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Cross-cultural pragmatic failure

This paper explores the study of failures in intercultural communication due to misunderstandings in the linguistic field of pragmatics. It focuses on three areas of pragmatics; compliments, refusals and complaints and examines how cultural misunderstandings can arise in these areas with examples from different communities. The paper emphasises that the study of pragmatics needs a stronger focus in the teaching and learning of languages in teaching materials, in classroom practice and especially in computer-mediated communication, particularly through social media. The researcher stresses that more research needs to take place into not only what pragmatic failures in communication occur and why they happen across cultures and language but also into how they can be repaired and mutual understanding restored.

KEYWORDS: pragmatics, intercultural communication, computer-mediated communication, social media, second language acquisition


Peter McGee. Applied linguist, University of London, UK. Has been involved in language teaching and learning for over 40 years, in Italy, Japan, Spain, France, Norway, Russia and the UK. Has conducted many teacher training workshops, especially in Spain and England and has taught for British Council overseas teaching centres. Research interests cover Forensic Linguistics, Sociolinguistics and Cross- cultural Pragmatics. Has taught EFL, ESP and EAP for many years. Was responsible for English for Architecture courses at the University of East London. Taught on English for Diplomacy programmes at the University of Westminster. Received his postgraduate qualifications in Applied Linguistics and Communication from the University of London. Was awarded the Genghis Khan Gold Medal by the government of Mongolia for educational services to the Ministry of Education. Currently researches the field of vague language and preparing two books, one on Communication Skills for Architects and the other an English Course for Wine Professionals.


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