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Kachru & Smith, Ch. 8
Talk Shows from Around the
Note the similarities and differences in such
conversational features as turn-taking, backchanneling, simultaneous talk, gestures, eye-gaze,
etc. among the talk shows in …
 Japanese
 Thai
 Mexican
 Philippino
 Vietnamese
 Chinese
The Structure of Conversation
in Outer and Expanding Circle
 Required Concepts
 Interactive acts – how the interaction is managed
 Speech acts – what is being conveyed or negotiated
between participants
 Crosscultural Differences
 Speech acts
 Cooperative principle
 Politeness
Interactive Acts
 Turn-taking: the pattern of conversation in which one
person speaks, then another
 Normally in SAE one person speaks at a time
 End of talk is signaled by
 Intonation, expressions like ‘you know,’ gesture, lengthening of final
syllable, stressed syllable, etc.
 Floor: the right to begin to talk
 Has some duration
 Is topic-related
 Specific devices to gain or hold the floow and to control the
 Backchanneling: cues that signal attention and
encourage the speaker to continue
 Simultaneous Talk: talk by more than one person over
an extended period
Crosscultural Differences Turns
 ‘Turn’ refers to the opportunity to assume the
role of speaker and what is said by the
 In some speech communities (e.g., Hindi,
Japanese, Middle East, Eastern Europe) the onespeaker-at-a-time rule doesn’t apply
Crosscultural Differences –
 ‘Floor’ refers to the right to make a first statement
during a conversation
A: Did you hear the news?
B: What?
A: Bill is back in town!
 Who is/are controlling attention in conversation
 Who is/are controlling the topic of conversation
 Who is/are the central figure[s] in the conversation
Crosscultural Differences –
 In SAE
 Men are more successful in initiating and maintaining topics
and tend to demand the floor more frequently
 In India
 Older participants have the right to initiate conversation,
maintain the floow and yield the floor
 In traditional Western Europe
 Children are admonished to be seen, not heard
 In many other cultures
 Only older males initiate, maintain and control the floor
Crosscultural Differences –
 The frequency and duration of backchannnelling
behavior varies from culture to culture
 Japanese speakers Use more frequent backchannel
cues and the cues are of longer duration
 Speakers of languages that are socialized in the
patterns of providing frequent and longer
backchannel cues may use the same strategy in
 This may be disconcerting to the Inner circle English
Crosscultural Differences –
Simultaneous Talk
 ‘Simultaneous talk’ is normally considered rude in
Inner Circle speech communities
 Rhythmic coordination –patterning of speech and
non-verbal body movements
 Sync talk – overlapping speech & synchronized
head nods, both postures
 High involvement style vs. high considerateness
FitzGerald’s 6 Styles of
 Institutional/exacting (Northern and Western Europe)
 Individual autonomy, non-imposition, brevity, explicitness,
linearity, goal oriented
 Spontaneous/argumentative (Eastern Europe)
 Sincerity, spontaneity, closeness, blunt, direct
 Involved/expressive (Southern Europe, Latin
 Warmth, emotion, expressive, concern with according
positive face to others, affective and contextual, tolerates
overlap, collaborative rather than competitive
FitzGerald’s 6 Styles of
 Elaborate/dramatic (Middle Eastern)
 Harmonious relations, positive face, affective contextual
style stressing form over content, sweeping
(over)generalizations, expressive metaphors
 Bureaucratic/contextualized (South Asian)
 Harmonious relations, positive face, affective contextual
style stressing form over content, formal bureaucratic
language, inductive organization
 Succinct/subdued (East & Southeast Asian)
 Harmony, modesty, conformity, positive face, masking
negative emotions, status oriented, deferential
 How do FitzGerald’s six styles of interaction accord
with the distinction seen in the video “Culturally
Speaking: High Context - Low Context”?
 How do FitzGerald’s six styles of interaction accord
with your own experiences?
Crosscultural Differences –
Rhetorical Strategies
 ‘Rhetorical strategies’ refers to how what one says is
 Chinese professionals often first provide background info
(history), then transition to main point
(How do you decide what topic to research?)
Because now, things have changed. It’s different from the past.
In the past, we emphasized how to solve practical problems.
Nutritionists must know how to solve some deficiency
diseases. In our country, we have some nutritional diseases.
But now it is important that we must do some basic research.
So, we must take into account fundamental problems. We must
concentrate our research to study some fundamental research.
 Indian English
 Often expresses direct disagreement, followed
by backing down
A: So in your family were you treated differently
from your brothers in other ways?
B: No, not in other ways, but yeah yes I was.
They didn’t allow me.
Crosscultural Differences –
Rhetorical Strategies
 Signals of in-group membership
 Maori:
R: Tikitiki, well we’re across the river from there and
N: ae.
R: If we wanted to go to Tikitiki we had to go right around to
Ruatoria. And that was in winter.
N: in winter eh.
 Malay:
Eh Mala, where on earth you went ah? I searching, searching all
over the place for you – no sign til one o’clock, so I pun got hungry,
I went for makan.
Implications for
Crosscultural Conversations
 It is difficult to train people to change their
patterns of synchronized, harmonious
conversational interaction.
 But it is possible to
 Sensitize people to observe and minimize conditions
that lead to a sense of discomfort in verbal interactions.
 Accommodate different rhetorical strategies in
crosscultural communication
Speech Acts
 By uttering a string of meaningful sounds, we
perform not only the act of speaking, but also a
variety of acts such as informing, questioning,
ordering, etc., via the act of speaking.
Open the door!
Why are you frowning?
Would you mind closing the door?
The formula for finding the area of a circle is Πr².
Speech Acts
 There is no set of speech acts and no set of strategies
for performing speech acts such that all languages and
cultures share them
 Example: saugandh khaanaa – Hindi for ‘to swear’
 Doesn’t carry negative meanings
 Can swear by anything valuable
‘…and Ramu,’ she cried desperately, ‘I have enough of
quarrelling all the time. In the name of our holy
mother, can’t you leave me alone!’
Speech Acts
 Speech acts are interpretable only in the context
of a society or culture
 Indian languages: Elders may bless a child instead of
saying ‘thank you’ for rendering a service.
 Taiwanese Mandarin: uses a more direct strategy for
making requests than SAE
 Igbo: Silence is the appropriate way to express
sympathy to the bereaved following a death.
The Cooperative Principle &
"Is that the phone?"
"I'm in the tub."
"Uncle Charlie is coming over for dinner."
"Better lock up the liquor."
"Do you know where Bill moved?"
"Somewhere on the east coast."
D."How was your blind date?"
"He had a nice pair of shoes."
"Professor Smith is sure he'll get tenure."
"And my pet turtle is sure it will win the
Kentucky Derby."
Grice’s Cooperative Principle
To describe in a systematic and consistent way
how implicature works in conversation, Grice
proposed the cooperative principle:
In conversations, participants cooperate with
each other.
They do this by observing the conversational
Grice’s Four Conversational
 Quantity - contribution should be as informative
as required
 Quality - contribution should not be false
 Relation - contribution should be relevant
 Manner - contribution should be direct
1. We don't adhere to them strictly.
2. We interpret what we hear as if what we hear
conforms to them.
3. Where maxim is violated, we draw
Quantity Letter of reference: Bob speaks perfect English; he doesn't
smoke in the office; and I have never heard him use foul
Quality "Reno is the capital of Nevada, isn't it?"
"Yeah, and London is the capital of New Jersey."
Relation "What time is it?"
"Well, the paper's already come."
Manner "Let's stop and get something to eat."
"OK, but not at M-c-D-o-n-a-l-d-s."
 What maxim is violated? What is the implicature
"How did Jeff do on the test?"
"Well, he wrote something down for every
"Do you know where Bill is?"
"Well, he didn't meet me for lunch like he was
supposed to."
Implicature Across Cultures
 Inner Circle Englishes value the Maxim of Quantity
 Speak directly to the point
 Long pauses are seen as disagreement or hostility
 Japanese English –
 Employs much longer pauses than SAE
 South Asian English –
 Silence on the part of the younger person is seen as
agreement or acceptance.
 Face – the public self-image that every person
wants to claim for him/herself.
 Negative face – the basic claim to freedom of
action and freedom from imposition
 Positive face – the positive consistent self-image
or ‘personality’ claimed by the person
Threats to Negative Face
 Could you lend me a hundred dollars for a couple
of days?
 Imposing a request
 If I were you, I would consult a doctor as soon as
possible. That cough sounds dangerous to me.
 Offering a suggestion
 You are so lucky to have such good friends all
over the world!
 Compliments (envy)
Threats to Positive Face
 Weren’t you supposed to compete the report by
 Mild criticism
 I am not sure I agree with your interpretation of
the by-laws.
 Disagreements
 One girl friend to another) Mabel thinks you have
put on some weight.
 Bad news (shows the speaker not adverse to causing
distress to addressee.)
Crosscultural Takes of
 Japanese culture values group harmony over
individual rights
 Positive face considerations play a greater role in
determining politeness than negative face considerations.
 Taiwanese culture prefers strategies like:
 I don’t like your performance; I am not pleased with your
performance; I am not satisfied with your performance
 Rather than the preferred SAE strategies:
 I am concerned about your performance; I have been
extremely concerned about your work performance lately; I
don’t feel that you’re working to your full potential.
 Communicative success depends on various aspects
of conversational interaction.
 Content – speech acts, conversational maxims,
politeness strategies
 Organization – turn-taking, maintaining the floor,
backchannelling, simultaneous talk
 Languages and varieties differ with respect to how
these aspects of content and organization are valued
and realized in day-to-day interactions.