Theresa Austin (Ph.D., University of California at Los Angeles) is an associate professor in the Language, Literacy and Culture Program, Department of Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies, School of Education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Cross-cultural Pragmatics—Building in Analysis of Communication Across Cultures and Languages: Examples from Japanese1
Article first published online: 31 DEC 2008
© 1998 American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages
Foreign Language Annals
Volume 31, Issue 3, pages 326–346, October 1998
How to Cite
Austin, T. (1998), Cross-cultural Pragmatics—Building in Analysis of Communication Across Cultures and Languages: Examples from Japanese. Foreign Language Annals, 31: 326–346. doi: 10.1111/j.1944-9720.1998.tb00580.x
This article is a substantially revised version of earlier presentations at conferences sponsored by the National Council of Secondary Teachers of Japanese and the Association of Teachers of Japanese.
- Issue published online: 31 DEC 2008
- Article first published online: 31 DEC 2008
ABSTRACT Native language users draw on implicit understandings and cultural patterns to create and understand messages in conversation. What can foreign language learners do to learn these implicit understandings and patterns so that they may appropriate the language well enough to accomplish the same? What basic unit of analysis can we use to build curricula supportive of this development? Adding to the complexity of interpreting and constructing meaning in a particular language is the cross-cultural factor. Ways of constructing conversations between two people from different cultures may have similarities and differences from ways in which Japanese and Americans construct conversations with members from their own individual cultures. Cross-cultural pragmatic knowledge is important to building the individual's ability to communicate with people from different cultures. This paper argues for giving higher priority to developing cross-cultural pragmatic competence in communication. Examples will be provided from Japanese, where knowledge about cross-cultural pragmatics helps a learner to construct meanings. Also included are examples of two approaches to designing curricula that would create contextualized opportunities for learners to develop this type of competence and how grammar, i.e., the metalinguistic knowledge about language, can be used to further this type of language learning.