someone doesn’t want to do something, other people can’t say something like this to this someone: “I want you to do it, because of this you can’t not do it”

From an ‘Anglo’ perspective, such scripts may seem obvious and universally valid. In fact, however, they are highly culture-specific and are shaped by a particular history and culture. They do have some analogues in European cultures other than Anglo culture, but these are only partial. The avoidance of the bare imperative in many areas of interpersonal communication, which is characteristic of modern English, goes far beyond anything that can be found in other European languages. Significantly, this is a matter of the linguistic code – lexicon and grammar – as well as discourse and conversational routines. For example, modern English is the only European language which doesn’t have a performative verb for enacting simple informal requests, as in the sentence: *I ask you, close the door. (Although “Could I ask you to …” can work as a performative phrase; for detailed discussion, see Wierzbicka 2008). It is also the only European language which has developed a wide repertoire of “whimperatives” (Wierzbicka 1991/2003, 2006b) and other semi-grammaticalized substitutes for im-

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peratives. Tsiolkas’ novel, too, provides some telling illustrations of the differences between ‘Anglo’ and Greek cultural scripts concerning the use of the imperative. (See also Sifianou 1992, chapters 5 and 6.) For example, at the barbecue at Hector and Aisha’s house Manolis says to his son (Hector): Go get the chops. (p. 30)

At home with his wife, Koula, Manolis orders his wife: “Make me a coffee.” (p. 799), “Make me a damn coffee.” (p. 299), “And make me a damn coffee.” (p. 300). At a wake following the death of an old friend of Manolis and Koula, the widow gives orders to her adult granddaughter: ‘Athena”, ordered Paraskevi, ‘Get some chairs for your uncles’. (p. 308) Even more tellingly when Manolis and Koula try to leave, Paraskevi orders them, with a reinforced imperative, to stay. “Stay – you can’t go”. (p. 321). On the other hand, when Aisha, who is culturally ‘Anglo’, wants her husband to offer their guests drinks, she uses a grammaticalized form of suggestions, without any imperative: “How about some drinks?” The adult children of Manolis and Koula, Hector and his sister Elisavet, who were born and raised in Australia, avoid the straight imperative even when they speak to their own children. Elisavet uses it once when she is angry with her little daughter: “Oh, for God’s sake, Kiki. (…) I can’t take it anymore. Go into the lounge.” (p. 329) Hector, too, uses the imperative to his children very sparingly, and when he does so, he combines it either with explanations, as in the extract A below, or with references to quintessential Anglo-Australian values of ‘fairness’, ‘taking a turn’, and ‘giving another person a go’, as in extract B. A.

In the lounge room the boys were sprawled across the couch and on the floor watching another DVD. It was Spiderman. (…) ‘Turn it off’, he ordered. ‘Time to eat’, and the boys complied. (p. 36)


As soon as he had lit the cigarette, Melissa flew out of the back door and ran screaming into his arms. ‘Adam won’t let me play.’ She was howling (…) ‘It’s your sister’s turn. (…) Come on, mate, give your sister a go. (…) It’s fair that you have time to play video games as well. Adam was being unfair.’ (p. 6-7)

When he is not trying to discipline his children, Hector tends to appeal to the Anglo mantra of choice: ‘Do you want to come to the market with me? The wailing had stopped but Melissa was not yet prepared to concede defeat. (…) Hector shook his hand free from hers. ‘It’s your choice sweetheart. You can stay here and play video games by yourself or you can come with me to the market. Which would you prefer?’ The girl did not answer. ‘Right.’ Hector shrugged his shoulders and put a cigarette to his lips. ‘Your choice.’ (p. 7)


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As these extracts illustrate, different cultural scripts separate not only immigrants and Anglo-Australians (and people like Aisha, who are culturally, though not ethnically, Anglo), but also immigrants and their children. [L] An Anglo cultural script (roughly, offering explanations for requests) many people think like this: if someone wants to say something like this to someone else about something: “I want you to do it” it is good if this someone says at the same time why this someone wants this

[M] An Anglo cultural script (roughly, offering a choice) many people think like this: when someone wants to say something like this to someone else: “I want you to do something now” it is good if this someone can say something like this about two things: “you can do this one of these two things if you want, you can do this other one of these two things if you want”

[N] An Anglo cultural script (roughly, ‘formulating requests as questions’) many people think like this: when someone wants to say something like this to someone else: “I want you to do something for a short time after this time” it is good if this someone says something like this at the same time:

“maybe you will do it, maybe you will not do it, I don’t know”

[O] An Anglo cultural script (roughly, formulating requests as suggestions) many people think like this: when someone wants to say something like this to someone else: “I want you to do something a short time after this time” it is good if this someone says something like this at the same time: “maybe if you think about this for a short time, you will think like this: ‘I want to do it’”

The avoidance of the imperative in modern English and the profusion of interrogative and other devices which can be seen as pragmatic substitutes for imperatives is clearly related to broader Anglo values and practices of, roughly speaking, ‘autonomy’ and ‘independence’. One example from The Slap appears in the first chapter, when Hector’s parents arrive at the barbecue at Hector’s and Aisha’s house laden with boxes of food, oblivious to the fact that the hosts themselves have bought a vast amount of it, Hector reproaches them lightly, but Aisha is not amused. “There is going to be too much food”, she whispers to her husband, who notices a “tightness around her mouth” (p.16). Hector’s parents have known their daughter-in-law for many years, and they must be well aware that she doesn’t want them to bring boxes of food to her barbecue. But her wishes in this respect are simply ignored, as they are ignored in the case of television-watching by her children, in her house. Clearly, Aisha’s parents-in-law do

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not think about people’s wishes and rights in this way, and so they violate, unwittingly, many scripts of personal autonomy, including the following ones: [P] An Anglo cultural script (roughly, a sense of autonomy) many people think like this: when someone is doing something, it is good if this someone can think about it like this: “I’m doing this because I want to do it”

[Q1] An Anglo cultural script (roughly, “it’s my place, I decide”) many people think like this about a place: “I can do many things in this place as I want, other people can’t do the same if I want something to happen in this place, other people can’t say something like this to me: ‘I don’t want this to happen in this place’”

[Q2] An Anglo cultural script (roughly, “it’s my place, I decide”) many people think like this about a place: “I can do many things in this place as I want, other people can’t do the same if I don’t want something to happen in this place, other people can’t say something like this to me: “I want this to happen in this place’”

[Q3] An Anglo cultural script (roughly, “it’s my place, I decide”) many people think like this about a place: “I can do many things in this place as I want, other people can’t do the same

if I don’t want someone to do something in this place, this someone can’t do it”

[R] An Anglo cultural script (roughly, “it’s up to the parents to decide”) many people think like this about some children (m): “I am these children’s (m) mother (m) / father (m) if I don’t want something to happen to these children (m), other people can’t say: “I want it to happen’”

8. Saying ‘sorry’ and saying ‘thank you’: Greek and Anglo cultural scripts After Aisha has refused point blank to comply with Manolis’ request that she should go to Harry’s birthday party and sees how hurt he was by this unexpected refusal, she says to him: ‘Manoli, I am sorry.’ This upsets and confuses Manolis even more. He turned his back to her and walked away. The words dropped easily from her lips but they meant nothing. Australians used the words like a chant. Sorry, sorry, sorry. She was not sorry. He thought she loved him, respected him. He’d nursed this hope for years. He wanted to strike himself for his vanity and foolishness. He had never asked anything of her before


Anna Wierzbicka and she must know that he would never ask a thing of her again. Sorry. He spat the word as if it were poison. He thought she loved him. He was just a silly old man. (p. 341)

Manolis’ observations on the ‘sorry’ conversational routine in Anglophone Australia tally well with the comments often made on the use of ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘thank you’ as “lubricants” in many works on “politeness” written in English. Such comments are often presented as if they reflected universal human practices. For example, Coulmas (1981: 7) writes: Every society and every socio-cultural group seems to have its norms and values with regard to what kinds of deeds and omissions require apologies and thanks, and how these obligations can be met verbally. It is not surprising, then, that the verbal means employed on such occasions are often found to exhibit a high degree of routinization. Not only do the members of a group know when a speech act of either kind is in place, they also have an understanding of what is the appropriate thing to say, in other words, how these speech acts are carried out in a situationally adequate way.

Coulmas acknowledges that there may be “some variation regarding the rigidity of norms”, but he seems to play down the extent of cross-cultural variation: (“there is some variation regarding the rigidity of norms, but it is quite clear that there are cultural norms about the appropriate usage of the phrases in question. They are part of what defines polite behaviour in a society.”) I certainly agree that there are cultural norms (cultural scripts) about the appropriate usage of certain phrases but it is not the case that every society has “apologies” and “thanks”, enacted by means of routinized phrases. For example, Yamuna Kachru (1995: 267) notes: “there are no exact translation equivalents in Hindi for ‘apology’, ‘apologize’ or ‘sorry’”2. Stephen Harris (1984, pp.134-135) makes similar remarks about the Yolngu people in Aboriginal Australia: “Yolngu never express ‘thanks’ verbally to each other. (…) Traditionally, Yolngu people have no verbal machinery for expressing ‘thanks’ in return for a favour.” On the other hand, Kachru notes, “the items ‘thank you’, ‘thanks’ are very common in Englishized Hindi and are used even among family members” (p. 45). Similarly, Harris notes that “most young Yolngu have learned to say ‘thanks’” (p. 134). Given the absence, or limited use, of expressions comparable to ‘thank you’ in many other languages, the pervasive use of such expressions in English often strikes outsiders as “mechanical” and “insincere” (Apt 1974: 85). In fact, however, widespread use of phrases like ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘thank you’ is a hallmark of modern Anglo culture and has often been commented on by immigrants to English-speaking countries. In particular, there is an extensive literature on the use of ‘thank you’ in English and on the need for inter-cultural training in this area: for immigrants to Englishspeaking countries to be able to flourish in their new environment it is often essential


In another article, (1992: 45) Y. Kachru writes further: in most South Asian languages, including Bengali, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil etc. gratitude is not expressed verbally by asserting the benefactor’s actions in intimate familial and social domains, as doing so would be felt to create social ‘distance’ and indicate formality. Gratitude is not expressed verbally towards one’s superiors, either, as that would be displaying arrogance. Thus, there are, as has been discussed in literature, no precise equivalents to the English item ‘thank (you)’ in Hindi.

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to learn, inter alia, to say ‘thank-you’ in a much wider range of situations than they would in their home country. To a lesser, but not insignificant, extent the same applies to ‘I’m sorry’. If we follow Manolis’ perception of this speech routine in Australian English we will note that what strikes him most is a combination of ubiquity and superficiality: as he sees it, is a purely verbal routine which is used as a substitute for actions. For example, Aisha says ‘I’m sorry’ to him but she doesn’t do what he wants her to do. She is aware of his ‘bad feelings’ and she knows that she has caused these ‘bad feelings’ herself. She is not indifferent to his feelings and she would like to remove his ‘bad feelings’ by means of some ‘good words’ – but she is not prepared to do anything beyond uttering those words. From Manolis’ point of view, on the other hand, words are not adequate substitutes for actions. In fact, when ‘good words’ are offered as a substitute for actions, these words can add an insult to the injury: they are “poison”. The ‘Anglo’ cultural view of ‘apologies’ and ‘thanks’ as acts which can somehow change the balance-sheet in the relation between two people is clearly visible in Geoffrey Leech’s (1983 p. 124) account of these speech acts, which he clearly regards as universal3 (NOTE 3): Some expressives may similarly carry implications of a transfer of goods or services in the past: if you thank someone, you presuppose a previous transfer of goods or services from h to s. The commercial metaphor does not have to be restricted, moreover, to ‘bilateral’ illocutions such as these. Consider the expressive illocutions which we call APOLOGIES and PARDONS. Apologies express regret for some offence committed by s against h – and there is no implication that s has benefited from the offence. Nevertheless, an apology implies a transaction, in that it is a bid to change the balance-sheet of the relation between s and h. (…) [A]pologizing, like thanking, can be regarded as an acknowledgement of an imbalance in the relation between s and h, and to some extent, as an attempt to restore the equilibrium.

What Leech says here may well be true in relation to English-speaking societies such as Britain and Australia, but it is not true, for example, for Greek immigrants to these countries, as Manolis’ reaction to Aisha’s ‘I’m sorry’ illustrates. This negative view of ‘good words’ used as a substitute for actions is clearly linked with a distinction between, roughly speaking, family and outsiders. Presumably, no one could fulfil other people’s wishes if one treated all other people in the same way (if only because those wishes would often be in conflict). Nor can one expect other people to fulfil our wishes if ‘other people’ are seen as an undifferentiated mass. What one can do in relation to all other people is to speak nicely to them, peppering one’s speech, if necessary, with sorry and thank you-s. To Manolis, Aisha’s ‘I’m sorry’ sounds empty and even offensive. It highlights the fact that she treats him like a stranger and that she doesn’t love and respect him. If she did love and respect him, she would simply comply with his wishes.


Brown and Levinson (1987) also discuss ‘thanks’ and ‘apologies’ in a cultural vacuum, for example when they write: “apologies (…) threaten speakers’ positive face (…). Expressing thanks, acceptance of hearers’ thanks (…) threaten their negative face.” In doing so, they impose on human interaction interpretive categories alien to them and largely derived from English and Anglo culture.


Anna Wierzbicka

What applies to the ‘I’m sorry’ verbal routine applies even more to the ‘thank you’ one. In The Slap this is illustrated in the scene in which Elisavet thanks the parents, Manolis and Koula, for looking after her children. Elisavet turned to her father. ‘Thanks for looking after them.’ ‘Don’t be an idiot. We’re their grandparents, you don’t have to thank us for that.’ (p. 329)

As this vignette illustrates, from Manolis’s point of view Elisavet’s thanks are not only unnecessary but almost offensive. A mother could thank a neighbour for looking after her children because a neighbour is a ‘stranger’ (not ‘family’). But to thank one’s parents for looking after their own grandchildren is to downgrade them to the level of strangers; or, more exactly, to the level of ‘anybody’. It is also to imply that the grandparents’ active love for their grandchildren can be ‘repaid’ with verbal tokens like ‘thank you’. In the literature on cross-cultural variation, saying something like ‘thank you’ is often described as an expression of gratitude (see e.g. Sifianou 1992, Kachru 1995). In fact, however, the English routine of saying ‘thank you’ to anybody for any ‘good thing’, and indeed, for any act of cooperation, can hardly be validly described as an expression of gratitude. From a Greek immigrant’s point of view, a ‘thank you’ offered to a cashier doing her job in a supermarket is not an ‘expression of gratitude’ but a superficial token of politeness. If the same ‘thank you’ is offered to one’s parents, this dilutes the distinction between family and outsiders. It also undermines the scale of ‘good things’ that parents are doing for their children, by putting them in the same conceptual category as more or less trivial favours exchanged by people who don’t know one another well, or not at all. On this point, too, Tsiolkas’ portrayal of the differences between Anglo and Greek expectations in relation to “thank you” and “sorry” chimes well with Sifianou’s (1992) observations based on questionnaires and interviews with native speakers of English (in England) and of Greek (in Greece): The English (15 out of 27) much more than the Greeks (4 out of 27) emphasized the necessity of expressing apologies and especially gratitude verbally, even in minor situations, and appeared to value immediate verbal reciprocity in polite behaviour more highly. All those English informants who included linguistic observations in their answers emphasized the significance of polite expressions such as please and thank you (…) Only one suggested that saying sorry is not always an indication of a polite person. (…) By contrast, the Greeks did not appear to appreciate such overt markers of politeness to the same extent. (Sifianou 1992: 91)

As a result of such differences, Sifianou (1997: 92) comments, “the Greeks are likely to condemn English behaviour as ‘distant’ and ‘insincere’”. This tallies well with Manolis’ perception of the use of ‘sorry’ by Aisha, and also, of the use of ‘thank you’ by Elizavet. The bewilderment that many immigrants to English-speaking countries experience when confronted with what they perceive as the ubiquity of I’m-sorry-s and thankyous is well illustrated in the memoir of Korean Australian Kyung Joo Yoon (2004). “When I first came here,” she writes, “I had the impression that people competed with each other in apologizing and thanking”. The strangest thing, from Yoon’s point of

When cultural scripts clash ...


view, was that people used the same expressions, I’m sorry and thank you, even within the immediate family circle. For example, when I went to the house of a friend of my small son Emmanuel, a five-yearold boy said ‘thank you’ to his mother when she gave him a drink. I remember feeling quite awkward about the way the boy thanked her for such a small favour. To me he got what he was entitled to get since any mother is responsible for providing a young child with whatever he needs, so he should not have felt the need to thank his mother, at least not with words. Beyond doing things like giving her child a drink, there are so many uncountable things a mother does that are not necessarily known to her son. One cannot ever thank her for all of those. The relationship between parents and children is beyond the level of that kind of thanking exchange.

Commenting on the differences between Korean and Australian culture in relation to ‘thanking’ and ‘apologizing’, Yoon emphasizes in particular the verbal character of the English formulae, and the sameness of the treatment meted out in Australia to family member and to strangers. In Korea, it is thought that a child owes a debt of gratitude to his or her parents, and everyone knows that debt is never repayable. Certainly, one can’t repay it with words. There are a number of sayings about this debt in Korean. The child who thanked his mother for a drink gave me the impression that he acknowledged the favour as if he did not owe her anything else. In Korean culture children are not taught to thank other people including strangers. Instead, children are taught to keep in their hearts the never-repayable debt of gratitude towards their parents. They do not have to express gratitude in words but they are responsible for bearing it always in mind.

Like many other immigrants to English-speaking countries, Yoon confesses that she didn’t know whether she should teach her own children, growing up in Australia, the Anglo-Australian use of sorry-s and thank-you-s. I could sympathise with the idea of the need for politeness towards others, expressed by thanking and apologising. But I felt awkward teaching my children to use ‘thank you’ or ‘sorry’ with me or my husband. I felt this would mean my children were treating me in the same way as they would complete strangers. From a Korean perspective, people should be treated differently within personal relationships, and those who are in kin relations take a special place in one’s life. Strategies of thanking and apologizing have to be different for different relationships.

Similar observations on the “indiscriminate” as well as very frequent character of Anglo-Australian sorry-s and thank-you-s (as perceived from the point of view of his home culture) have been made by the Chinese-Singaporean Jock Wong (2007), who spent many years in Australia first as an undergraduate, and then doctoral student, who writes this of home life in Singapore: Common Anglo rules of politeness, which express respect for personal autonomy, simply did not exist in the household. When a person wanted another to do something, this would be expressed in some imperative form and there was an expectation that the addressee would do it if he or she possibly could. The issue of whether he or she wanted to do it did not surface. ‘Thank you’ was mainly said when receiving a special gift, and even then only from someone younger to someone older in the hierarchical Chinese family; as far as I can remember, my parents have never said ‘Thank you’ to me. In fact, I would consider myself ‘lucky’ if my mother did not criticize something which I had bought for her as a present. ‘Sorry’ was also unheard of.


Anna Wierzbicka

The main Anglo scripts for saying I’m sorry and thank you can be portrayed as follows: [S] An Anglo (Anglo-Australian) cultural script (roughly, saying ‘sorry’) many people think like this: when someone knows that someone else can feel something bad because a short time before this someone did something it is good if this someone says these words to this other someone: I’m sorry it is bad if this someone doesn’t say something like this

[T] An Anglo cultural script (roughly, “saying thank you”) many people think like this: if someone does something good for someone else at some time it is good if a very short time after this this someone says these words to this other someone: thank you

It is important to note that the ‘I’m sorry’ script and the ‘thank-you’ script refer to verbal formulae: it is good to say certain words or phrases in certain situations. Greek culture embodied by Manolis and Kaula also abounds in verbal formulae (no doubt more so than Anglo culture) (c.f. e.g. Tannen and Öztek 1981) but it doesn’t include obligatory scripts corresponding to the Anglo ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘thank you’ scripts. Nor does it include ‘how are you?’ – ‘I’m fine’ scripts, to which we will now turn.

9. The ‘How are you?’ routine and the Australian concept of ‘bullshit’ Hector and his cousin Harry were born in Australia and for most intents and purposes they are what is usually called ‘Greek Australians’. They usually speak English with their children and wives but for the most part, speak Greek with each other, as well as with their parents and other older relatives. To some extent, they are bicultural – not in the sense that they are, culturally, fully Anglo-Australian and fully Greek but in the sense that they can draw, depending on the context, on two different sets of cultural scripts. When Harry comes to Hector’s house, he kisses his cousins at the door (p. 117). They both want their children to be close, because “they’re family” (p. 123). They believe that they care more about their children’s education than Anglo-Australians do. (At the barbecue in Hector’s house, Harry whispers in Greek to Manolis: ‘The Australians don’t give a fuck about their children’, p. 22). Yet when Harry and Hector talk to one another on the phone, Anglo-Australian cultural scripts are as much in evidence as Greek ones. ‘Yia sou, Ecttora, it’s your cousin.’ ‘How are you going, matey? How’s Sandi, how’s the kid?’ Fine, fucking fine, do we always have to go through the bullshit? ‘All good. Everyone’s good. How’s Aish, and Adam and Lizzie?’ ‘No complaints.’ (p. 114)

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By identifying himself as “your cousin”, Harry, who greets Hector in Greek and uses the Greek form of his name, is acting in accordance with Greek cultural scripts. In his thoughts, though not in his words, Harry is also rejecting the Anglo greeting routine “How are you? – I’m fine”, and more specifically, its Anglo-Australian ‘masculine’ version, “How are you going matey? – Fine”. In fact, as his mental expletive indicates, Harry is irritated by Hector’s use of this routine. While his own greeting emphasizes their Greek-based and family-based solidarity and implicitly appeals to Greek-familial loyalty, Hector’s Australian-style response appears to reject that appeal. It is friendly, but it could have been addressed to any male acquaintance. Yet Harry’s annoyance with Hector’s Australian-style response is itself expressed (inwardly) in a characteristically Australian way, and is shaped by Australian cultural scripts, such as the “anti-bullshit” script. As discussed in detail in earlier work (Wierzbicka 1997), the word bullshit, while found also in other varieties of English, in particular, in American English, has developed a semantic profile of its own in Australia and has acquired an extraordinary cultural significance. The OED (1991) mentions bullshit only in the Supplement (thus treating it as a marginal word) and defines it as “coarse slang”. But in Australia, bullshit is not a marginal word, and neither is it perceived as “coarse slang”. On the contrary, it is a vital part of what Colin Bowles (1986) calls “basic Australian”. As McGregor (1981: 46) puts it, “most Australians dislike what they call bullshit” (see also Horne 1964: 4). The exclamation Bullshit! is widely used in Australian English to ‘puncture’ disingenuous utterances which do not express the speaker’s true thoughts and feelings but rather, voice what one is expected to say or what is likely to make a good impression. Normally, however, Bullshit! is not used to ‘puncture’ conventional conversational routines such as “How are you? I am fine”, which are normally not expected to elicit authentic feelings. Many immigrants from non-Anglo cultural backgrounds have expressed their frustration with the Anglo “How are you?” routine (and its variants), which appears to them to be phony and insincere, and which many can’t bring themselves to initiate or to respond to in the expected manner. Yet Hector feels sufficiently comfortable in his Anglo persona to fall into this routine while speaking to Harry, even though he has been addressed in Greek. Harry, on the other hand, doesn’t want their exchange to be situated in an Anglo cultural context. So while verbally, he plays along and inquires politely after Hector’s own wife and children, in his thoughts he impatiently dismisses the “How are you going matey?” routine as phony. And yet he rejects it not in a bewildered way in which an older first-generation immigrant like Manolis might reject it but in an “Aussie” way, in the name of some “Aussie” (traditional Australian) values, such as those associated with the word bullshit (as it is used in Australia), and reflected in the following cultural script:


Anna Wierzbicka

[U] An Australian cultural script (roughly, the “anti-bullshit script”) many people think like this: something like this happens at many times: someone says something this something is not true this someone says it because this someone wants other people to think something about something, not because this someone wants other people to know something about something sometimes when someone does something like this, this someone says many words it is bad if something like this happens

The cultural scripts enacted in the “How are you? – I’m fine” routine can be represented in NSM as follows: [V] An Anglo cultural practice (roughly, saying ‘how are you?’) people know that often something like this happens: someone is with someone else at some time this someone knows this other someone this someone was not with this other someone on the same day before this someone knows that this someone can be with this other someone for a short time before this someone says something else to this other someone, this someone says these words to this other someone: how are you?

[W] An Anglo cultural practice (roughly, responding to ‘how are you?’) many people think like this: when someone says the words how are you? to someone else

it is good if this other someone says something like this to this someone: ‘I’m well’

As this formula shows, the “how-are-you?” script makes no difference between relatives and non-relatives, and it refers to a verbal formula. By contrast, the Greek practice enacted by Harry and Hector when they meet (kissing) treats relatives as a distinct category of people, to be treated in a special way; and it is not verbal but bodily. The cultural script reflected in this form of greeting can be portrayed as follows: [X] A Greek cultural practice (roughly, greeting one’s relatives with kissing) people know that often something like this happens: someone is with someone else at some time this someone knows that this other someone is part of the same family* this someone was not with this other someone on the same day before before this someone says something to this other someone, this someone does something with some parts of the body [lips (m)] to some parts of this other someone’s body

10. Concluding remarks In a study entitled “Polite responses to polite requests” which is published in the journal Cognition, the psychologists Herbert Clark and Dale Schunk (1980: 111) wrote:

When cultural scripts clash ...


“…when people make requests, they tend to make them indirectly. They generally avoid imperatives like Tell me the time, which are direct requests, in preference for questions like Can you tell me the time?” As discussed in earlier work (Wierzbicka 1985, 1991), this is a good example of how speech practices and norms characteristic of present-day English can be mistaken for features of human behaviour and human cognition in general. As we have seen, in fact it is not “people” in general who avoid imperatives, but speakers of English. Although cross-cultural pragmatics has made great progress in the three decades since the paper including those remarks was published by Clark and Schunk, there is still a wide-spread tendency to mistake speakers of English for simply “people” (people in general), and to take Anglo cultural norms for the human norm. If this happens in Anglophone scholarly literature, it is hardly surprising that it often happens in English-speaking societies at large. The result is miscommunication, misperception and unnecessary conflict. In particular, immigrants who unwittingly violate Anglo cultural norms are often seen as rude, difficult and odd (sometimes even by their own children). Of course, interpersonal and intergenerational conflicts occur frequently in monocultural families, too, and in monocultural societies. But in ‘multicultural’ societies like Australia, and in cross-cultural families like that including Manolis, Koula, Hector and Aisha, conflicts of this kind are often compounded by miscommunication. For example, a family conflict resulting in a feeling of al (roughly, wounded love) can be very painful but it may not be as damaging as one in which ‘al’ is misinterpreted as ‘emotional blackmail’. Furthermore, cross-cultural communication may by itself damage interpersonal relations. For example, an Anglo person may be totally unaware that by saying ‘thank you’ to a non-Anglo relative or friend they may be hurting the addressee’s feelings, just as a non-Anglo relative or friend may be totally unaware that they may cause hurt and offense by not saying ‘thank you’ to someone who is close to them. In his essay “East meets West, or does it really?” the Singaporean Chinese Jock Wong (2007) writes of the pain that he experienced when during his years in Australia he tried in vain to develop very close friendships with Australian males on the model of Chinese friendships in which the friends “do not distinguish between one another”: … my experience in Anglo-Australian society tells me that heterosexual Anglo men tend not to forge intimate relationships with friends (…) Unlike Chinese people, they would not want to regard a spouse, much less a friend, as an extension of themselves (…). (…) In fact, even the use of common everyday expressions like ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’, and requests made in the form of a question often seem to me a step backwards in the process of bonding with an Anglo person. Such polite expressions often stop a Chinese from seeing the addressee as a close friend or ziji ren (p. 75)

Thus, from Wong’s perspective a ‘thank you’ from a friend can be unwelcome and even hurtful (as a thank you from their daughter for looking after her children is unwelcome and hurtful to Koula and Manolis). In his book Intercultural Communication At Work, in which he treats present-day Australia as “a microcosm of cultural diversity” characteristic of today’s world, Michael Clyne (1994: 212) writes:


Anna Wierzbicka The need for sensitivity to inter-cultural communication is at least as urgent in the professions as on the factory floor. The Melbourne Age of 30 November 1991 reports that a Hungarian-born textile teacher who had been denied promotion was awarded $55,000 by the Equal Opportunity Board. According to the report, women teachers from non-English – speaking backgrounds in her department at a college of technical and further education were considered by their colleagues to be ‘emotional, highly strung, demanding and overly conscientious in their work, long-winded and unable to be concise, holding undue regard for academic qualifications as opposed to practical experience…’ and the teacher in question had been told that she was ‘oversensitive and paranoid’. In view of the discourse patterns of Central Europeans described in Chapters 4 and 5, the importance of a substantial educational programme in inter-cultural communication is evident so that Australia is able to benefit more from its human resources. (It is probable that the treatment of this textile teacher is neither an atypical nor an isolated instance.)”

What applies to present-day Australia, applies of course throughout the Englishspeaking and English-learning world. The importance of intercultural communication in the increasingly globalized world is steadily growing, and so is the role of English worldwide. It is therefore more important than ever to treat intercultural pragmatics as a matter of practical, as well as theoretical concern. Putative “universals of politeness” cannot provide a framework for intercultural training. The methodology of cultural scripts formulated in simple and universal human concepts offers such a framework. It is a framework which can help explain shared assumptions and values embedded in ways of speaking in different languages and cultures and can at the same time be practically useful in intercultural education. It is not technical, and it is generally accessible. It is not tied to English, and while for practical reasons it is likely to be implemented most widely through a miniEnglish (“NSM English”), it does not rely on technical English and can be used even at introductory levels of intercultural induction and training, as intercultural pragmatics’ simple and practical lingua franca.

References Ali, M. 2003. Brick Lane. London: Doubleday. Apte, M. 1974. ‘Thank you’ and South Asian languages: a comparative sociolinguistic study. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 3, 67-89. Besemeres, M. and A. Wierzbicka (eds.). 2007. Translating Lives: Living with Two Languages and Cultures. St Lucia: University of Queensland Press. Brown, P. and S. Levinson. 1987. Politeness: Some Universals in Language and Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Campbell, J. K. 1975. The honour of the Greeks. The Times Literary Supplement 3 (November 1975), 844. Coulmas, F. 1981. Poison to your soul: Thanks and apologies contrastively viewed. In: F. Coulmas (ed.). Conversational Routine. The Hague: Mouton, 69-91. Doi, T. 1981. The Anatomy of Independence. Tokyo: Kodansha. Goddard, C. 1998. Semantic Analysis: A Practical Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Goddard, C. (ed.). 2006. Ethnopragmatics: Understanding Discourse in Cultural Context. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Goddard, C. 2007. A response to N. J. Enfield’s review of Ethnopragmatics (Goddard, C., (ed.) 2006). Intercultural Pragmatics 11.4, 531-538. Goddard, C. (ed.). 2008 Cross-Linguistic Semantics. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

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Goddard, C. and A. Wierzbicka (eds.). 1994. Semantics and Lexical Universals. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Goddard, C. and A. Wierzbicka (eds.). 2002. Meaning and Universal Grammar – Theory and Empirical Findings. 2 Vols. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Goddard, C. and A. Wierzbicka (eds.). 2004. Intercultural Pragmatics. (Special Issue on Cultural Scripts). 1.2. Goddard, C. and A. Wierzbicka (eds.). 2004. Cultural Scripts: What are they and what are they good for? Intercultural Pragmatics. (Special Issue on Cultural Scripts) 1.2, 153-165. Goddard, C. and A. Wierzbicka (eds.). 2007. Semantic primes and cultural scripts in language teaching and intercultural communication. In: F. Sharifian and G. Palmer (eds.). Applied Cultural Linguistics: Implications for Second Language Learning and Intercultural Communication. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 105-124. Gumperz, J. and D. Hymes (eds.). 1986 [1972]. Directions in Sociolinguistics: The Ethnography of Communication. Oxford: Blackwell. Harris, S. 1984. Culture and learning: Tradition and education in north-east Arnhem Land. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies. Herzfeld, M. 1980. Honour and shame: problems in the comparative analysis of moral systems. Man. NS. 15, 339-351. Hoffman, E. 1989. Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language. New York: Dutton. Kachru, Y. 1992. Speech acts in the other tongue: an integrated approach to cross-cultural research. World Englishes 11.2-3, 235-240. Kachru, Y. 1995. Lexical exponents of cultural contact: Speech act verbs in Hindi-English dictionaries. In: B. Kachru and H. Kahane (eds.). Cultures, Ideologies, and the Dictionary: Studies in Honor of Ladislav Zgusta. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 261-274. Kachru, Y. 2003. Conventions of politeness in plural societies. In: R. Ahrens, et al. Anglophone Cultures in South-East Asia: Appropriations, Continuities, Contexts. Heidelberg: Winter, 39-53. Lahiri, J. 2003. The Namesake. New York: Houghton Mifflin. Leech, G. 1983. Principles of Pragmatics. London: Longman. NSM Homepage: Peeters, B. (ed.). 2006. Semantic Primes and Universal Grammar: Empirical Evidence from the Romance Languages. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Shweder, R. 1993. Cultural psychology: Who needs it? Annual Review of Psychology 4, 487-523. Sifianou, M. 1992. Politeness Phenomena in England and Greece: A Cross-cultural Perspective. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Tannen, D. and P. Öztek. 1981. Health to your mouths. In F:. Coulmas (ed.) Conversational Routines: Explorations in Standardized Communication Situations and Prepatterned Speech. The Hague: Mouton, 37-54. Travis, C. 2006. The communicative realisation of confianza and calor humano in Colombian Spanish. In: C. Goddard (ed.) Ethnopragmatics: Understanding Discourse in Cultural Context. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 199-230. Triandis, H. C. (ed.). 1972. The Analysis of Subjective Culture. Comparative Studies in Behavioural Science. New York: Wiley. Tsiolkas, C. 2008. The Slap. Sydney: Allen and Unwin. Wong, J. 2004. Cultural scripts, ways of speaking, and perceptions of personal autonomy. In: C. Goddard and A. Wierzbicka (eds.). Intercultural Pragmatics. (Special Issue on Cultural Scripts) 1.2., 231-248. Ye, Z. 2004. Chinese categorization of interpersonal relationships and the cultural logic of Chinese social interaction: An indigenous perspective. In: C. Goddard and A. Wierzbicka (eds.). Intercultural Pragmatics. (Special Issue on Cultural Scripts) 1.2, 211-230. Yoon, K-J. 2004. Not just words: Korean social models and the use of honorifics. In: C. Goddard and A. Wierzbicka (eds.). Intercultural Pragmatics. (Special Issue on Cultural Scripts) 1.2, 189-210.


Anna Wierzbicka

Wierzbicka, A. 1991. (Expanded second edition 2003). Cross-cultural Pragmatics: The Semantics of Human Interaction. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Wierzbicka, A. 1996. Semantics: Primes and Universals. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Wierzbicka, A. 1997a. Understanding Cultures through their Key Words: English, Russian, Polish, German, and Japanese. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. Wierzbicka, A. 2006a. English: Meaning and Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Wierzbicka, A. 2006b. Anglo scripts against “putting pressure” on other people and their linguistic manifestations. In: C. Goddard (ed.), Ethnopragmatics: Understanding Discourse in Cultural Context. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 31-64. Wierzbicka, A. 2008. A conceptual basis for intercultural pragmatics and world-wide understanding. In: M. Pütz and J. Neff-van Aertselaer (eds.), Developing Contrastive Pragmatics: Interlanguage and Cross-Cultural Perspectives. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 3-46.

Part III Miscommunication in modern discourse

Bridging gaps across cultures: The case of glosses in Caramelo, a Chicana novel Maria Marta Garcia Negroni, CONICET, University of Buenos Aires and Maria Laura Spoturno, CONICET, University de la Plata 1. Introduction As has been largely acknowledged (Ashcroft et al., [1989] 2002); Hicks, 1991; Arteaga, 1997; Leal and Martín-Rodríguez, [1996] 2006), the discourse of Chicana literature draws its constituents from more than one linguistic-cultural community. This paper explores the status and function of certain metadiscursive elements in Chicana literature, which are, as will be argued, deliberately used to bridge gaps across cultures. More specifically, we will focus on the special use of glosses in Sandra Cisneros’s Caramelo or Puro Cuento. A Novel (henceforward: Caramelo), in which this metadiscursive device takes on a fundamental role in the construction of an intercultural discourse. It should be observed that while in this fiction glosses certainly become a means to achieve communication, they often seem to introduce a feature of difficulty, showing the persistence of miscommunication. According to Authier-Revuz (1994, 1995, 2003), glosses can be defined as forms of discourse, which, signalling a point of alterity, account for the presence of a constitutive other. The use of glosses generally marks an intention on the part of the discursive subject to exert dominion over the sense of the discourse by specifying the parameters and points of view to be observed by the interlocutor/reader when processing it. By making explicit how a certain sequence must be interpreted, glosses introduce a kind of enunciative suspense regarding that sequence. In other words and according to Authier-Revuz (2003), as forms of autonymic reflexivity, glosses reveal a sign which shows itself as an object in the enunciative scene, suspending its common and habitual function of mediation. The presence of glosses in Chicano literary discourse—as much as in other minority, diasporic and postcolonial writing, in general—, poses a challenge for the discourse analyst, as these discourses are constituted in the interaction of linguistic and cultural elements which are associated to more than one cultural community. In fact, most metadiscursive forms in Cisneros’s narrative are used to comment and reflect on different aspects of the linguistic and cultural encounter. According to our hypothesis, in Cisneros’s fiction, glosses, among other devices, operate as a strategy for intercultural communication, whose presence eventually becomes a distinctive trait of the writer’s style. As a matter of fact, we consider that glosses should be included within the domain of the processes and forms which compose interlingual heterogeneity (Spoturno, 2010). Following Authier-Revuz (1984)’s notion of enunciative heterogeneity, interlingual heterogeneity is defined as an enunciative-discursive phenomenon which falls within the terrain of interdiscursive dialogism. Interlingual heterogeneity becomes apparent through the forms and traces which arise in discourse as a result of the proc-


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esses of linguistic-cultural negotiation and translation. These processes emerge as a consequence of the constitutive and constant encounter of different languages within discourse. In this paper, we will fundamentally deal with discursive phenomena relative to the contact of English and Spanish in our corpus. Interlingual heterogeneity articulates three dimensions which present a pattern of constant interaction. These dimensions include: the composition of a particular ethos (Ducrot, [1984] 1986; Amossy, 1999) which is associated with the enunciative subject, i.e., the discursive image of the entity which assumes the responsibility for the enunciation of discourse; the institution of sites—forms and traces— which, being heterogeneous, contribute to the distinctive linguistic tension of our corpus and the configuration of a certain reading gesture. As will be seen in the analysis presented here, it is crucial to notice that reading and reinterpretation phenomena (García Negroni, 2000) account for the effect that the forms of interlingual heterogeneity bring about in the determination of a singular reading gesture in Cisneros’s latest novel. In the next sections, we will first explore the notion of heterogeneity by introducing Authier-Revuz’s conceptualization of autonymic modalization and the four types of non coincidence which affect the act of saying, according to this linguist. Following this characterization, we will analyze a series of glosses taken from Cisneros’s Caramelo. Cisneros’s writing, built mainly upon the appeal to two different languages, evidences a double function of glosses. On the one hand, glosses are used to build a bridge over to the other who does not know the enunciative subject’s culture and language, i.e., for communication; on the other hand and as already pointed out, glosses present the difficulty inherent to communication within this narrative universe, i.e., miscommunication.

2. In search of the constitutive other: autonymic modalization Authier-Revuz (1995, 2003) regards autonymy as the central component of the reflexive dimension of language. According to this author, every instance of autonymic reflexivity reveals a sign that imposes itself as object in the enunciative scene, leaving aside its usual mediation function. Authier-Revuz resumes three classical semiotic oppositions: the use of a sign, the mention of a sign and the use of a mentioned fragment. Cases in which signs are used to speak about the world. Here, signs perform a function of mediation and thus become transparent (use). Eg.: I forgot to pick up the shoes.1

Cases in which the sign becomes the object of the act of saying, both in its signifier and signified condition (mention). Eg.: Yesterday I saw the sign “Shoes for sale.”

Cases in which signs are used as in A, but resist “becoming transparent,” imposing themselves in the act of saying (use of a mentioned fragment). E.g.: With every step he took, the clown lost his “shoes,” if we may use that word to talk about the things he had on his feet. 1

We have translated and adapted these examples from Authier-Revuz (2003).

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This last example illustrates one of the forms of autonymic modalisation. Following Authier-Revuz (2003), autonymic modalisation can be defined as a double-faced procedure or structure, which renders the act of saying opaque and (…) structurally presents the sum of the reference to the object and the reference to the word by means of which the object is named. The supposed erasure (…) of the transparent sign, ‘actualized’ in the performance of its function of mediation is locally suspended: the word, a means of saying, resists, steps in like a body in the act of saying, imposing itself as an object. (Authier-Revuz 2003: 89-90) [Our translation]

This double-faced operation of the act of saying, the linguist adds, falls within Bakhtin’s ([1979], 1985) conception of dialogism and thus, may be interpreted as a kind of dialogue between the enunciative subject and his/her own word. The forms of autonymic modalization make up interesting discursive spaces as they define, we might say, border areas, in which discourse comes into contact with other discourses, establishing particular referential and discursive relationships. In the constitution of these forms of autonymic modalization, the act of saying turns to itself in order to signify. In the case of Cisneros’s narrative, this operation is duplicated with combinations that originate in the contact between two different linguistic-cultural systems. As put forward by Authier-Revuz (1994, 1995), glosses must be grouped within the forms of autonymic modalization. As such, glosses can be grouped within the four types of non coincidence of the act of saying signaled by Authier-Revuz. In the following section, we will focus on the non coincidences of the act of saying as evidenced in Caramelo.

3. Non coincidences in the act of saying in Caramelo: communication and miscommunication Regarding the importance of assigning exact meaning to the forms of autonymic modalization, Authier-Revuz (2003) reminds us of four main discursive facts, which, arising as a result of the relations discourse establishes with different constitutive exteriors in the enunciation process, make up different enunciative spaces: the non coincidence of discourse with itself; the non coincidence among interlocutors; the non coincidence between words and things; the non coincidence of words with themselves. The first and second of these spaces are framed within the dialogical dimension of discourse, at the level of interdiscursive and interlocutive relations of discourse while the third and fourth show the resistance language offers to the act of saying. The non coincidence of discourse with itself or the fact of the/occurrence of interdiscursive dialogism. This form of non coincidence is made evident in the explicit traces of words which belong to other discourses. The traces of this non coincidence occasionally refer to a given individual, alluding to a particular act of enunciation, or to a wider discursive field. Some typical forms of glosses in this enunciative space are: X, I use this term following…; X, to use Y’s words; X, as Y points out; X, as defined by…; X, according to the statements/ words of…; etc.


María Marta García Negroni and María Laura Spoturno

The non coincidence among interlocutors or the fact of interlocutive dialogism. Within this second category of meta-enunciative commentary, the enunciative subject’s discourse is locally affected by the non coincidence with a certain interlocutor. According to Authier-Revuz, this non coincidence might be made explicit by the following kind of glosses: X, if you allow my saying; X, excuse the term I use; X, as you say; X, if you prefer; X, as we say in our jargon; X, to resume your terms. When made explicit, these glosses show that a given word, meaning or a certain manner of expression are not necessarily shared by the protagonists of the enunciative act. The non coincidence between words and things. This enunciative space represents the degree of adequacy there is between the object and its designation as well as to the position assumed by the enunciative subject concerning this fact. Glosses within this third discursive domain are usually meta-enunciative comments which allude to the search, achievement and failure in the production of the ‘right word.’ Some typical forms of glosses in this enunciative space are: X, that is the right word; X, that is the word; X, in the strict sense of the word; that which we may call X; X, between inverted commas; X, the word is weak, inadequate; X, that is too much to say; X, to put it someway; X, there is no right word. As can be verified in these glosses, the enunciative subject splits and assumes the role of commentator in order to both show adherence to a designation he/she finds appropriate or to a designation put forward by him/herself to name a new phenomenon as well as to indicate some reservations regarding the inadequacy of the designation or characterization. The non coincidence of words with themselves. Within this domain, words appear to be destabilized by other meanings which take a part in discourse through the relations of polysemy, homonymy, and anagram, among others. Thus, meta-enunciative comments relate to all forms of play on words and show a wide range of forms, from reservation or rejection towards a particular meaning, which is presented as unnecessary, to total acceptance of the plurivocity of meaning. As much as in the previous spaces, there is also an enunciative unfolding of the enunciative subject, who takes some distance from his/her own saying in order to objectify, describe and comment upon his/her own saying from an external perspective. Some typical forms of glosses in this enunciative space are: X, in the sense of p; X, but not in the sense of q; X, in a metaphorical/ literal sense; if I am allowed to say; X, also in the sense of q; X, in the sense of both p and q; X, in all the senses of the word. As can be seen, these glosses show that the meaning of words is always equivocal or questionable. With respect to the constitution of these enunciative spaces associated to the forms of autonymic modalization, it is crucial to observe that these spaces are not impermeable; on the contrary, in the meta-enunciative representation, the forms of one and other spaces usually combine to convey forms which are more complex from an enunciative point of view. For instance, spaces 1 and 3 can combine in sequences such as: X, according to the fortunate terms of…; that, which they dare call X. In our corpus, the condition of permeability is verified but, it should be noted, it acquires a distinct quality which is intimately connected to the phenomenon of intercultural (mis)communication. In effect, glosses in Caramelo reveal this condition of permeability which also distinguishes the processes of interlingual heterogeneity. With reference to this condition,

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a trait common to all the examples in our corpus must be stressed. In Cisneros’s narrative, the specification of meaning, which materializes through glosses, very often turns to the interdiscourse and combines with other forms of autonymic modalization. The writer’s particular use of glosses – generally designed to specify, or even to explain linguistic and cultural meanings which are alien to Anglo readers – shows her wellknown concern with “opening doors for people who don’t know the culture” (Cisneros, in Dasenbrock, 1991). Cisneros’s will to rule over sense in Caramelo clearly relates to the creation of intercultural ties. As we will see in the examples below, the enunciative subject is explicitly (pre)occupied with specifying meanings, reinforcing the possibility to relate and conciliate ways of sayings. More specifically, in the context of Caramelo, the non coincidence of discourse with itself, evident in the contact between English and Spanish, shows the need to establish different kinds of bridges, which may be defined as intercultural and interlinguistic. Among the devices employed to build these bridges, glosses seem to make for an ideal enunciative space for the writer to specify interlingual meaning.2 However, regarding the double function previously mentioned, it should be noticed that in this novel glosses evidence other non coincidences as well. 3.1 Interdiscursive non coincidence and words in search of meaning Example (1) below reveals itself as a case of interdiscursive non coincidence which overlaps with the non coincidence of words with themselves, a discursive fact affecting not only the relations that may be established across languages but also within the semantic domain of the same language. (1) I’m not here. They’ve forgotten about me when the photographer walking along the beach proposes a portrait, un recuerdo, a remembrance literally (…) – ¿Un recuerdo? A souvenir? A memory? (Cisneros 2002: 4)

According to Authier-Revuz (1994), glosses designed to fix or specify meaning(s) exhibit an opposition between two semantic orientations: the orientation which the enunciative subject identifies himself/herself with, and the orientation he/she wishes to leave aside from the interpretative domain. However, it is relevant to note that in example 1 the gloss functions in a particular way with respect to the specification of “un recuerdo,” which, in the literal sense pointed out by the narrator must be understood as “remembrance.” Eventually, the syntagm “un recuerdo” appears again to end this first section of the novel and in this second occurrence, two meanings of the term are defined: A. the meaning which is associated with the notion of “souvenir;” i.e., the object that is kept as a reminder of a certain place or occasion, and B. the meaning which relates to the idea of a memory of a past event. As can be noticed, the gloss alludes to a supposed literal sense (“remembrance”), which the term lacks in the context of the example, in which it means “souvenir.” In the final part of the section, two other meanings will turn up: “souvenir” and “memory,” which the reader must grasp in order to understand the global sense of the text. 2

Within the devices used to create bridges in Cisneros’s Caramelo, the exploration of translation as a form of creative writing and the employment of paratextual devices also play a significant role.


María Marta García Negroni and María Laura Spoturno

The repetition of the term and the later semantic opposition give way to this interpretative line. Moreover, these contribute, together with the gloss, to set up different meanings for the noun “recuerdo,” which seem to be crucial for this discourse. This is particularly relevant as Caramelo recreates the story of four generations of the Reyes family through the allusion to family souvenirs, memories and recuerdos.3 It should be observed that the term “recuerdo” reappears later in the novel. This repetition might lead the reader to think that he/she must go back to the meaning(s) provided in (1) to interpret this new occurrence of the term and achieve communication. However, in (2) “recuerdo” has a meaning that is neither included in the communicative instructions offered in (1) nor specified by means of a gloss or any other discursive device: (2) This? The Grandfather says, pulling out of the pillowcase a cloth of caramel, licorice, and vanilla stripes. – That’s the only recuerdo she has from those times, from when she was little. It’s a caramelo rebozo. That’s what they call them. (Cisneros 2002: 58).

As can be observed, the term mentioned, “recuerdo,” evokes a meaning which signals a gap between Spanish and English which remains unabridged in the text. The term appears again in Spanish and there seems to be no one-to-one equivalent in English which simultaneously alludes to an object linked to a memory that can accomplish the semantic mission of “recuerdo” in this enunciative context. Terms such as “memory,” “keepsake,” “token,” and “heirloom” do not evoke the exact meaning the word “recuerdo” has in Spanish, i.e, an object that is kept to remind the keeper of a set of circumstances or a past event. In the configuration of the semantic networks which make up this text, there are interpretative keys, which are available for the reader who takes part in the different enunciative scenes the Chicana writer recreates in her discourse. Also, examples (1) and (2) contribute to show the non coincidence of words with themselves through devices which, rather than restrict meanings, support the value of interlingual polysemy.4 In spite of the constant attempt to bridge gaps across languages, the impossibility of total control over meaning may cause interpretative problems, particularly to the Anglo reader, who, not knowing the language and the culture, may be led to the terrain of mis-communication.



This example reveals a particular choice on the part of the writer concerning the noun ‘recuerdo,’ which derives from the verb ‘recordar’. This is not a case of ordinary derivation but of Ducrot’s ([1988] 1990) ‘delocutive derivation’. Delocutive derivation applies in the cases when speakers do not build the meaning of the second word or lexeme (‘recuerdo’) taking the meaning of the first word (‘recordar’) as a starting point but considering the conditions of enunciation of the first word where they locate the origin of that word in order to build its meaning. Thus, the meaning of ‘un recuerdo’ in the example given alludes to the situation of enunciation, which might be worded as: ‘este objeto le va a servir para recordar’ (‘this object will help you remember’). This example seems to contribute some evidence to Wierzbicka’s (2007) thesis that the category of ‘remembering’ is not a universal, which, in turn, implies that its lexicalization varies across different linguistic-cultural systems.

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3.2 Interdiscursive non coincidence and words in search of things As will be seen, example (3) overtly reveals itself as an instance of miscommunication: (3) I scramble downstairs to tell everyone, only I don’t have the words for what I want to say. Not in English. Not in Spanish. – The wall has fallen, I keep saying in English. (…) – What is it, my queen? Tell me, my heaven. – La pared arriba, es que se cayó. Ven, Papá, ven. (…) Mother shouts downstairs. – Everybody, quick! The ceiling’s fallen! ¡Se cayó el cielo raso! Father says. And then it is I learn the words for what I want to say. "Ceiling" and "cielo." (Cisneros 2002: 60-1)

Although the gloss establishes a bridge over to the other, it also reveals that discourse is always inhabited by the voice of the other. While showing the non coincidence between English and Spanish (wall, pared, ceiling, sky, cielo raso, cielo, my sky, my heaven) the example also deals with the non coincidence among the internal interlocutors – and the reader becomes included among the interlocutors with whom there is no coincidence. It should be noted that while interdiscursive non coincidence is present in all the cases of our corpus, the writer always adds a new non coincidence, which can affect the relation of words with themselves ( 1 and 2), the relation between the interlocutors ( 3), and the relation between words and things (3). Example 3 shows the impossibility of saying, but, in this case Caramelo’s narrator, young Celaya, cannot find the right word for ‘ceiling’ either in English or in Spanish. The fragment foregrounds the search of the word which presents itself as an object of the act of saying. Narrative enunciation is thus suspended for the incident —the ceiling of a room has fallen—, is completely displaced by the discursive treatment and qualification involved in this enunciative obstacle. As of this obstacle, there follows a chain of discursive operations which concern the reflexivity of enunciation, which will now be explored. In the first place, through the linguistic search experienced by the narrator the fragment reveals the non coincidence between words and things. This non coincidence must be framed within the phenomena of interlingual heterogeneity. Faithful to the style of the child who is building up his/her linguistic repertoire, Celaya tries to use the word which best adapts to the current communicative situation, even if she is aware of its imprecision. This is how different terms and expressions, in English and then in Spanish, appear in discourse —’The wall has fallen’ and ‘¡La pared arriba, es que se cayó!’—. The noun syntagms chosen do not just reflect the child’s interlanguage, which is here associated to the simultaneous acquisition of two languages, but they establish a new difficulty for communication by means of the wrong designation of the object in question (‘ceiling’). Celaya’s alarm eventually makes her mother come to the room. After some observation, the child’s mother calls out ‘The ceiling’s fallen!’, to which the father promptly replies in Spanish: ‘¡Se cayó el cielo raso!’. In this manner,


María Marta García Negroni and María Laura Spoturno

the narrator highlights she has learned the words to voice her expressive needs — ’ceiling’ to replace ‘wall’, and ‘cielo’ to replace ‘pared arriba’—: ‘And then it is I learn the words for what I want to say. “Ceiling” and “cielo.”’. Once again, this metaenunciative reflection accounts for a linguistic confusion since the words which should, ideally, be incorporated into the child’s (inter)linguistic repertoire are ‘ceiling’ and ‘cielo raso’. This confusion, centered on ‘cielo’, gives rise to a series of metaenunciative reflections which makes explicit the non coincidence among interlocutors. As much as the non coincidence between words and things, this example reveals the ever present possibility of miscommunication in this discourse. 3.3 Interdiscursive and interlocutive non coincidences As has been pointed out, the linguistic confusion about ‘cielo’/‘ceiling’ triggers new meta-enunciative reflections, which, in this case, exhibit the non coincidence among the interlocutors in the novel but also, at a different level, between the enunciative subject and the Anglo readers who might be the actual recipients of the text. (4) Cielo⎯the word Father uses when he calls me "my heaven." The same word the Little Grandfather reaches for when he wants to say the same thing. Only he says it in English. – My sky. (Cisneros 2002: 61)

As seen in (4), the word ‘cielo’ acquires the status of a form of autonymic modalization, explicitly pointing out the dialogical condition of discourse. In this fragment, the word ‘cielo’ is associated with the vocatives used by the narrator’s father and grandfather when addressing her lovingly. It should be noted that ‘cielo’ is marked by the use of italics, which explicitly establish a border area which allows for the introduction of other voices into discourse. The narrator’s reflection takes in her father’s word, ‘my heaven,’ marked by the use of inverted commas and, as such, shown as an object of the act of saying. This reflection instructs the reader about the presence of Spanish ‘cielo’ in the vocative form ‘my heaven,’ in an attempt to seek communication with the Anglo reader, thereby bridging the distance with the other. It must be observed that the fragment also registers the grandfather’s discourse, ‘my sky’, which appears without any marks, as if it were an English expression causing no communicative difficulty. Now, the forms ‘my heaven’ and ‘my sky,’ which must be interpreted as literal translations of the Spanish vocative ‘(mi) cielo’, are never associated to their English equivalents (‘my dear,’ ‘baby,’ etc.). Thus, the reading instruction aimed at communication falls within the terrain of interlingual confusion. Example (4) reveals that communication among the interlocutors in the novel is possible: the narrator understands and shows the non coincidence between the three forms of vocative mentioned. However and even if the reader may understand the vocative meaning aided by the context of the novel,5 there remains the interpretative difficulty linked to the false identity ‘ceiling’– ‘cielo’, which is increased by the fact that in English there is no vocative meaning in the expressions ‘my heaven’ and ‘my 5

This form is anticipated in the same chapter, as shown in the following fragment: ‘—Truly. Eres mi cielo. You are my sky, the Little Grandfather says, showing off his English.’ (Cisneros 2002: 56).

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sky.’ Also, we must point out that the reader who has some knowledge of Spanish will be able to grasp all the levels of analysis suggested in these meta-enunciative reflections. On the other hand, English speaking readers are subsumed, without their knowing, in a linguistic confusion similar to that experienced by the narrator. Finally, the instructions given by the enunciative subject show the reader that he/she must interpret ‘my sky’ or ‘my heaven’ in relation to a vocative meaning. By this operation, a new meaning, originated in Spanish, is created for the English language. This procedure becomes a favourite device in Cisneros’s writing, reaching a high peak in the example below, in which, by means of a gloss, Spanish inhabits the English language: (5) Today I worked como un negro, which is what they say in Mexico when they work very hard. When a white man says, —I worked like a black man, he means he hardly worked at all. But Inocencio is not a white man, although his skin is white. Today I worked like a black man, to the one other white man who is not white —the Puerto Rican busboy. (Cisneros 2002: 211)

The gloss in (5), located within the domain of interdiscursive dialogism, signals the non coincidence of discourse with itself (‘worked como un negro’— ‘work very hard’). As will be noted, this lack of coincidence leads to a second non coincidence, that of words with themselves: inhabited by Spanish, English acquires a new polysemy (‘worked como un negro’— ‘worked like a black man’). As regards the adverbial ‘como un negro,’ it must be observed that it is simultaneously used and mentioned, marked by the presence of Spanish and by the use of italics, which both point out and reinforce the heterogeneous character of the expression. A gloss is added to these marks, which contributes to situate the cultural origin of the expression and specify its meaning, which is inscribed in the domain of interdiscursivity: ‘work como un negro,’ this is said in Mexico when someone works very hard. Now, there is another discursive exterior which finds its way through this narrative and becomes essential for the definition of a particular enunciative stance, which straddles intercultural borderlands. This second interdiscourse is linked to the Anglo worldview, in which, according to this narrative, ‘working like a black man’ implies hardly working at all. A second gloss specifies the meaning of the expression voiced in English ‘work like a black man,’ which is now contrasted with the expression in Spanish. The fragment mentioned in direct speech introduces the voice of the white man, which must be interpreted here only as the voice of an Anglo white man. Furthermore, the gloss enables the introduction of a term into the discourse.6 In the third occurrence of the term, ‘Today I worked like a black man,’ the expression is used, without any marks that can identify it as non coincident with itself, and must be interpreted in the light of the Latina perspective explained above. As has already been pointed out, the discourse of Spanish inhabits the English language, thereby undermining the system of the majority language (Deleuze and Guattari, [1975] 1998). The processes that these kinds of glosses engage in allow for the inclusion of a new cultural meaning into a discourse written in a majority language. These processes also 6

In the previous example, the fact that there is no gloss implies that the vocative meaning built for the expression ‘my sky’ is imposed on the reader without any kind of explanation.


María Marta García Negroni and María Laura Spoturno

convey a pragmatic-functional value to word for word translation, which this form of translation naturally lacks. As can be seen, through this second operation, the expression ‘work like a black man’ is now inhabited by the phenomenon of interlinguistic polysemy, showing in this case a non coincidence of words with themselves in English. As a result of this meta-enunciative operation, the Anglo reader is confronted with the task of both assigning and accepting new meanings to known words and expressions, which, being alien to his linguistic-cultural knowledge, pose a discursive conflict, which may be understood as an instance of (mis)communication. Finally, example (5) allows us to see, even if only in passing, another interdiscursive and intercultural tension which relates to a prevailing conception in the US American society, namely that cultural identity might be defined following parameters which may be understood as racist. The narrator’s discourse resumes, even if without an explicit mark, the Anglo’s voice (‘he is not a white man’) in order to produce a counterargument. In the same way as ‘work like a black man’ is now inhabited within this narrative by a Spanish meaning, the category of ‘white’ in the Anglo’s discourse is surreptitiously put to question through the concessive proposition (‘But Inocencio is not a white man, although his skin is white’), producing, once more, a kind of enunciative re-ordering which affects and specifies meaning. The meaning of ‘white’ has been modified since the statement ‘to the other one white man’ presupposes that Inocencio is a white man, in this new sense discursively created by the enunciative subject.

4. Concluding remarks To conclude, glosses function as devices which contribute to bridge the distance with the other but they also function as enunciative mechanisms which are central to show the difficulty and, on occasions, the impossibility inherent to the act of saying within the universe of this discourse. Through the use of glosses, the enunciative subject overtly asserts an intention to fix cultural-linguistic meanings and to show the great difficulty implied in this operation. In some cases, glosses aim at making this narrative more intelligible to the Anglo reader. In fact, in Caramelo glosses are generally directed to conciliate two cultural spaces which arise at one and either side of the geographic and symbolic border emerging between Mexico and the US. However, the observation of these meta-enunciative devices, as exemplified in (4) and (5), allows us to distinguish a more complex operation, which calls for the consideration of certain ideological aspects which help place Cisneros as a minority writer. Through these meta-enunciative operations, Cisneros’s discourse is negotiating cultural meanings with the Anglo reader, who does not know the minority language and culture. In this manner, a search for communication is made evident, showing the simultaneous persistence of interlingual heterogeneity, which operates in the fracture, in the gap, even within the universe of the same language, ever allowing for miscommunication.

References Arteaga, A. 1997. Chicano Poetics. Heterotexts and Hybridities. Australia, USA and UK. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Ashcroft, B., G. Griffiths, and H. Tiffin. [1989] 2002. The Empire Writes Back. Cornualles: Routledge. Amossy, R. 1999. Images de soi dans le discours. Lausanne: Delachaux et Niestlé. Authier-Revuz, J. 1984. Hétérogénéité(s) énonciative(s). Langages 73, 98-111. Authier-Revuz, J. 1994. L’énonciateur glosateur de ses mots: explicitation et interprétation. Langue française 103.1, 91-102. Authier-Revuz, J. 1995. Ces mots qui ne vont pas de soi. Boucles réflexives et non-coïncidences du dire. Paris: Larousse. Authier-Revuz, J. 2003. Le fait autonymique: Langage, langue, discours. Quelques repères. In: J. Authier-Revuz, M. Doury and S. Reboul-Touré (eds.). Parler des mots. Le fait autonymique en discours. Paris: Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle, 67-96. Bakhtin, M. [1979] 1985, Estética de la creación verbal. México: Siglo XXI Cisneros, S. 2002. Caramelo or Puro Cuento. A Novel. New York: Vintage Contemporaries. Dasenbrock, R. 1991. Reed Dasenbrock: Interview with Sandra Cisneros. In: F. Jusawalla, and R. Dasenbrock (eds.). Interviews with Writers of the Post-Colonial World. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 289-291. Deleuze, G. and F. Guattari. [1975] 1998. Kafka. Por una literatura menor. City of Mexico: Era. 1º edition by Jorge Aguilar Mora. Ducrot, O. [1984] 1986. El decir y lo dicho: Polifonía de la enunciación. Barcelona: Paidós. Ducrot, O. [1988] 1990. Polifonía y Argumentación. Conferencias del seminario teoría de la argumentación y análisis del discurso. Cali: Universidad del Valle. [Translation by A. B. Campo and E. Rodríguez C.]. García Negroni, M. M. 2000. Acerca de los fenómenos de relectura y reinterpretación en el discurso. Discurso y Sociedad 2.4, 89-108. Hicks, E. 1991. Border Writing. The Multidimensional Text. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Leal, L. and M. Martín-Rodríguez. [1996] 2006. La literatura chicana. In: R González Echevarría and E. Pupo-Walker (eds.). Historia de la literatura hispanoamericana. Tomo II. El siglo XX. Madrid: Gredos, 557-585. Spoturno, M. L. 2010. Un elixir de la palabra. Heterogeneidad interlingüe en la narrativa de Sandra Cisneros. Ph. D. dissertation. Buenos Aires: Universidad Nacional de la Plata. Wierzbicka, A. 2007. Is ‘remember’ a universal human concept? ‘Memory’ and culture. In M. Amberber (ed.) The Language of Memory in a Crosslinguistic Perspective. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 13-40.

Intercultural miscommunication and the use of ‘vague language’ Denise Gassner, Macquarie University, Sydney and University of Fribourg 1. Vague language: Introduction The use of language can vary across culturally distinct speech communities and also across speech events in a particular language. L2 speakers are often unaware of the pragmatic norms that govern the use of language in different speech communities and tend to rely on the norms that apply in their respective L1 languages.1 Knowledge of the pragmatic norms that govern a language has been called ‘pragmatic competence’ which is further divided into a pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic component (cf. Kasper and Rose, 1999, Kasper, 2001, Barron, 2003).2 A lack of pragmatic competence in a particular speech event can result in intercultural miscommunications which can have social consequences for the L2 speaker. This chapter will show how differences regarding the use of ‘vague language’ (cf. Chanell 1994 by L1 and L2 speakers can lead to miscommunication. Based on an analysis of an original comparative corpus of 18 L1 and 25 L2 job interviews interactions it will be shown that this type of intercultural miscommunication is due to uses of lexical items termed ‘vague language’ for different functions in discourse by the two populations. 1.1 Vague language: Literature review ‘Vague language’ items such as thing, stuff, sort of and I think are multifunctional (cf. Holmes, 1986, 1988, 1990; Channell, 1994; Nikula, 1996; Cutting, 1999, 2000; Cheng and Warren, 2001; Drave, 2002; Overstreet, 1999; Kärkkäinen, 2003; Mullan, 2007; Kaltenböck, 2008). A speaker could use ‘vague language’, for instance, in order to compensate for a memory lapse or a lexical gap in discourse. Using an item such as thing when the speaker is faced with a memory lapse or a lexical gap helps him or her avoid communication breakdown and, thus, keeps the conversation going. This compensatory function (Drave 2002) of ‘vague language’ is, however, not the only function these items can express in discourse. ‘Vague language’ can also acquire social functions. It is used, for instance, in order to convey deference or modesty such as kind of in “I think I do it kind of well”. Furthermore, Cutting (1999, 2000) showed that the use of some ‘vague language’ items such as thing can include or exclude conversation participants from a conversation. This social function is due to a sharing of back-

1 2

cf. Takahashi (1996) for a review on pragmatic transfer Pragmalinguistics refers to the linguistic resources from which speakers of a language choose from. It relates to the topics of directness, indirectness and pragmatic routines and, therefore, to the linguistic side of pragmatics. Sociopragmatics, on the other hand, investigates the interface between linguistics and society. Issues addressed are, for instance, social status and social distance.


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ground knowledge which is a crucial prerequisite for a hearer to be able to disambiguate what has been left implicit when thing is used by the speaker. ‘Vague language’ has been considered an important feature of informal and also of semi-formal discourse (e.g. Crystal and Davy, 1975; Channell, 1994; Nikula, 1996; Cutting, 1999, 2000; Cheng and Warren, 2001; Drave, 2002; Overstreet, 2005; Terraschke, 2008). Some items such as adverbs of degree (kind of) and parenthetical verbs (I guess) have also been observed frequently in formal written discourse (e.g. Hyland, 1998, 2000). A few studies have investigated the use of ‘vague language’ in formal spoken discourse (e.g. Prince et al.,1982; Overstreet, 1999 (partly) and Koester, 2006). However, so far, studies using formal spoken discourse in the analysis of ‘vague language’ have primarily looked at these items in L1 discourse. This study aims to fill a gap by comparing the use of ‘vague language’ by L1 and L2 speakers of English in the formal context of employment interviews. Employment interviews are challenging for L1 as well as L2 speakers. They are gate-keeping encounters which are characterized by an imbalance in the power relationship between the conversation participants involved. Such high stake situations require a careful choice of words and skilful communication strategies by the interviewee in order to form a rapport with the interviewer and present his or her skills in the best and culturally most appropriate way. The skilful use of language required in employment interviews is particularly challenging for L2 speakers. Therefore, such interviews are a significant obstacle for learners of a language on their way to becoming a well respected and accepted member of the society. 1.2. The study and the participants For this study, simulated job interviews were conducted with L1 and L2 speakers of English in Australia. The methodological design for this study is original since, to my knowledge, no study to date has compared the use of items such as thing and stuff by L1 and L2 speakers in job interviews. Research in interlanguage pragmatics has relied frequently on simulated data (e.g. Kasper and Dahl, 1991; Kasper and Rose, 1999; Kasper and House, 2002) and it is accepted as a valuable data collection technique that is regarded as complementary to authentic data. Research on ‘vague language’ has relied on simulated as well as naturally occurring data with Channell, the author of the seminal book on ‘vague language’, having used a variety of data to describe ‘vague language’. Studies on employment interviews have also relied on authentic as well as elicited role play data (e.g. Roberts and Campbell 2005, 2006; Lipovsky 2006). However, due to confidentiality issues in employment interview situations researchers have often had to rely on simulated data in order to collect any data at all. In the context of the present study, simulated data was given preference over naturally occurring data as it was important to control the influence of the interviewer for the purpose of this study. The language used in job interview answers, including the use of ‘vague language’, varies according to the type of questions asked and the time given to the interviewee to elaborate on his or her answers. Therefore, it was necessary that all interviewees were asked the same set of questions to be able to compare differences in the use of ‘vague language’. Also, the main interest of this study is to see how

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L1 and L2 speakers differ in the way they use ‘vague language’ when answering the same questions in a job interview setting. Some participants mentioned at the end of their interview with surprise that they felt they had gone into ‘interview-mode’ as one L1 participant called it when answering the questions. Therefore, job interview situations seem to share certain characteristics with role plays. Roberts and Sayers (1987: 114) refer to a job interview as a “highly conventionalized routine” in which speakers have to know the “rules” of the “game”. Therefore, in such a ritualized exchange job applicants seem to act out the role of presenting themselves as ideal candidates that they might, or might not be. Thus, it is expected that simulated interviews should resemble authentic job interviews quite closely in terms of the type of lexical items used.3 However, a comparison of this simulated job interview corpus with authentic data which was not possible due to confidentiality issues would have been a valuable addition to this study. 18 L1 speakers of Australian English and 25 L2 speakers of English took part in the job interviews conducted. The L1 speakers of Australian English were from different ethnic backgrounds and between 21 and 34 years old. The L2 speaker group consisted of 25 migrants, most of whom, had only recently arrived in Australia at the time the recordings took place. They had moved to Australia from different Latin American and Asian countries, from Russia and Iran. Most participants were between 25 and 40 years old with one participant being 45 years old. All L2 participants were intermediate to advanced speakers of English as assessed by the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the self-assessment grid of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Regarding their professional qualifications the participants were trained in either information technology or accounting and also had some work experience in one of the two areas. Whereas all but two of the L1 participants were already employed in mostly junior positions, the L2 speaker group was in the process of looking for employment in such roles. The participants involved in this study had volunteered to take part in the job interviews and had signed an ethics consent form before the recordings took place. They were given feedback and the transcript of their interview in return for their collaboration. As mentioned above, the research participants answered the same set of questions in the job interviews conducted (see appendix for questions used). The interview protocol had been developed with the help of human research professionals and was also derived from a recent study of over 60 naturally occurring job interviews in the United Kingdom (Roberts and Campbell, 2005, 2006). In their study, Roberts and Campbell (2005, 2006) listed the main job interview questions asked which were tested and where necessary adapted for the purpose of this study. In order to provide the same conditions for all participants, there were no time constraints on the participants to answer the questions. Also limited listener feedback was given to avoid influencing the interviewees’ talk in any way. After transcription of the audio-recorded data was com3

See, for example, Bodman & Eisenstein (1988) who showed in a study in interlanguage pragmatics using three different kinds of data such as completion questionnaires, open-ended role-plays and field notes of natural data that the words and expressions used did not differ whereas there was an influence on the length and complexity of the data with completion questionnaires being the most different to authentic data.


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pleted, different categories of ‘vague language’ were identified. Such categories include lexical items that make reference to time (e.g. sometimes), quantity (e.g. many), possibility (e.g. probably), speaker involvement (e.g. I guess) and speaker evaluation (e.g. kind of in “He did it kind of well”) as well as items which are of a semantically generic type (e.g. thing). The transcripts were coded accordingly and a qualitative analysis was carried out in order to investigate differences in use of these items between the two populations.

2. Miscommunication and ‘vague language’ Before discussing miscommunication in relation to what has been called ‘vague language’ in the literature, the terminology used for the items under investigation and the topic of vagueness in language will be discussed briefly. 2.1. Vague language: terminology and theory In previous literature, items such as thing, stuff and kind of have been categorized as ‘vague language’ without necessarily considering the context in which they are used. However, in the data emerging from this study, it was found that these items do not introduce vagueness into a proposition in all circumstances and that vagueness needs to be determined contextually. Therefore, in this study such items are not termed ‘vague language’ since vagueness in language is seen as a dynamic concept. It is argued that items termed ‘vague language’ are not inherently vague but are only characterized by a high inherent vagueness potential. The high vagueness potential of ‘vague language’ is compared to lexical items such as project which are considered to have a low inherent vagueness potential. However, in discourse, lexical items often do not manifest their vagueness potential and, thus, do not lead to vagueness being introduced into the proposition as will be shown below. Arguably, vagueness in language is co-constructed at a moment in time in a specific context by the conversation participants involved in the exchange. Also, vagueness is an abstract concept that is determined by perceptions of the hearer and speaker of an utterance in a particular situation. Vagueness can be perceived in language due to the inherent semantic underspecificity of some lexical items (e.g. thing) or the inherent epistemic modality (uncertainty) of other items (e.g. sort of) termed ‘vague language’. However, also lexical items which have not been called ‘vague language’ can be perceived as vague in discourse. This is the case if a lexical item is used in a pragmatically loosened or narrowed form in a situation where it cannot be disambiguated by the hearer.4 However, whereas lexical items can introduce ‘underspecificity’ or ‘uncertainty’ into a proposition or be used in a pragmatically loosened or narrowed form, it depends on the context and the conversation participants whether a lexical item is indeed perceived as vague. In the data analysis for this study lexical items were distinguished by the high or low potential of a de-contextualized lexical item to lead to vagueness when used in 4

Cf. Carston (1996, 2002) for a discussion on pragmatic narrowing and loosening


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discourse. The vagueness potential of a de-contextualized lexical item depends on the number and quality of its defined semantic properties. The semantic properties of a lexical item such as house, for instance, are defined in a more specific way than properties of an item like thing. In talking about the de-contextualized lexical item house, we know that house refers to an object and that it has walls and different rooms. However, thing in its de-contextualised form has an almost unlimited number of potential referents. Therefore, thing has a high vagueness potential in discourse and is termed an HVP item (high vagueness potential item). House, on the other hand, has more clearly defined semantic properties than thing and can, therefore, be used to refer to fewer items making disambiguation easier and, thus, vagueness less likely. Consequently, items such as house have a low vagueness potential in discourse and are termed LVP items (low vagueness potential items) in this study. Figure 1 aims to illustrate the concept of differences in vagueness potential of decontextualized lexical items. Items on the left side of the continuum show a low inherent vagueness potential whereas items on the right side are considered to have a high inherent vagueness potential.

A model of vagueness potential of lexical items vague

specific Macquarie University IT project 2009

IT project 2009


I guess x quite x

sometimes many

thing stuff and stuff like that

Vagueness potential

Figure 1:

A semantic model of vagueness

2.2. How vagueness potential turns into vagueness in discourse As has been discussed above, it is in language in use that vagueness is constructed. The transition from a de-contextualized lexical item with a low or high vagueness potential to a lexical item that actually introduces vagueness in discourse and how this can lead to miscommunication will be discussed below. The notion of shared background knowledge is particularly crucial in discussing the perception of vagueness of a lexical item in discourse. However, there are different kinds of background knowledge which a speaker and a hearer can share. I will first


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focus on shared contextual background knowledge as a necessary prerequisite for a hearer to disambiguate HVP items such as thing. The less contextual background knowledge a speaker and a hearer share, the more likely it is that an item such as thing will be perceived as vague by the hearer. Such vagueness can then result in miscommunication in discourse as multiple interpretations for a lexical item are possible. The examples below from the corpus collected for this study illustrate this claim further: (1) So people were coming in with problems with their computer or like we are talking about academics and other staff or students having problems with the things downstairs in the labs. (2) I: What was your task? (in your previous job) P: Well to develop some module of the system and the other guys develop another module so well at the end everyone has developed a certain module. (3) The main duties at work: […] also do the reconcile – reconciliation reports mmh sometimes follow up the discrepancy clearance in the reports. In example (1) the use of the HVP item things can be interpreted as vague in one context and specific enough in another context depending on the shared background knowledge of the conversation participants involved. Things will be utterly vague for a listener who does not know that the applicant in this job interview works in information technology. The listener also needs to be aware of what particular objects IT professionals are responsible for in computer laboratories. However, for a person who shares this knowledge with the speaker, it will be obvious that things refers to computers, printers, software and other material that IT professionals service in such laboratories. Therefore, shared contextual background knowledge is crucial in the disambiguation of things in this example. In example (2), on the other hand, the LVP item module is used. However, in this context, this LVP item clearly leads to vagueness in discourse despite having a low vagueness potential in its de-contextualised semantic form. In example (2) the speaker could have made reference to different types of modules. Since the speaker fails to elaborate further on the specific properties each module consists of, vagueness is perceived, which can lead to miscommunication. The speaker might, for instance, have referred to one type of module in relation to, for instance, one application whereas the hearer, due to a misalignment in background knowledge, is challenged by several possible interpretations for the item module and interprets module to be related to another application. Example (3) also shows LVP items in use. In this case, the items are part of the special category of technical vocabulary. Technical vocabulary has been very carefully defined by professionals to approach as closely as possible the ‘one form-one meaning’ ideal of lexical items. Such lexical items are extreme cases of objectification of lexical meaning (Traugott and Dasher 2002: 32). Thus, technical vocabulary occupies a place at the opposite extreme of HVP items on a continuum that lists decontextualized lexical items according to their intrinsic semantic properties. These items are predicted to have a low vagueness potential. However, when used in discourse, a speaker needs to be careful in assessing whether the hearer is part of a group that possesses very specific and, thus restricted, background knowledge which is nec-


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essary for disambiguation. A conversation participant who does not share such knowledge will perceive technical vocabulary to introduce vagueness into a proposition and might interpret these items incorrectly. Figure 2 demonstrates this dynamic and interactional aspect of vagueness in discourse. The two circles symbolize the background knowledge of speaker and hearer. The more overlap there is between the two circles the less likely it is for an item to be perceived as vague in discourse.

A model of vagueness in discourse









Figure 2:

speaker hearer

speaker hearer



A pragmatic model of vagueness

However, a great range of items with sometimes quite different semantic properties and, thus, functions in discourse have been termed ‘vague language’. Therefore, several types of background knowledge are responsible for the perception of vagueness in language. Such different types of background knowledge which need to be shared by speaker and hearer include contextual background knowledge, but also lexicofunctional background knowledge (mastery of form and function of lexical items) as well as socio-pragmatic background knowledge (knowledge of pragmatic norms). As a result, there are different causes for vagueness in discourse which can then lead to miscommunication on different levels of discourse. 2.3. HVP items and miscommunication in discourse It is claimed here that the use of HVP items can lead to miscommunication in discourse in three different ways. One type of miscommunication, termed Type A, is due to general disambiguation problems any communication participant is faced with in discourse. Therefore, this type of miscommunication is independent of (shared) cul-


María Marta García Negroni and María Laura Spoturno

tural background knowledge. A second type of miscommunication, termed miscommunication Type B, is due to learners of a language not being aware of changes in the functions of lexical items which thus influence the use of such items in discourse. A third type of miscommunication, miscommunication Type C, is the result of differences in use of HVP items for specific speech events across cultures. Whereas, miscommunications Type A and B are miscommunications on a micro level of discourse, miscommunication Type C is miscommunication on a macro level of discourse. 2.3.1. Miscommunication Type A This type of miscommunication results from a mismatch of contextual background knowledge between speaker and hearer. As has been claimed above shared contextual knowledge is necessary to disambiguate what has been left implicit. Miscommunication occurs when the speaker misjudges the amount of contextual knowledge the hearer possesses which is necessary for disambiguation. Items prone to this type of miscommunication are, for instance, thing or and stuff like that. This miscommunication is not primarily related to specific cultural norms and is, therefore, a challenge for all communication participants. Example (4) shows one use of stuff that can lead to miscommunication due to a mismatch in contextual background knowledge. (4) The weather today, dry but we could cop a bit of the wet stuff on Christmas Day. (Radio 96.9 Nova. 24/12/09. 5.30 pm. Australia) The HVP item stuff can only refer to rain as it is used in the context of an Australian weather forecast at Christmas time. However, a listener who does not know that this is an Australian weather forecast and assumes it to be for Christmas time in Switzerland, stuff could refer to rain as well as snow and would, thus, be less clear. Therefore, in a European context the use of stuff in this example could potentially lead to miscommunication as one hearer might understand the speaker to have referred to snow whereas another might interpret stuff to refer to rain. 2.3.2. Miscommunication Type B A second type of miscommunication can occur when there is a mismatch in lexical background knowledge of an item between speaker and hearer. This mismatch in lexical knowledge is related to the different functions that a lexical item can serve in discourse. It seems that many HVP items (e.g. I think, sort of) are undergoing grammaticalization in Australian English. Due to the process of grammaticalization these items can be used for functions in discourse which are different from the introduction of vagueness. However, the data collected for this study indicates that, the grammaticalization of such items seems to go unnoticed by L2 speakers. Thus, while L2 speakers may believe that items such as I think lead to the perception of vagueness under all circumstances, L1 speakers also use HVP items as fillers (in a compensatory function) or for social reasons as will be discussed below. Therefore, it seems that L2 speakers struggle to recognize the change from a semantic vagueness potential of certain items

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to a pragmatically different function of these items when used in discourse. L2 speakers might, for instance, not be able to distinguish the use of ‘I think’ as a conversational-time management device (filler) from its use as a vagueness marker. Due to this misalignment in lexical background knowledge, miscommunication can occur when L1 speakers use HVP items on a textual level of discourse but are interpreted by L2 speakers on an ideational level of discourse.5 In the example (5), taken from an L1 speaker interview, it seems that the L1 speaker might have used the two HVP items I guess or I suppose as fillers, thus, i.e. with a function that does not induce vagueness in discourse. The same could apply for sort of which seems to be used in the function of a filler and not as a vagueness marker. (5) I think the management style of our of our manager sort of worked quite well with everyone a little bit doing their own thing ahm and ah and it may have even I suppose inhibited some of what we did but ahm but I guess it might have been more comfortable for me if there were a little bit more communication (L1 speaker 4B, Question 8c) An L2 speaker, however, could have interpreted the use of I suppose and I guess as showing the interviewee’s lack of confidence. In a job interview situation, this would imply a lack of competence of the applicant. 2.2.3. Miscommunication Type C A third type of miscommunication can result from a lack of knowledge of pragmatic norms used in a particular language in a particular speech event. Therefore, miscommunication Type C concerns the expression of social functions of language as a whole and relates to all HVP items on an interpersonal level of discourse. One example of this type of miscommunication is the use of stuff or and stuff like that in a job interview situation as shown in example six. (6) So it wasn’t just looking after the accounting stuff it was looking after sales merchandising ahm . office admin stuff suppliers ahm and contracts compliance and stuff like that so. (L1 speaker 5B, Question 3) In Australia the use of stuff and also thing seems to be an appropriate strategy to avoid boasting about your achievements and to convey modesty. However, L2 speakers might perceive stuff to be too ‘informal’ and not specific enough for a job interview context. Also they might perceive such lexical items to show a lack of effort in language use which in turn could imply a lack of interest in the position advertised. The same seems to apply for the use of I guess and I suppose in job interviews. The data suggests that L2 speakers take HVP items to have an inherent vagueness and not a dy5

Schiffrin (1987), in her seminal book on discourse markers, distinguishes five planes of discourse, one of which she calls ‘ideational’. However, she does not use the term ‘textual’ for her other planes. Halliday (1994) uses the terms ‘textual’ and ‘ideational’ when discussing, what he calls, the three metafunctions of language.


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namic inherent vagueness potential which is crucial in the types of lexical items they choose and the way they are perceived in discourse. Therefore, L2 speakers struggle to understand that these items can also be used as a means to conform to pragmatic norms governing the expression of opinion in certain cultures6. They might, thus, perceive L1 speakers who use I guess or I suppose frequently in job interviews to lack confidence. This could make L2 speakers avoid such items in certain situations (e.g. job interviews) where they are, however, part of the pragmatic norms that speakers are expected to employ. The type of miscommunication discussed in more detail in this chapter will be miscommunication Type C

3. Analysis of HVP adverbs of degree: introduction Even though the use of a wide range of items has been analysed, for reasons of space, only one category will be discussed here. The category chosen investigates the use of HVP adverbs of degree such as sort of and quite. In the following discussion, firstly the use of the form of these items, as opposed to their function in discourse, will be discussed. This discussion will then be followed by a comparison regarding the use of these items between the L1 and L2 speaker group. Secondly, the pragmatically appropriate use of these forms in discourse will be discussed and compared across the two groups. Although I will be using a quantitative approach to present some results, the present analysis does not attempt to validate its findings statistically. The quantified findings should be regarded as descriptive tendencies of the trends identified in the data. The group of HVP adverbs of degree included in this study contains eight items (quite, pretty, sort of, kind of, almost, relatively, fairly, rather). Lakoff (1973) calls these items ‘hedges’, Prince et al. 1982 term them ‘approximators’ and Quirk et al. (1985) call them ‘downtoners’. These different terms categorize HVP adverbs of degree according to their function in discourse. However, these items are clearly multifunctional. Therefore, using terminology to refer to only one of their functions will be avoided and the more neutral semantic term, adverbs of degree, will be used instead. As a further sub categorization and in order to make the link to the topic of this chapter, these items will be identified according to their vagueness potential. Thus, sort of and quite are HVP adverbs of degree whereas very and really are LVP adverbs of degree. 3.1. HVP and LVP adverbs of degree in L1 and L2 talk: overview HVP adverbs of degree are used 7.6 times in 1000 words by the L1 speakers whereas they are only used 1.9 times in 1000 words by the L2 speakers. Thus the L1 speakers use these items four times more often than the L2 speakers. However, it is not only the total frequency of these items that is different in the two groups. As will be shown in the graph below, the types of items used and the preference given to one over another 6

Cf. Mullan (2007) on the expression of opinion in Australian English and French


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also differs. Looking at the distribution across speakers also reveals some interesting patterns. Whereas L1 speakers use HVP adverbs of degree on average 17 times in the course of their interviews, nine L2 speakers show a complete absence of use of HVP adverbs of degree while nine L2 participants use these items one to three times. Therefore, out of 25 L2 participants 18 use these items zero to three times in their interview. While it could be claimed that those L2 participants who fail to use any HVP adverbs of degree might not know these items, this would still be rather unusual as the participants involved in this study are intermediate to advanced speakers of English. 3.2. Frequency of individual HVP adverbs of degree by L1 speakers 4











sort of

kind of





L2 speakers: dots L1 speakers: lines

Figure 3:

HVP adverbs of degree L2 vs L1

Overall, the items most frequently used by the L1 group are sort of (3.5 per 1000 words) followed by quite (2.5 per 1000 words). Other items belonging to this group are, from the most frequent to the least frequent, pretty (0.7 per 1000 words), kind of (0.6 per 1000 words) and fairly (0.3 per 1000 words). Although it is not surprising that L1 speakers use a slightly greater range of these items than L2 speakers, it is surprising that the most frequently used item by L1 speakers (sort of) appears only once in the L2 speaker data. The most used item in the L2 group is quite (0.9 per 1000 words), followed by almost (0.5 per 1000 words) and kind of (0.3 per 1000 words).


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In the remainder of this chapter the use of HVP items will be analysed qualitatively. The focus will be in particular on HVP adverbs of degree whose use will be compared to the use of LVP adverbs of degree such as very and really by the two populations.

4. HVP items and pragmatic norms across cultures Pragmatic norms of the use of HVP items vary across cultures. Whereas, in Australian English it seems that using HVP items in job interviews is the norm in employment interviews, the use of these items by the L2 speakers in this study suggests that in other countries different norms seem to apply. One Australian participant involved in this study commented on differences in pragmatic norms used in job interviews in Germany. This participant mentioned going for a job interview in Germany which was held in English by German interviewers. At the end of the interview, his English speaking German interviewers told him that they were worried about his work attitude since they perceived him to be very ‘relaxed’ about his work. The Australian participant expressed his surprise about the reaction of his German interviewers as he did not intend to convey a lack of interest for that particular position. Arguably, one important reason for this perception of the Australian job applicant was his ‘failure’ to use German pragmatic norms in the job interview. This is a particularly complicated situation, as the interview was conducted in English by L2 speakers with the applicant being the only L1 speaker of English. It seems that the German interviewers who conducted the interview in English assumed that the appropriate pragmatic norms for such an interaction were the norms that apply in German. This type of miscommunications points to challenges regarding the use of English as a global language. Speakers from different cultural backgrounds are now communicating in English, assuming to be speaking the same language when the underlying pragmatic norms that they are using are actually sometimes quite different. This can thus result in miscommunication in the perceptions of conversation participants. An example of an Australian job interview response which might be perceived as too ‘relaxed’ in a similar situation in Germany is provided below: (7) Well [laughs] cope well with pressure ahm oh it’s I guess I’ve got quite a fair bit of experience because our deadlines are always ah what you’d call sign off day set by usually the client ahm sometimes they are regular due deadlines so I’ve got quite a bit of experience ahm how well do I cope with pressure I guess I am just gotta make sure that ahm sometimes you just ah really just have to focus on what needs to be done ah what are the really bare essentials that need to be done by the deadline ah obviously sometimes X [unintelligible] some things fall off the list just because of how you rank them in importance but I find that ah if you’ve got a list of things to do ahm and you know you rank them in its value of importance what needs to be done before the deadline then more often than not ah the pressure of the deadlines can be manageable (L1 participant 3B, Question 7a)

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This is a response by an L1 speaker to a question on coping with pressure and deadlines. The items which could potentially be perceived as indicating a relaxed attitude are in bold print. All items in bold print, except for more often than not, are HVP items (‘vague language’). Even the expression more often than not could be termed ‘vague language’ in this context. This excerpt shows the importance of HVP items in the expression of speaker attitude and, thus, the way a speaker is perceived in discourse. Pragmatic norms governing Australian job interviews seem to allow or even prescribe the use of HVP adverbs of degree such as sort of and quite on the part of the interviewee. This can be seen from the high frequency of use of these items in the L1 job interviews collected. It seems that in Australian job interviews a downplaying or humble presentation of one’s achievements is the accepted, if not, expected pragmatic norm to follow. Weakening the force of a message is one function HVP items can be used for in discourse. Such downplaying of one’s achievements has also been called the ‘tall-poppy syndrome’ in the Australian culture. The ‘tall-poppy syndrome’ suggests that in Australia being different, like the poppy that sticks out from the others in the field, is not regarded highly. In job interviews in some other cultures, however, the interviewee is expected to do the opposite and present his/her skills and achievements in the best light possible in order to try and show clearly what makes them different and better suited for the position compared to other applicants. Therefore, in such cultures the applicant’s aim is to try and demonstrate that s/he indeed is ‘the tall poppy’. This shows that the pragmatic norms for employment interviews can contrast strongly across cultures. However, pragmatic norms not only vary across cultures but are also situation specific within a particular culture. Therefore, caution needs to be taken in claiming that pragmatic norms generally prescribe a frequent use of HVP items in Australian English, since they do in some situations, but not in others. Pragmatic norms are the backbone of the cultural scripts discussed below which are helpful in explaining potential miscommunication in discourse regarding the use of HVP items.

5. Adverbs of degree and cultural scripts Cultural scripts have been developed in the framework of Natural Semantic Metalanguage (Wierzbicka, 1994; Wierzbicka, 1996; Goddard and Wierzbicka, 2002; Goddard and Wierzbicka, 2004). In NSM, universal semantic primes are used to describe linguistic behavior across cultures. Sixty-three lexical semantic primes (Goddard, 2008: 1-33) have been identified in NSM as well as a so called, “conceptual grammar” (Goddard and Wierzbicka 2002: 41-85) which is the basis for the development of cultural scripts. The NSM cultural scripts used below do not describe how vagueness should be used in discourse. However, they do describe how the social functions of LVP items and HVP items should be used in different cultures. Although there are no cultural scripts which specifically describe linguistic behaviour in the context of job interviews in Australia, the already existing general cultural scripts on Australian English are still helpful. Cultural script 1 below seems to apply in Australian job interviews, judging from the data collected for this study:


María Marta García Negroni and María Laura Spoturno

Discouraging positive feelings of ‘specialness’ (Goddard, 2009: 3): Cultural script 1: [many people think like this:] It is bad if someone thinks like this: “I am someone very good I am not like other people” As has been discussed above, the L1 speakers involved in this study used HVP adverbs of degree such as ‘sort of’ more frequently than the L2 speaker group. Therefore, the L1 speakers follow cultural script 1 which does not allow a speaker to present his or her achievements bluntly but prescribes the use of different strategies to avoid being perceived as opinionated. One L1 participant clearly voiced her discomfort in answering question 14 (Why are you the best person for the job? Why should we hire you?), most likely as it requires praising one’s ‘specialness’ in comparison with others. (8) I don’t really like to speak about myself but now X [unintelligible] but I am pretty good at getting things done and I always work hard and I like to move forward with things so if I am taking this job on then I’d do everything I could to do the best that I could do. (L1 speaker 14B, Question 14) The participant starts by saying that she feels uncomfortable talking about herself, implying that she does not like showing her ‘specialness’. In her answer, she never claims to be the best person for the job but only concludes by saying that she would do her best, again avoiding claiming superiority. However, being the best and doing your best are two different things. This participant clearly seems to follow a script that does not allow her to praise her own skills but values humbleness and modesty. Some research suggests that such downplaying applies more to women than men.7 In the corpus collected for this study 7 of the 18 L1 speakers were women. Downplaying of one’s achievements was used by both genders frequently in this study with the women using HVP adverbs of degree slightly more often than the men involved. However, the L1 speakers did not completely refrain from talking about their achievements since in employment interviews presenting one’s skills is crucial. The data collected however suggests that such talk needs to be framed in a certain manner in job interviews in Australian in order to show professional competence, but not overtly so. For L2 speakers this is challenging as a skilled use of language is a prerequisite to express such fine nuances. What makes this situation even more challenging for L2 speakers is that many seem to follow different cultural scripts compared to the Australian participants. These scripts could be scripts that are inscribed in their L1 and, therefore, their use could be a result of inappropriate pragmatic L1 transfer. Alternatively, L2 speakers might be relying on stereotypical information on Anglo Saxon culture and use a cultural script which they believe to be appropriate in such a context. The L2 speakers in the data seem to rely mainly on cultural script 2 in the employment interviews collected: 7

See for example Lakoff, R. (1973) but also Holmes (1990) for counter evidence from a study on hedges and boosters

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Cultural Script 2: [many people think like this:] It is good if someone thinks like this: “I am someone very good I am not like other people” Thus, in the data collected, L2 speakers behave in a linguistic way which seems to be in contrast with cultural script 1 above which, however, speakers of Australian English appear to follow. It seems that L2 speakers use LVP adverbs in order to convey the values presented in the cultural script 2 which they assume to lead to success in job interviews. Thus, L2 speakers might not be perceived in a positive way by their Australian interviewers due to the different cultural scripts they rely on.8 Differences in the way interviewees present their skills can, thus, lead to inappropriate perceptions of job interviewees which is miscommunication on an interpersonal level of discourse. The negative consequences for the L2 job applicant are that s/he might not be offered the position. Excerpts (9) from an L2 speaker interview and (10) from an L1 interview illustrate this point further. The excerpts are answers to the questions ‘Why are you the best person for the job? Why should we hire you?’ (9) Hire me? Well I have . my qualifications for a start I have master degree in informatics . I have computer engineering degree and I have a bachelor degree in computer science so I have studied a lot and my background and my work experience it’s very wide and I have lots of achievements in all areas including networking and develop a system even researching I was award a scholarship in Brazil due to my achievements and my . due to my achievements . well I am really easy going because I am from Brazil and we are used to cope with all kinds of people and for instance in my last-previous job I worked with USA people India people ahm people from England as well so we can with I can cope with all cultures as well ahm I am really a problem solver I am very logic and analytical I can see problems and solve problems when the other people just complaints about for instance my last job there was this big tax file that I told you before people just complaining about that and when I first had to use I looked oh I can do a better thing here I did the excel program and after that all the researchers including the developers mangers and testers they spent they passed to spend less time using this this file. (L2 speaker) (10) Ok well I consider myself the best because I have that ability to have that technical skill while still bringing in my communication and presentation skills I believe that I I am quite multi-talented that way which so that you know I don’t have to be just X (fit?) into one sort of box and bringing in a lot of external like thinking outside of the box sort of ideas it sort of brings life into whatever I do I think that’s probably why I am the best at what I do. (L1 speaker) 8

Kerekes (2005:125) has also shown in a study on employment interviews that interviewers “react more positively to discourse styles similar to their own”.


María Marta García Negroni and María Laura Spoturno

As can be seen in the excerpts above, the L2 speaker uses only LVP adverbs of degree such as ‘very’ while the L1 speaker uses only HVP adverbs of degree such as sort of. Also, the L1 speaker uses other HVP items such as I think and probably which in this context seem to be a further attempt to avoid showing ‘specialness’ or claiming superiority openly. However, there are also other interesting features in the use of language by the L2 speaker which clearly challenge the Australian cultural script of avoiding showing ‘specialness’. The L2 speaker starts by describing his professional training in detail and lists all his diplomas. He also points out having received a scholarship, stressing that he is indeed ‘special’ and, thus, a good candidate for the position. Also at the very end he describes how he was the only one to spend time improving the use of a tax file, while his colleagues only complained about it. He also shows how successful this new program was by listing members of the team who used it. The L2 speaker uses items such as all, a lot frequently in an unmitigated way to support his claims. By using these items he further strengthens the message of his superiority and ‘specialness’. The L1 speaker does not list achievements but only hints at possible skills by using ‘whatever I do’. Interestingly, already at the beginning of the answer the L1 participant says ‘I consider myself the best’ instead of ‘I am the best’, therefore, trying to avoid claiming superiority right from the start or avoiding doing it too directly. However, it is not only L2 speakers who seem to follow inappropriate cultural scripts in job interviews in an Australian context. Speakers of other varieties of English may also rely on different cultural scripts. This comment (11) was made by an American woman now living in New Zealand after attending one of my talks on this topic: (11) I am American but I think I would answer more in the vain of how the L2 speaker answered questions [by using less downplaying ‘vague language’ and by trying to sell her skills more clearly]. Now I understand why this strategy hasn’t gotten me very far in New Zealand. The cultural script on the expression of ‘positive self-image’ illustrates the different attitude of speakers of American English compared to Australasian towards the presentation of achievements and skills. Value placed on ‘positive self-image’, an American cultural script (Goddard 2009: 6): [many people think like this:] it is good if someone can think like this: “people can know many good things about me I can do many good things I am not like many other people” This cultural script which speakers of American English most probably apply in employment interviews shows striking similarities with the script that appears to be favoured by L2 speakers. Thus, the scripts presented indicate that miscommunication on a subtle interpersonal level can take place among L1 and L2 speaker as well as in conversations between L1 speakers of different varieties of English. Cultural scripts


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are helpful for a macro analysis of pragmatic norms in discourse. However, a more detailed micro analysis of language samples is necessary to show how these scripts are realised in context. Such specific language samples should be particularly helpful for L2 speakers. Without such samples, they might not be able to relate to specific linguistic realizations of these cultural scripts.

6. HVP versus LVP adverbs of degree: ‘very’ and ‘really’ Since HVP adverbs of degree were used infrequently by L2 speakers the study also investigated how LVP adverbs of degree were used across the two groups. Since LVP adverbs of degree have a low vagueness potential compared to HVP adverbs, it is expected that differences in the use of these items have an effect on how speakers are perceived in discourse. Judging from the data collected and the cultural scripts discussed, the use of very when talking about one’s achievements is not regarded highly in Australian English whereas it seems to be the pragmatic norm to follow in other cultures. Thus, the use of HVP adverbs of degree was compared to the use of the LVP adverbs of degree very and really. As can be seen in figure (4) below, there is a tendency for very to be used more frequently by the L2 speaker group. Regarding the use of really a difference in use can also be observed between the two populations with the L2 speaker group using this item less frequently. Overall, the L2 speaker group clearly seems to prefer very to really whereas the difference between these two items is only minor for the L1 speakers who took part in this study. 6







very L2 speakers: dots L1 speakers: lines

Figure 4:

‘LVP adverbs of degree L2 versus L1 speakers



María Marta García Negroni and María Laura Spoturno

A qualitative analysis revealed that not only the number of occurrences of very and really differed between the L1 and L2 group but also the way the two populations use these items in context. The qualitative analysis showed that L1 speakers tend not to use LVP items in combination with the first person singular pronoun I whereas L2 speakers do. In cases where L1 speakers use LVP items in combination with a first person singular pronoun there tends to be a HVP item either preceding or following the LVP item in the proposition. The examples below illustrate such a use of ‘very’ by L1 speakers: (12) I think I am very good with people (L1 speaker 11B, Question 14) (13) […] as well as I guess the ability X [unintelligible] to work in a team environment very well (L1 speaker 8B, Question 12) (14) I think I am really good at getting a team to sort of work together (L1 speaker 9B, Question 5) (15) I have a really good sort of mixed range of skills (L1 speaker 9B, Question 14) In example (12), very is preceded by I think whereas in example (13) it is preceded by I guess. Therefore, in both examples, an HVP item is introduced into the proposition if an LVP adverb of degree is used. This second HVP item seems to have the function of mitigating the force of the LVP item very. The same applies for the use of really in combination with a first person singular pronoun as can be seen from examples (14) and (15). Speakers of English who follow different pragmatic norms might interpret these sentences to convey an uncertainty of the speaker and thus imply that an applicant is not confident and competent enough for the position s/he is applying for. Thus, while L1 speakers seem to use HVP items to convey a feeling of modesty, L2 speakers might perceive L1 speakers as indicating a lack of competence. Therefore, this is miscommunication at a subtle interpersonal and pragmatic level. Other strategies used by L1 speakers in order to avoid using very and really in combination with the first person singular are listed below: (16) you are very conscious of ahm mistakes (L1 speaker 2B, Question 12) (17) having to really go back to first principles I suppose (L1 speaker 2B, Question 9) (18) and really being quite forceful (L1 speaker 3B, Question 7B) (19) and therefore ah come very close to missing deadlines (L1 speaker 3B, Question 10) In example (16) the impersonal second person singular person you is given preference over the first person singular which would also have been syntactically appropriate in this proposition. Examples (17) and (18) show the use of a non-finite verb form to avoid the first person singular whereas in example (19) the first person singular is avoided altogether leaving a syntactic gap. L1 speakers also often use really in combination with not as in ‘it’s not really ahm I mean there is not really too much emotion

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behind it’ (L1 speaker 1B, Question 9). L2 speakers, on the other hand, rarely use these different strategies and, therefore, do not seem to try and avoid the first person singular pronoun in propositions with LVP items. Thus, whereas the L1 use of LVP items seems to be mitigated, L2 speakers use LVP items mostly in an unmitigated way. Thus, this can lead to L2 speakers being perceived as opinionated or emphatic because they follow a cultural script that prescribes the use of such language to show ‘specialness’ as required in their L1. However, there are also some instances of L1 speakers using very and really in an unmitigated way with the first person singular. Interestingly, these uses mostly tend to occur in response to the following question: Why are you the best person for the job? Why should we hire you? This question directly demands of participants to present their skills in the best light and to show their superiority compared to other candidates. Some excerpts from answers to these questions are provided below: (20) I think my experience in in my previous jobs would help me I have very sound accounting knowledge technically sound so yeah (L1 speaker 2B, Question 14) (21) I am very hard working (L1 speaker 3B, Question 14) (22) I can really apply to the business so.” (L1 speaker 5B, Question 14) Whereas in example (20) one could claim that the item I think still has an effect on the item very used in the second part of the utterance, examples (21) and (22) do not show any mitigation at all. However, such uses are not frequent in the L1 data. It is also interesting that there are several examples of L1 speakers interrupting themselves when they seem to be about to use LVP items in an unmitigated way. In such situations, there is a switch to either a more mitigated sentence construction or to using another strategy in order to avoid the strong modifier altogether as shown in the examples below: (23) I do I do I’ve very much - I like working with people” (L1 speaker 5B, Question 8a) > Avoidance of adverbs of degree or other HVP items altogether (24) projects I have worked on so far have been very – fairly complex fairly large” (L1 speaker 6B, Question 15) > Substitution of very with another HVP adverb of degree: fairly (25) I was very - a little bit ahm a little bit nervous (L1 speaker 19B, Question 10) > Substitution of very with another HVP item: a little bit To conclude, L1 speakers tend to use LVP items in a mitigated way and often followed by, for instance, other HVP items from a different semantic category or the second personal pronoun you in an impersonal use. Also certain syntactic structures of sentences are chosen which help avoid the use of the first person singular pronoun I with LVP adverbs of degree. In the case of really, this item is mainly used in the negated form as in really-not by L1 speakers. L2 speakers, on the other hand, frequently use


María Marta García Negroni and María Laura Spoturno

very and really in combination with the first person pronoun and without any item preceding or following this LVP adverb of degree which could mitigate its force. The use of different types of modifiers by L1 and L2 speakers can lead to miscommunication on the level of perception of these participants as shown by means of cultural scripts above.

7. Conclusion HVP adverbs of degree (‘vague language’) are used differently by the L1 and L2 speakers of English involved in this study. The difference in use of these items can lead to intercultural miscommunication on a subtle interpersonal level between L1 and L2 speakers of English. However, it seems that also native speakers of other varieties of English could be affected by miscommunication regarding the use of HVP items in job interviews. On a macro level the use of HVP items is governed by pragmatic norms which vary across cultures. Thus, miscommunication in relation to the use of HVP items in employment interviews might partly be due to cultural differences between speaker and hearer. Inappropriate pragmatic L1 transfer might be one reason for a non native-like use or an avoidance of such items in the L2 language in certain situations. As has been shown above, even the advanced speakers of English involved in this study do not use HVP adverbs of degree in a native-like way in Australian job interviews. On a micro level, shared contextual background knowledge between speaker and hearer is an important factor that can lead to miscommunication in relation to HVP items. In addition, HVP items can be used on different levels of discourse as they have acquired multiple functions in conversations. This type of miscommunication is influenced by changes in meaning and, therefore, functions of these items in discourse. The results of this study suggest that recognising the multifunctionality of such HVP items seems to be a challenge for L2 speakers. As has been shown above, L2 speakers appear to use items such as I think and sort of only to introduce vagueness into a proposition whereas L1 speakers apply these items to express social as well as compensatory functions in discourse in addition to the ideational function these items can be used for. This unawareness of L2 speakers regarding the multifunctionality of HVP items might partly be due to such items not undergoing the same process in the L1 language of the L2 speakers. Thus, miscommunication resulting from differences in use of HVP items also seems to be related to a mismatch in lexico-functional background knowledge of HVP items by L1 and L2 speakers. The results of this study suggest that acquiring pragmatic competence is crucial for L2 speakers since a pragmatically inappropriate use of language can have serious social consequences. Regarding the use of HVP items L2 speakers should also be made aware of the multifunctionality of these items in discourse in order to avoid miscommunication between different speakers of English. Therefore, this study has practical implications for people seeking employment in Australia but also for the second language classroom in general. It is suggested that teaching programs which offer preparation for employment interviews in Australia should make their students aware

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of the native-like use of adverbs of degree and the implications a non-native use of these items can have in such job interviews. To conclude, due to the important multiple functions HVP items acquire in discourse these items (‘vague language’) should be considered as useful multi-purpose words for L1 as well as L2 speakers rather than simply a sloppy use of language.

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Appendix: Interview questions asked #1

Did you find your way to the interview without any problems?


How do you normally get to work


So you use public transport? (only sometimes asked)


What were your main responsibilities in your last job?


What were the main challenges for you at that job?


What do you think you have done particularly well in your job?


Have you had much experience dealing with customers?

#6b Tell me about a situation when you had to demonstrate good communication skills #6c

Was it successful?


How about meeting deadlines, do you cope well with pressure?

#7b Could you describe a situation where you were under a lot of pressure and how you dealt with it #7c

Was it resolved successfully? (only sometimes asked)


Do you like working in a team?

#8b Can you tell me about a time when you worked in a group, what was the group task, how many people were involved and what was your role? #8c

Is there anything that the group could have done better?

#8d What was the outcome? (only sometimes asked) #9

Have you ever had a disagreement with one of your co-workers/superior?


If NO: What would you do if you had a disagreement?

#10 Tell me about a time when you made a mistake at work and how you reacted to it #11 How do you feel about working overtime, on the weekend, working long hours? #12 What do you think your weaknesses and strengths are? #13 What salary are you looking for? What would be a minimum salary that you’d work for? #14 Can you tell me why you are the best person for the job, why should we hire you? #15 When could you start working for us?

Only asked if participants had volunteered little information before (Q #16): Do you like changes at work? Tell me about a time when you had to adapt to a change at work

(Mis-) communicating Europe? On deficiencies and challenges in political and institutional communication in the European Union Micha Krzyanowski, University of Lancaster

1. Introduction Since the mid-1990s, when the European Union was well into the process of becoming an ever-more political (rather than just economic) organisation, questions about the democratic character and the possibly ‘democratic deficit’ of the EU started to appear. Despite its many successes, public support for the EU institutions started to radically decrease (a trend which can still be observed today), while the ‘people of Europe’ have gradually ceased to believe that the EU in fact represents their interests or responds well to new social, political and economic developments in Europe. Theoreticians and practitioners of the EU have often agreed that the actual ‘democratic problem’ of the Union might reside in the set-up of different forms and channels of communication within and outside the walls of the Brussels-based EUinstitutions. Hence, on the one hand, it has been suggested that the communication within/between different institutions and institutional bodies of the Union (e.g., the European Parliament, the European Commission, etc.) is not functioning adequately and that, in fact, very few of the EU institutions pay much attention to the ways in which their internal communication is organised and managed. On the other hand, it was often suggested that the EU does not have any clear and effective strategy of communicating with its ‘external environment’ and that thus, especially, the broader European public remains misinformed about the politics and policies of the European Union as well as its successes and failures. Finally, it has also been (very) widely recognised that the long-desired transnational, media-based sphere of communication and debate on specifically European and EU-related issues – known as the ‘European Public Sphere’ – is still not in place. Thus, public perceptions of Europe/EU are (still) informed by strictly-national politics and interests clearly favoured by the still mainly national media institutions. The aim of this article is twofold. On the one hand, it aims to present in detail where and why communication is central to the politics and policy-making process of the European Union. Thus, the article looks in detail at three areas of (a) the internal communication within/between the (key) EU institutions, (b) the external channels and strategies of communicating the EU-politics to the public and to the European Union’s ‘external’ (i.e. non-institutional) environment, and (c) the processes of construction of Europe- and EU-related transnational European Public Sphere which would enable the transnational communication and debate on ‘matters European’. On the other hand, while presenting the aforementioned areas against the background of developments in the EU of the last two decades, this article wishes to identify where Europe is clearly mis-communicated and where patterns of the EU’s political and institutional communication should still be improved in order to help democratise the European


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Union and make it more transparent and accountable to the European Citizens. As the chapter argues, although central for forging democratic legitimacy of the EU, and despite gaining some attention in recent years, communication in the EU system is still often wrongly conceived and suffers from many misconceptions about how it should be organised and managed to the benefit of the Union’s governance and its democratic reconnection with the European demos. The chapter starts from the general presentation of the key components of the European Union as an institutional setup and then moves to outline the key EU-related developments in the last two decades i.e. since the 1990s when the European Communities transformed into the supranational political organism of the European Union. Presenting key developments in EU politics and institutions of the last two decades and outlining the key foundations of the European Union’s institutional architecture, the article focuses especially on developments related to the democratic aspects of the European Union such as, inter alia, the EU Constitutional Reform process of the first decade of 2000s. Then, the chapter highlights the relationships between public opinion and democracy in the EU. In so-doing, it touches upon such issues as ‘democratic deficit of the EU’ as well as the related rise of Euroscepticism and gradual decrease of public support for the European integration in recent years. Then, the chapter turns to the presentation of the aforementioned key areas of communicating and mis-communicating Europe by analysing the major area-specific institutional and extra-institutional processes and actions in which apparent miscommunication takes place and where room for further improvements is deemed necessary. The key areas of communication – and mis-communication – in/of the European Union are presented below in detail on the basis of interdisciplinary research on communication within and beyond the Euro-polity. While, especially, the empirical insights presented below draw from the language and discourse-oriented work on the communication in the EU multilevel political system (cf. Krzyanowski, 2010; for overview), the chapter also draws on other empirical as well as theoretical accounts proposed within a variety of social and political sciences which deal with the rise and gradual development of European Union’s supranational politics. The chapter hence allows assessing different forms, channels and strategies of political communication at several levels of the EU polity – i.e. both within and outside of the institutions of the European Union – from a critical and interdisciplinary perspective drawing on insights from within such fields as, inter alia, EU integration research, political sociology, media and communication studies and European social history as well as the more empirically-oriented approaches from within interdisciplinary critical discourse studies (cf. Reisigl and Wodak, 2009; Wodak and Krzyanowski, 2008). In its following part, the chapter looks in detail at communication within the EU institutions and analyses in this context the issue of EU multilingualism (before and after the 2004 EU Enlargement), which, as is argued, remains central to the ways in which communication in the EU system is organised and practiced. While discussing the internal communication in the EU institutions, the chapter points to the deficiencies in multilingualism in the EU and to the democratic implications of limitations of multilingualism ever-more prevalent in different EU-institutional contexts. It also argues that the multilingual set-up in the majority of the EU institutions differs from the

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official regulations which prevent differentiation between ‘official’ and ‘working’ languages of the EU. At the same time, the chapter also claims that the increasing duality between language regulations and actual practices of multilingualism in the EU has profound implications for the ways in which EU institutions are perceived – and supported – by the multilingually and otherwise diverse European populace. Then, the chapter focuses on the ‘external’ ways of communicating Europe or on, differently put, strategies of communicating Europe to the European demos. Here, the chapter presents in detail the communication-related deficiencies of the EU institutions, especially in the late 1990s and early 2000s i.e. in the aftermath of the downfall of the Santer Commission in 1999 and in the wake of the Union’s constitutional and institutional reform of the early 2000s. Following on that, the chapter analyses in detail the European Commission’s 2005-2009 Communication Strategy i.e. one of the first (and so far the only) full-fledged actions aimed at improving the ways in which Europe is communicated to the public. The chapter points to the main achievements of the Communication Strategy while it also argues that its short-lived character – similar to the majority of external communication actions undertaken by the EU so far – as well as its eventual rejection by other major EU institutions than the Commission was the reason why it so far failed to deliver the so-desired reconnection between EU and the people of Europe. Finally, the chapter looks at the process of formation of the European Public Sphere (hereinafter EPS) i.e. the transnational sphere of communication on European affairs between the EU and the public and among European citizens and within respective national public spheres. Analysing the ways in which the EPS is conceived of in the academia and in the EU policy, the chapter argues that the conceptions favouring the EPS’ strictly national anchorage still prevail thus hindering the development of post-national sphere of communication in Europe. The chapter also shows that the predominantly national character of the EPS – which very often results in the negative character of EU reporting as well as in the increased heterogeneity of visions and conceptions of Europe – is one of the key reasons for the decrease of public support for the EU and for the subsequent rise of Eurosceptic attitudes across Europe.

2. The European Union: A (political) process in the making The European Union is a conglomerate of twenty-seven European states which span over more than 4 million square kilometres and count more than 500 million inhabitants. Unmatched in size by any other international organization, the EU is governed by the following key EU institutions (supported by a large number of policy-specific agencies1): The Council of the EU (EC)2 which includes both the so-called ‘Council of Ministers’ (gathering of ministers with same or similar portfolios from across the EU member states) as well as provides administrative support to the ‘European Council’ (consisting of EU heads of State or Government). The EC is the Union’s ultimate decision1 2

Cf.: Cf.:


Micha Krzyanowski

making and legislative body with some executive powers. It is led by an EC president (in office for 2.5-year terms) in collaboration with presiding EU member state (rotating semi-annually). While the meetings within the Council of Ministers are taking place on a regular basis (in most cases monthly), the European Council meets at least twice a year with the number of its meetings (especially the ‘extraordinary’ ones) increasing in recent years (e.g. nine meetings were held in the context of financial and other forms of crisis in 2009). The EC is based in Brussels. The largest and one of the oldest institutions of the European integration – i.e. the European Commission (previously known as, inter alia, the ‘Commission of the European Communities’ and thus often abbreviated as CEC)3 – is the EU public administration and executive power of the Union which oversees the implementation of the EU policies in different fields. It is led by the Commission President and a college of (currently) twenty-six Commissioners each responsible for a single or combined policy portfolio. As of 2009, one of Commissioners (in rank of a CEC Vice-President) is also acting as the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy and leading the Union’s diplomatic service. The Commission is organised within a set of Directorates General (DGs) responsible for different policies, external relations, internal and general services. The CEC is based in Brussels as well as in Luxembourg. The European Parliament (EP)4 is the only directly-elected EU institution which is (together with the EC) the Union’s key legislative power which also possesses the ability to confirm or remove from office key EU officials (president of the EC, CEC president and commissioners, etc.). Over 730 members of the EP (MEPs) are gathered in the European-level political groupings known as ‘the political families’. The EP is led by a president (selected for 2.5 years from among the two largest ‘families’ in the EP). MEPs are elected for five year terms in a universal suffrage taking place across all of the EU Member States. Each EU citizen can become a MEP and can, irrespective of her citizenship, represent constituencies from across the EU. The EP operates between two sites – the major one in Brussels and the official one in Strasbourg. The institution which encompasses the entire judicial power of the European Union i.e. the Court of Justice of the EU 5 which, inter alia, reviews the legal acts issued by the EU institutions from the point of view of their compliance with EU and Member-State laws as well as ensures that the Member States of the EU comply with obligations under the EU Treaties (cf. below). The Court is seated in Strasbourg. The European Court of Auditors (ECA) which oversees the Union’s finances and regularly audits the EU institutions internal accounts. The ECA is composed from one representative from each EU member state governed by a rotating president chosen from among the group. The ECA is seated in Luxembourg. The European Central Bank (ECB; EU institution only as of late 2009) which is the key institution overseeing EU monetary policy and the key instrument of implementing actions in the EU monetary Union. Considered the Union’s major economic institution, the ECB has a dominant role in the Eurosystem (i.e. conglomerate of all countries of the Eurozone gathering bi-monthly within the so-called ECB Governing 3 4 5

Cf.: Cf.: Cf.:

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Council) as well as in the European System of Central Banks (i.e. a joint organisation of all Central Banks of the EU member states from both within and outside the Eurozone). Both of these formations as well as the ECB itself are led by an ECB president elected for eight years and assisted by the so-called ECB Executive Council. The beginnings of the EU date back to the 1950s and to the founding of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) which in 1957 transformed into the predecessor of the EU, i.e. the European Economic Community (EEC). The latter was formed by the six ‘founding fathers’ of European integration i.e. Belgium, (West) Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Over the years, the EU has changed its name (it was renamed to European Communities, or EC, in 1967, and to the European Union, or EU, in 1993) as well as grew to include many members beyond the original six founding states. In 1973, Denmark, Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom joined the Communities (after a very lengthy accession process of, in particular, the UK whose inclusion was previously vetoed twice by the French President Charles de Gaulle), followed by Greece in 1981 and Portugal and Spain in 1986. In 1990, following unification with its Western counterpart, East Germany joined the EU while the year of 1995 saw the, by far, last ‘western’ Enlargement by countries such as Austria, Sweden or Finland. Finally, in 2004 a big bang of the Eastward enlargement took place when ten countries (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia), many of former-communist past, joined the EU. That enlargement was completed in 2007 with the accession of Bulgaria and Romania while, at present, the EU has five official candidate countries, most of which (Croatia, Macedonia and Montenegro) come from the Balkan region. Most of the countries which form the European Union are also members of the so-called European Monetary Union which resulted in the introduction of the single European currency (a.k.a. the Euro) as of early 2002. By far, the monetary Union counts all old (i.e. pre-2004) EU members excluding Denmark, Sweden and the UK plus several post2004 EU members such as Cyprus, Malta, Slovakia, Slovenia and, as of 2011, Estonia (i.e. the first post-Soviet states to join the Monetary Union). Though the so-called Governing Treaties which regulate the mandate as well as the functioning of the EU and its institutions (and their relations with the Member States) have changed on several occasions since the 1950s – thus proving that European integration is indeed a never-ending process (Abélès, 2000) – the last two decades since the actual foundation of the EU have seen a very rapid tempo of treaty revisions and related institutional reforms. Already in the run-up to the establishment of the European Union (i.e. still in the late 1980s) the so-called Single European Act (1986, in force 1987) was adopted in order to, inasmuch possible, simplify and unify the existent treaties as well as to, inter alia, extend the legislative role of the EP as well as to gradually introduce the qualified majority voting (instead of unanimity) in the EC. While those changes were seen as the first major steps in paving the way for the establishment of the political rather than just economic organism of European integration, the actual establishment of political EU comes somewhat later, i.e. in 1992. That year the so-called Treaty on the European Union (TEU, also known as the Treaty of Maastricht, in force 1993) is adopted with a will to merge the traditional tensions of European integration i.e. those of ‘supranational integration and intergovernmental


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cooperation’ (Cini, 2006). The treaty sees the introduction of the so-called ‘three pillars’ of the EU policy: the European Community (encompassing economic and monetary collaboration incl. the establishment of ECB), the Common Foreign and Security Policy (or CFSP, regulating EU common foreign and security actions beyond the areas of member states) and Police and Judicial Cooperation (incl. the Schengen collaboration developed since the 1980s). The most important aspect of the TEU lays in its introduction of the EU as a political organism which must move beyond the strictly economic aims known from the earlier times of EEC or EC (cf. above). Thus, ever since the TEU, we see a development of course of actions which lead to the ‘politicisation of the EU’ (Wiener, 2004) as well as to making the Union the first supranational democracy of previously unparalleled proportions. By the same token, the TEU consolidated the further development of the EU as a so-called multilevel system of governance based on “continuous negotiation among nested governments at several territorial tiers – supranational, national, regional and local” (Hooghe and Marks, 2003: 1; cf. also Jessop 1995; Bache and Flinders, 2004). The said multilevel system of governance is a political order which can be described as “the outcome of a complex web of interdependencies between political, economic and social institutions and activities which divide power centres and which create multiple pressures to comply” (Held, 2006: 288). In such a context, EU politics and policy-making has become inherently bound by the constant mediation between the aforementioned different levels of governance as well as between the level-specific institutions of different kind. That mediation is based on the simultaneous bottom-up and top-down directions of policy making and implementation which allows for the policies to be not only produced or implemented at selected levels but subsequently gain their legitimacy from all levels of the EU governance (rather than only at the supranational level which produces policies and the nation-state level which in most cases implements them). However, with the accelerated development of the EU as both political organism and the multilevel system of governance and the subsequent ‘widening’ and ‘deepening’ of European integration (understood as, on the one hand inclusion of new members and, on the other, ever-closer cooperation within supranational level in Europe), questions about the so-called democratic deficit of the EU started to appear. Those questions undertook the issue of ever-more complex relation between the supranational EU system and the broadly-perceived European citizenry which still remained closed within member nation-states and, except for the EP elections, had little direct impact on the form, shape and pace of the processes of European integration. Debates about the Union’s democratic deficit (cf. inter alia Majone, 1994, 1998 and 2005, Follesdal and Hix, 2006; Pollak, 2007; Eriksen, 2009; Nicolaïdis, 2010) aimed to show that, as such, the EU system is not socially representative and, acting through the intermediary of nation-state level, cannot become such either. At the backdrop of arguments on its ‘democratic deficit’, already towards the end of the 1990s the EU started the process of revising its Governing Treaties and introduced a new treaty in 1996 (Amsterdam) and another one in 2000 (Nice). The former and the latter were introduced in order to make the EU system more comprehensive and more representative as well as to put forth further changes which started to be in-

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troduced back in late 1980s and 1990s. Those actions were however, deemed insufficient by the European public who protested against many of the new provisions already during the 2000 Nice summit thus showing for the first time that the decrease of public support for European integration had become a fact. In order to avoid further criticism, the EU soon started actions which aimed to show that it wants to go on with its democratic ambitions. Still in 2000, the Union organised the Convention which drafted the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights – a bill of basic human and social rights which should be enjoyed by each EU citizen (NB: the Charter would remain unbinding until the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, cf. below). While still experiencing a further and steady decline of public support and the subsequent rise of Euroscepticism across Europe (cf. Taggart and Szczerbiak, 2008), the EU soon decided that pro-citizen actions (such as the aforementioned Charter) might not be enough and must in fact be dovetailed with the more profound rethinking of the aims and purpose of the EU integration including the role and reform of the EU institutions and the future of the entire EU system in the wake of the 2004 and 2007 EU Eastward Enlargements (cf. above). That rethinking took place in the form of yet another Convention – officially named as Convention on the Future of the EU – which, working between early 2002 and mid 2003 drafted the European Union’s Constitutional Treaty (and indeed the world’s first supranational constitution, cf. Krzyanowski and Oberhuber, 2007). Unfortunately, though very ambitious in institutional and related terms, the Constitution was soon rejected by the European public especially in the negative 2005 referenda in the ‘founding countries’ of European integration such as France and the Netherlands. It was only with the very active support of the European Commission and its Communication Policy (cf. below) as well as of the German and Portuguese Council Presidencies of 2007 that the EU managed to revive the discussion of its Constitution. The latter – renamed to the Reform or Lisbon Treaty – and stripped of several controversial parts unacceptable to the traditionally Eurosceptic states such as, inter alia, the UK – was put under ratification in 2008. Following yet another hiccup in that process, as the Irish 2008 referendum had a negative outcome and had to be repeated in 2009, the EU member states finally adopted Lisbon by Fall 2009 and the Treaty came into force by the end of that year. While some of the Lisbon Treaty’s institutional results can already be seen (e.g. with the installation of the Council President or the EU’s first ‘foreign minister’ a.k.a. Union’s High Representative for Foreign Policy as of early 2010) other strictly-democratic projects stipulated by Lisbon (such as, e.g.. the so-called Citizen’s Initiative allowing organised groups of the EU Citizens to propose EU legislation) are still due to be developed and implemented6.

3. Communication in the EU Institutions: The multilingual challenge Communication in the key institutions of the EU traditionally needs to cope with two major tensions. One of them is the question of ‘how’ i.e. how to communicate and organise communication flows and channels, what languages to use in what contexts and, most importantly, who should define the former and the latter. The other tension 6

Situation as of early 2011.


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is that of ‘what’ in fact should be communicated i.e. how many new meanings should the EU institutions produce and which policies to prioritise and communicate. Those two tensions prove paramount to any complex organisational system, let alone in the largest set of inter- or supranational institutions in the world such as the EU. However, to be sure, the said tensions are not the only ones salient in the EU system which, just like any other complex organisation, must cope on a daily basis with pressures resulting from dualities between complexity (of policies, messages, etc) and the informativity of the EU documents (cf. Muntigl, Weiss and Wodak, 2000) as well as with the new ‘democratic’ challenges of external (political) accountability vis-à-vis European citizens and member states while at the same time trying not to decrease the internal organisational, institutional and cost-efficiency of the Union’s institutions. Located at the cross-section of the majority of the aforementioned tensions is the issue of ‘internal’ and ‘external ‘multilingualism of the EU institutions which remains central to the ways in which communication runs and is managed within the EU system. While the former – i.e. the internal multilingualism – usually denotes the patterns of communication used internally by the EU institutions in both official and semiofficial meetings, the latter – i.e. the external multilingualism – covers the language repertoires used by the EU institutions in their external communication within non-EU institutional and non-institutional actors (including member states, broader public, etc.). The paramount rule for the functioning of multilingualism in the EU is that stipulated by the so-called Regulation No. 1 of the EC “Determining the languages to be used by the European Economic Community” (cf. European Council, 1958) which dates back to the early days of the European integration. According to the regulation, the following key provisions (as amended) apply (ibid.): 1: The official languages and the working languages of the institutions of the Community shall be Dutch, French, German and Italian. 2: Documents which a Member State or a person subject to the jurisdiction of a Member State sends to institutions of the Community may be drafted in any one of the official languages selected by the sender. The reply shall be drafted in the same language. 3: Documents which an institution of the Community sends to a Member State or to a person subject to the jurisdiction of a Member State shall be drafted in the language of such State. 4: Regulations and other documents of general application shall be drafted in the four official languages. 5: The Official Journal of the Community shall be published in the four official languages. 6: The institutions of the Community may stipulate in their rules of procedure which of the languages are to be used in specific cases. Of these provisions, the first one remains the most important as it stipulates that each country has a right to use its national language as one of the official languages of the community. It also allows for the fact that, with accession, each EU member is able to bring a new language into the array of Community’s official languages (providing that

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language is not already an official language of the Community). Secondly, the first provision also stipulates that ‘official’ and ‘working’ languages of the community are indeed equal and that each official language of the EEC/EC/EU should also be used as a working language within all of the Community’s major institutions, be it in written or oral, official or semi-official communication. Other provisions of the EC Regulation No. 1 are also crucial as they deem all languages equally important in both oral and written communication and require from the EU institutions to be multilingual in their contacts with the European citizens and member state institutions (cf. pt. 4, above). In accordance with the EC Regulation No. 1, the number of the EEC/EC/EU languages grew over the years with the progress of Community enlargements. While, in the first instance (in 1958) only four languages (French, German, Italian and Dutch) were deemed official ones, already the 1973 enlargement brought further two official languages (English – official language of the UK and Ireland, and Danish). Enlargements carried out in the 1980s also increased the number of official languages with Greek becoming an EC language in 1981 and Spanish and Portuguese in 1986. The 1995 Enlargement brought the Union’s 10th and 11th official language with Finish and Swedish (NB: German, an official language of Austria, has been official language since the late 1950s). Finally, further nine languages became EU official tongues when official languages of the 2004 accession states (except for Greek – the official language of Cyprus – which has been an official language since the 1980s) became EU official languages as well. In 2007, the current number of 23 EU official languages was reached with Bulgarian and Romanian as well as Irish (Gaelic) joining in (cf. Table 1, for the outline of EU official languages since the 1950s). Further to the aforementioned official languages, the EU has a number of officially-recognised regional and minority languages, in most cases the key languages of minority communities living within the areas of the EU member states. Among the key recognised regional and minority languages there are, among others, Catalan, Galician, Basque, Welsh, Scottish Gaelic and Scots, many of which have been recognised by the EU under the pressure from regions where those languages are either in a dominant or prominent position. However, what surely is missing from the set of recognised regional and minority languages, are the languages and dialects of the largest European minority group i.e. Roma who, originating from the South-Eastern Europe (e.g. Hungary, Slovakia or Romania) are by far residing in the majority of the EU member states. The fact that, despite the size of their population (according to some statistics reaching beyond 13 million, hence more than several of the smaller EU member states), Roma language rights are still not recognised in the EU is often ascribed to the dispersed nature of the Roma population as well as to the fact that they remain the world’s largest so-called unprotected minority (i.e. not represented by a single nation state who should protect their interests). However, sharing the situation of Roma are, notably, all languages spoken by the migrant groups residing across the EU member states. Languages such as Turkish, Arabic, Urdu or Hindustani (spoken by several millions of EU citizens as their first language) are neither recognised as regional or minority languages, nor are allowed to be used in the EU institutions or in different channels of communication between those institutions and the European citizens.

194 Table 1: Year 1958 1973 1981 1986 1995 2004


Micha Krzyanowski EEC/EC/EU Official Languages 1958-2007 (cf. Wodak and Krzyanowski, 2011: 628) Acceding States Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands Denmark, Ireland, UK Greece Portugal, Spain Austria, Finland, Sweden Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia Bulgaria, Romania

Incoming Official Languages Dutch, Italian, German, French Danish, Irish, English Greek Portuguese, Spanish Finnish, Swedish Czech, Estonian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Slovak, Slovene Bulgarian, Romanian

Allowing for the difference in their size and character, over the years, i.e. as the aforementioned number of Community official languages increased, different European institutions have developed different language repertoires, all of which to some extent adhere to the aforementioned EC Regulation No. 1. According to their ‘Rules of Procedure’ (or the more specific implementation instruments known as ‘Codes of Conduct’), some of the the key EU institutions operate the following language regimes (cf. also Krzyanowski and Wodak, 2010; Wodak and Krzyanowski, 2011): – The Council of the European Union (EC) – operates the fullest possible language policy which, adhering directly on EC Regulation No. 1 (above), uses all official languages of the EU in both all official meetings (at all levels) and within all official documents prepared for those meetings (cf. also van Els, 2005). However, while the official communication at the EC runs along a very inclusive model, very little is known about how the semi- or informal communication which takes place in the EC known for its secrecy and its closed-door policy. As it is often suggested, however, French as well as (to a lesser degree) English are used as the major internal languages in the works of the Consilium with other languages used on a much less frequent basis. – Multilingualism in the European Commission (CEC) is supposed to officially operate on a more or less similar basis to that of the EC and use all official EU languages in both ‘internal’ and ‘external’ official communication. However, in its Rules of Procedure (cf. European Commission, 2000), the Commission uses the rather ambiguous term of ‘authentic languages’ as far as its internal and informal patterns of communication are concerned. That term opens up the way for more or less unclear procedure of selection of different languages used in different types of communication (written/oral) addressed to different types of audiences. According to the CEC Rules of Procedure “‘authentic language or languages’ means the official languages of the Communities in the case of instruments of general application and the language or languages of those to whom they are addressed in other cases” (European Commission, 2000: Article 18). Hence, the CEC language regime is rather fluid – contrary to e.g. that of the EC – and almost entirely dependent on the interpretation of what constitutes the

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aforementioned ‘instruments of general application’ and what does not. Whereas the former definitely applies to all official written documents, it is know that, in its oral communication (particularly at semi-official and informal level) Commission employees traditionally use English, French and, to a much lesser degree, German and Spanish. Among those languages, French used to be traditionally the leading one, though since the Enlargements in the 1990s and especially in 2000s (by either English-savvy Scandinavian or Eastern–European states) it has been gradually loosing importance (cf. Krzyanowski, 2009a and 2010). The narrowing of the linguistic scope of the CEC could also be observed in other contexts – as was the case with the selection of English as the official vehicle of communication between the Commission and applicant states prior to the 2004 EU Enlargement (cf. also Phillipson, 2003; Nic-Craith, 2006). – According to its Rules of Procedure, the European Parliament (EP) operates a language policy whereby “all documents of Parliament shall be drawn up in the official languages” (European Parliament, 2004: 66). Similarly, in the plenary, all members of the EP have the right to speak and be addressed in all official languages. In smaller-scale meetings (committees, delegations) only “official languages used and requested by the members and substitutes of that committee or delegation” (ibid.) are used, though it is widely known that not only actual ‘requests’ or preferences of MEPs attending particular meetings but also the abilities of the interpretation service (i.e. abilities to provide interpretation in a particular language) are decisive. As shown by the more recent Code of Conduct on Multilingualism (European Parliament, 2006), the 2004 and 2007 Enlargements forced the EP interpretation services to even further rethinking of the language rules governing different types of EP meetings and introduced their further distinctions according to their importance, their location (in-house or externally) in order to cater for the growing number of official languages (cf. also Gazzola, 2006). – Finally, The European Central Bank (ECB) is widely known for the duality of its language policy. On the one hand, all major documents published by the ECB are, as in all other EU institutions, issued in all 23 official languages with the ECB ‘official’ language policy resembling especially that of the EC. However, it is known that only very few documents of the ECB are in fact published in all official languages with limitations observable already within the ‘official’ domain. On the other hand, the ECB’s both external and internal communication takes place in the majority of cases in one language i.e. English. While different explanations have so far been sought why the ECB is the only EU institution in fact favouring monolingualism as the basis of its external and internal communication, the ECB officials often say that the Bank’s English-only (or English-mostly) policy is dictated by the fact that European and global financial markets – on which the ECB operates and with whom it communicates on a daily basis – also work to large extent in English. Thus, in order to avoid any ambiguities in official and other statements issued by the ECB and its officials, the Bank uses English as a default in its external, especially-market and mediaoriented communication.


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As the outline above suggests, none of the key EU institutions in fact operates a ‘pure’ multilingual system stipulated by the EC Regulation No. 1 as well as by further related documents. On the contrary, depending on their mandate, on the remit of their policies and functions and, most importantly, on their size, most of the major EU institutions have worked out ways to get round the basic regulations and to introduce different forms of limitations of multilingualism, especially as far as their internal and semiofficial communication is concerned. While, to be sure, such a situation is at least to some extent justified (e.g. in terms of mounting ‘costs of multilingualism’ in the EU; cf. de Cillia, Krumm and Wodak, 2003), it leads to the growing inequality between languages of the community and to the fact that the officially inexistent distinction between ‘official’ and ‘working’ languages (cf. van Els, 2001 and 2005; Ammon, 2006, cf. also Phillipson, 2003, Nic-Craith, 2006) becomes part of the EU reality. This, in turn, leads to the fact that, at the time when the EU has been in-fact enlarging its ‘official’ linguistic repertoire (cf. above), one has witnessed a development of a process defined as ‘hegemonic multilingualism’ (Krzyanowski and Wodak, 2007; Krzyanowski 2009a and 2010) whereby a set of selected working languages of the EU – especially the ever-more dominant English as well as French and to lesser degree German or Spanish – is given preference over other/remaining EU working languages, thus constituting a certain selective set of ‘core languages’ which are both ideologically preferred and de facto more frequently used in the institutional practices in the EU. However, such a situation is not only the case of setting up or of ‘streamlining’ the internal institutional communication in the EU but also has broader democratic implications. Namely, it prevents the development of an open and inclusive image of the EU institutions which in their linguistic and otherwise understood diversity do not resemble the broader Europe.

4. Communicating Europe to the public: On European communication strategy in the making Communication has surely never been at the forefront of EU interests and policies with the majority of the EU institutions (especially the EC and to lesser degree the CEC) operating a closed-door policy and contacting with their external environment through official spokespeople. In such way, the EU has also, for a very long time, escaped the scholarly interest of (political) communication research (cf. Stanyer, 2007), which, interested either in the role of communication in electoral process (largely irrelevant in case of the EU, with notable exception of EP) or in the democratic aspects of communication between the polis and the demos, found very few examples of either the former and the latter within the EU institutional system (cf. also Schlesinger, 1999 and 2003). Also, though the majority of the European institutions have been around for several years, most of them have, until recently, very reluctantly looked at the issue of external communication between those institutions and the wider European public. To be sure, most of the EU institutions have always had their spokesperson services – probably developed the best in case of the CEC. However all of those services were

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traditionally focussed on ‘informing about’ the EU and its actions rather than on ‘communicating between’ those institutions and the European public. However, that situation had to change with the evolving expectations of the EU citizens with regard to the EU communication. With the development of political character of the EU integration process, “a politicised, cultured and cosmopolitan populace is expecting more or different from its supranational polity than it is receiving” (Schneeberger and Sarikakis, 2008: 269) and thus has learned to demand more channels and dialogue-oriented communication rather than just information. Importantly, the change in the way the EU perceives communication did not come from the external (citizen) pressures on the integration as much as from the Union’s own internal mistakes and crises. The most crucial of the latter comes several years after the Treaty of Maastricht (cf. above), when the crisis of the European Commission resulted in the resignation of the entire College of Commissioners under CEC President Jacques Santer in the early 1999. It is during that crisis – caused by the allegations of financial fraud and mismanagement targeted especially at the Commissioner and the former French Prime-Minister Édith Cresson – that the EU in general and the CEC in particular have proved to be particularly unable to communicate the internal ‘problems’ they faced and showed extreme inability to explain to the public the ontology of the crisis and viability of the problem-solving actions undertaken internally and externally across the EU system. Or, put differently, the Commission’s downfall was not precipitated simply by individual cases of favouritism or mismanagement, but by the inadequacy of long-ingrained institutional structures and practices to cope with increasing media attention and parliamentary scrutiny. The resignation pushed the legitimacy of European governance to the forefront of public debate across Europe for the first time since the Maastricht crisis (Meyer, 1999: 618).

Unfortunately, most of the EU institutions did not change much of their internal and external communication structures in the aftermath of the 1999 crisis and continued their often inefficient policies and strategies of communication largely inappropriate for the new, political EU (cf. Anderson and McLeod, 2004). But the CEC itself learned that it will not sustain its dominant role in the EU system unless it changes its communication structures and improves its external relations with the European citizens. Hence, in the aftermath of the crisis, and immediately after the appointment of Romano Prodi and the new college of Commissioners in September 1999, the CEC took upon a set of unprecedented internal institutional reforms managed by the CEC Vice-President Neil Kinnock. Widely considered as successful in terms restructuring the CEC and introducing radical changes to the ways it was managed (cf. Kassim, 2004 and 2008), the Kinnock reforms also brought about the changes to the then CEC Information Policy (cf. Anderson and Price, 2008) considered as a predecessor of the later Communication-oriented actions. Introduced in the early 2000s, the changes to the Information Policy were oriented mainly at “improving the quantity, quality and accessibility of information on EU issues” (Michailidou, 2008: 349) and mainly resulted in the development and intense search for the new channels of informing EU citizens about what the EU is and does. Partially as a result of the general tendency of improvements to CEC Information Policy, as well as the then already evident arguments on the EU’s democratic deficit,


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in July 2001 the Commission issued the widely-discussed White Paper on European Governance (European Commission, 2001) which, at least officially, aimed at improving and democratising the multilevel European governance. The White Paper was the first and surely the unprecedented EU-originating analysis of communication-related deficiencies in the multilevel EU system. And so, it suggested that, due to insufficiency of information and communication about the European matters, the EU rarely gets the credit for the policies which have become successful as well as profitable to the European citizens. Secondly, it also argued that the EU member states themselves are to a large extent responsible for the inefficiency of the EU information and communication actions. As it was concluded, “member States do not communicate well about what the Union is doing and what they are doing in the Union. ‘Brussels’ is too easily blamed by Member States for difficult decisions that they themselves have agreed” (European Commission, 2001: 7). Finally, the white paper also argued that, if improved, information and communication actions should not only inform about what the EU does and is but thus also forge a better understanding of the EU’s importance for the European citizens and thus forge their identification with ideas of European integration. Drawing on the aforementioned critique on the EU information and communication policies and actions, it is in the White Paper that the CEC speaks for the first time of necessity of communicating more actively with the European citizens – or even of the necessity of developing a related Communication Policy – and thus winning the public support for the European integration. As the White Paper suggests: Institutions and Member States also need to communicate more actively with the general public on European issues. The communication policy of the Commission and the other Institutions will promote efforts to deliver information at national and local level, where possible making use of networks, grassroots organisations and national, regional and local authorities. Information should be presented in a way adapted to local needs and concerns, and be available in all official languages if the Union is not to exclude a vast proportion of its population – a challenge which will become more acute in the context of enlargement. (European Commission, 2001: 12)

In the aftermath and drawing on the provisions of the White Paper, the EU and in particular the CEC started to search for new communication initiatives which would help improve the Union’s relations with the European citizens. The first and most widely acclaimed of such initiatives was the installation of the EU’s online ‘Futurum’ discussion forum which, as stipulated by the White Paper, was supposed to incorporate the ICT (especially the internet; cf. also Michailidou, 2008) in EU communication with the citizens as well as, to some extent, to open up EU external communication channels to the European youth (i.e. the main users of the Internet). Futurum was a moderated online discussion forum on diverse topics which were selected by the participants and deemed crucial for Europe and the EU. Futurum was attached to the main internet portal of the EU at the time ( It was a predecessor of many similar forums initiated by the EU at the time of the Union’s ‘Future of Europe Debate’, i.e. intensified discussions on the future of European integration preceding and later on accompanying the EU Constitutional Process (cf. Krzyanowski and Oberhuber, 2007). Also, unlike any other EU-originating forums initiated before, Futurum was

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also characterised by a large degree of topic-related openness as well as a relative freedom to use diverse languages in the course of the discussions (cf. Wodak and Wright, 2006). While messages on the Futurum could be posted in all EU official languages, they were, however, translated only into 10 selected official languages (with English soon becoming dominant both among the languages of the users or used in translation). While, in general, Futurum was to large extent a very important attempt at opening the ‘cyberspace’ to communication between EU system and European citizens (cf. Wright and Wodak, 2007), some problems soon emerged with regard to that initiative. On the one hand, though soon becoming ever-more popular among citizen-users, Futurum turned out to be a thematic discussion forum which was only controlled by the EU from the point of view of political correctness (hence translations and moderation of the forum) rather than of the actual ‘political message’. Hence, although voicing many important citizen opinions about the European integration, Futurum was never listened to by the EU officials and in fact proved to be a public-relations initiative rather than the actual attempt at communication (i.e. exchange or dialogue) between the EU and its citizens. That was also proven by the fact that Futurum was eventually closed down in late 2003 / early 2004, i.e. soon after becoming popular among the citizens. Named as a Forum, a different attempt at communication (and exchange) between European public and the EU institutions was developed in 2002-03 i.e. at the time of the European Convention and in the heyday of the Union’s constitutional process. Definitely broader in its scope than Futurum (which was oriented only at the wider and non-organised population of EU citizens), the Forum was officially attached to the European Convention in order to enable the latter to hear the voice of all the stakeholders involved in the EU Constitutional Debate. It acted as an online forum as well as a platform for exchange of drafts, projects, academic and position papers and other Convention- and Constitution-related publications. From those participating in the Forum, members of the academia proved to be the most common users with the strongest voice, followed by diverse specialised Think Tanks interested in the future developments in EU politics and the Union’s policies. Though to a lesser degree than the former and the latter, NGOs and (organised) Civil Society were also strongly represented in the Forum. Perhaps the weakest of all ‘voices’ in the Forum was that of ordinary citizens for whom, apparently, the Convention and Constitution-related debates proved too specialised and too ingrained in the complex political and academic arguments on the future of Europe. While, the Forum was also a successful attempt at exchange of ideas on the future of the European integration that could have found their way into the Constitutional Draft, it largely shared the fate of the previous and simultaneous EU communication attempts (such as, inter alia, Futurum). Hence, though costly and very broad in its scope, the Forum was closed down right after conclusion of the Convention works in the summer of 2003, i.e. soon after it became a popular platform for exchange of different visions and conceptions of Europe/EU. Secondly, as it eventually turned out, the Forum was not very eagerly listened to and its voices were largely ignored in the European Convention steered by the Presidium and other Convention power-players


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who held very strong ideas of what should be incorporated in the Constitution (cf. Krzyanowski and Oberhuber, 2007). Thus, although it could largely contribute to the different form and shape of the first European Constitution (and perhaps to its more citizen-friendly character) as well as help avoid its rejection by the European public, the Forum was not listened to and proved to be yet another seemingly communicationlike but in fact PR-oriented move. As the aforementioned and many other EU communication-oriented actions proved of little significance in rebuilding of public trust in the European integration, in 2004 – i.e. with the incoming of the new College of EU Commissioners under Jose Manual Barroso – the CEC decided to make Communication Policy one of its top priorities and created a separate portfolio for Communication. That portfolio was handed to the incoming Vice-President of the Commission Margo Wallström who was previously (i.e. in the Prodi Commission) dealing with an equally problematic field of Environmental Policy. As, upon receiving the Communication portfolio, Wallström also received the responsibility for Interinstitutional Affairs, the EU clearly sent a message that it thinks seriously not only about improving the ‘external’ Communication with the EU Citizens – and about creating the EU-wide (rather than CEC-only) orchestrated Communication Strategy – but also about relating it to the necessary reforms in ‘internal’ institutional structures which must underlie any full-fledged communication actions. In the late spring of 2005, the first results of the new CEC communication policy saw the light with the publication of the “Action Plan to Improve Communicating Europe by the Commission” (European Commission, 2005a). While the Action Plan mainly listed the activities that Wallström and her collaborators were planning to undertake in the course of the following five years (cf. below), it also elaborated on the so-called ‘New Approach’ that the Commission was planning to undertake in the field of Communication. The basic premise of that approach was the idea that “communication is more than information: it establishes a relationship and initiates a dialogue with European citizens, it listens carefully and it connects to people. It is not a neutral exercise devoid of value, it is an essential part of the political process” (European Commission, 2005a: 2). In outlining its new approach, the Commission also set out its new goals and the key principles upon which it wanted to base its new activities. Among those principles there were those of ‘listening’ (to concerns of European citizens), ‘communicating’ (communicating and advocating in EU matters as well as in a manner comprehensible to the EU citizens) as well as ‘connecting with citizens by going local’ (and adjusting EU communication to the changing social and political landscapes of Europe). Importantly, the Action Plan also listed major mistakes which had been made in the EU Communication Policy before 2005. As it was (rightly) suggested, the major shortcomings of the pre-2005 Communication actions included (ibid: 3): (a) Continuous fragmentation of communication activities by insufficient coordination and planning, therefore losing efficiency. (b) Messages reflecting political priorities but not necessarily linked to citizens’ interests, needs and preoccupations: current campaigns focus on the political elite and

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media and fail to portray the benefits and consequences for day-to-day life in a direct and understandable manner. (c) Inadequate implementation: The strategies adopted in the past by the Commission were too focused on financing campaigns rather than on dialogue and proactive communication. In the aftermath of the rejection of Constitutional Treaty in France and the Netherlands in 2005, in October of that year (i.e. soon after releasing the aforementioned Action Plan) the Commission issued a document entitled “The Commission’s Contribution to the Period of Reflection and Beyond: Plan-D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate” (European Commission, 2005b). Showing Commission’s overall commitment to the Constitutional process and its revival (i.e. the main aims of the ‘Period of Reflection’ taking place in the aftermath of the French and the Dutch referenda), Plan-D argued for restoring debate with the European Public whose mistrust in the European integration was apparently still increasing. It also put Communication in the spotlight of political actions which were supposed to be undertaken by the EU (and coordinated by the CEC) in order to rebuild public confidence in the European integration. Importantly, just like the Action Plan before, it also pointed to the deficiencies of CEC and EU Communication Actions. Among those deficiencies it rightly listed ‘long-term commitment’ (instead of a set of short-lived ad-hoc actions – e.g. such as Futurum or Forum, cf. above) as necessary. In accordance with the Action Plan, the major document of the CEC Communication Policy arrives in the early 2006 (earlier than planned, mainly due to derailment of the Constitutional actions) and is entitled the White Paper on European Communication Policy (European Commission, 2006). The paper outlines when and how many of the aforementioned principles of the CEC ‘New Approach’ to Communication should be put into practice. It also includes an outline of implementation of many actions which the CEC Communication Policy was supposed to be based upon. Among those actions, it outlines a plan for a widespread citizen-based consultations which are supposed to be organised by the Commission as a part of its New Approach. Eventually taking place towards the end of 2006 and in early 2007, the consultations included a set of diversified actions, such as, on the one hand, the so-called ‘stakeholder forums’ (especially with NGOs and other organised and specialised parts of the public) and, on the other hand, a series of Eurobarometer polls as a source for ‘hard’ data for future analyses and policies. Parallel to the aforementioned actions, in the first half of 2007, the CEC also organised and coordinated a set of European Citizens Consultations (ECCs) which aimed at exploring the EU policy topics of main concern to the citizens. The ECCs were organised in a multi-staged process which ranged from agenda-setting event, though citizens’ juries and national consultations and up to the European synthesis events. They elaborated on a set of topics such as, e.g. energy and environment, social welfare and family as well as Europe’s global role and its challenges such as migration (cf. Hochgerner, 2008). Drawing on the success of the consultation actions, in late 2007 (i.e. at the time of revival of the Constitution in form of the Lisbon Treaty, cf. above) the CEC issued a paper on ‘Communicating Europe in Partnership’ (European Commission, 2007a) in which it especially reinforced its aforementioned aims of ‘going local’ i.e. reaching


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citizens by multiple channels as well as developing the latter in accordance with the change of Europe’s social and political landscapes. In the paper, the CEC also reinforced the need for keeping ‘permanent dialogue’ with the Citizens (European Commission, 2007a: 3), already emphasised in Plan-D in 2005. Most importantly, however, the ‘Communicating Europe in Partnership’ document also included a Commission’s proposal for an Interinstitutional Agreement (IIA, cf. European Commission, 2007b), which would open the way for the development of not only CEC-specific but in fact an orchestrated Communication Policy shared by the three major institutions, i.e. the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission. The overall motto of the IIA was that “the three Institutions attach the utmost importance to improving communication on EU issues” (ibid: 3) while the aim of the Agreement was to achieve a convergence of views on the main communication priorities of the European Union as a whole, to identify the added value of an EU approach to communication on specific issues, to develop synergies between the institutions when carrying out activities relating to these priorities and to encourage Member States to cooperate (ibid.)

By willing to reach its aim, the IIA wanted “to structure the EU communication process, and to invite all stakeholders to engage themselves to work within the proposed coherent and flexible institutional framework” (European Commission, 2007a: 4) as well as to “allow the development of a common annual work plan around selected EU communication priorities” (ibid.). While the years 2005-07 (cf. above) proved extremely busy in terms of CEC communication-oriented policies and actions, the end of the first decade of 2000s clearly slowed down that process. First, still in 2007, the apparently most democratic of the EU institutions – i.e. the EP – rejected the Commission’s proposal for the communication-oriented IIA and thus grounded the plan for developing an EU-wide, orchestrated communication policy. While many reasons for the rejection were put forth, many opposing MEPs claimed that, upon proposing the IIA, the CEC wished to colonise communication-oriented activities and sideline other institutions which have been taking their own communication-oriented actions. Then, in 2008, the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland (cf. above) also undermined the CEC-originating actions and has shown that, despite the efforts undertaken in the years 2005-07, rebuilding of confidence of European citizens in the integration processes might take much longer than expected. Finally, in the aftermath of eventual adoption of Lisbon (late 2009), Communication clearly lost the top priority it clearly possessed – at least in the CEC – in the turbulent period 2004-09. With the arrival of the new college of Commissioners in early 2010 (i.e. with the so-called ‘second Barroso Commission’), the Communication Portfolio itself was scrapped as well as detached from that on Interinstitutional Relations. Parts of the portfolio were moved to the new one dealing with ‘Citizenship’ yet now taking up almost solely the oversight of the post-Lisbon EU Citizens’ Initiative (cf. above) and clearly sidetracking – if not ignoring – the long-term communication and dialogue between EU institutions and European citizens.

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5. European public sphere: Towards a post-national space of European communication The notion of the public sphere dates back to antiquity and to Aristotelian theories of the state and democracy. In Aristotle’s theories we have seen the very first divisions into what is ‘public’ and what is ‘private’ with the former denoting matters of interest and concern to entire collectivity (such as a city, region, state, etc.) and the latter standing for what is limited to individuals and their private matters, concerns and views. From that distinction, Aristotle derived the first conception of the public sphere which was seen as a prerequisite for the development of a democratic order where the public sphere was understood as a space located somewhere in between those who govern (the ‘polis’) and those who are governed (the ‘demos’) and where debate can unfold on matters of common concern for the entire collectivity. While, in the classic Aristotelian way, the public sphere was seen as in fact an inherent part of the state-related system of governance, the most popular modern conception of the public sphere – proposed in the 1960s by the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas (cf. Habermas, 1962)– sees it as located beyond the state institutions and irrespective of their control. Hence, while in principle the Habermassian conceptions still sees the public sphere as a space of debate of matters of collective i.e. public concern, it crucially views it as a top-down construct which mediates between such levels of modern polities as (cf. Ruzza, 2009): the state (level of control and administration), politics (intermediary level between the state and ‘the social’ where competition for control of the state takes place), civil society (intermediary between politics and the social of close connections to the latter) and the social (citizens or ‘the people’). Hence, for Habermas, public sphere is necessarily founded on bottom-up development of public debate which unfolds between all of the aforementioned levels and “is supposed to transform voluntas into a ratio that in the public competition of private arguments came into being as the consensus about what was practically necessary in the interest of all” (Habermas, 1989: 253; cf. also Johnson, 2001). Understandably, in Habermassian and post-Habermassian views, the main channel of communication in the public sphere – and thus the main carrier of political and social ideas disseminated therein – would be that of (mass) media, ideally located beyond the control of the state and its institutions. Drawing extensively on Habermas and his ideas on the public sphere, throughout 1990s and 2000s several academic debates opened up with a view of scrutinising if the public sphere –especially in the form advocated by Habermas as of the 1960s – is still a viable concept for the world characterised by such post-national tendencies as globalisation, transnationalisation or, in the specifically European context, development of a supranational European integration. In line with those debates a variety of theoretical approaches were developed which either postulated the imminent demise of the public sphere in (late) modern democracies (cf. Calhoun, 1992; Crossley and Roberts, 2004) or related the evident crisis of the (national) public sphere(s) to the growth of global tendencies rooted in the emergent trans-nationalisation of media production and reception (Fraser, 2003).


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It was particularly the latter of the post-Habermassian approaches that clearly influenced the debates on the European Public Sphere (hereinafter: EPS) which were initiated when the public-sphere oriented academic disputes reached Europe and became tied to the then ongoing debates about the crisis of the European Union and its ensuing democratic deficit (cf. above). In what followed, a number of theoretical discussions about the need for creating a strong EPS were developed at the backdrop of a claim that, without the EPS which could link the EU with its citizens/demos, no actual democratisation of the EU could take place (cf. Trenz and Eder, 2004)7. Or, as Eriksen (2005: 341) argued, “only with a European-wide public sphere in place can the requirements of democracy beyond the nation state be met”. Similarly, in his famous essay ‘Why Europe Needs a Constitution?’ issued in the course of pre-Constitution debates on the Future of Europe (cf. above), Habermas (2001) spoke about necessity of relating the future of a European supranational political project to the development of a pan-European and media-based public sphere which would allow for a constant debate of matters that are of prime concern to the majority of Europeans. As Habermas claimed, “democratic legitimation requires mutual contact between, on the one hand, institutionalised deliberation and decisionmaking […] and, on the other, an inclusive process of informal mass-communication” (ibid: 17). As Habermas also argued: A European-wide public sphere must not be imagined as the projection of a familiar design from the national onto the European level. It will rather emerge from the mutual opening of existing national universes to one another, yielding to an interpenetration of mutually translated national communications. (ibid: 19).

While, in general, the claim for the need for funding an EPS was largely accepted, many theoreticians pointed to the necessity of elaborating on the mechanisms upon which the EPS can or should be developed. One of the first and most widely acclaimed models proposed in that context was the one by a German sociologist Jürgen Gerhards (1993) who argued that the EPS can be developed by means of a simultaneous set of processes of (a) development of a ‘common’ EPS through growth of a shared, panEuropean media system and (b) through Europeanisation of the existent national public spheres and respective national media systems. In the absence and general underdevelopment of pan-European channels of communication detached from national media institutions (cf. Bärenreuter 2007; Meinhof, 2001), it is not surprising that mostly the second set of processes of EPS construction postulated by Gerhards caused academic attention and yielded a vast number of studies showing inasmuch national media are becoming ‘Europeanised’ (cf. e.g. Eder and Kantner, 2002; Risse and van de Steeg; 2003; Trenz, 2004, Koopmans and Erbe, 2004). The said studies on the Europeanisation of the national media yielded a number of conceptions which helped empirically assess how and when EPS is actually constructed in the discourses of the national media. For example Eder and Kantner (2002) as well as Risse and van de Steeg (2003) proposed analogous ideas which related EPSmaking to the development of similar points or frames of reference to European mat7

For the critique of the notion of European Public Sphere, cf. inter alia, Grimm (1995), Kielmansegg (1996), Langenbucher and Latzer (2006) or Splichal (2006).

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ters in national media discourses. Thus, if a media reporting on Europe/EU in several countries focussed on similar aspects of EU integration processes, it was argued that this reporting may serve as evidence for the existence of common interests among Europeans located in several nation-states across Europe. Risse and van de Steeg went even further in their argument by claiming that not only interest in the similar EUrelated issues but also their similar interpretation across several European states should be treated as evidence of development of a ‘common’ EPS. The idea of common points of reference and patterns of interpretation of European issues was also developed further in a set of studies proposed by Koopmans and Erbe (2004) or by Statham and Gray (2005). Focussing respectively on German and British media reporting, the authors put forth a claim that construction of an EPS takes place along the lines of two traditional vectors of Europeanization of the national media. Those vectors ran along the lines of the so-called ‘horizontal’ and ‘vertical’ Europeanization with the former based on cross-references to political events and occurrences in other EU Member States and the latter on references to the EU as a ‘core’ of the European polity. Both vectors of horizontal and vertical Europeanisation are essentially built on the processes of the so-called ‘claims-making’ with each instance of the latter defined as “a strategic action in the public sphere” (Koopmans and Erbe, 2004: 98) which “consists of the purposive and public articulation of political demands, calls to action, proposals, criticisms, or physical attacks, which, actually or potentially, affect the interests or integrity of the claimants and/or other collective actors” (Statham and Gray, 2005: 64). Within construction of EPS in the process of claim making and along the aforementioned vectors, further differentiation was made possible with regard to, inter alia, top-down and bottom-up variation of vertical (EU-related) claims. Whereas a bottom-up variation denotes claims “in which national actors address European actors and/or make claims on European issues” (Koopmans and Erbe 2004: 101), a top-down one stands for claims “in which European actors intervene in national policies and public debates in the name of European regulations and common interests” (ibid.). While the majority of studies on the construction of EPS in the national media focussed on their aforementioned Europeanisation, some in-depth studies pointed to the actual ways in which EU politics and EU-related political processes are presented in the media (cf., inter alia, della Porta and Caiani, 2006; Koenig et. al., 2006; de Vreese and Boomgarden 2006; de Vreese et. al. 2006). While the majority of those studies pointed to diverse regularities in the ways in which EU politics is presented in Europe’s national media, works such as by Oberhuber et. al. (2005) pointed to the fact that the negative framing prevails in most instances of reporting. As was suggested on the example of reporting of an EU summit, the ways in which EU politics is presented to the public through the media are always more or less negative and based on the media’s increased search for gossip and conflict rather than for trustworthy reporting of the European supranational political process. Accordingly, the image of the EU politics that frequently comes out of the media is the one of “struggle for power in Europe” (ibid: 262) or “of fundamental cleavages among the key EU member states” (ibid). Needless to say, such image can only add fuel to the further increase of Euroscepticism and public mistrust in the European project (as well as a recourse to the


Micha Krzyanowski

national perceptions and visions of Europe) rather than contribute to the construction of a European Public Sphere. Another problematic aspect of the focus on ‘Europeanisation’ of the national media in the debates on the EPS resided in the largely a-historical character of most of the studies proposed in late 1990s and early 2000s. Namely, the majority of the works from that period focussed solely on synchronic aspects of construction of the EPS by looking at how the current EU- and Europe-wide specific events were reported across the national media. Accordingly, the EU – in its modern i.e. post-Maastricht form – was almost always treated as central to the development of the EPS, which, in its construction, was supposed to be built on references to and interpretations of the current stage of the European integration process. By the same token, the visions and conceptions of Europe and EU circulating in the EPS were treated as if ‘produced anew’ in the course of national interpretations of ideas and actions related to the evolving political epicentre of the EU. However, going against that trend, several works (cf. Krzyanowski, 2009b; Triandafyllidou, Wodak and Krzyanowski, 2009; Meyer, 2010; Schulz-Forberg and Stråth, 2010) have argued that EPS cannot be considered as a ‘new’ and a strictly-synchronic process. On the contrary, most of those works argued for the historically-sensitive perception of the EPS and claimed that many of the current aspects of the EPS – as well as of the reasons for its still apparent absence or underdevelopment – stem from the fact that, as such, prevalent visions of supranational Europe do not draw on the longue durée of European perceptions and imaginaries which existed in national domains long before the arrival of the EU. Some of those studies even showed that the traditional ways of reporting (and interpretation) of postWar European crises – such as the 1956 in Prague, 1968 in both Western and Eastern Europe, 1989 in Central and Eastern Europe and so on – have for the long time been indicative of why a post-national EPS cannot unfold in a situation where national interpretations of socio-political change always prevail in European media (cf. Krzyanowski, 2009b; Triandafyllidou, Wodak and Krzyanowski, 2009; for details). Allowing for the huge intensity and diversity of debates on the European Public Sphere in the academia, it is surprising that the notion did not make way into the EU policy and political discourses until mid 2000s. Though some ideas related to the (European) Public Sphere are present in earlier documents related to the role of communication in the EU system – such as, e.g., the White Paper on European Governance (cf. Krzyanowski, Triandafyllidou and Wodak, 2009 and above) – the EPS as such becomes part of the EU discourse with the arrival of the CEC 2005-09 Communication Policy (cf. above) through the development of which we see an ever-clearer EU-specific understanding of the EPS. As was argued in the aforementioned Plan-D in 2005, in fact the entire set of actions incorporated into what is known as CEC Communication Policy (and Strategy) aims to “set out a long-term plan to reinvigorate European democracy and help the emergence of a European public sphere, where citizens are given the information and the tools to actively participate in the decision making process and gain ownership of the European project” (European Commission, 2005b: 2-3). However, the most elaborate EU-originating vision of the EPS comes from the central document of the CEC Communication Strategy i.e. the White Paper on Euro-

(Mis-) communicating Europe? ...


pean Communication Policy where the EPS is put as part of the ‘New Approach’ to Communication and as foundational element of the multi-directional dialogue with the European citizens. There, at first, the CEC puts forth a vision whereby it acknowledges that, in fact, the EPS should be seen as a national construct which, at best, can be Europeanised (as suggested in the majority of academic debates on the EPS, cf. above). As it is suggested, the ‘public sphere’ within which political life takes place in Europe is largely a national sphere. To the extent that European issues appear on the agenda at all, they are seen by most citizens from a national perspective. The media remain largely national, partly due to language barriers; there are few meeting places where Europeans from different Member States can get to know each other and address issues of common interest. (European Commission, 2006: 4).

Secondly, however, the White Paper argues that although located primarily within the national domains and nationally-centred media systems, the EPS beyond national perceptions and visions must be developed in order to foster citizens’ identification with the European project where the ever-more decisions affecting the lives of EU citizens are taken. Such EPS must also tackle the negative perceptions of European politics (cf. above) which are frequently coming out of national media thus impairing the image of European integration process. Thus, as is argued, Europe also needs to find its place in the existing national, regional and local ‘public spheres’ and the public discussion across Member States must be deepened. This is first and foremost the responsibility of the public authorities in the Member States. It is the responsibility of government, at national, regional and local level, to consult and inform citizens about public policy – including European policies and their impact on people’s daily lives – and to put in place the forums to give this debate life. (ibid: 5).

While it surely needs to be acknowledged that, after long last, the EU finally started to embrace the idea of an EPS as relevant to the political organism of the EU, it is difficult not to notice the shortcomings of conceptions of EPS developed at the supranational level. First, the conception proposed in the CEC Communication Policy drew extensively on only one idea of the EPS prevalent in the academia – viz. the idea on the Europeanisation of the national media. By the same token, the EU clearly discarded the importance of other conceptions which would allow for both historical and context-sensitive conceptualisation of the EPS. Both the former and the latter would be crucial for not only nominally ‘going local’ but for de-facto recognising the immense heterogeneity of the EPS as consisting of ‘multiple spaces of political communication’ (cf. Schlesinger, 1999 and 2003; cf. also Fossum and Schlesinger, 2007; Eriksen and Fossum, 2000 and 2002). Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, the EU Communication Policy also failed to develop a truly post-national idea of an EPS. Hence, while embracing the prevalent academic models, it failed to provide foundations for the development of a supranational space of communication which, irrespective of the national domains, could forge new perceptions of the European integration e.g. by means of further development of transnational European media.


Micha Krzyanowski

6. Conclusions Presented above, the extensive analyses of communication within EU as a system of multilevel governance have pointed to the fact that, as such, communication is central for opening up the EU system to the European citizens and for making it more transparent and accountable to the European public(s). As it has been argued, only with sufficient and correct development of communication within the EU institutions, between those institutions and the broader public, and within the pan-European Public Sphere, can Europe become closer to its citizens and respond well to their expectations towards supranational politics and policies. Without proper communication – rather than just information – between the EU and the broader public the latter will remain misinformed about what the Union is and does and whether it can indeed respond to the challenges of late-modern world characterised by increased social, political and economic uncertainty and insecurity. By the same token, without receiving feedback from the public in the multidirectional process of communication, the EU itself will not be able to choose the right direction and form for its policies which, without public endorsement, will fail to reach their basic aims of improving the equal level of life and of social cohesion across Europe. While, as argued above, the European Union has taken some actions towards improving its image and fostering its Communication Polices and Strategies, it seems that many of those actions still suffer from deficiencies and shortcomings which, on aggregate, result in the still apparent inefficiency of the EU’s communication-related actions. First, within the level of communication within or between the major EU institutions, the central issue of multilingualism is far from ideal despite many attempts at improving the ways in which linguistic repertoires in the EU-institutional milieus are governed and practiced. Accordingly, internal communication in the major EU institutions becomes highly heterogeneous with practically each of those institutions developing ‘shortcut’ linguistic repertoires that go round the founding principles of multilingualism in the EC/EEC/EU. That, on the other hand, makes room for what has been defined as hegemonic multilingualism i.e. a system whereby inequality between different languages becomes a fact and where principles of equal status of ‘official’ and ‘working’ languages are violated. Coupled with the anyway low representativeness of the EU multilingualism with regard to linguistic diversity of the broader Europe – and the notable absence in the EU institutions of both migrant and minority languages (cf. above) – multilingual communication in the Union’s institutions is far from ideal and far from being able to develop a democratising potential. Secondly, while surely fostered in recent years by a variety of actions and policies, the external communication between the EU and the European citizens is still far from being a fait accompli. On the one hand, as is evident from the provided analysis, most of the actions which aim at developing ‘external’ communication are still short lived and ad-hoc and, as it seems, are not part of a long-term commitment for a democratic exchange of views between the Union and the European public. Those actions are also, in the majority of cases, seen as extension of the earlier ‘information’ actions which only informed about what the EU is and does rather than perceived communication as

(Mis-) communicating Europe? ...


a multidirectional process whereby the institutions of the Union are seeking feedback from the European populace. Finally, the external communication actions are still not a matter of an orchestrated, EU-wide policy. On the contrary, while some institutions (such as the CEC) notice the necessity of strengthening their communication channels and thus opening them for the public scrutiny by means of interinstitutional actions, other institutions still prevent the development of joint actions which would help improve the overall image of the Union as transparent and publically-accountable. Thus, it seems, the external communication is still hostage to institutional and political rivalry which does not allow for developing long-term interinstituional policy of both communication and information. Finally, with regard to the European Public Sphere, we have also seen a set of mistaken conceptions and actions which cause that the EPS as a transnational sphere of communicating and debating Europe is still largely inexistent. On the one hand, one could witness a development where, by endorsing some visions of the EPS already criticised in the academia, the EU policy started to favour the strongly-national anchorage and debates on both Europe and the EU. While that development provided the Union with a quick and easy – yet clearly somewhat simplistic – diagnosis on the de facto reasons for underdevelopment of the EPS, it simultaneously opened the way for a set of processes which are profoundly against open and transnational deliberation of ‘matters European’. Namely, by favouring the strictly ‘national’ character of the EPS, the EU started to favour a model whereby too much voice is given to media institutions which are only seemingly ‘national’ and in fact either belong to transnational corporations (which are in most cases beyond public control and scrutiny) or stem from the ever-more weakened system of Europe’s public broadcasters. In such a context, media do not contribute to the support for the European integration – and the rise of the EPS – but, in fact, by favouring negative visions and conceptions of Europe inculcated in media policies driven by principles of newsworthiness and of their own logics of increasing audiences/readerships, to the rise of Euroscepticism and public disenchantment with European politics. On the other hand, by favouring the aforementioned ‘national’ model of the EPS in their policies, the EU institutions have missed the chance of becoming a key actor in fostering post-national modes and channels of communication in contemporary Europe. Those modes and channels – within e.g. the development of a transnational media system independent of national media institutions – could support a prompt creation of an EPS – which could foster public interest in European politics and its central role to the future of Europe – much better than the current models. While, to be sure, this article does not argue that simple solutions can be found to deficiencies of communication in a multilevel system as complex as that of the EU, it claims that the Union should at least learn from its mistakes in the field of regulating and practicing institutional and extra-institutional communication. Thus, before embarking on any new communication-related projects, the EU should first recognise that multilingualism in its key institutions requires inter- rather than intra-institutional regulations which would allow for coping with increasing complexity of linguistic repertoires in Union’s key bodies. It should also allow for the fact that, however organised and practiced, multilingual communication in the EU institutions has wider impli-


Micha Krzyanowski

cations for why European citizens do not identify with the somewhat elitist and nonrepresentative construction of the EU (cf. also Habermas, 2009). Then, the EU should see that the long-term and orchestrated interinstitutional policy and strategy of external communication would be much more efficient than short-lived and uncoordinated actions undertaken by selected EU institutions to date. Such a policy and strategy would allow the Union to speak with one clear voice which would be much more intelligible to European citizens than the complex and indeed heterogeneous messages originating from the Euro-polity at present. Finally, the EU should also stop favouring the strictlynational ideas of a European Public Sphere which only seemingly protect the interests of the EU member states and in fact are only profitable to the increasingly uncontrolled media institutions. By the same token, the Union should start looking for the ways to develop and implement a post-national media system which would help the Union win support of the European demos so much needed at the times of political and economic uncertainty. Only with such and other actions, which would help creating a truly ‘new approach’ to political and institutional communication at all levels of Europolity, can the EU eradicate its democratic deficit and make communication a central tool for the true democratisation of the recently shattered European project.

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Part IV Miscommunication in past discourse

Communication gaps in seventeenth century Britain: Explaining legal Scots to English practitioners1 Joanna Kopaczyk, Pozna 1. Setting the historical background This paper identifies communication gaps in the legal domain in a seventeenth-century British setting. Can one talk about intercultural miscommunication here? The historical multicultural character of the British Isles has recently been addressed again by Edwards (2004) and Ronowicz and Yallop (2007). In both books, a short space is devoted to Scotland and its inclusion in the growing sphere of political and economic hegemony of England in the seventeenth-to-eighteenth centuries.2 Even though Britain towards the end of the seventeenth century could be broadly described as a linguistic continuum, it is justifiable to talk about intercultural communication between the two major geopolitical bodies within the island.3 Clearly, Scotland and England rose from different historical backgrounds; they had a long history of mutual conflicts and animosities; their landscape and geography were different; their economy was different; their customs and laws were distinct; and the people practised their religion under different ideological convictions. All these aspects fall within the concept of culture, as the environment in which a given group functions becomes reflected in material and non-material culture (cf. the definition of culture in Johnson (ed.) 2000: 73-74). Hofstede and Hofstede (2005: 4) stress the fact that culture is learned and that it defines its members; it is “the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from others”. This recognition of collective distinctiveness has always been present in the mutual relations between Scotland and England. 1



I wish to thank the Polish Academy of Sciences (Polska Akademia Nauk) and the Royal Society of Edinburgh for a library research grant at the University of Edinburgh. I would also like to acknowledge the generous support of the Foundation for Polish Science (Fundacja Nauki Polskiej) for my participation in the 11th International Pragmatics Association Conference in Melbourne, Australia, 2009. The present paper has benefited greatly from my email discussions with Iseabail Macleod of the Scottish National Dictionary and Dr Dauvit Horsbroch from the Scots Language Centre. I would also like to thank Professor Hector MacQueen (University of Edinburgh) and Dr John Finlay (University of Glasgow) for sharing their expertise in Scottish legal history. I am grateful to Professor Hans Sauer (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München), Agata Daleszyska and Emilia Wróbel (University of Edinburgh) for their help in accessing some crucial material for this paper, and to Dr Anthea Fraser Gupta (University of Leeds) for her comments on the paper and stylistic improvements. All the remaining shortcomings are nonetheless my own responsibility. In England itself, despite its multi-ethnic composition stemming from Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Norman and Scandinavian roots, the tendency was to look for historical unity and continuity rather than diversity. “[T]he seventeenth and eighteenth centuries scarcely bear witness to any profounder sense of England as a multicultural nation” (Kidd 1999: 77). Compare e.g. the paper by Auer and Kern (1994) on the East vs West German communication after the fall of the Berlin Wall.


Joanna Kopaczyk

In 1603, in the newly established Union of the Crowns, the two countries – and the two cultures – started to share the sovereign, James VI and I, whose dream was “a true union of the kingdoms – one law, one religion, one political system” (Morrill 1996: 75). As a consequence of this utopian vision, the seventeenth century was a period when both sides felt it was necessary to negotiate their roles and rights within this heterogeneous political entity (Ferguson 1994). Today it is easy to fall into the trap of perceiving the events of the seventeenth century within a teleological frame, as if they were leading up to some ultimate goal which, from our perspective, was an inevitable political union of two realms and two nations. However, looking at the seventeenth century with a synchronic eye, one notices that it was a turbulent enough time, politically and socially, to grant no certainties as to the future of the union. Contemporary writings and historical evidence indicate that it was the time of status negotiations and attempts to reconcile the two traditions, two cultures, two nations4 living under one monarch. “[M]en on both sides of the Border continued for more than a century to argue bitterly over what exactly was and should be joined and what exactly was and should be separate” (Daiches 1977: 17). One of the most prominent areas of difference within the Anglo-Scottish union was law. Scots law is an example of the so-called mixed system. Its ‘mixed’ nature does not imply that it is inefficient or chaotic but rather that it is unique. The Scottish legal system “is not narrowly parochial, having shared in drawing something from the legal systems of antiquity, nor yet insular, having strong historical connections and logical affinities with legal systems of and derived from continental Europe” (Walker 2001: 23). Scots law uses two fundamental sources for its doctrines and tools: the civil law practice of Rome and the continent, and the elements of common law, related to the feudal tradition in the British Isles. Unlike the English legal system, law in Scotland is based on principle rather than precedent, and enjoys an unbroken historical continuity. The long-term plan of James VI and I was to conflate the laws of both nations, but “[r]ather than imposing Scottish institutions on England, as his English Parliament had feared, James was more inclined to impose English institutions on the Scots” (Travers 2003: 93). However, an imposition of the English legal system on Scotland faced criticism because the union was not a result of conquest – when such an imposition of law would have perfect grounds – but of inheritance. The Scots were eager for a loose, federal union, where “conservatores pacis or parliamentary commissioners […] would liaise between the free and separate executive and legislative bodies of the two king4

I am using the term nation in a pre-industrial and pre-Romantic sense. Nationalism is a notion developed in nineteenth-century post-industrial Europe. However, one can talk about nations and the feeling of national identity with reference to earlier periods, especially in Scotland. Here, I follow Connor’s definition of a nation as “a self-aware ethnic group” (1978: 388). This awareness stems from what Anderson has called an “imagined community” (1991) – a feeling of unity with people one has never met or heard of, evoked by shared history and experience. In this context, I accept Millar’s definition of nationalism, where it “represents a belief in an ethnic, cultural and linguistic connection within a grouping, and their belief both in their right and ability to govern themselves” (2005: 28). Scotland is a good example of a country where this belief was born relatively early on, together with the national consciousness awakened during the late thirteenthto-fourteenth-century Wars of Independence, see the famous Declaration of Arbroath (1320).

Communication gaps in seventeenth century Britain ...


doms” (Morrill 1996: 85). Some influential thinkers, such as Sir Francis Bacon, joined in the debate in 1607 and stated that due to sufficient common background in feudalism, unification of laws would be plausible but the process would necessarily take very long (Ford 2007: 101). Others chose to pursue a more immediate agenda. Later in the century, Oliver Cromwell’s idea of the final conquest of the northern kingdom included a forcible introduction of English law and English judges to Scotland, which he carried out in the 1650s, to the obvious discontent of the Scots (Ford 2007: 107-117). In the end, Cromwell did not succeed in taking the power over in Scotland but the question of the law in the union remained unsolved. A changing social setting, such as in Britain after the Union of the Crowns, can be conducive to changes in “aims, motives, interests, public and private behaviour, institutions, formulae and rituals” (Jacobs and Jucker 1995: 5), each being constructed and transmitted linguistically. Nevertheless, language issues, an important part of the cultural mosaic, are not very prominent in historical analyses of the seventeenth century. Morrill does not see language as a token of regional identity and paints a rather smooth picture of communication within the Stuart realm: “The elites in all three kingdoms [England, Scotland and Ireland] spoke variations of the English language, and senior officials could also […] communicate in Latin. By 1690 probably 90 per cent of the inhabitants of the archipelago could speak English, if not as a first language” (Morrill 1996: 75). It is true that overt negative attitudes towards linguistic usage in Scotland as well as conscious efforts to eradicate Scotticisms from educated speech and writing intensified only after the final Union of 1707 (Dossena 2005: 57-82). Still, the impression that during the seventeenth century communication within the island was unimpeded requires a second look. A late-seventeenth-century insight into problematic areas of communication in the legal context between the Scots and the English is offered in a glossary of Scots legal terms, addressed with all plausibility to English practitioners, and appended to a popular legal treatise authored by Sir George Mackenzie. This paper aims at highlighting the potential sources of such intercultural miscommunication through an etymological and semantic analysis of lexicographic material in the glossary, employing a pragmaphilological approach. Verschueren (1999: 7) claims that pragmatics is not a separate level of language but “a general cognitive, social, and cultural perspective on linguistic phenomena in relation to their usage in forms of behaviour”. In turn, pragmaphilology highlights the elements of culture in the linguistic context. Jacobs and Jucker see pragmaphilology as a study which “describes the contextual aspects of historical texts, including the addressers and addressees, their social and personal relationship, the physical and social setting of text production and text reception, and the goal(s) of the text” (Jacobs and Jucker 1995: 11). As noticed by Carroll et al. (2003: 2), the pragmaphilological approach is therefore synchronic in nature. Considered against the historical and social background presented above, the list of glossed words should reveal the sources of communication gaps between the Scots and the English in the late seventeenth century. Naturally, the context in which the glossed lexemes appeared would belong to legal discourse, sometimes as part of specialised terminology which required a gloss, sometimes bringing out a specific difference between the Scottish and the English legal systems. What is rather unusual and intriguing is that the


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glossary also translated and explained non-legal Scots words which surfaced in Mackenzie’s legal treatise. It remains the aim of this discussion to pinpoint the areas of potential miscommunication which had caused the compilation of the glossary, and the selection of these very items.

2. Glossaries and specialised dictionaries Glossing is an activity connected with learning. It has been used from the very beginning to bridge cultural differences. Sauer (2009: 27) points out that from the earliest times glossary entries were often instances of “cultural substitution”. For example, the unfamiliar social concept of res publica was glossed as cyningdom in Old English glossaries. Parallel word lists were mostly compiled to aid the reading of important individual texts, religious and philosophical, as well as those presenting arcane knowledge. Legal dictionaries were initially compiled, and most often still are, with a professional audience in mind.5 Apparently, early publishers saw more profit in such specialised dictionaries, which would be of daily service to their professional users, than in general dictionaries “which the user would access only when he found himself in difficulties with some randomly occurring hard word” (Hoare 2009: 54). Thus, a specialised professional audience was more attractive for the book industry. Dictionaries would offer crucial linguistic guidance for lawyers in the early and late modern period. As Forte puts it, “[t]he importance of language to the law can scarcely be overestimated. Whether the context is the interpretation of words in a juridical act, […] or the construction of legislation, the meaning of the wording employed and sometimes the effect of grammar also can be of crucial significance” (2005: 61). Law has been identified as the area of heated debates over vocabulary and its meaning (Read 1986: 30). This special character of legal vocabulary has often been attributed to its conservative nature, reliance on foreignisms, most often Latinisms, semantic repetition or ambiguity, and other typical features.6 5


Hoare maintains that early specialised dictionaries were addressed to practitioners; only in the nineteenth century did the dictionaries start targeting the group of educated lay people (2009: 86). Nevertheless, in the early and late modern period, the general public also showed interest in legal matters and terminology. The first published dictionary in English was, in fact, John Rastell’s work on legal lexis, Exposiciones Terminorum Legum Anglorum in 1527, which “predates general lexicons by over half a century” (Hoare 2009: 85). It is classified among the so-called ‘hardword’ glossaries (Lancashire 2007: 109). In the early-eighteenth century general technical and scientific dictionary, Harris’s Lexicon Technicum (1705), the lemmas related to the law constitute the largest thematic group: 1742 entries, compared to the next largest field of navigation with 671 terms. Legal lexicography in seventeenth-century England was a politically loaded practice: all available copies of Cowell’s Interpreter (1607) were burnt three years later by the hangman because the entry on the Royal Prerogative claimed that “Parliament is clearly subordinate to an absolute monarch” (Auchter 2001:165, see also Hoare 2009: 85). Even the king, James VI/I, was shaken by this bold statement and wrote to the Parliament that “it was dangerous to submit the power of a king to definition” and that he “was willing to admit he did not have to power to create laws by himself or levy subsidies without the consent of parliament” (Auchter 2001: 166). On the “grand mixture of languages” in law see Mellinkoff (1963); on etymological sources of legal English vocabulary, law Latin and law French see also Tiersma (1999: 9-47, 59-65); for a

Communication gaps in seventeenth century Britain ...


Legal dictionaries were “creating” the legal system with explanations and quotations from historical statutes. When confronted with a different culture, a different social or legal system, as was the case throughout the history of the English expansion, within the island as well as beyond it, English law was treated as a privileged and prestigious code to be imposed on the locals. That solution was easier than “translating” and adjusting social systems and the concepts on which those systems were based. However, the confrontation of legal systems of Scotland and England happened in very specific historical and cultural circumstances. Both kingdoms had developed independent legal traditions and institutions and an imposition of one system over the other was impossible,7 also from the linguistic point of view.

3. Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh and the glossary 3.1. Mackenzie’s life and work in a nutshell Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh (1636-1691) was a true exponent of the early Enlightenment. Interested in many aspects of social and political life, he was not only a lawyer, but also a writer of pamphlets and treatises on topics such as morality, religion, rhetoric and history, as well as the author of Aretina, which some claim to have been the first Scottish novel (Lang 2005: 2, Sellar 1991, Omond 1883: 203). In a recent volume on literature, politics and history of the British archipelago in the formative period between 1603 and 1707, Mackenzie is called “the gifted littérateur” (Kerrigan 2008: 268). His books would have been found on the shelves of a late-seventeenth century “genteel Scots lawyer”, alongside the works of Bacon, Hobbes, Shakespeare, Milton, Dryden and other important authors (Emerson 2007: 85). His legacy is greater than the books he wrote – he was a leading character among a group of educated and erudite Scots who set up the Advocates’ Library; its collection later became the cornerstone of the National Library of Scotland (Emerson 2007, Finlay 2000, Whyte 1995, Daiches 1977). A student in Aberdeen, St Andrews and Bourges in France, Mackenzie fostered his legal career during the turbulent times of political and religious clashes in seventeenth-century Scotland. In his public addresses, he objected to hastiness in deciding on a closer union of the two kingdoms, Scotland and England, debated hotly in the


general overview of lexical features see Danet (1980: 476-477) and Tiersma (1999: Chapter Six); on standardisation and law, see Rissanen (1999); on specialisation and technical nature of legal vocabulary see Maley (1994: 22-26); on the symbolic and rhetorical nature of legal vocabulary and on lexicalisation phenomena, see Goodrich (1987: 176-181); on binomials (motivations and etymologies) see Mellinkoff (1963: 121-122), Koskenniemi (1968), Danet (1984), Gustafsson (1984), Hiltunen (1990: 54-55), Bhatia (1993: 108-110), Kopaczyk (2009); on vocabulary differences between British English (by which he, of course, means the English of English law) and American English see Haigh (2004: xxiv-xxvi); on semantic ambiguity of legal terms see Hiltunen (1990, Chapter Three) and Gibbons (2005: 287-289). Legal historians point out that Scots law was influenced by English law, especially in its early formative stages (MacQueen 1995, Forte 2001). But never was Scotland forced to employ English legal instruments or follow English legal regulations and traditions.


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Parliament, and he called for a national discussion on the issue (Omond 1883: 205). However, he always acted as a loyal subject of the King, which earned him his knighthood. The final step on the ladder was becoming Lord Advocate, the public prosecutor for the state and the royal representative in legal matters. His nickname – ‘Bluidy Mackenzie’ – was coined during the prosecutions of a religious dissident group, the Covenanters, who took action against what they saw as Stuart interference with Presbyterian Christianity. In order to keep law and order, Mackenzie supervised and commanded “shootings out of hand and torture as well as fines and confiscations” (Daiches 1977: 37). On the wave of the ‘Glorious Revolution’ and the fall of the House of Stuart, to which Mackenzie, a declared monarchist and absolutist, held his loyalty, he was exiled from Scotland to London and Oxford in 1689, where he was appreciated for his erudition and published works. In historical accounts, Mackenzie comes across as an erudite lawyer with a true calling, faithful to his opinions and views. He is an outspoken and brave individual, ready to fight with stifling conventions – when he wears an ordinary gown or pleads without his hat on (Cairns 1999: 53, fn. 20). He is ready to become unpopular and even hated by the people because of his ardent adherence to the letter of the strict law in ruthless times. He embodies the qualities of a seventeenth-century Scots humanist: “Tory, Episcopalian, supporter of the royal house of Stewart and anti-England” (MacLean, in MacQueen 1986a: 88-89). 3.2. The Institutions of the Law of Scotland and the glossary Mackenzie’s treatise, The Institutions of the Law of Scotland, first published in 1684 probably as a product of rivalry with another great Scottish lawyer, Lord Stair,8 was of paramount importance for Scottish legal education and history. Tucker (2002: 117) reminds us that “for almost a century, it was a means of introducing entrants to the legal professions, and it was a text book used for examination as well, with nine editions up to 1758”. MacQueen (1986a: 85) remarks that Mackenzie’s work as Dean of the Faculty “paved the way for law as a university subject in Scotland”, where both law and education can be seen as exponents and vehicles of Scottish culture. There is no denying that Mackenzie’s Institutions were a popular book in legal circles; since its first publication in Edinburgh in 1684 it enjoyed nine editions throughout the next century (Watson 1971: 1690-1691). On this basis, one could argue that the intended audience for the book was Scottish and that the glossary had a different purpose than explaining unfamiliar Scots words to foreigners, for instance stigmatizing Scotticisms. This, however, would defeat the purpose of a specialised glossary.9 8


Lord Stair published a book under the very same title, Institutions of the Law of Scotland, three years earlier. However, it is Mackenzie’s work that, according to MacQueen, “fits better than that of Stair into the general European pattern of institutional writings” (1986a: 84). He continues, claiming that “[d]espite Stair’s stature in Scottish legal history, it is Mackenzie’s view of the sources [of Scots law] which was in the mainstream of Scottish legal writing from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century” (1986a: 85). Lists of Scotticisms to avoid appear only after the Union of 1707, and in fact well into the eighteenth century (Dossena 2005: 59). For example, David Hume’s compilation of Scotticisms was

Communication gaps in seventeenth century Britain ...


If the glossary was supposed to serve as a helpful tool for Scottish students of law who used the Institutions as their handbook, why gloss non-legal terms, such as loches or bairn (see the discussion below)? Indeed, there is sufficient evidence that the book was read outside Scotland, and that the glossary was fashioned with a foreign reader in mind. The glossary was first attached to the treatise in the edition of 1694, printed by Andrew Bell and Jonas Luntley in Chancery Lane in London.10 The title of the London edition runs as follows: The Institutions of the Law of Scotland: By Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, His late Majesty’s advocate. With an alphabetical explanation of the most difficult Scots words, which clearly indicates that the glossary was an important addition to the text and it was intended for the benefit of an English reader.11 Were English lawyers really the target audience of the glossary? Hector MacQueen (personal communication) admits that there is no direct evidence for English readership of The Institutions. In his meticulous analysis of the contacts between Scottish and English printers of Mackenzie’s work, Cairns (1996: 9) concludes: “that the edition included [the glossary] at the end [...] suggests an intended English audience”. Indeed, English lawyers could well be interested in reading the work of the famous Scottish legal scholar. In the seventeenth century there was a degree of rivalry, an ongoing debate and mutual interest between Scottish and English lawyers, as both legal traditions were in the process of standardisation, and it was often a matter of politics and national pride to establish the superiority or greater antiquity of one system over the other. One of the arguments for the superiority of Scots law over the English sys-



appended to his Political Discourses, first published in 1752 (Dossena 2005: 65-72). By then, an attitude of prescriptivism towards the Scottish tongue had developed in educated and influential circles, both in London and Edinburgh, and “Scotland was experiencing a kind of linguistic ‘witch-hunt’ against Scotticisms” (Dossena 2005: 74). In 1680s and 90s, however, a decision to append a Scots-English glossary cannot have had such self-depreciating undertones but it should rather be seen as an attempt to bridge a linguistic and cultural gap in a multilingual kingdom, as I will try to demonstrate in this paper. In the 1680s, Mackenzie regularly published his works in London and Edinburgh simultaneously, e.g. A Vindication of his Majesties government (1683), Jus regium (1684), A defence of the antiquity of the royal line of Scotland (1685). In England, he was an esteemed author. As the editors of his Works inform us, he “dedicated [the book] to the University of Oxford, who were so sensible of our Author’s great Merit, that in a Convocation […] they order’d a Letter of Thanks to be sent to him, in the Name of the University, for his Book and his worthy Pains therein” (Mackenzie 1716: xi). Mackenzie often published his more important treatises in Latin for the benefit of European readers. Experts on Law from Bourges, Leyden, Danzig or Paris used to send “the great Eulogiums given to Sir George for […] the Usefulness of the Matters he treats of, and the Purity of the Language in which ‘tis wrote [and for his] noble Performance” (Mackenzie 1716: x), in letters addressed to Mackenzie but also to other people. An interesting aspect of the title is the allusion that only “the most difficult” Scots words have been glossed. In the treatise, other typically Scots borrowings can occasionally be found (e.g. annat BkI, V, 15-16), as well as borrowings with Scots derivation patterns (e.g. mandatar, mandant BkIII, III, 13), Scots spellings (e.g. ly ‘lie’ BkI, VII, 18h) or regional relics (nighest, of a person, BkI, VII, 7c). Perhaps the glossator skipped those words because they could be understood by the English with more ease due to some common features of both legal systems, or, indeed, the linguistic similarities between the two languages of the Union.


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tem is specialised and unambiguous language. As Gibb (1992: ix) remarked in his preface to a modern legal Scots glossary, The separation of lawyer’s and layman’s language in Scotland is the more acute because a Scots lawyer may have a technical term for the expression of some idea which the layman usually expresses by an English word that is at once a lawyer’s and a layman’s word. [To give an example], few Scots laymen would use “sequestration” which, however, is the correct legal expression for bankruptcy in Scotland. (Gibb 1992: ix)

The addressee – an English legal practitioner – can thus be established with a sufficient degree of certainty. What is intriguing, though, is the speculative authorship of the glossary. The first two editions of the book have no glossary at the end (Edinburgh 1684 and 1688). We know that Mackenzie was not satisfied with the first edition and that he worked on improving the material, because he clearly says so in the advertisement preceding the text of the second edition: The Author having considered […] that some Notes upon papers a part, had either fallen by, or were misplaced, to which he had not leasure to advert; Because the Book was Printed in time of Session; and when the Author was likewise much diverted by pub[l]ick Imployment. He therefore thought it neccessar, to give this second Edition (the first being now quite spent,) in which he has employed his last care in correcting this Impression, wherein several things are corrected, and many neccessar things added. (Mackenzie 1688)

Even so, he did not append a Scots-English glossary to the second edition. Soon after, in 1689, Mackenzie was exiled from Scotland and settled in Oxford and London. Even though he did plan to return, he never succeeded. He died in London in May 1691 (Omond 1883: 223-224). It is in London that the subsequent edition of the Institutions appeared, and this was the one with the glossary. There is very little to go on to establish its authorship. It may well have been compiled out of Mackenzie’s own notes – after all he had travelled frequently to England and spent his last years among English intellectual elites, which may have prompted him to adjust his writings to the needs of the English audience. Mackenzie had always been outwardly proud of his Scottish tongue and culture, and spoke in a loud voice about the appropriateness of Scots for legal discourse. In the fragment below, which Manolescu called the “encomium to the Scottish tongue” (2002: 286), he concentrated on pleading, inextricably linked with Scots law (see MacQueen 1986b), and commented on the discrepancies in Scottish and English wordstock which were caused by different conditions of language contact: It may seem a paradox to others, but to me it appears undeniable, that the Scottish idiom of the British tongue is more fit for pleading than [...] the English idiom [...]; for certainly a pleader must use a brisk, smart, and quick way of speaking; whereas the English, who are a grave nation, use a too slow and grave pronunciation […]. As to the words wherein the difference lies, ours are for the most part old French words, borrowed during the old league betwixt our nations, as cannel for cinnamon, and servit for napkin […]; and if the French tongue be at least the equal of English, I see not why ours should be worse than it (“What Eloquence is fit for the Bar”, cited in Kay 1993: 81-82).

Communication gaps in seventeenth century Britain ...


In Mackenzie’s day, the language of the Bar was ‘educated Scots’.12 Even though he wrote The Institutions in English, he could not have eliminated the Scots lexical and phraseological element, necessary as it was in reference to Scottish law. What is more, he would not have wanted to do it, given the “patriotic motives […] relevant to his legal publications” (Manolescu 2002: 280). Maybe he intended to publish a third, further improved, edition of his treatise, especially since his other books had now been successfully printed in England (e.g. his philosophical and moral writings, see Allan (1999)). This is where the printers come in. Cairns (1996: 8) suggests that Andrew Bell (one of the London printers of Mackenzie’s Institutions), who “had a Scottish origin [… and] close connections with Edinburgh printers and booksellers”, seems to have been interested in publishing works of Scottish provenance for the English market. The unsold sheets of the London edition of the Institutions served five years later as the basis for the third Scottish edition (Mackenzie 1699), albeit with a different title page. And the glossary was still there. Also, interestingly, in 1695 Bell advertised another book with a Scots-English glossary – an edition of Mr Rutherford’s Letters with an Explanation of Scots Words (Cairns 1996: 9). Nevertheless, in Mackenzie’s case we are dealing with a specialised legal glossary, at least in large part (see the discussion below) and it is unlikely that a lay person would be able to provide English counterparts for Scottish legal nomenclature. This observation may point to the incorporation of Mackenzie’s own unattested notes or the involvement of another Scottish lawyer. Speculative as the authorship of the glossary to Mackenzie’s Institutions may be, it is clear that the compiler of the glossary knew Scots and English legal terminology and wanted to alleviate potential comprehension gaps on the English market. The word-list appended to Mackenzie’s treatise is certainly one of the earliest glossaries of Scots legal terms13 and comprises 184 genre-specific Scots lexical items and expressions, which the compiler deemed foreign or simply incomprehensible to the ears and eyes of a potential reader. In comparison to the earliest, widely known and commented on glossary of Scottish legal terms, Skene’s De verborum significatione from 1597 (see Figure 1),14 this word-list looks different because it was compiled with 12



It is a common misconception that the model upon which an ‘improved’ language of Scotland was to be constructed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was the English of the south, as later Anglocentric prescriptivism would have us believe. Rather, it was “the language of the College, the Pulpit and the Bar” (Jones 2002: 102), overtly recognized as Scots middle class usage, with high prestige in the native land. The glossary provides new data for Scottish lexicographers. Iseabail Macleod, the Editor of the Scottish National Dictionary admitted she was not familiar either with Mackenzie’s glossary nor with any other similar work on legal lexicon from the period, although other kinds of glossaries were frequent (personal communication). Dr John Finlay has alerted me to an earlier dictionary of Scottish law by the judge David Chalmer of Ormond (1566), which is still in manuscript form and is currently being transcribed for the Stair Society (personal communication). Forte (2005: 64) mentions Skene and jumps to the eighteenth century to list “an unpublished manuscript of a Scots Law-Lexicon by John Spottiswoode” and a nineteenth-century Dictionary (and Digest) of the Law of Scotland by Robert and William Bell. These were followed by further publications in more modern times: see Primary Sources below. The works mentioned by Forte were designed to serve as sources of legal terminology for Scottish lawyers, students or laypeople of all backgrounds, and not to bridge communication gaps between the English and the Scots.


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a totally different purpose. Skene’s is a work written in Scots, and so it is addressed to a Scot who is trying to understand selected legal terms.15

Figure 1.

One sample entry from John Skene’s De Verborum (“Actilia”).

Instead of listing convoluted Latin terms and phrases pertaining to Scots law with lengthy explanations and even abridgements of statutes relating to a specific legal term, as was the case in Skene (Figure 1), the glossator of Mackenzie’s treatise clearly had something else in mind. In fact, only six of his items can be traced in Skene’s De verborum (Table 1). Table 1:

Skene’s legal terms included in the glossary

Skene’s entry

Scots entry in the glossary



English definition in the glossary bailliff



land belonging to the minister of each parish



minister’s house

Bludueit, uyte


drawing of blood in quarrels



a small fort


recognosce to a superior

return to a superior

* There is a misprint in the glossary; the word should be fortalice.

Even though The Institutions was a cornerstone of legal education in Scotland, it seems that the appended glossary did not provide an educational tool, explaining the 15

As such, it fits very well into early lexicographic tradition. Early dictionaries often included paraphrases, quotations from classics, lengthy explanations, or even personal impressions (Bately 2009: 48). For Hoare (2009: 86), those were precisely the characteristics which “set [law dictionaries] apart from other specialized works. Some entries may act as formal definitions rather than just glosses, and they can also act as abridgements of statutes, preserving the authority of the original”.

Communication gaps in seventeenth century Britain ...


intricacies of legal terminology. Instead, its author concentrated on sources of potential comprehension difficulty for a foreigner, most probably an English lawyer dealing with a Scottish legal treatise, and provided a brief, succinct definition or a one-word counterpart for the Scots term in English (see Figure 2).

Figure 2.

The title page of the glossary (1694 edition): the first 20 entries (“Accress – Bloodwits”).

Even though the book was written in English, the glossary lists a large number of Scots regional terms which may appear in legal discourse (e.g. with reference to places or objects of legal proceedings), items differing in their morphology (as in the cases where Scots and English use different derivational patterns), and spellings characteristic for Scots. Hence, this glossary is a more varied work than Skene and other specialised dictionaries. It indicates potential miscommunication areas and gives insight into linguistic problems in the multilingual British kingdom.


Joanna Kopaczyk

4. Method and material 4.1. The glossary and vocabulary selection In the glossary, we are given an insight into the areas of potential problems and the discrepancies between seventeenth-century Scots and English legal and general terminology, as seen and understood by a contemporary practitioner. The title of the glossary, “An Explanation of the most difficult Scots Words” in the 1694-1699 editions, or even “English words equipollent [equivalent] to Scots law terms” in 1723, suggests its purpose – the author seems to be saying: the Scots will understand this book, whereas English-speaking outsiders might stumble over some terms, spellings or meanings. Moreover, the selection and treatment of legal terminology sheds light on what a Scottish lawyer himself treated as a mark of legal Scottishness. The definitions are concise, usually containing not more than a synonym or a short definition, unlike more general dictionaries of the period which often included a paraphrase or explanatory details, or even personal impressions (Bately 2009: 48; cf. John Skene’s De verborum significatione discussed above). If we assume that the glossary was indeed compiled to aid the reading of the Institutions, it follows that the items selected to be glossed reflect potential areas of miscommunication, identified by the author. The glossary is thus somebody’s individual and subjective list, but it certainly gives insight into communication gaps in the legal domain in the two kingdoms just before the final union. 4.2. Etymologies The study of etymological backgrounds of the headwords in the glossary is useful to establish sources of intercultural miscommunication for three reasons. Firstly, the Scots and the English had their own histories of language contact and their general vocabulary stock differed with regard to its ultimate or even immediate roots. Secondly, Scots law developed independently, drawing to a large extent on continental models, which would, in turn, equip legal discourse in Scotland with foreign nomenclature. Thirdly, all legal glossaries in Europe included some Latin terms, characteristic for legal discourse. In this light, it is interesting to see whether the glossary appended to Mackenzie’s treatise concentrated mostly on Latin legal word-stock. The words included in the glossary come from two major etymological backgrounds: Romance and Germanic. As the Romance vocabulary had entered Scots through various paths in terms of circumstances and chronology, the words within this group can be divided into several subgroups (see Table 2 for the labels and explanations). The amount of Celtic terminology glossed is very small, just three headwords:16 feal ‘green turf for hedging or inclosures’, loches ‘lakes’ and tocher ‘wife’s portion’, few in number if one considers the fact that Mackenzie looked to ancient Dalriadic customs and law in search for Scottish ius regni and patriotic exegesis in late seven16

All entries in the 1694 glossary, which was the basis for this investigation, begin with capital letters, as do most nouns in the definitions. I have modernised the spelling in this respect. All examples are provided with the glossary’s definitions unless stated otherwise.


Communication gaps in seventeenth century Britain ...

teenth-century royalist discourse (Kidd 2004: 141-143). These three entries are, in fact, illustrative of the three major possible sources of miscommunication with Englishspeaking audience: a conceptual gap, general regional vocabulary, and different law systems (see the discussion in 4.4.1. below). However, the initial expectation and the first impression was that the majority of headwords, deemed by the author as needing a gloss, came from Latin and were characteristic for Scots only. Etymologies17 were checked in the Dictionary of the Scots Language (henceforth DSL) and the Oxford English Dictionary (henceforth OED), and fall into groups outlined in Table 2. An additional complication is connected with the potential involvement of English in the transmission of Romance vocabulary into Scots. The situation is straightforward when there was no English cognate for a Scots word. But when there was one, the borrowing may have entered both languages separately and independently, its adoption into Scots may have been mediated through English, or the other way around. Difficult to assess as this role of English is, some indirect information may be drawn from quotation chronologies in historical dictionaries, as discussed in Table 2. All the examples have been taken from the glossary. Table 2: Label

Etymological labels and percentage of glossary entries Explanation





Ultimately from Latin but attested in Old French and Middle English earlier than in Scots, also when a Scots cognate had a different morphological shape, with the possibility of morphological adaptation after the word had been borrowed from English;




Ultimately from Latin but attested in Old French earlier than in Scots, and marked as Scots in the dictionaries regardless of a Middle English counterpart;



F / ME

Scots quotations predated by both French and Middle English cognates; it cannot be ruled out that the word entered Scots through English;




Old French indicated as the source; Scots only, or attested in Scots earlier than in English;




Latin in Scots only; either: 1) directly from Latin, or: 2) directly from Latin and attested in English later than in Scots; sometimes a word with a specialised legal sense straight from Latin, even though non-specialised uses exist in Old French and Middle English;**

L>F [cognate in ME]


Old English (all items marked as dialectally northern)




Common Germanic




Old Norse




Mixed compound of Germanic origin




A hybrid compound: Germanic and Romance roots combined;




Celtic or/and Scottish Gaelic



no etym

No etymology given in both DSL and OED





** For instance, in the case of act, the DSL quotes the Acts of Scottish Parliament from 1398: “Articlys that beys done or executyt in the said office sal be putte in act with the day & place”; the meaning of ‘a record of transactions or decrees’ appears in English, according to the OED, only in mid-sixteenth century (s.v. act n, 6a); therefore this item has been listed as [L].


When a phrase was involved, to establish etymology I looked at the head only, e.g. College of Justice > college.


Joanna Kopaczyk

This detailed list illustrates the wealth of possibilities for the expansion of Scots lexis as a result of language contact, with various degrees, directions and chronology of influences. Out of this overview, three major sources of glossed vocabulary emerge: Latin (of all sorts) – 61%, Germanic (OE and ON) – 24%, and French – 13%. The rest is negligible, with just three items from Scottish Gaelic and one with uncertain etymology, possibly also Celtic. The ratio of Latin vocabulary in the glossary indicates clearly that the Roman law had formative influence on Scots law, and that such terminology and concepts did not enter the lexical repository of English (or if they did, their meaning was unrelated to law, cf. caption, which to Mackenzie means ‘a writ for taking a man’). This is the first area of intercultural miscommunication with the English, visible in a Scots legal treatise in the seventeenth century. Latin borrowings are most often connected with the legal system. There is one example of direct importation of a Latin formula intuitue, which the glossary translated as ‘with regard or respect to’. Otherwise, Latin borrowings were adapted to Scots spelling and morphology. Half of the 50 Latin borrowings in the glossary bear direct connection to Scottish legal system or Roman legal terminology. Among those are terms for persons, e.g. tutor, translated as ‘guardian’, or cedent, translated as ‘he that makes a grant’; legal activities, e.g. cognition, translated as ‘cognizance’, or emption, whose English counterpart, ‘buying’, is much wider semantically and pragmatically (see the comment in section 3.2. about more specialisation in Scots legal jargon); or even Latin modifiers characteristic for legal discourse, e.g. nimious ‘too much’ or relevant ‘sufficient’, in English translations. But Latin vocabulary which the English did not know was not limited to the area of law. For instance, the author chose to include in his glossary the word foggage, med.L. fogagium ‘winter grazing or grass’ (DSL, labelled in the OED as Scottish), and translated it as ‘grass which grows after the mowing of hay’. One may imagine mentioning foggage in a legal discussion about, say, land ownership but this is not a strictly legal borrowing from Latin. Staying within the Romance language family influence on Scots, around 13% of the glossary is of French origin. The history of contacts between Scotland and France is rich and diverse, ranging from mutual military support within the Auld Alliance (1295-1560),18 to generations of Scottish lawyers studying in France (see Mackenzie’s bio-note above). Still, the French language was never the official means of communication in Scotland, which contrasts with England where Norman French took over official registers for several centuries.19 Some part of French vocabulary in the glossary could indeed have been mediated through Middle English, e.g. heritage translated as ‘inheritance’ or vassal – ‘one who holds land from a superior in feu,20 or on condition of such and such services’. These words were present in Middle English earlier than

18 19 20

For more historical information see, for instance, contributions by Stringer and by Brown and Boardman to the recent volume on the history of Scotland, edited by Wormald (2005). Even in the seventeenth century, legal dictionaries in England were still compiled with a view to translate French (and Latin) legal terminology into English (Bland 1980). The term feu stems from medieval Latin feudum and is a cognate to the English fee. The OED labels this expression as ‘Sc. law’ and defines it as “a feudal tenure of land in which the vassal, in place of military service, makes a return of grain or money” (OED s.v. feu 2.).

Communication gaps in seventeenth century Britain ...


they are attested in Scots21 but both vassal and heritage display separate senses marked as “Scottish legal use” in the OED (s.v. vassal 1c and s.v. heritage 1b). There are also French borrowings typical for Scots only, for instance forefaulture ‘forfeiture’, joysing ‘enjoying’, or plenishing ‘houshold furniture’, with the last two far from being strictly legal terms, but perhaps surfacing in legal discourse in an appropriate context. Similarly, a relatively large proportion of Germanic terms (24%) points to the regional vocabulary with which English readers may struggle, as well as to the Scandinavian influence on everyday life and the law. Some items stem from Old English but have gone out of use in southern dialects and, in the author’s judgement, would not be semantically transparent for an English reader. A good example is bruik, from OE brcan, replaced in English with enjoy, which in legal texts would typically appear in the context of ‘enjoying the ownership’ of land or other possessions, although the glossary translates it simply as ‘enjoy’. In a few cases, for example when crop gets translated as ‘corn’, or moor – as ‘heath’, the Scots and English counterparts cannot be easily pigeonholed into separate languages. A possible solution seems to be offered by the polysemous nature of the glossed words, where one of the senses is interpreted as Scottish in the dictionaries. Thus, crop in OED has a typically Scots sense of ‘the top of anything material’ (OED s.v. crop 6.) and this may have been the incentive for the author to gloss it with ‘corn’, which typically refers to the grain gathered from the tops of cereal plants. With moor and heath the situation is similar. In OED, moor has a few senses marked as Scottish, whereas heath has no such additional labels, even though the two terms roughly mean the same: ‘open, uncultivated land (covered with heather)’. Several glossed terms testify to Scandinavian influence on Scots. An interesting example is the measurement term boll, ON bolli, with an OE cognate bolla ‘bowl’, explained by the glossary as ‘four bushels’. OED fails to notice a direct connection of this word to capacity measurements in English. This comes across as an important cultural difference, where such basic words as measurement terms, used at the market everyday, need a gloss. In connection with trade and transactions, there seem to be more areas of potential communication problems. For example, the past participle rouped, which can be traced back to Old Norse hrpa ‘to utter a cry or shout’, developed the meaning of ‘to sell or let by auction’ in Scotland (DSL/DOST s.v. roup II.4.) and is translated by the glossary as ‘sold by way of auction’. In the OED, all the senses of roup are illustrated with Scottish quotations, and the most relevant sense 2. – ‘to sell or let by auction’, relies solely on Scottish material. The typically northern term, also Scottish, for a lease granting tenancy of land or property (DSL) is tack, from Old Norse taka ‘tenure (of land)’ (OED, s.v. tack, n2, 2.). It appears in the glossary together with a compound tacksman, translated as ‘lessee’ and labelled by the OED as Scottish. In fact, apart from providing etymologies and illustrative quotations, both the OED and the DSL use various labels to indicate a specific character of a given word – slang, 21

Cf. early 13th-century uses of heritage in the Legend of St Katherine (OED s.v. heritage 1a); in Scotland, the first recorded use in Barbour’s Bruce (1375) (DSL/DOST s.v. heritag(e 1b); late 14th-century attestations in the OED, s.v. vassal 1a; first Scots quotations from 1420s, DSL/DOST s.v. vas(s)al(l), 1.


Joanna Kopaczyk

regional, obsolete, etc. Such labels shed light onto the author’s word selection from the perspective of a lexicographer. 4.3. Headword dictionary labels To see if the glossary entries were indeed considered by modern lexicographers to be specialised or specific to Scotland in any way, I looked at the dictionary information. Both the DSL and the OED are based on the principle of gathering original quotations to illustrate historical meanings and associations. Both indicate obsolescence and the regional or specialized character of their wordstock. The DSL, by definition, is devoted to Scots vocabulary, and all of the vocabulary selected for glossing could be found there. Anything recorded in that source can be treated as Scottish by default. The OED, on the other hand, was used to ascertain what connotations were characteristic for readers on the other side of the border. Mackenzie’s lemmas were given several labels there: L (for Latin), legal, Sc. law, Sc, Sc. obs. (for Scottish obsolete), obs. (obsolete), and north. When the entry was not found in the OED, it meant that the item was typically Scots, as it was listed in the DSL only. When there was no special note in the OED – I used a ‘no comment’ label.22 The results of the label analysis are presented in Table 3. Table 3:

Association labels for glossary headwords (OED and DSL conflated)


% in glossary (nr of tokens)

Selected examples

Definitions in the glossary

Sc. law

32 (59)

diet horning casualities

time of appearance before a court outlawry rights or perquisites, due to those of whom lands are held

Sc. obs.

16 (30)

notar bursers

notary poor scholars


13 (24)

plenishing wrongous

household furniture wrongful

DSL only

13 (23)

appearand eike

apparent an addition


8 (15)

desuetude advert

disuse take heed


5 (10)

thole bairns

endure children


3 (5)

process procedour

law-suit procedure, process or trial at law

Latin/Roman law

1 (2)

conductor emption

hirer buying

no comment

9 (16)

crop ascrive

corn ascribe***


100 (184)

*** Dr Finlay has noticed (personal communication) that the and looked strikingly similar in contemporary Scottish handwriting. The glossary, however, is printed, so for the compiler ascrive and ascribe must have two different forms.


When the glossary form was not found because it was inflected, I looked for the base form; when the base form appeared but did not have the sense listed in the glossary, I marked the entry as listed only in DSL, e.g. acted in books.

Communication gaps in seventeenth century Britain ...


The labels applied to Mackenzie’s headwords in the OED introduce a number of perspectives: etymological, register-specific and regional. Only a small portion of the vocabulary is marked as Latin or legal (1% and 3%, respectively), without any additional comment about the provenance. So the glossary is not there to help with borrowings from Latin or with legal vocabulary, which could require a gloss on both sides of the border. Instead, the function of the glossary as an intercultural bridge comes to the fore. The majority of the labels (66%) confirm the Scottishness of the glossary: the OED marks those headwords as Sc. law (32%), Sc. obsolete (16%), Sc. (13%), or northern (5%). In 8% of cases, the OED marks the entries as obsolete, of which half is either illustrated with Scottish quotations only, or had survived in Scots even though the words became obsolete in English. The words which were not found in the OED are even more typically Scots, as they could all be found in the DSL (13%). So altogether, 87% of the glossary is made up of lexical items which were specifically associated with Scotland, the Scots language and the Scottish legal system. Clearly, these items could be unfamiliar for somebody coming from a different cultural background and a dedicated glossary would prove useful for such a reader. 4.4. Miscommunication sources Once the etymologies and associations have been established, the potential sources of miscommunication become apparent. The headwords can be divided according to the categories presented in Table 4 on page 234. Out of these detailed categories, three major sources of miscommunication emerge: expressions directly connected with Scots legal system and its terminology, regional lexis,23 and conceptual gaps (see Fig. 3).

Fig. 3:


Sources of miscommunication in the glossary

The term ‘dialectal’ is avoided on purpose, not to give the impression that Scots was or was considered to be a dialect of English at that time.


Joanna Kopaczyk

Table 4:

Sources of miscommunication

Source of miscommunication


Examples (Mackenzie’s explanations)

Scots-specific borrowing The word enters Scots but not English from a foreign source, advert ‘take heed’ or survives in Scots much longer than in English, and is spuilzie ‘waste or devastation’ recorded in the glossary with an English synonym or translation; Legal terminology

In Scots there is a different term for a legal concept, and not a pupils ‘minors’ cognate; relevant ‘sufficient’

Legal system/ measurement system

Scots law has different regulations, embedded in terminology, casualties pointing to a conceptual gap; ‘rights or perquisites, due to those of whom lands are held’

Conceptual gap

An entry is unrelated to law and needs to be explained de- laborrows ‘a binding to the peace’ 24 to fence a court ‘to hold a court in scriptively; the usual formalities, as in the King’s name, &c.’

Scots general lexis

The headword is Scots but not connected to law directly;


There is a difference in inflectional or derivational patterns in owand ‘owing’ the two lexical counterparts; also, borrowings from Latin and thesaurary ‘treasury’ French which could either source out a different morphological base or produce different versions, morphological or phonological, from the same base;


There is a dialectal phonological difference in cognate words, baillie ‘bailliff’ also in the same borrowings found in the two languages; band ‘bond’

kenned ‘known’ loches ‘lakes’

4.4.1. Legal terms and legal system (40%). The default content in a glossary appended to a legal treatise would be vocabulary linked with the semantic field of law: specialised terminology, names of legal professions, labels for legal activities, and so on. As outlined above, England and Scotland developed their own legal instruments and nomenclature, and this is the first area of potential communication problems, taking up 40% of the glossary. All the items put in this category come from the legal domain, were labelled as such by the OED, and were translated by the glossary into English with an etymologically unrelated word or phrase, e.g. advocate ‘counsellor at law’. Most of these entries are loanwords, in their largest part from Latin, but unlike the separate group of Scots-specific borrowings included in the “regional vocabulary” group, they are clearly associated with Scottish and Roman law. Some of this material verges on another category, conceptual gaps, which would testify to a different understanding of legal reality and the peculiarity of Scots legal system and its tools. For example, the Scots language may have a specialised term, apprising, for ‘the adjudging of an estate to pay debts’, in the author’s legal understanding. It appears from the OED definitions of apprise that this word in English has no such specialised sense, which borders on a conceptual gap. Nevertheless, I have decided to restrict the category of conceptual gaps to non-legal terminology, thus shedding light on a different grasp of non-legal reality between the English and the Scots, in the eyes of the glossary-maker, and on potential areas of intercultural difference outside the field of law. 24

The glossary contains what the author treated as necessary to explain. These are his intuitions of conceptual gaps, which may or may not have been present in other speakers’ repertoire. Nevertheless, the author’s choices can be seen as indicative of more general trends.

Communication gaps in seventeenth century Britain ...


4.4.2. Regional vocabulary (49%). The largest miscommunication area emerging from the discussed wordlist is regional vocabulary, unconnected directly to law. It is perhaps surprising to see non-legal vocabulary in a glossary to a legal treatise. This practice may remind the reader of the word whisky which Mellinkoff (1963: 37) noticed in at least four American law dictionaries, even though “it is not a law word”. However, in case of the Mackenzie glossary, it is not a question of an odd word or two, but rather half of his vocabulary selection. Into this category fall those dialectal items which differ from their English counterparts in phonology, e.g. daes ‘does’, as well as morphology – both inflectional, e.g. owand ‘owing’, and derivational, e.g. wrongous ‘wrongful’. Such words are not typically expected in a specialised glossary. They indicate the structural and systemic differences between Scots and English, brought to view in spite of the common Germanic roots of both varieties. There is a group of borrowings included here, too. Some of these borrowings were found in Scots only, e.g. distrainzie ‘distress’, or the sense used in Scotland differed markedly from English usage, e.g. chamberlain ‘steward’. The author also glossed items which were borrowed both into Scots and into English separately, which caused them to differ in their morphology, e.g. propone ‘propose’, or phonology, e.g. failzieing ‘failing’. Here I have also included borrowings not to be found in the OED, but without a clear connection with the law,25 e.g. joysing ‘enjoying’, as well as lexemes labelled as obsolete, with all the illustrative examples coming from Scottish authors, e.g. addebted ‘owing’. The category of “regional vocabulary” also includes words which come from Germanic roots (OE and/or ON) but are not used outside Scotland, e.g. teinds ‘tithes’. Here there are also words which are not legal in nature but are described by the OED as Scottish (or found only in the DSL), e.g. wadset, wedset ‘mortgage’. The last group are words which the author thought would require a gloss, even though they are listed in the OED with no specific reference to Scots law, e.g. crop ‘corn’ (cf. the discussion in 4.2. above). Clearly, for the author of the glossary, the Scots law was not the only potential miscommunication area with the readers. Given the circumstances in which this helpful list of Scots and English counterparts was compiled, the Scottish author of the glossary seems to be pointing out that his native language is a valid cultural vehicle in the most crucial social activities. Consciously or not, he smuggled into a legal glossary even more Scots vocabulary unconnected with the law than the actual legal terms. As mentioned above, the overlap with his great predecessor, John Skene, is limited to six legal terms only. However, almost half of the vocabulary from the glossary, also regional items like tailzie ‘entail’, survive in modern dictionaries of Scots law (see section 5 below). This might be caused by the fact that Scots law still relies to some extent on Scots as the language of its historical development, which needs translation for someone unfamiliar with Scots, regardless of the native background of the student or lawyer.


The items found in the DSL but not found in the OED, and clearly connected to the legal context were included in 4.4.1. above.


Joanna Kopaczyk

4.4.3. Conceptual gaps (11%). Conceptual gaps are the smallest group, but by no means the least interesting. These words are a direct indication of a different social organisation, different customs and habits, a different way of life in the two united kingdoms, as perceived by the glossarist. He felt it necessary to provide longer, descriptive explanations for some terms, somehow creating an impression that there were no direct English equivalents. Indeed, all of these items are marked in the OED as Scottish, obsolete, or both. For some, there was no entry in the OED, e.g. fear of war ‘warlike posture’, which in the DSL appears as in fere of were (DSL s.v. fere, feir n4, 2. ‘in warlike array’). In the glossary, conceptual gaps are mostly related to farming and land, e.g. multur ‘toll paid for grinding to the millar’, sowm ‘a horse or cow’s grass’, or foggage ‘grass which grows after the mowing of hay’, a borrowing from Latin, recorded as Scottish by the OED (cf. the discussion in 4.2. above). Financial matters and trade were included, e.g. rouped ‘sold by way of auction’, as well as various aspects of life in Scottish society, e.g. bursers ‘poor scholars’, identified as a Scottish concept by the OED (s.v. bursar 2.), or spendthrift ‘an ill husband, a prodigal’. It is curious why the author decided to gloss the latter, as it was used in contemporary England with a similar meaning (even though illustrated in the OED with many a quote from Scottish authors). More typical of Scotland at that time would have been scapethrift (DSL / DOST, c1615; unattested in the OED), whereas in England dingthrift was popular. The clue might be the fact that the glossary explains spendthrift by narrowing the meaning down to a wrong-doing, prodigal, wasteful husband. Neither of the dictionaries does that, which might be an indication of the author’s idiosyncratic understanding of this particular word.

5. Modern survivors The final point about highlighting the potential communication gaps in the glossary can be made on the basis of the retention of this lexical material in modern legal dictionaries. It is clear that some legal concepts survived together with the legal system, and therefore the legal nomenclature was also kept. Two more observations can be made on the basis of today’s dictionaries of Scottish law. On the one hand, modern survivors indicate that Mackenzie’s words could shape the perceptions of the law as specific to Scotland and today they still testify to its antiquity and uniqueness; on the other, the tendency to exclude regional non-legal Scots vocabulary in modern dictionaries points to the important difference in status of Scots then and today. In Mackenzie’s day, even though the treatise on Scottish law was written in English, the unique connection between the Scots language and the law in Scotland found its testimony in the glossary. Today Scots is no longer the language of the Bar but the law still uses some traditional terms and expressions, which were also glossed in the 1690s for the benefit of an English reader. All headwords were checked in five present-day Scottish dictionaries and glossaries of legal terms (Beaton 1982, Duncan 1992, Stewart 1995, Styles and Whitty 2003, O’Rourke 2004). There is more or less the same proportion of items which are not recorded by modern dictionaries and glossaries at all (79 items, 43%), compared to 76

Communication gaps in seventeenth century Britain ...


headwords (41%) which are found in three or more modern sources. The rest (29 items, 16%) were recorded in one or two dictionaries. Altogether, 57% of the glossary material reappears in modern sources. The top vocabulary items, linked to the individual character of Scottish legal system, and recurrent in all five sources are presented in Table 5.26 Table 5:

Headwords included in all present-day sources

Scots word in the glossary

English translation in O’Rourke (2004) the glossary



Aliment, to

To maintain or diet

[from previous entry] The word is also used as a verb.



[under Bond] A written obligation to pay money or to do some act. [...]


Decree or Sentence

[under Decree] The common Scottish technical term for a final judgement. (The word as a term of art is accented on the first syllable.) [...]


Time of Appearance before a Court

The date for hearing of a case for any one variety of purposes, fixed by the court.


Putting of a legal Sentence in Execution

Execution against debtors; also a process for procuring the recovery of writings from an opponent or third party or for obtaining the evidence of witnesses before a commissioner.



[in infinitive] Of land, to convey, transferring the right of ownership from the disponer to the disponee. Formerly an essential word in any valid conveyance of land.



[in singular] Formerly girls up to 12 years and boys up to 14 years, the state of pupilliarity being now abolished by the Age of Legal Capacity (Scotland) Act 1991.

Support or maintenance of a wife or relative enforceable by law.

The headwords reappear in modern dictionaries, which indicates historical continuity of Scottish law. Modern definitions, compatible as they are with up-to-date lexicographic methodology, are more detailed and more specific than those used in Mackenzie’s glossary. Interestingly enough, some concepts are now defined in a slightly altered manner, e.g. diligence or dispon’d, which seem to have undergone semantic narrowing.27 Band is now given a proper definition and it is used in anglicised spelling, while in the seventeenth century it was simply listed because of different pronunciation (and spelling) in Scots and English (compare the definitions for decreet). Apart from the top eight items appearing in all modern dictionaries, there were further 68 to be found in three sources or more (57% of Mackenzie’s “difficult Scots Words”). All these headwords are labelled as Scottish in the OED (Scottish legal, Scottish obsolete and simply Scottish), but for process (marked as ‘legal’ in general), thirlage and bairns part of gear (marked as ‘northern’). After more than 300 years, 26


I am using definitions from O’Rourke (2004) because he lists most items glossed in Mackenzie’s treatise (77 out of 105 headwords present in any modern dictionary consulted). In fact, the dictionaries did not differ much from each other in the formulation of their definitions. Dr Finlay (personal communication) points out that the glossary is wrong in translating disponed and ‘assigned’, even in Mackenzie’s times. Similarly, regarding the next top-eight survivor – pupils, he notices that pupil and minor denoted different ages, so they should not have been used as equivalents. Perhaps these isolated errors suggest that is was indeed the printers who compiled the glossary.


Joanna Kopaczyk

dictionaries still list the same words as those used in Mackenzie’s treatise, however they consider some twenty items as obsolete or related to historical applications of the law, e.g. heretor ‘a landowner’, tocher ‘dowry’ or wadset ‘a type of land transfer’. What is important for this paper though, is that the retention of this word-stock in modern dictionaries confirms the existence of communication gaps between both legal traditions. Conversely, however, 43% of headwords glossed in Mackenzie have not made it into any of the modern dictionaries. Among those, several are labelled as legal terms in the OED: bruik ‘enjoy’, cedent ‘he that makes a grant’, cognosce upon ‘take cognizance of’, donatour ‘donor’, fisk ‘exchequer’, heretrix ‘heiress’, hoast ‘army’, notor ‘known’, resile ‘retract or go back from’, summar ‘short or without the usual form of law’ and vendition ‘selling’. Their exclusion could be linked to the obsolescence of concepts and activities but, as indicated above, modern dictionaries of Scottish legal terms do list historical vocabulary.28 It seems probable that those 43% of all glossed items did not survive in dictionaries because of the influence of English on Scottish legal nomenclature. Anglicisation can be seen for instance in the case of fisk replaced by exchequer, and in the obsolescence of some derivation patterns in borrowings, e.g. heretrix replaced by heiress. The exclusion of other headwords, such as bloodwits ‘drawing of blood in quarrels’, daes ‘does’, restand ‘resting’, loches ‘lakes’ or vaiks ‘is vacant’, stems from the fact that a large proportion of Mackenzie’s vocabulary was not legal but regional in its reference, grammar and pronunciation. Modern legal dictionaries would not find such lexis relevant. However, its inclusion in the glossary to Mackenzie’s treatise in the late seventeenth century is a poignant reminder of potential sources of miscommunication in the field of law before the final Union.

6. Conclusions The pragmaphilological framework places users and their choices, dependant on the socio-historical context, in the centre of linguistic analyses. As Traugott (2006: 538) puts it, “research along these lines poses anthropological and cross-cultural or intercultural questions”. The very compilation of the Scots-English glossary is a sign that there were communication gaps ready to be filled, and intercultural differences realised through language. What is more, the words glossed prove that such gaps were by no means confined to the specialist area of law. This material speaks not only about communication problems between English and Scottish lawyers, but even more generally, between the English and the Scots. It is true that strictly legal differences are the foremost factor in the compilation of the glossary, to aid communication between lawyers. This testifies to different legal traditions in Scotland and England, the former stemming largely from the Roman law and European civil law tradition, and the other – from the Norman feudal law and the historical development of the common law. Hence the preponderance of Latin borrow28

It may well be that some sporadic expressions are still used but modern lexicographers omitted them for some reason; Dr Finlay confirms that cedent, notour, host and resile are still used in Scots, albeit associated with history or deemed obsolescent.

Communication gaps in seventeenth century Britain ...


ings (60%), not even a half of which have cognates in English. However, these Latinate vocabulary items are not only legal in nature. They also constitute a conspicuous part in conceptual gaps and regional lexis. Perhaps the most surprising result of this study is the fact that a glossary appended to a treatise on legal institutions of Scotland, bearing “Scots Law words” in the title, should abound in non-legal regional vocabulary (49%), showing sensitivity to comprehension demands caused by differences in: pronunciation, e.g. band ‘bond’, in inflectional morphology, e.g. restand ‘resting’, or in derivation, e.g. heretrix ‘heiress’. There are also vocabulary items typical of Scots or the north, like bairns ‘children’, or words not found in the OED at all, like eike ‘an addition’. The surprise lies in the fact that Scots towards the end of the seventeenth century is no longer perceived as prestigious enough to fulfil official functions. Scottish authors, Mackenzie among them, even though they may speak Lowland Scots,29 write and publish increasingly in English, which guarantees a much wider publicity (MacQueen 1983). The glossary, however, testifies to the continued use of Scots lexis even in specialised formal domains, and to resulting comprehension demands in English readers. These regional words are treated on a par with sophisticated Latin juridical borrowings, as if Scots really was a foreign language to be glossed. What is more, even though the translations in the glossary were supposed to be in English, one definition contains a clear-cut Scottish spelling: multures ‘toll paid for grinding to the millar’ [emphasis mine – JK]. Is it the author lowering his official, English-language guard for a moment and his Scots linguistic habits lurking through? These slips, conscious – or not – as they may be, on top of the inclusion of regional every-day vocabulary in a specialised glossary, bear traces of language loyalty; as Gumperz (1971: 123) puts it, “[i]ndividuals choose to employ [a variety symbolic of a particular nationality group or social movement] as a symbol of their allegiance to a broader set of political ideals […]”. Here, the author shows allegiance to his country and his native tongue within specialised, prestigious discourse. It seems that the headword selection in the glossary also answers well to Verschueren’s idea that “[p]atterns of word choice constitute one of the obvious structural loci for traces of habitual patterns of thought” (Verschueren 1999: 246). In other words, the fact that the glossary contains elements from outside the strictly legal domain proves that Scots was still perceived as a powerful identity vehicle, not necessarily enjoying lesser prestige than English. Wierzbicka (1985: 187) says that “languages differ from one another not just as linguistic systems but also as cultural universes, as vehicles of ethnic identities”. The historical enquiry into the “cultural universes” of Britain expands the traditional Anglo-centric perspective to include approaches that favour regional variety. In the new Edinburgh University Press series of introductions to the history of the English language (Horobin and Smith (2002), Nevalainen (2006), Tieken-Boon van Ostade (2009)), as well as in the recent single-volume history edited by Hogg and Denison (2006), scholars find space for the discussion of multilingualism and cultural diversity in relation to the Anglo-Saxon, medieval and renaissance times. They also see the context for the introduction of English into new lands and anglicisa29

Their spoken Scots would also be anglicised (Aitken 1997), even though a conscious shift towards English, accompanied by an overt prescriptive criticism of Scottish features, as in David Hume’s writings, is a product of the eighteenth century (Dossena 2005: 56-82).


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tion within the island in the political expansion of Britain and the birth and growth of the Empire. The nineteenth-century and later times bear witness to the growth of interest in regional varieties in the British Isles. However, the multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural character of Britain between the unions of 1603 and 1707, has not yet been given appropriate attention in a dedicated monograph.30 As explored in this paper, even a short glossary draws attention to the scope of comprehension difficulty, as well as language loyalty and ideology issues within the island. These findings should prove useful for micropragmatic studies into various aspects of context-dependent communication of seventeenth-century Britain and its multicultural character.

Primary sources Beaton, J. A. 1982. Scots Law Terms and Expressions. Edinburgh: W. Green and Son. Duncan, A., G. M. 1992. Green’s glossary of Scottish legal terms. (3rd edition). Edinburgh: W. Green/Sweet and Maxwell. Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, Sir G. 1684. The Institutions of the Law of Scotland. By Sir George Mackenzie, of Rosehaugh, His Majesties Advocat. Edinburgh: Printed by John Reid. [Early English Books Online]. Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, Sir G. 1688. The Institutions of the Law of Scotland. The Second Edition, Corrected and Enlarged by the Author. Edinburgh: Printed by John Reid for Thomas Brown. [Early English Books Online]. Mackenzie, Sir G. 1694. An explanation of the most difficult Scots words in the foregoing treatise. In: Sir G. Mackenzie (ed.). The Institutions of the Law of Scotland. By Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, His late Majesty’s Advocate. With an Alphabetical Explanation of the most difficult Scots Words. London: Andrew Bell & Jonas Luntley. [Early English Books Online]. Mackenzie, Sir G. 1699. An explanation of the most difficult Scots words in the foregoing treatise. In: Sir G. Mackenzie (ed.). The Institutions of the Law of Scotland. By Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, His Majesty’s Advocat. The Third Edition Corrected, with an Alphabetical Table of Hard Words. Edinburgh: Thomas Brown. [Early English Books Online]. Mackenzie, Sir G. 1723. English words equipollent to some of the Scots Law words in the foregoing treatise. In: Sir G. Mackenzie (ed.). The Institutions of the Law of Scotland. By Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, Advocate to K. Cha.II. and to K. Ja. VII. Sixth edition. Edinburgh: William Brown & Company. [Eighteenth Century Collection Online]. O’Rourke, S. 2004. Glossary of Legal Terms. (4th edition). Edinburgh: Thomson and W. Green. Skene, J. 1681 [1597]. De verborum significatione. The exposition of the termes and difficill wordes, conteined in the four buikkes of Regiam Majestatem, and uthers, in the Acts of Parliament, Infeftments, and used in the practique of this realme, with diverse rules and common places, and principalles of the lawes. Edinburgh: David Lindsay. [Early English Books Online] Stewart, W. J. 1995. Scottish Contemporary Judicial Dictionary of Words and Phrases. Edinburgh: W.Green / Sweet and Maxwell. Styles, S. and N. R. Whitty (comps. and eds.). 2003. Glossary. Scottish and European Union Legal Terms and Latin Phrases. (2nd edition). Edinburgh: The Law Society of Scotland, LexisNexis UK.


There are recent historical analyses revisiting that period with a fresh perspective: Ford (2007) or Kerrigan (2008).

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References Aitken, A.J. 1997. The pioneers of anglicised speech in Scotland: A second look. Scottish Language 16, 1-36. Allan, D. 1999. ‘In the Bosome of a Shaddowie Grove’: Sir George Mackenzie and the consolations of retirement. History of European Ideas 25.5, 251-273. Anderson, B. 1991 [1983]. Imagined Communities. Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso. Auchter, D. 2001. Dictionary of Literary and Dramatic Censorship in Tudor and Stuart England. Westport: Greenwood. Auer, P. and F. Kern. 1994. Three ways of analysing communication between East and West Germans as intercultural communication. In: Aldo Di Luzio, S. Günthner and F. Orletti (eds.). Culture in Communication. Analyses of Intercultural Situations. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 89-116 Bately, J. 2009. Bilingual and multilingual dictionaries of the Renaissance and early seventeenth century. In: A. P. Cowie (ed.). The Oxford History of English Lexicography. Vol. 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 41-64. Bhatia, V. K. 1993. Analysing Genre. Language Use in Professional Settings. London and New York: Longman. Bland, D.S. 1980. Some notes on the evolution of the legal dictionary. The Journal of Legal History 1, 75-84. Cairns, J. W. 1996. Andrew Bell, Jonas Luntley and the London edition of Mackenzie’s Institutions. The Bibliotheck 21, 7-11. Cairns, J. W. 1999. Advocates’ hats, Roman law and admission to the Scots Bar, 1580-1812. The Journal of Legal History 20.2, 24-61. Carroll, R., R. Hiltunen, M. Peikola, J. Skaffari, S.-K. Tanskanen, E. Valle and B. Wårvik. 2003. Introduction. In: R. Hiltunen and J. Skaffari (eds.) Discourse Perspectives on English: Medieval to Modern. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1-12. Connor, W. 1978. A nation is a nation, is a state, is an ethnic group, is a... Ethnic and Racial Studies 1, 377-400. Daiches, D. 1977. Scotland and the Union. London: John Murray. Danet, B. 1980. Language in the legal process. Law and Society Review 14.3, 445-564. Danet, B. 1984. The magic flute: A prosodic analysis of binomial expressions in legal Hebrew. Text 4, 143-172. Dictionary of the Scots Language [DSL]. 2004. (ed. by Susan Rennie). Edinburgh: Scottish Language Dictionaries. [Online access:, April 2010]. Dossena, M. 2005. Scotticisms. Like Runes upon a Standin’ Stane? Edinburgh: John Donald. Edwards, V. 2004. Multilingualism in the English-speaking World. The Pedigree of Nations. Oxford: Blackwell. Emerson, R.L. 2007 [1995]. Scottish cultural change 1660-1710 and the Union of 1707. In: B. Harris and A. R. MacDonald (eds.). Scotland: The Making and Unmaking of the Nation c.1100-1707. Vol. 4. Readings c.1500-1707. Dundee: Dundee University Press and Open University, 77-97. Ferguson, W. 1994 [1977]. Scotland’s Relations with England. A Survey to 1707. Edinburgh: The Saltire Society. Finlay, J. 2000. Men of Law in Pre-Reformation Scotland. East Linton: Tuckwell Press. Ford, J.D. 2007. Law and Opinion in Scotland during the Seventeenth Century. Oxford and Portland, Oregon: Hart Publishing. Forte, A.D.M. 2001. Scots law and Scottish national identity. In: G. Fellows-Jensen (ed.). Denmark and Scotland: The Cultural and Environmental Resources of Small Nations. The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, 239-250.


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From monarch, through traitor, to martyr and saint: Power shift in the trial of King Charles I Barbara Kryk-Kastovsky, University of Vienna 1. Introduction The aim of the present analysis is to demonstrate how the constant power shift between King Charles I and his interrogators is deeply rooted in the socio-historical context. The methodology applied here combines the notions of power and community of practice and maps them onto the realm of historical socio-pragmatics. In the analysed text of the Early Modern trial of King Charles I (1649) we encounter two alternating argumentation schemes used by the king and the court, represented by the House of Commons. Following Corder and Meyerhoff (2007: 442), I assume here that “it is possible to use studies of different communities of practice to frame questions about intercultural (mis)communication”. In their analysis the authors employ one of the most widely-quoted definitions of community of practice due to Eckert and McConnellGinet, based on the original concept proposed by Wenger (1998)1: A community of practice is an aggregate of people who come together around mutual engagement in an endeavour … practices emerge in the course of this mutual endeavour, Eckert and McConnell-Ginet (1992: 464).

My assumption is that the two parties on the opposite sides of the bar represent two different communities of practice. In the course of the trial proceedings both the king and the court had to negotiate new meanings relevant to the emergent context and in so doing continually created new locally shared histories, cf. Wenger (1998: 125). In the discourse situation before the revolution, the king was the ruler and the members of the House of Commons were his social inferiors. In the days of the revolution, the roles got reversed, whereupon the king as the defendant in the analysed trial became the inferior party. Thus, the power play stems here from the socio-political factors operating in the peculiar historical context and is instantiated by distinct communicative strategies employed by the interrogators and the interrogated. One last point to be clarified at the outset concerns the extent to which the two communities of practice can be considered intercultural. My hypothesis, to be tested in the course of the present analysis, is that the two worlds represented by the monarch and the members of the House of Commons were “worlds apart” – so far apart that intercultural differences could easily be claimed there. The present hypothesis is parallel to the well-known claim that male vs. female discourse is intercultural, not in the sense of representing different sets of national assumptions, but rather different sets of social assumptions, related to different interpretive frames of discourse, cf. Scollon and Scollon (1995: 229).


Wenger’s (1998: 76) notion of community of practice is based on three features: mutual engagement of members, members’ jointly negotiated enterprise, and members’ shared repertoire.


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2. Issues to be addressed Despite its relative shortness, the text of the trial offers a variety of possible areas of investigation: a. While reading the text one can experience an escalation of miscommunication between the king and the court. Unlike other researchers, e.g. Coupland et al. 1991, who propose an integrative model of the levels of miscommunication, I do not make a sharp distinction between misunderstanding and miscommunication and postulate a model encompassing various forms of miscommunication determined by a set of socio-historical and linguistic variables, the latter being either grammatically or pragmatically conditioned. As will be shown below, the miscommunication between the two communities of practice ensues from power differences caused by conflicting presuppositions represented by the royal and the court which puts him on trial. This leads to conflicting implicatures generated by the two parties on the opposite sides of the bar. b. The trial proceedings reflect a conflict of power between the two parties which is a clear case of role reversal. The king, formerly the social superior of the highest rank is tried by the court representing the House of Commons, whose members were previously social inferiors to the king. This is reflected in the king’s argument questioning the legality of the court due to the absence of the House of Lords. c. The main source of power shift between the two parties is the constant bouncing back and forth of repeated arguments without changing the stance (miscommunication based on different standpoints on who rules the country hence both the king and the court constantly refute the arguments of the other party). One could compare it to a tennis strategy of hitting the ball into the other player’s court.

3. Historical background The turbulent period of the reign of King Charles I (1629-1649) has always evoked controversial reactions, thus it has gone down to history under different rubrics, like the negative Eleven Years’ Tyranny or the positive Thorough, which refers to the monarch’s intention to provide a new efficient government. The king’s energetic ruling in England for the good of his country, including the cessation of witch-hunting, cf. Trevelyan (1973: 232), was overshadowed by his persecution of the opponents and by serious political problems in Ireland and Scotland. Charles’ lack of good will to compromise with his opponents led to a civil war in 1642 when he retreated from Westminster to Nottingham. His attempts at achieving a settlement with the Scots were abortive, which finally led to royalist risings and convinced the army leaders that the king should be removed from the throne. Charles’ trial at Westminster was one of the typical show trials for high treason, comparable to the later trials of Lady Alice Lisle and Titus Oates, both of which took place in 1685. However, the defendants, as opposed to Charles I, were not monarchs, but members of nobility, who either escaped execution, like Titus Oates, or were beheaded, like Lady Alice Lisle, cf. Kryk-Kastovsky (2000). In the unique case of King Charles I the trial was authorized by an ordinance of the

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House of Commons passed, without the consent of the House of Lords, (my emphasis) on 6 January 1649. Charles’ trial started on 20 January 1649 and continued until 25 January. After the second and the third sessions on 22 January and 23 January, respectively, two evidentiary sessions followed on 24 and 25 of January. A committee headed, among others, by Oliver Cromwell drew up a list of 135 commissioners to judge the King, but only about 70 attended the trial. As a result of many withdrawals, John Bradshaw, an unknown Cheshire magistrate, presided over the High Court of Justice and the radical lawyer John Cook was appointed chief prosecutor (called in the original text Solicitor General), cf. Gardiner and Wenborn (1995: 149ff). As will be seen below, these extraordinary circumstances (especially the absence of the House of Lords) are reflected in the text of the court trial.2 In view of the serious charges of high treason and his adamant stance in court, interpreted by the counsel as a sign of arrogance, Charles could not escape capital punishment and was executed on 30th of January 1649. However, historians grant him with great sympathy from the nation due to his dignity during his trial and execution, cf. Gardiner and Wenborn (1995: 149-151).3 Due to the controversial opinions among his countrymen, already after his execution the king was declared martyr and then saint, hence the title of this study.

4. The analysis In what follows I will adhere to the original structure (and spelling) of the trial records in order to bring out the successive arguments of the prosecution (Lord President Bradshaw) and the defendant (King Charles I) leading to the tragic denouement, the sentence and the execution. Moreover, following the original courtroom records closely will help me demonstrate how the structure of the trial was determined by the very peculiar socio-historical context. On the one hand, as in any other trial, the counsel aimed at forcing the defendant to plead guilty. On the other hand, the trial was not only special because of its nature (it concerned high treason), but even more so because of the unprecedented social position of the defendant, the king. According to Robertson, the prosecutors’ “choice of an open trial procedure was not merely to conform to the common law and to deter future tyrants: it was to allow the world to witness the righteousness of their cause, and to let history judge the strength of their case”, (Robertson: 2005: 132). Considering Charles’ misdemeanours, the prosecutors could have put him before a firing squad, but instead he was treated with due respect and put before a tribunal which permitted him to justify his cause in public and required the prosecution to prove his guilt. By the same token, since the monarch was not granted any official defence counsel, he had to defend himself, which had obvious 2


On the role of John Cook in sentencing Charles I to death, see the detailed monograph by Geoffrey Robertson pertinently entitled The tyrannicide brief. The story of the man who sent Charles I to the scaffold (Robertson 2005). Interestingly, when asked by his former pupil whether the king will suffer, Cooke was supposed to reply: “The king must die and the monarchy must die with him” (Robertson 2005: 176). For instance, in order not to show his feelings and to avoid trembling, Charles reportedly wore two layers of clothing to the execution site.


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consequences for the overall structure of the trial. As has been mentioned above, the proceedings were conducted like a typical show trial, even though the (death) sentence was not presupposed by the prosecutors who due to the very delicate circumstances were cautious in their judgements and were in favour of the king’s imprisonment rather than execution if only he pleaded (no matter whether guilty or not guilty). Moreover, as the discourse unfolds, it becomes clear how much leeway the king was given with regard to the length of his turns (which could have been a sign of respect for the monarch or resulted from the fact that Charles defended himself, thus was allowed to take longer turns, cf. the quantitative analysis below). Consider the following statement by the king at the beginning of the trial when he is brought to court as the defendant accused of high treason and explains the circumstances of his imprisonment: (1) The King. I would know by what power I am called hither: I was, not long ago, in the Isle of Wight, how I came there, is a longer story then I think is fit at this time for me to speak of; but there I entred into a Treaty with both Houses of Parliament with as much publique faith as it’s possible to be had of any people in the world. I treated there with a number of Honorable Lords and Gentlemen, and treated honestly and uprightly; I cannot say but they did very nobly with me, we were upon a conclusion of the Treaty.

We can call this statement a defence strategy, based on the king’s appeal both to his negative face (his authority and power bestowed by God), and his positive face (his public popularity, trust by the nobles, and even self-praise). While using these sociopragmatic means the king already hints at the possible sources of power shift by questioning the power of the court that brought him to Westminster. Notice also how through his membership in the royal community of practice King Charles adheres to the traditional background allowing him to share some histories with other members of the royal family (and the House of Lords, which as opposed to the House of Commons, represented the higher echelons of the English society). He then continues by trying to undermine the authority of the court and claiming that it is unlawful. Notice that the king does not hesitate to resort to lexical means which have socio-pragmatic consequences and compares the court to other much less respectable unlawful communities, like thieves and robbers (an obvious insult, thus a potential source of conflict): (2) The King. Now I would know by what Authority, I mean, lawful; there are many unlawful Authorities in the world, Theeves and Robbers by the high-ways: but I would know by what Authority I was brought from thence, and carryed from place to place, (and I know not what,) and when I know what lawful Authority, I shall answer: Remember I am your King, your lawful King, and what sins you bring upon your heads, and the Judgment of God upon this Land, think well upon it, I say, think well upon it, before you go further from one sin to a greater; therefore let me know by what lawful Authority I am seated here, and I shall not be unwilling to answer, in the mean time I shall not betray my Trust: I have a Trust committed to me by God, by old and lawful descent, I will not betray it to answer to a new unlawful Authority, therefore resolve me that, and you shall hear more of me.

As can be expected, the king’s argumentation is immediately rejected by the court whose members jointly negotiate the enterprise of pronouncing the king guilty. The refutation of the king’s argumentation is phrased as a reminder having the perlocutionary effect of advice (order?) telling the king how he should behave in his new social role of the defendant. Notice the presupposition which the Lord President goes by, i.e.

From monarch, through traitor, to martyr and saint ...


that the king did not observe the hints of the counsel on his first visit to the court, and the ensuing implicature that since he is “an elected king”, he is just a temporary ruler who can be overthrown. This is how a locally shared history of the community of practice represented by the court is created. Here the syntactic means used by the judge (the carefully crafted conditional construction) has an obviously ironic and threatening reading: (3) Lord President. If you had been pleased to have observed what was hinted to you, by the Court, at your first coming hither, you would have known by what Authority; which Authority requires you, in the name of the People of England, of which you are Elected King, to answer them.

It is worth emphasizing how Lord President refers to King Charles I as “elected king”, which produces another potential power conflict since, as the king points out in his next turn, the position of an English monarch had always been hereditary, not electoral. We could call this exchange “a succession of statements based on false presuppositions”, which might give rise to miscommunication. The king goes by the presupposition that his power is God-given, whereas the court uses the phrase “elected king” referring to Charles I as “elected by the people”. The statement by Lord President constitutes a crucial challenge of the king’s God-given position. Predictably, the king persistently adheres to his previous stance and refuses to cooperate in the interrogation process. Instead, he again questions the legality of the court to which he refers by means of epithets like my pretended judges. This lexical means certainly did not please the court and diminished the king’s (already slim) chance for a fair trial: (4) The King. No Sir, I deny that Lord President. If you acknowledg not the Authority of the Court, they must proceed. The King. I do tell them so, England was never an Elective Kingdom, but an Hereditary Kingdom for neer these thousand years; therefore let me know by what Authority I am called hither: I do stand more for the Liberty of my People then any here that come to be my pretended Judges; and therefore let me know by what lawful Authority I am seated here, and I will answer it, otherwise I will not answer it.

What is relevant to the present analysis is the escalation of the refusal of the other side’s argumentation (during the entire trial the king refused to answer the charge three times!). As mentioned before, the court had agreed that if the king decided to plead, he might avoid execution. However, the constant miscommunication between the prosecution and the defendant ensued from their conflicting stances (the judge and solicitor considered themselves members of a lawful court and believed in Charles’ guilt, whereas he considered them an unlawful court, thus unable to prove his guilt and pronounce him guilty). The escalation of miscommunication is continued by Lord President who admonishes the king for daring to interrogate the court, i.e. for performing another role reversal between the competing communities of practice. Thus, the schema consists of the switching of (past and present) social roles. Before the revolution, the king was the social superior and the House of Commons was the social inferior, whereas after the revolution, the roles got reversed, so that the king (as defendant) was the social inferior, and the House of Commons court interrogating the king gained the position of the social superior. However, sometimes, as is the case below, the king


Barbara Kryk-Kastovsky

still usurps the position of head of state (and refers to the local history which he still shares with at least part of the nation). But in the new context the king’s reference to the past is rejected by the powers that be, i.e. the House of Commons. Consider the following excerpt where Lord President challenges the king’s right to question the legality of the court, especially in view of the presupposed historical background, i.e. the king’s persecution of his opponents and his role in instigating the civil war. Moreover, note another lexical means which affected the proceedings and led to a possible case of (purely linguistic) miscommunication due to the different connotations which the word trust had according to the king and the court: (5) King. … therefore let me know by what lawful Authority I am seated here, and I shall not be unwilling to answer, in the mean time I shall not betray my Trust: I have a Trust committed to me by God, by old and lawful descent, I will not betray it to answer to a new unlawful Authority, therefore resolve me that, and you shall hear more of me. Lord President. If you had been pleased to have observed what was hinted to you, by the Court , at your first coming hither, you would have known by what Authority; which Authority requires you, in the name of the People of England, of which you are Elected King, to answer them. The King. No Sir, I deny that. Lord President. If you acknowledg not the Authority of the Court, they must proceed. The King. I do tell them so, England was never an Elective Kingdom, but an Hereditary Kingdom for neer these thousand years; therefore let me know by what Authority I am called hither: I do stand more for the Liberty of my People then any here that come to be my pretended Judges; and therefore let me know by what lawful Authority I am seated here, and I will answer it, otherwise I will not answer it. Lord President. Sir, how really you have managed your Trust, is known; your way of answer is to interrogate the Court, which beseems not you in this condition. You have been told of it twice or thrice.

Notice that apart from questioning the king’s definition of the word trust, Lord President again warns the king against his attempts to interrogate the court, which would not only be another case of role reversal between the two communities of practice, but also a case of an unlawful behaviour on the part of the king (contempt of court). Lord President’s argument is again rejected by the king due to different presuppositions which the king and the court are operating on. Consider the following argumentation of the king who questions not only the force exerted on him by the court and the authority of the (one-chamber) Parliament, but also the overall legal situation (lack of authority of the court due to the lack of a constitution to go by):4 In the excerpt below the arguments might be called lexico-semantic in nature (questioning the notions of Parliament, Treaty, authority). As will be seen below, King Charles I was right since the lack of official constitution to refer to made the proceedings difficult, if not illegal: 4

In the peculiar legal situation when the defendant accused of high treason was the king, which had no precedent in English history, the court had to resort to a foreign legal system. When Cromwell who wanted to put the king on trial. learned that the procedure might not have been totally legal, he invited a foreigner, the Dutch lawyer Isaac Dorislaus who assisted in preparing the charge against the king , cf. Robertson (2005: 128f).

From monarch, through traitor, to martyr and saint ...


(6) The King. Here is a Gentleman, Lievt. Col. Cobbet (ask him) if he did not bring me from the Isle of Wight by force? I do not come here as submitting to the Court; I wil stand as much for the priviledg of the house of Commons, rightly understood, as any man here whatsoever. I see no House of Lords here that may constitute a Parliament, and (the King too) should have been. Is this the bringing of the King to his Parliament? Is this the bringing an end to the Treaty in the publike Faith of the world? Let me see a legal Authority warranted by the Word of God, the Scriptures, or warranted by the Constitutions of the Kingdom, and I will answer.

The King’s argumentation is again rejected by Lord President as irrelevant since he disapproves of the king’s recalcitrant behaviour, which delays the proceedings. He puts pressure on Charles by pointing out to the king that his denial to answer questions will be taken against him. It is also worth noting how the overall way of formulating the message can easily assign to it the illocutionary force of a threat, especially since yes-no questions are the most threatening type of questions used in a courtroom interrogation to corner the interrogated. Danet (1980) calls them “coercive questions”, whereas Luchjenbroers (1997: 482) emphasizes the maximal control that the barristers have over the contents of the witness replies with what she calls “restrictive yes/no questions”. 5 Notice how the special role of yes/no questions in cornering the defendant is ingeniously exploited by Lord President, who bluntly states that the only choice which the king has is to answer either “yes” or “no”: (7) Lord President Sir, You have propounded a Question, and have been answered: seeing you will not answer, the Court will consider how to proceed; in the mean time, those that brought you hither, are to take charge of you back again. The Court desires to know whether this be all the Answer you will give, or no.

As can be expected, in this controversial exchange between the king and the court, the king is again diminishing the role of the court by trying to implicate that they do not (refuse to?) understand his line of reasoning. He repeats many previous arguments underlying his rationale that he is the only legal ruler responsible for keeping the peace in the country, which in view of the political turmoil caused by the king during his reign sounds unacceptable to the court. In what follows, the king’s arguments have been marked with consecutive numbers in order to be assigned their corresponding illocutionary forces: (8) The King. (i) Sir, I desire that you would give me, and all the world, satisfaction in this; let me tell you, it is not a slight thing you are about. I am sworn to keep the Peace by that duty I ow to God and my Country, and (ii) I will do it to the last breath of my body, and (iii) therefore you shall do well to satisfie first God, and then the Country, (iv) by what Authority you do it, if you do it by a usurped Authority, that will not last long. (v) There is a God in Heaven that will call you and all that give you Power, to account: (vi) Satisfie me in that, and I will answer, otherwise I betray my Trust, and the Liberties of the People, and therefore think of that, and then I shall be willing. For (vii) I do avow, That it is as great a sin to withstand lawful Authority, as it is to submit to a Tyrannical, or any other ways unlawful Authority, and therefore satisfie God, and me, and all the world in that, and (viii) you shall receive my Answer: I am not afraid of the Bill.


On the role of questions and answers in Early Modern English courtroom, cf. Archer (2005) and an earlier analysis by Hiltunen (19969.


Barbara Kryk-Kastovsky

The king’s argumentation has the structure of what I call elsewhere (Kryk-Kastovsky 2002: 244) “a speech act network”, i.e. a complex discourse which combines interrelated illocutions and their corresponding perlocutions. According to this framework, (8) can be analysed as follows: (i)

rejection of the court’s argument and a request justified by the king’s position and duty; (ii) promise (expressed very emotionally); (iii) advice based on the king’s original premise that he as the king represents both God and the country; (iv) warning against the court’s usurping authority; (v) another warning against the reaction of the highest authority in the Universe, i.e. God, who is the ultimate judge; (vi) request/order leading to a threat; (vii) accusation employing epithets; (viii) promise/declaration (in form of a confession); As can be seen below, the perlocutions, resulting from the king’s illocutions, boil down to utter rejection of the monarch’s arguments by the court. In other words, the locally shared histories of the two communities of practice (the king and the court) are incompatible and result in another instance of miscommunication. Consequently, in the next turn Lord President adheres to his position and tries to make the king plead by informing him about the deadline of the next court session. The judge also points to the court’s power based on their present authority coming from God and the country as opposed to the past authority of the king, which is no longer valid in the present context. Notice the judge’s use of appropriate lexical devices to achieve his ends in his present position of power (like the verb expect, the modal verb should, and the noun authority, as referring to the court): (9) Lord President. The Court expects you should give them a final Answer, their purpose is to adjourn till Monday next, if you do not satisfie your self, though we do tell you our Authority; we are satisfied with our Authority, and it is upon Gods Authority and the Kingdoms, and that Peace you speak of will be kept in the doing of Justice, and that’s our present Work.

The power play escalates when the king again questions the authority of the court by bringing up the somewhat abstract notion of “reasonable man” who, according to him, would not be satisfied with the present state of affairs:6 (10) The King. Let me tell you, if you will shew me what lawful Authority you have, I shall be satisfied; But that you have said satisfies no reasonable man.

Lord President retaliates by accusing the king of apprehension and, as a sign of power he reminds the king that it is the court which sets the rules as to who his judges are. (11) Lord Presid. That’s in your apprehension: we think it reasonable that are your Judges. 6

From a philosophical point of view, ‚reason’ as „the general human faculty or capacity for truthseeking, problem-solving, differentiated from instinct, imagination, or faith in that its results are intellectually trustworthy- even to the extent, according to rationalism, that the reason is both necessary and sufficient for arriving at knowledge”, cf. Honderich (2005: 791).

From monarch, through traitor, to martyr and saint ...


In response, the king again brings up the miscommunication between the two communities of practice (this time as regards the notion of apprehension), which can be interpreted as a rebuttal of the court’s argumentation, put in anything but a polite fashion: (12) The King. ’Tis not my apprehension, nor yours neither, that ought to decide it.

Due to the king’s constant contradicting the court which leads to a gridlock, the counsel decides to break the on-going dispute, reminds Charles that he should conform to the court regulations, and commands to remove him from the premises. 7 Notice also how the solicitor John Cooke, as a representative of the jural community of practice, reports on the act of official accusation formulated on a previous occasion, which ever since then had become part of a locally shared history. His turn consists of several accusations of the king (the main crime of high treason, the king’s refusal to answer the charges, again followed by his questioning the legality of the court, all of which can be subsumed under the rubric of the king’s breaking the legal conventions operating in the court scene, or contempt of court, which constitutes a serious charge). Again, a conflict of power between the two communities of practice has occurred. The king operates on the presuppositions that he is the legal ruler and as such he cannot be tried by (what he thinks) is an illegal court, thus he refuses to answer the accusation, but instead, disputes the legality of the court, thereby breaking the social convention and the accepted script of legal proceedings. That inevitably had to lead to a clash of the goals represented by the parties on the opposite sides of the bar whereupon the judge commands to remove the king. Notice also how he tries to find a solution to the stalemate by suggesting that if the king continues to refuse cooperating with the court, the court’s charge may be taken as a case of pro confesso, whereupon the proceedings may be resumed: (13) Lord Presid. The Court hath heard you, and you are to be disposed of as they have commanded. Mr Solicitor. May it please your Lordship, my Lord President, I did at the last Court in the behalf of the Commons of England, exhibit and give into this Court a Charge of high Treason, and other high Crimes, against the Prisoner at the Bar, whereof I do accuse him in the name of the People of England, and the Charge was read unto him, and his Answer required. My Lord, he was not then pleased to give an Answer, but instead of answering, did there dispute the Authority of this high Court. My humble Motion to this high Court, in behalf of the Kingdom of England, is, That the Prisoner may be directed to make a positive Answer, either by way of Confession, or Negation; which if he shall refuse to do, That the matter of Charge may be taken \pro confesso\, and the Court may proceed according to justice.

The situation escalates with some more arguments from Lord President who evokes the definition of high treason and other notions relevant to the case, e.g. the notion of authority which seems to have been crucial in the discussion between the present power, House of Commons, and the past power, the king. Lord President’s turn ends in a threat that the king should not delay his act of pleading guilty (or not guilty) any more: 7

On the powerful position of the judges in Early Modern courtroom discourse, cf. the analysis of two other Early Modern trials in Kryk-Kastovsky (2010). Compare also the study on the politeness of modern American and British judges in Kurzon (2001).


Barbara Kryk-Kastovsky (14) Lord President. Sir, You may remember at the last Court you were told the occasion of your being brought hither, and you heard a Charge against you, containing a Charge of high Treason and other high Crimes, against this Realm of England; you heard likewise, that it was prayed in the behalf of the People, that you should give an Answer to that Charge, that thereupon such proceedings might be had as should be agreeable to justice; you were then pleased to make some scruples concerning the Authority of this Court and knew not by what Authority you were brought hither; you did divers times propound your Questions, and were as often answered, That it was by Authority of the Commons of England assembled in Parliament that did think fit to call you to account for those high and capital Misdemeanours wherewith you were then charged. Since that the Court hath taken into Consideration what you then said, they are fully satisfied with their own, and they hold it fit you should stand satisfied with it too; and they do require it, that you do give a positive and particular Answer to this Charge that is exhibited against you, they do expect you should either confess or deny it; if you deny, it is offered in the behalf of the Kingdom to be made good against you; their authority they do avow to the whole world, that the whole Kingdom are to rest satisfied in, and you are to rest satisfied with it, and therefore you are to lose no more time, but to give a positive Answer thereunto.

As expected, the king adheres to his line of defence, retorts again and questions the legality of the court which puts a monarch on trial. It is remarkable how the king shows his knowledge of legal proceedings (“the affirmative has to be proved”). Moreover, in response to the court’s accusations, the king justifies his previous actions by giving a number of reasons, all of which follow his previous line of argumentation by evoking notions like responsibility to God and the people of England (and, as he puts it rather pompously, he is also responsible for their lives, liberties, and financial wellbeing): (15) The King. When I was here last, ’tis very true, I made that Question, and truly if it were only my own particular case, I would have satisfied my self with the Protestation I made the last time I was here against the legality of this Court, and that a King cannot be tryed by any Superiour Jurisdiction on Earth; but it is not my case alone, it is the Freedom and the Liberty of the People of England, and do you pretend what you will, I stand more for their Liberties. For if Power without Law may make Laws, may alter the fundamental Laws of the Kingdom, I do not know what Subject he is in England, that can be sure of his life, or any thing that he calls his own; therefore when that I came here, I did expect particular Reasons, to know by what Law, what Authority you did proceed against me here, and therefore I am a little to seek what to say to you in this particular, because the Affirmative is to be proved, the Negative often is very hard to do: but since I cannot perswade you to do it, I shall tell you my Reasons as short as I can. My Reasons why in Conscience, and the duty I owe to God first, and my People next, for the preservation of their Lives, Liberties and Estates; I conceive I cannot answer this, till I be satisfied of the legality of it. All proceedings against any man whatsoever.

The miscommunication between both parties continues when Lord President challenges the king’s behaviour as not acceptable to any court of justice and reminds the king of his present role of the defendant who should submit to the court (note the unambiguous referring expressions which he uses with relation to the king: prisoner, high delinquent). Finally, the judge puts pressure on the king and demands from him a straightforward yes/no answer concerning his misdemeanours (on the effectiveness of yes/no questions as an examination technique in a courtroom, cf. above).

From monarch, through traitor, to martyr and saint ...


(16) Lord President. Sir, I must interrupt you, which I would not do, but that what you do is not agreeable to the proceedings of any Court of Justice, you are about to enter into Argument, and dispute concerning the Authority of this Court, before whom you appear as a Prisoner, and are charged as an high Delinquent; if you take upon you to dispute the Authority of the Court we may not do it, nor will any Court give way unto it, you are to submit unto it, you are to give in a punctual and direct Answer, whether you will answer your Charge or no, and what your Answer is.

The king again rejects the court’s argumentation and resorts to the traditional notions of law and reason, well-established and frequently evoked in the humanist tradition. Notice also how Charles extrapolates from the knowledge of law to his alleged right to question the court. This finally leads him to the leitmotif of his overall argumentation, i.e. questioning the reasonableness of the accusation and the whole trial in general: (17) The King. Sir, by your favour, I do not know the forms of Law, I do know Law and Reason, though I am no Lawyer profess’d, but I know as much Law as any Gentleman in England; and therefore (under favour) I do plead for the Liberties of the People of England more then you do, and therefore if I should impose a belief upon any man without Reasons given for it, it were unreasonable; but I must tell you, That that Reason that I have as thus informed, I cannot yield unto it.

The trial discourse becomes even more dramatic when the judge interrupts the king and questions Charles’ right to mention the general notions like ‘law’ and ‘reason’ since it is the court, not the king, which stands for the two values in the newly created socio-historical context. In view of the overall course of the proceedings and the king’s arrogant and often abusive behaviour, Lord President charges the king with the crime of contempt of court and warns him against the consequences of such behaviour. (18) Lord President. Sir, I must interrupt you, you may not be permitted, you speak of Law and Reason, it is fit there should be Law and Reason, and there is both against you. Sir, the Vote of the Commons of England assembled in Parliament, it is the Reason of the Kingdom, and they are these that have given to that Law, according to which you should have ruled and raigned: Sir, you are not to dispute our Authority, you are told it again by the Court. Sir, it will be taken notice of, that you stand in contempt of the Court, and your contempt will be recorded accordingly.

Here is where terminological issues arise again since King Charles objects to being called a delinquent and boldly demands to be heard, again referring to the abstract notion of reason: (19) The King. I do not know how a King can be a Delinquent but by any Law that ever I heard of, all men (Delinquents, or what you will) let me tell you, they may put in Demurrers against any proceeding as legal, and I do demand that, and demand to be heard with my Reasons, if you deny that, you deny Reason.

The king’s refusal to plead either guilty or not guilty during the investigation is reflected in his answer to a question asked by a well-wisher before the trial: what he would do if a charge was brought against him. Reportedly, he said that he would not give any answer but will die like a martyr, cf. Perfect Occurrences, 20-30 December 1649. This is what happened and martyr he was declared (at least by part of the nation).


Barbara Kryk-Kastovsky

The dramatic exchange escalates and in his reply to the King’s turn Lord President limits the liberties which Charles has had so far. He forbids the king to speak by applying the general quantifier “neither you nor any men are permitted to dispute that point”. He also points out that the king has no right to say anything more, so he must not demure the proceedings and obey the courtroom rules, i.e. accept the authority of the court. (20) Lord President. Sir, you have offered something to the Court, I shall speak something unto you the sence of the Court. Sir, neither you nor any man are permitted to dispute that point, you are concluded, you may not demur the Jurisdiction of the Court, if you do, I must let you know, that they over-rule your Demurrer, they sit here by the Authority of the Commons of England, and all your Predecessors, and you are responsible to them.

Predictably, the king rejects the court’s argumentation, and he does it in a rather offensive way, since he denies recognizing the role of the court who he is being tried by (another example of contempt of court): Notice the intriguing inconsistency in the text (possibly a scribal error), where the king is quoted as saying “president”, but probably originally said “precedent” – otherwise the king’s answer would not make sense, especially in the context of Lord President’s comment (21) The King. I deny that, shew me one president. Lord President. Sir, you ought not to interrupt while the Court is speaking to you, this point is not to be debated by you, neither will the Court permit you to do it, if you offer it by way of Demurrer to the Jurisdiction of the Court, they have considered of their Jurisdiction, they do affirm their own Jurisdiction. The King.I say Sir, by your favour, that the Commons of England was never a Court of Judicature, I would know how they came to be so.

Surprisingly, Lord President still shows remarkable patience, ignores the king’s offensive statement and concentrates on the technicalities, e.g. the defendant should not interrupt the proceedings and should finally recognize the power of the court: (22) Lord President. Sir, you ought not to interrupt while the Court is speaking to you, this point is not to be debated by you, neither will the Court permit you to do it, if you offer it by way of Demurrer to the Jurisdiction of the Court, they have considered of their Jurisdiction, they do affirm their own Jurisdiction.

The discussion continues in the same vein in the next two turns, where the king refuses to recognize the court and the judge points out to the king that he is violating the rules of courtroom discourse and orders him to give a positive answer. Otherwise, the clerk is supposed to do his duty, i.e. read out the sentence (notice how the king objects to the word duty used by Lord President when he asks the clerk to read out the sentence): (23) The King I say Sir, by your favour, that the Commons of England was never a Court of Judicature, I would know how they came to be so. Lord President. Nay, Sir, by your favour, you may not be permitted to fall into these discourses; you appear as a Delinquent, you have not acknowledged the authority of the Court, the Court craves it not of you, but once more they command you to give your positive Answer – Clark Do your Duty. The King Duty Sir!

From monarch, through traitor, to martyr and saint ...


At this point the Clark reads the following: (24) CHARLES STUART, KING Of England, You are accused in the behalf of the Commons of England of divers high crimes and Treasons, which Charge hath been read unto You; the Court now requires you to give Your positive and final Answer by way of confession, or denial of the Charge.

As could be expected, the king again refuses to cooperate, which this time infuriates the judge who points out to the king that it is his third refusal to answer the court’s question done in an offensive fashion, i.e. qualifying as contempt of the court, and orders the king to be taken back. (25) Lord President. Sir, this is the third time that you have publiquely disown’d this Court, and put an affront upon it; how far you have preserv’d Priviledges of the People, your actions have spoke it; but truly Sir, mens intentions ought to be known by their actions, you have written your meaning in bloudy Characters throughout the whole Kingdom; but Sir you understand the pleasure of the Court, -- Clerk Record the default, -- and Gentlemen, you that took charge of the Prisoner, take him back again.

At this point the king once again tries to give the reasons for his behaviour, which in view of the prolonged proceedings might have been interpreted by the court as overstepping the prisoner’s rights, especially since the king used the verb require, which was preceded by an emphatic do normally expressing a very direct order: (26) The King. I do require that I may give in my Reasons why I do not answer, and give me time for that.

Predictably, the king’s formulation does not please Lord President, who snaps: (27) Lord President. Sir, ’Tis not for Prisoners to require.

The terminological issue goes on when the king bounces the argument back by requiring a clear definition of prisoner: (28) The King. Prisoners? Sir, I am not an ordinary Prisoner.

The reaction of the judge is of course negative and he requires the king to finally conform to the court proceedings and answer the court’s question: (29) Lord President. The Court hath considered of their Jurisdiction, and they have already affirmed their Jurisdiction; if you will not answer, we shall give order to record your default.

The miscommunication continues when the king for the umpteenth time insists on giving the court his explanation: (30) The King. You never heard my Reasons yet.

The terminological squabble goes on in the next few turns which contain attempts at defining what is the acceptable jurisdiction in the eyes of the king who rebels against the new order, hence does not accept the court he is tried by, and according to the court, representing the new rulers of the country: (31) Lord President. Sir, Your Reasons are not to be heard against the highest Jurisdiction. The King. Shew me that Jurisdiction where Reason is not to be heard.


Barbara Kryk-Kastovsky Lord President. Sir, We shew it you here, the Commons of England; and the next time you are brought, you will know more of the pleasure of the Court, and, it may be, their final determination.

In the next turn the king attempts again at defining what a court of judicature could be in the new order: (32) The King. Shew me where ever the House of Commons was a Court of Judicature of that kind.

Here is where the miscommunication between the two parties culminates in the judge ordering to take the king away, whereupon the king again reminds the judge of his (allegedly) superior position in the country: (33) Lord President. Serjeant, Take away the Prisoner. The King. Well Sir, Remember that the King is not suffered to give in his Reasons for the Liberty and Freedom.

At this point, Lord President seems to feel attacked in his social role of the judge and challenges the king’s behaviour both on linguistic and legal grounds: (34) Lord President. Sir, you are not to have liberty to use this language; how great a friend you have been to the Laws and Liberties of the People, let all England and the world judg.

The tension of the trial culminates with the last turns performed by the king and Lord President, where no comment on the miscommunication is necessary, especially in view of the king’s final word, which might have given tribute to the omnipresence of the particle well in the English language. One could interpret the king’s use of well along with Jucker’s explanation (1997: 101) that in Early Modern English well occurred utterance-initially in texts that were either intended to be spoken or in written accounts of actual speech, e.g. in court reports, which is exactly the case here. As to the actual meaning of well in this context, it fits perfectly the interpretation ascribed by Jucker to the data he analysed, in which, according to him, well could be paraphrased as ‘if this is so’ and express the fact that the speaker, in our case the king, accepts the situation. I think that the interpretation of king’s words could not be more pertinent: (35) The King. Sir, under favour, it was the Liberty, Freedom, and Laws of the Subject that ever I took – defended my self with Arms, I never took up Arms against the People, but for the Laws. Lord President. The Command of the Court must be obeyed; no answer will be given to the Charge. The King. Well Sir.

It is also worth noting how in view of the growing miscommunication, the trial was concluded by the Lord President who recorded all the unacceptable patterns of verbal and non-verbal behaviour performed by the king, i.e. the contempt of court and the king’s refusal to answer the charge: Then the Lord President ordered the default to be recorded, and the contempt of the Court, and that no answer would be given to the Charge. And so was guarded forth to Sir Robert Cottons house. Then the Court adjourned to the Painted Chamber on Tuesday at twelve a clock, and from thence they intend to adjourn to Westminster Hall, at which time all persons concerned are to give their attendance.

From monarch, through traitor, to martyr and saint ...


5. Quantitative analysis As has been suggested above, the present data reveal an interesting tendency in the power play going on between the king and the court. Although a defendant charged with high treason, Charles I was still a monarch whose power and authority were recognised by members of the public (cf. cries from the courtroom: God, save the King, etc.). Moreover, he had no official defence lawyer, thus he had to defend himself. For all these reasons, he seems to have been given a lot of leeway by the court during the proceedings, since at the beginning of the trial the king’s turns are unusually longer than the turns of his interrogators. However, in the course of the trial his turns are getting shorter (possibly due to losing ground in his defensive position). As an illustration take Sample 1, recorded on 20th January, quoting eight exchanges between Lord President (LP), and the King (K), which were of the following length as to the number of turns: (35) Quantitative data, sample 1 (January 20th)

i. ii. iii. iv. v. vi. vii. viii.

LP 49/K 276 (K 82.3%) LP 53/K 5 (K 9.4%) LP 13/K 75 (K 82.7%) LP 36/K 129 (K 72.1%) LP 55/K 200 (K72.5%) LP 69/K 27 (K 39.1%) LP 13/K 12 (K 92.3%) LP 16 (disposing of the king who utters no words)

Notice that in five exchanges (i, iii, iv, v, vii) the turns performed by the King were exceedingly longer than those performed by Lord President. It might now be revealing to see how the king fared in the later parts of the trial. Consider the following quantitative data from the second sample of 22 January. It is worth noting how the long introductory turn of Solicitor General, followed by an even longer intervention by Lord President was concluded by a still relatively long intervention by the king. However, judging from the overall structure of the discourse and the length of the consecutive turns, the king gradually seems to be losing ground, cf. turns iv, ix, xiv: (36) Quantitative data, sample 2 (January 22)

i. ii. iii iv. v. vi. vii. viii. ix. x.

Sol. Gen. 154/LP272/K255 (K 93.75%) LP 109/K 94 (K 86.2%) LP 106/K 61 (K 57.5%) LP 78/K 7 (K 8.9%) LP 57/K 26 (K 45.6% LP 17/K 16 (K 94.1%) LP 22/K 21 (K 95.4%) LP 7/K 8 (K 87.5%) LP 27/K 6 (K 22.2%) LP 13/K 12 (K 92%)


Barbara Kryk-Kastovsky

xi. xii. xiii. xiv.

LP 36/K 16 (K 44.4%) LP 5/ K 23 (K 260%) LP 33/ K 35 (K 106.06%) LP 16/ K 2 (K 12.5%)

Predictably, the tendency continues on the next day of the trial, when the king seems to be overwhelmed by the lengthy charge of Solicitor General, so that only one of the king’s turns (turn xvii.) considerably exceeds all the others. After that, the king seems to be just adhering to his defensive position: (37) Quantitative data, sample 3, January 23

xv. Sol. Gen. 511 xvi. LP 277/K 34 (K 12.2%) xvii LP 153/K 280 (K 183%) xviii. LP 9/K 4 (K 44.4%) xix. LP 52/K 2 (K 3.8%) xx. LP 88/K 26 (K 29.5%) xxi. LP 29

As can be seen from this excerpt, the king is losing ground even more since he was not allowed to have his last word after a rather short intervention following a longer statement by Lord President, who concludes this part of the proceedings. However, in the next sample of my data from January 23, the king manages to defend his stance in long turns (xxii, xxiii, xxiv) and then loses ground in turn xxv, and regains it again but only for a short time and then loses ground again (turns xxvi, xxviii, xxix, xxxii), just to regain it in great style in turn xxvi only for a while and then lose it again in the final turn xxxviii. (23) Quantitative data, sample 4, January 23 (contd.)

xxii. xxiii. xxiv. xxv. xxvi. xxvii. xxviii. xxix. xxx. xxxi. xxxii. xxxiii. xxxiv. xxxv. xxxvi. xxxvii. xxxviii.

LP 10/K 20 (K 200%) LP 16/K29 (K 181%) LP 18/K27 (K 150 %) LP 392/K 11 (2.8%) – king losing ground again LP 5/K 430 – and regaining it in great style! 8600 %, but only for a short while! LP 26/K2 (K 7.6%) LP 43/K127 (K33.8%) LP 282/K7 (K 2.4%) LP 22/K3 (K 13.6%) LP 269/K 249 (K 92.5%) LP 55/K 61 (K 110.9) LP 78/K 7 (K 8.9%) LP 57/K 26 (K 45.6) LP 17/K16 (K 94%) LP 22/K21 (K 95.4%) LP 7/K8 (K 114.2%) LP 27/K 6 (K 22.2%)

From monarch, through traitor, to martyr and saint ...


The quantitative analysis has confirmed my initial hypothesis that the trial of King Charles I was conducted as a show trial exhibiting the power play between the court and the defendant who despite his privileged position did not stand a chance of being heard. Even though the king was granted more leeway than a regular defendant, he was not allowed to state his case and his initially longer turns did not give him much of an advantage. In summary, both the qualitative and the quantitative analyses have confirmed the gridlock which resulted from the miscommunication between the king and the court and finally led to the monarch’s tragic failure.

6. Concluding remarks As follows from my analysis, the trial of King Charles I constitutes a model example of miscommunication from a historical perspective based on the conflicting definitions of the notion of power as represented by the past ruler, the king, and the powers-thatbe, the court, who tried the monarch. The confrontation between the two past and present representatives of power led to numerous instances of miscommunication reflected in the courtroom discourse both on its grammatical and socio-pragmatic levels. The miscommunication was due to a number of factors. The major part was played by the unique historical-political context, i.e. the revolution leading to the imprisonment and finally the execution of the king, unprecedented in the history of the country. Leaving the realm of history and politics, we arrive at another level of analysis, i.e. the social context of the analysed text, i.e. courtroom discourse, where specific rules of conduct apply. This is where the social aspect cuts across the historical dimension and produces a playground for a variety of linguistic and socio-pragmatic ways of expression. The monarch being tried by a lower chamber of the Parliament obviously feels deprived of his previous position in the society, but especially stripped of his dignity. This is reflected both in his adamant stand with regard to the court’s accusations and his refusal to plead (either guilty or not guilty). Moreover, the king takes the liberty to oppose the court and even to be offensive, which could be either caused by his personal pride or by the contempt of court, which he is finally accused of. The drama of King Charles I who was tried by his former social inferiors is reflected in his verbal behaviour, like the variety of linguistic and socio-pragmatic means employed throughout the trial, e.g. questioning the legality of the court by the use of offensive expressions, e.g. my pretended judges, or giving new connotations to general terms, like reason. The question who won in the power play between King Charles I and the court is difficult to answer due to the multifaceted miscommunication between the two parties during the trial which, as a result, led to the division of the English nation between those who considered Charles a tyrant, traitor, and murderer and those who hailed him as a martyr and saint. Let the historians and linguists decide on who was right.

References Archer, D. 2005. Questions and Answers in the English Courtroom (1640-1760). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Cannon, J. (ed.). 1997. The Oxford Companion to British History. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Barbara Kryk-Kastovsky

Corder, S. and M. Meyerhoff. 2007. Communities of practice in the analysis of intercultural communication. In: H. Kotthoff and H. Spencer-Oatey (eds.). Handbook of Intercultural Communication. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 441-461. Coupland, N., H. Giles, and J. Wiemann (eds.). 1991. Miscommunication and Problematic Talk. London: Sage. Danet, B. 1980. Language in the legal process. Law and Society Review 14, 445-464. Danet, B. 1985. Legal discourse. In: T. van Dijk (ed.). Handbook of Discourse Analysis. Vol. 1. London: Academic Press, 273-291. Eckert, P. and S. McConnell-Ginet. 1992. Think practically and look locally: Language and gender as community-based practice. Annual Review of Anthropology 21, 461-490. Gardiner, J. and N. Wenborn. 1997. The Columbia Companion to British History. New York: Columbia University Press. Henley, N. and Ch. Kramarae. 1991. Gender, power and miscommunication. In: N. Coupland, H. Giles and J. Wiemann (eds.). 1991. Miscommunication and Problematic Talk. London: Sage, 1843. Hiltunen, R. 1996. “Tell me, be you a witch?”: Questions in the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law 9, 17-37. Honderich, T. (ed.). 2005. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Jucker, A. (ed.). 1995. Historical Pragmatics. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Jucker, A. 1997. The discourse marker well in the history of English. English Language and Linguistics 1, 91-110. Jucker, A. and I. Taavitsainen. 2000. Diachronic speech act analysis: Insults from flyting to flaming. Journal of Historical Pragmatics 1.1, 67-95. Kryk-Kastovsky, B. 2000. Representations of orality in Early Modern English trial records. Journal of Historical Pragmatics 1.2, 201-230. Kryk-Kastovsky, B. 2002. Synchronic and Diachronic Investigations in Pragmatics. Pozna: Motivex. Kryk-Kastovsky, B. 2006. Impoliteness in Early Modern English courtroom discourse. In: B. KrykKastovsky (ed.). Historical Courtroom Discourse. Special issue of Journal of Historical Pragmatics 7.2, 213-245. Kryk-Kastovsky, B. 2010. Power in Early Modern English courtroom discourse. In: S.-K. Tanskanen, et al. (eds.). Discourses in Interaction. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 153-171. Kurzon, D. 2001. The politeness of judges: American and British judicial behaviour. Journal of Pragmatics 33, 61-85. Luchjenbroers, J. 1997. “In your own words…”: Questions and answers in a Supreme Court trial. Journal of Pragmatics 27.4, 477-503. Melinkoff, D. 1963. The Language of the Law. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co. Robertson, G. 2005. The Tyrannicide Brief. The Story of the Man who Sent Charles I to the Scaffold. New York: Pantheon Books. Scollon, R. and S. Wong Scollon. 1995. Intercultural Communication. Oxford: Blackwell. Trevelyan, G. M. 1973. English Social History. London: Book Club Associates. Wenger, E. 1998. Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.



Meaning and Translation Part 1: Meaning Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2012. 257 pp., 4 coloured fig., 2 tables Warsaw Studies in English Language and Literature. Vol. 7 Edited by Jacek Fisiak ISBN 978-3-631-63006-8 · hb. € 52,80* Since translation cannot be approached in isolation from meaning, anything that is said about translation must necessarily be placed in the context of meaning. Accordingly, the first volume of the book concerns this necessary context, while the second volume will view translation in terms of the semantic framework presented in the first volume. Both volumes are to a large extent consistent with major tenets of cognitive linguistics. The work is addressed primarily to students pursuing translation studies but also to all those persons who are interested in semantics and translation for whatever other reasons. The main aim of the book is to provide the prospective reader with a quantum of knowledge in the two areas. A subsidiary aim is to tidy up the metalinguistic terminology, replete with such deficiencies as polysemy, whereby one term is laden with a number of senses, as well as synonymy, due to which one sense is connected with more than one term. Content: Meaning, semiotics and signs · Semantics: its scope and its metalanguage · The terminological principle and the cognitive approach to object language · Aspects of linguistic meaning · Semantic relations between sentences and between words · Systemic meaning and utterance meaning · Text and discourse · Axiological elements of meaning

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