Self-disclosure in initial interactions amongst speakers of American and Australian English
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Getting acquainted with others is one of the most basic interpersonal communication events. Yet there has only been a limited number of studies that have examined variation in the interactional practices through which unacquainted persons become acquainted and establish relationships across speakers of the same language. The current study focuses on self-disclosure practices in initial interactions between first language speakers of English from Australia and the United States. It was found that while both American and Australian participants volunteered self-disclosures in the context of presentation-eliciting questions, there was a noticeable tendency for the American participants to self-disclose without being prompted by questions from the other participant. We also found that there was a tendency for the Australians to use positive assessments in response to self-disclosures less often and with a lesser degree of intensity than the American participants. These tendencies in self-disclosure practices are argued to reflect the ways in which underlying cultural premises are used by participants. However, given that a significant degree of inter-speaker and same-speaker variability was also observed, it is concluded that the study of pragmatic variation be situated on the level of interactional routines, relational dyads, and upwards that are engaged in particular social activities.
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Discourse and Pragmatics