The dynamic identity construction in English as lingua franca intercultural communication: A positioning perspective
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Drawing on positioning theory, this paper investigates the identity issues involved in an English as Lingua Franca (ELF) interaction in a multicultural university in Hong Kong. The findings indicate that the ELF participants' institutional roles are culturally determined, and are not fixed but vary in different phases of the discourse. This study suggests that the interlocutors move beyond language use in specific interactional context, and draw on their own histories and cultural knowledge to define and re-define the different positions of English language varieties in a broader context, so as to position their own English varieties at a privileged or advantageous position in the micro-interactional context. Despite the subtle negotiation of power relations they undertake, the ELF speakers in this study attempt to achieve alignment when a face-threatening episode occurs. It is found that ELF communication provides a context for interlocutors to see themselves through the lens of their embodied history and subjectivity and that of others, and to create new relationships and identities. The implications of the findings and future research direction are discussed.
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