Parallel Session of Designated Topic 4:

Intercultural Pragmatics, Language and Society



Organizer: Shoshana Blum-Kulka, HebrewUniversity,

[email protected]


Communication between members of different speech communities has been a long standing research topic in sociolinguistics, intercultural pragmatics, and intercultural communication. Focusing initially on cultural ways of speaking and cross-cultural miscommunications, the field has developed to include both diachronic and synchronic viewpoints, adopting a historical pragmatic approach to unveil fundamental differences between world religions in their traditions of the communicative use of language, and developing a discursive-constructionist approach in studying the dynamics of intercultural encounters as interactional achievements. A further set of issues concern current trends associated with the globalization of discourse, such as the status of English as a lingua franca, including the role of globalized discourse as a carrier of junk culture, as well as issues connected to the multilingual scenery of the workplace across Europe, such as the ecology of different languages in co-operation via new modern technologies.


Proposals are invited for thirty minute papers (20 minutes for presentation plus 10 minutes for questions), in English, on any topic relating to the general domain of intercultural pragmatics, language and society. Of particular interest will be research that fits within the four sub-panels planned for this parallel session. Proposals can be sent directly to sub-panel organizers with a copy to the session chair.  
Interculturality as Discursive Construction

Sub-panel organizer: Gabriele Kasper, Universityof Hawai’iat Manoa

[email protected]


- Historical Pragmatics of Religious Cultures

Sub-panel organizer: Menahem Blondheim, HebrewUniversity

[email protected]

 - Globalization of Discourse

Sub-panel organizer: Juliane House, HamburgUniversity

[email protected]

International workplace communication

Sub-panel organizer: Johannes Wagner, The University of Southern Denmark. [email protected].

Abstracts of the sub-sessions:


Historical Pragmatics of Religious Cultures

Menahem Blondheim, HebrewUniversity

[email protected]


Global strife in the early 21st century, focused as it is on religious and cultural divides, has highlighted the difficulties as well as the dire necessity of dialogue and discourse between religious cultures. This session is intended to uncover and chart fundamental differences between world religions in their traditions of the communicative use of language, from a historical pragmatics approach. The session will feature papers that analyze pragmatic aspects of canonic and other influential religious texts, in search of unique conversational and discursive features that resonate, diachronically, within that religious culture. Papers that apply a comparative approach, that link historical pragmatic patterns to distinct contemporary linguistic and conversational practices are particularly welcome, as are studies that contribute to methodological aspects of historical pragmatics.



Interculturality as Discursive Construction


Gabriele Kasper, Universityof Hawai’iat Manoa

[email protected]


Communication between members of different speech communities has been a long standing research topic in sociolinguistics, intercultural pragmatics, and intercultural communication. An unexamined assumption in much of this research is that participants’ membership in different cultural, ethnic, or language groups

defines an interaction as “intercultural” ipso facto. Membership in different linguo-cultural groups is seen to determine participants’ understanding and behavior by default and to constitute a common source of  “intercultural miscommunication”.

            As an alternative to sociostructural views, interculturality may be conceptualized as a contingent interactional accomplishment. From a discursive-constructionist perspective, one may ask in what ways ostensibly “intercultural” encounters are treated as such by the participants. When is intercultural distinctiveness relevant for them and how do they orient to it through the organization of their interaction? Drawing on ethnomethodology, conversation analysis, membership categorization analysis, and discursive psychology, the colloquium will explore interculturality as a participant concern. A key question will be how participants co-construct themselves and their co-participants as members of particular cultural groups, and how they problematize or reject such categorization. It will be examined how participants invoke, reaffirm, and resist cultural ideologies, and how, for the participants, cultural membership may articulate with incumbency in other social categories. To this end, it will be scrutinized, among other things, how participants make and contest knowledge claims on cultural matters and display and attribute cultural expertise. The analytic project is to demonstrate in the details of interactional conduct how participants accomplish interculturality through discursive practices in a range of activities.


Globalization of Discourse

Juliane House

[email protected]


In this session we will critically discuss a number of  interrelated issues that can be considered salient in current processes of globalization of discourse. These will include (some of) the following topics:


  • Theoretical Foundation for the notion  “globalized discourse” using e.g. such concepts as community of practice, community interdependence, compression of time and space in new means and media of communication and information transmission
  • Globalized discourse as carrier of junk culture and detraditionalized passe partout linguistic patterns
  • The current spread of English as a hegemonic variety and a global lingua franca in many influential spheres of public life (economy, science, education, tourism). Will other languages be ab le to replace English (which language, why, when?)?
  • The nature of global English: a distinct variety, register, simplified code,  pidgin,  interlanguage, a disembedded “neutral” language of communication with no identification potential?
  • Globalized discourse as a phenomenon of language mixing (Chinglish, Franglais) and simplification processes (Globish, Basic Global English)
  • The eclipsing of the native speaker and of  prescriptive native norms in a shrinking world; a concomitant de-owning of languages with a rising tolerance vis a vis deviant discourse behaviour in communities of practice worldwide
  • Strenghtening of local discourse conventions in re-appropriation processes as a counter-reaction to global disembedded communicative norms
  • The phenomenon of attrition and death of minor languages on a global scale, often (but not necessarily) triggered by “killer languages” such as English
  • Promotion of a new language-derived inequality and discrimination and/or rise of new opportunities for liberalization and democratisation through globalized discourse?



International workplace communication

Johannes Wagner, The University of Southern Denmark

 [email protected].


Modern European workplaces become increasingly multilingual and face language diversity in different ways: 

  • A workforce with high qualifications operates transnationally and moves between workplaces in different countries. This situation presses for a unified lingua franca for Europe, which in reality means English.
  • More and more companies farm out specific functions to subsidiaries in other countries and the division of labor inside and between companies becomes more international.  This situation presses for a strong lingua franca as well as for a setting where several national languages are used in parallel.
  • Due to the later decades’ migration into European countries, different ethnicities with different languages join forces on the work floor. This situation has in many European countries led to politically motivated pressure to strengthen the national language as the mode of communication between different ethnic groups.

These three different settings indicate that the multilingual scenery in Europeis very diverse. The panel invites papers to discuss a number of issues which cut across these situations. 

Multilingualism in the workplace: How organize workplaces several languages in the daily workflow?

Lingua franca communication: Which roles play other languages than English? How are workplaces and employees dealing with the increasing pressure to do business in English (which might not be the employees’ favorite language)?

New technologies in international communication: What is the ecology of different languages in co-operation via modern technologies?

Language biographies: Do employees and migrants integrate the pressure for different languages in private, public and workplace life into a coherent biography?




Important Dates:


? August  31, 2007: Deadline for submitting the abstract.

? November 30, 2007: Notification of acceptance.


Form and submission of abstracts:


An abstract(.pdf or .doc file) should be up to 3 pages long, including data and references.

The abstract should start with the title of the paper, followed by the text of the abstract.

Please do not include the author's name in the abstract. On a separate page, please give

the author's name, affiliation, e-mail address, telephone number, mailing address, the paper title and the session number(title).


Please send the abstract and the author's information to both [email protected] and the organizers.