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Pragmatic and Cross-Cultural Competences

Focus on Politeness

Edited By Thomas Szende and George Alao

The L2 speaker is able to function in the target culture only when s/he is able to understand, anticipate and produce the choices that the said society makes. Being polite therefore means: knowing how to draw on the conventions of a society, taking into account the expectations of an interlocutor regarding social relations at any given point, and is based on the appropriate language register to the communication situation; being able to balance standard and non-standard features and to adjust one’s speech by moving it towards more or less familiarity, or formality. The learner therefore needs to be aware of the pragmatic flexibility of speakers – native and experts – who move from one register to another and juggle between respect and caution, first degree meaning and irony, exuberance and excess, with difference in levels, nature and degrees of politeness.


This volume contains contributions whose theoretical reflections, field work experiences and authentic data from diverse African, Asian and European languages, literatures and cultures as well as a variety of corpora shed new light on politeness as a central phenomenon in pragmatics, and on what is at stake when teaching or learning the subject. It also opens up a conceptual dialogue with a whole range of domains likely to enrich the debate: sociolinguistics, literature, translation studies, semiotics, cultural anthropology, social psychology, etc.

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About the author


Thomas Szende is Professor of Hungarian and Applied Linguistics at INALCO (Paris) and Director of the EA 4514 PLIDAM Research Centre. His academic interests focus on Second Language Acquisition as well as Hungarian grammar, bilingual lexicography, and translation. He has published several books including Second Culture Teaching and Learning, Peter Lang, 2014; The Foreign Language Appropriation Conundrum: Micro Realities & Dynamics. P.I.E-Peter Lang, 2016.

George Alao is Associate Professor of Yorùbá, and Language and Culture Pedagogy at INALCO), where he is Deputy-Director of the research team EA 4514 PLIDAM and co-convenes its Axis 1 (Language policies, multilingualism and representations). Keenly interested in all aspects of Language Teaching and Learning including the Pedagogy of African Languages, he has authored or participated in many books including Journey into Yorùbá language and culture, EAC, 2014 and Dispositifs éducatifs en contexte mondalisé et didactique plurilingue et pluriculturelle, Peter Lang, 2014.

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