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Ethnic Categorization in Interviews in English as a Lingua Franca


Agnieszka Nowicka

The book looks into the in situ organization of ethnic and racial categorization in interviews in English as a lingua franca. It proposes the combined ethnomethodological and conversation analytic approach. The author shows that the negotiation of ethnic identity categories concerns stereotypes and evaluations included in ethnic categorization. She establishes that the ways of negotiating ethnic identity categories are largely systematic, which indicates that talk participants share the norms of construing ethnic identity categories and recognize preferred and dispreferred categorization. The book reveals that ambiguous categorial references are a special challenge for talk participants. Social types and groups are used not only to create but also to avoid prejudiced ethnic categorization.

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For the last decade, there has been a growing interest in the study of English as a lingua franca (ELF). Soon also intercultural communication (IC) found itself among a wide variety of research directions and the name of this field of knowledge began to function as an umbrella term for a variety of studies ranging from face-to-face interactions to political discourse and media communication (cf. Kasper and Rose 2002; Kothoff and Spencer-Oatey 2007; Scollon and Scollon 1995; Seidlhofer 2001). These studies have undoubtedly made a significant contribution to our understanding of intercultural communication (IC), especially as regards the main problems faced by talk participants. However, they also encountered major limitations, which seem to be connected to their theoretical assumptions. I refer here especially to their more or less explicit assumption that the differences in language systems, social communication styles and speech acts across cultures are the most significant factors determining IC. This assumption led to the focus on communication problems originating from intercultural differences. While intercultural differences are widely seen as influencing IC, it is less certain that they determine it. It seems to me that still too little is known about the construction of meaning in IC to predetermine and thereby restrict our analytical aims. Nowadays, we should certainly regard IC as a more complex research field than it appeared at the outset of studies. This complexity can be tackled first and foremost by posing new questions formulated on the basis of a possibly unbiased observation of...

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