LING 5022 Cross-cultural Pragmatics S1, 2012
Assignment 3
Due date: 12/06/2012
Total word count: 1,500 – 1,800 words (maximum)
As more and more people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds are coming into
contact with one another, they need to address and overcome differing power relations and
cultural and linguistic stereotypes to successfully communicate in an intercultural context.
By “intercultural communication” we mean any form of the intercultural interactions we have
discussed in the course, or others. Thus, you may understand “intercultural communication”
to refer to personal interactional events; advertising or media communication events;
professional communication events; computer-mediated communication events;
interpreter/translator mediated communication events; business communication events, etc.
This assignment contains three (3) sections. Each section is worth thirty (30) marks.
In each section, you are required to briefly describe an intercultural context/scenario in which
people from different language/ cultural backgrounds needed to communicate successfully
with one another; however, the communication appears to have failed.
Note you must provide THREE DIFFERENT SCENARIOS. This means that the
participants in one scenario should not be the same as in the others; the relationships should
be different; the issues should be different; the cultural contexts should be different; the
languages used may or may not be different.
In each section, you are also required to select and briefly discuss a conceptual framework or
‘theory’ that assists in understanding the context/scenario and provides some insights into how
the communication problem may be resolved.
Conceptual frameworks or theories that you may choose to discuss include (but are not
limited to) the following:
 Relevance Theory
 Grice’s Co-operative Principle and the Maxims
 Brown and Levinson’s Politeness Theory
 Spencer-Oatey’s Rapport Management Theory
 Pragmatic transfer
 Natural Semantic Metalanguage
 Cultural Script Theories
You can use different frameworks for your different scenarios. Be explicit about which
framework you are using, and be sure to specify the basic assumptions of the framework in
each case. If you refer to textbooks or to journal articles, you must use proper academic
referencing conventions.
Please structure your response as follows:
Section A
1. Briefly describe Scenario 1. (5 marks)
2. Choose and briefly describe a conceptual framework that you think best accounts for
this context/scenario. (5 marks)
3. Suggest, in terms of that framework, what the problems/issues were that caused the miscommunication.
(10 marks)
4. Provide, briefly and clearly, the pragmatic information each party could have used which
might have led to a successful outcome for both of them. (10 marks)
Section B
1. Briefly describe Scenario 2. (5 marks)
2. Choose and briefly describe a conceptual framework that you think best accounts for
this context/scenario. (5 marks)
3. Suggest, in terms of that framework, what the problems/issues were that caused the miscommunication.
(10 marks)
4. Provide, briefly and clearly, the pragmatic information each party could have used which
might have led to a successful outcome for both of them. (10 marks)
Section C
1. Briefly describe Scenario 3. (5marks)
2. Choose and briefly describe a conceptual framework that you think best accounts for
this context/scenario. (5 marks)
3. Suggest, in terms of that framework, what the problems/issues were that caused the miscommunication.
(10 marks)
4. Provide, briefly and clearly, the pragmatic information each party could have used which
might have led to a successful outcome for both of them. (10 marks)
Total word count; 1,500 – 1,800 words (maximum)
A worked example is provided as a guide as follows:
Section A – Scenario 1
1. Briefly describe Scenario 1 (5 marks)
Jenny, an Australian, invites Lily, a Japanese classmate she has recently met, and whom she
likes very much, to come for dinner at her house on Saturday night.
Jenny: I’m going to be having some people over for dinner on Saturday evening. Would you
like to join us? I’d love you to come and meet my boyfriend and some of our close friends.
Lily: Thank you, that would be lovely. I will try to come.
Jenny: Ok Saturday night, 8pm. 123 Anzac Parade.
Lily does not arrive and after Jenny and her friends have waited over an hour, they eat dinner
without her. Jenny is upset at Lily’s rudeness.
2. Choose and briefly describe a conceptual framework that you think best accounts for
this context/scenario. (5 marks)
One framework that could be useful here is the cultural script theory as described by Zegarac
(2008,pp.60-63). This theory states that each culture has certain scripts for the way that they
perform regular activities in their culture. These scripts are culturally determined and within
our own cultures we very often do not question them; it is just the way we do things. We
assume that others are following the same cultural scripts. However, people from different
cultures may well have other cultural scripts, since our scripts are based on our cultural
assumptions about the way we do things. The ways in which we construct face are often part
of the assumptions of our cultural scripts.
3. Suggest, in terms of that framework, what the problems/issues were that caused the
mis-communication. (10 marks)
In terms of Cultural Script Theory, Jenny was following the script in her culture for inviting
someone to dinner. She expresses her strong desire to have her friend come over and meet the
people who are important to her. She says so, making it clear that she has particular people in
mind she wants to introduce Lily to. Once she believes that Lily has accepted the invitation,
she gives her the address and the time of the event, in her mind confirming the arrangement.
Lily, on the other hand, was following her cultural script for being invited. She expresses her
gratitude and enthusiasm for the invitation, and says she will try to come. In her script, this
does not mean that she has accepted the invitation; it means that she is thanking her friend for
inviting her, and expressing the sentiment of appreciation. She says she would love to come.
She does not say she will come. Once Jenny gives her the time and place of the event, she
does not continue the conversation, so it is possible that she does not believe she has
confirmed her acceptance.
4. Provide, briefly and clearly, the pragmatic information each party could have used
which might have led to a successful outcome for both of them. (10 marks)
If Jenny had known that it was part of the politeness behaviour in Lily’s culture that
invitations are not declined overtly, it would have helped her to know that Lily had not
provided her with a clear acceptance of the invitation. When Lily said nothing after she had
been provided with the time and place of the event, Jenny could have checked by asking, “So,
is it a date then. Will I see you on Saturday?” Jenny responded to the positive face behaviour
Lily provided in saying she would love to come, but didn’t understand the cultural script for
not accepting the invitation.
Lily, on the other hand, needed to know that in Jenny’s cultural script, she was issuing a
genuine invitation. The fact that time and place were mentioned is the main evidence for this.
Even in Jenny’s cultural script, people often issue vague invitations that they may or may not
care about, however, when they provide details, the invitation is to be regarded as genuine.
Lily did not have this information. Additionally, it would have been important to Lily to
know that her non-arrival was a face-threatening act, and that Jenny would have been hurt,
irritated, affronted and embarrassed by her behaviour.
(Word count for Section A – 616 words)

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