Mutual face preservation among Asian speakers of English as a Lingua Franca
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This study identifies strategies used by speakers of ELF from Asia-Pacific countries for managing rapport in response to potentially face-threatening utterances in informal, non-hierarchical situations. The analysis, which draws on the Asian Corpus of English (ACE), reveals numerous points of contact with existing studies of English as a lingua franca. Potentially face-threatening utterances were usually - though not always - countered with a move to normalise the flow of conversation and maintain interactional rapport. There was also a preference for safe topics and an avoidance of potentially sensitive ones. Humour and laughter were frequently employed, possibly to signal equanimity with interlocutors. Yet two communicative strategies emerged which appeared to depart from the general pattern of rapport preservation. The first was mock impoliteness, which was possibly employed to signal solidarity with recipients but which risks evaluation as impolite regardless of intentionality. The second was bald on-record contradiction of or counterclaim against potentially face-threatening propositions or assessments. We theorise that these were delivered on-record to facilitate lingua franca communication: speakers avoided using complex or idiomatic language to ensure addressee comprehension, while recipients refrained from making an evaluative judgment of direct disagreement to allow for limitations or idiosyncrasies in their interlocutors' speech.
Journal of English as a Lingua Franca
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Discourse and Pragmatics