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English as a Lingua Franca in Cross-cultural Immigration Domains

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Maria Grazia Guido

This book explores the cognitive and communicative processes involved in the use of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) within cross-cultural specialized contexts where non-native speakers of English – i.e. Western experts and non-Western migrants – interact. The book argues that the main communicative difficulties in such contexts are due precisely to the use of ELF, since it develops from the non-native speakers’ transfer of their native language structures and socio-cultural schemata into the English they speak. Transfer, in fact, allows non-native speakers to appropriate, or authenticate, those English semantic, syntactic, pragmatic and specialized-discourse structures that are linguistically and conceptually unavailable to them. It follows that there are as many ELF varieties as there are communities of non-native speakers authenticating English.
The research questions justifying the ethnographic case studies detailed in this book are: What kind of cognitive frames and communicative strategies do Western experts activate in order to convey their culturally-marked knowledge of specialized discourse – by using their ELF varieties – to non-Westerners with different linguistic and socio-cultural backgrounds? What kind of power asymmetries can be identified when non-Westerners try to communicate their own knowledge by using their respective ELF varieties? Is it possible to ultimately develop a mode of ELF specialized communication that can be shared by both Western experts and non-Western migrants?

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7 Contents H.G. WIDDOWSON Preface ............................................................................................... 15 Transcription symbols ....................................................................... 19 Introduction: A Cognitive Model of L1-Transfer as ELF-Authentication ........................................................................... 21 1. Defining ‘English as a Lingua Franca’ in specialized domains ... 21 2. The chapters ............................................................................... 28 3. Acknowledgments ...................................................................... 36 Part One: Domain-specific Issues in Interactions with Asylum Seekers I. Ergativity in Journey Reports by West-African Immigrants ........ 41 1. Case-study context: native event constructions in ELF verbal reports ..................................................................... 41 2. Theoretical background: ergative and accusative event constructions .............................................................................. 42 3. Methodology: ethnographic fieldwork on welfare interviews ... 44 4. Protocol analysis of interview transcriptions ............................. 46 5. Control study: descriptive evaluation of ELF data .................... 54 6. Discussion: conflicting event constructions ............................... 56 7. Conclusions: becoming aware of the risks of ELF miscommunication ..................................................................... 57 II. Inferring Material Actions from Mental Processes in Cross-cultural Welfare Interviews ......................................... 59 1. Research context: L1-transfer and misinterpretation ................. 59 2. Objectives: investigating unshared indexicality......................... 60 8 3. Hypothesis and theoretical grounds: syntactic, semantic and pragmatic transfer ...................................................................... 61 3.1. Factor 1: misinterpretation due to syntactic transfer .......... 61 3.2. Factor 2: misinterpretation due to semantic transfer .......... 62 3.3. Factor 3: misinterpretation due to pragmatic transfer ........ 62 4. Rationale: schema-biased presuppositions in ELF-discourse interpretation ..................................................... 63 5. Protocol analysis: focus on West-African ELF mental processes misinterpreted as material ones ...................... 64 5.1. Method ............................................................................... 64 5.2. Analysis .............................................................................. 66 5.3. Discussion .......................................................................... 71 6. Control study .............................................................................. 72 6.1. Structured retrospective report ........................................... 72 6.2. Cross-tab analysis ............................................................... 73 7. Conclusions: becoming aware of interacting presupposition patterns in ELF exchange ........................................................... 74 III. An Ethnopoetic Approach to Forensic Entextualization ............ 75 1. Introduction: context relocation in reformulating asylum...

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