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4 - The Theoretical Framework of Intercultural Pragmatics

from Part I - Theoretical Foundation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 September 2022

Istvan Kecskes
State University of New York, Albany
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The chapter presents the socio-cognitive approach (SCA) to communication that serves as a theoretical frame for intercultural pragmatics. SCA was developed to explain the specific features of intercultural interactions and thus offers an alternative to the Gricean approaches that can be considered monolingual theories. There are two important claims that distinguish SCA from other pragmatic theories. First, SCA emphasizes that cooperation and egocentrism are not antagonistic features of communication. While (social) cooperation is an intention-directed practice that is governed by relevance, (individual) egocentrism is an attention-oriented trait dominated by salience that refers to the relative importance or prominence of information and signs. Second, SCA claims that pragmatic theories have tried to describe the relationship of the individual and social factors by putting too much emphasis on idealized language use, and focusing on cooperation, rapport, and politeness while paying less attention to the untidy, messy, poorly organized and impolite side of communication. SCA pays equal attention to both sides. The first part of the chapter explains the main tenets of SCA. The second part discusses how context, common ground and salience are intertwined in meaning creation and comprehension. The chapter closes with suggestions for future research.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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