From chaos to the smallest common denominator. Topic management in English Iingua franca communication (Agnes Lesznyak)
From chaos to the smallest common denominator. * Topic management in English Iingua franca communication Agnes Lesznyak Introduction By the end of the second millennium, English had become aglobai language. This label refers not so much to the fact that large numbers of people speak the language as their mother tongue (for statistics see the introduction to this volume) but rather to the special role which English has come to play world- wide (Crystal 1997): approximately 80% of the interactions in which English is used as a foreign/second language take place without the presence of a native speaker (Beneke 1991). It is estimated that non-natives speakers (NNS) of English now outnumber native-speakers (NS) (Quirk in Firth 1996: 240). Since the early 1980s there has been growing interest in the characteristics of language use in NNS-NNS interactions. There have been several attempts to identify special features of lingua franca (LF), that is NNS-NNS, communication on a theoretical level, and the demands which this distinct form of communication makes ofEnglish language teaching (Hüllen 1982, Knapp 1987, Beneke 1991). Research on intercultural communication (e.g. Litters 1995) assumes that misunderstandings are more probable in LF communication than in NS-NNS communication because of interpretation problems originating in the increase of potential interference sources. Another source of complications in LF situations seems to be the question of which norms of language and language use apply in a given situation. It is not self-evident that interactants in LF situations follow * I am grateful to Juliane House for...
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