"Just tell us what to do": Southern African face and its relevance to intercultural communication

GRAINGER, K., MILLS, Sara and SIBANDA, M. (2010). "Just tell us what to do": Southern African face and its relevance to intercultural communication. Journal of Pragmatics, 42 (8), 2158-2171.

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Link to published version:: 10.1016/j.pragma.2009.12.017

Abstract

This paper contributes to the debate on the precise nature of face as a universal phenomenon, and the cultural variability within it. Specifically, we bring the 'Southern' perspective to the debate by discussing the previously neglected African dimension. Recent scholarship suggests that the concept of face and the notion of self in traditional African culture may have more in common with Eastern collectivist cultures than with Anglo-American culture. We examine the interactional management of an encounter between a Zimbabwean English speaker and British English speakers in a community singing group. We argue that, while face needs may be universally relevant in such a situation, the way in which they are oriented to in interaction depends on cultural understandings of which aspects of face are paramount in particular circumstances. Since these assumptions are deep-seated and invisible they are not easily open to explicit negotiation and hence can lead to misinterpretation. By conducting an ethnographic study of the communicative event and combining it with a detailed examination of the co-construction of meaning in this interaction, we show how the participants' contributions can be related to differing - and potentially conflicting - interpretation frameworks. These frameworks are informed by culture-specific notions of appropriate self-presentation. Crown Copyright (C) 2010 Published by Elsevier BM. All rights reserved.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Grainger, Karen Mills, Sara Sibanda, Mandla Sp. Iss. SI
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Communication and Computing Research Centre
Identification Number: 10.1016/j.pragma.2009.12.017
Depositing User: Hilary Ridgway
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2010 10:16
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2013 10:55
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/2696

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