Face in second language conversation
This study investigates the role of face and face-work in conversations between native and non-native speakers. The specific focus of the study was on the ways in which second language learners and native speakers of English negotiate face-threatening encounters. The study had two broad aims. Firstly, it sought to describe the linguistic and conversational strategies which the participants use in their attempt to manage potentially face-threatening conversational activities. Secondly, the study aimed to make a methodological contribution to the study of second language discourse by proposing an analytic framework for the description of the politeness dimension of interaction. The purpose of this was to integrate previous research on the linguistic aspects of face-work with a systematic study of the dynamic and interactive construction of discourse. The framework thus aims to capture both the linguistic choices which speakers make in dealing with potentially face-threatening actions and the intricate interactional strategies which the participants draw upon in negotiating the encounter. The methodology of the study builds on previous studies of interlanguage speech act production and second language discourse. The empirical data came from elicited dyadic conversations between native speakers of English and second language learners whose first language is Malay. The method of analysis combined concepts developed in interlanguage pragmatics, interactional sociolinguistics and ethnomethodological conversation analysis. These were integrated into a pragmatically oriented framework which pays systematic attention to the linguistic strategies and patterns of conversational organization which arise from the participants' attempts to pursue various transactional and interactional goals through talk. The findings partially support previous studies of interlanguage linguistic action patterns: while the strategies used by non-native speakers reflect their limited linguistic resources, they also show an awareness of the social and interpersonal constraints which guide patterns of language use in face-to-face interaction. More importantly, the results highlight the complex ways in which the dynamics of the interactive context regulate the linguistic choices made and the patterns of negotiation through which potentially face-threatening activities are dealt with in interaction between native and non-native speakers. ...
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