This book challenges the approaches to human interaction based on supposedly universal 'maxims of conversation' and 'principles of politeness,' which fly in the face of reality as experienced by millions of people crossing language boundaries (refugees, immigrants, etc.) and which cannot help in the practical tasks of cross-cultural communication and education. In contrast to such approaches, this book is both theoretical and practical: it shows that in different societies, norms of human interaction are different and reflect different cultural attitudes and values; and it offers a framework within which different cultural norms and different ways of speaking can be effectively explored, explained, and taught.
The book discusses data from a wide range of languages and it shows that the meanings expressed in human interaction and the different 'cultural scripts' prevailing in different speech communities can be clearly and intelligibly described and compared by using a 'natural semantic metalanguage,' based on empirically established universal human concepts. As the book shows, this metalanguage can be used as a basis for teaching successful cross-cultural communication, including the teaching of languages in a cultural context.
Anna Wierzbicka is Professor at Australian National University,
Canberra. >From the contents:
Introduction to the second edition
Introduction: semantics and pragmatics
Different cultures, different languages, different speech acts
Cross-cultural pragmatics and different cultural values
Describing conversational routines
Speech acts and speech genres across languages and cultures
The semantics of illocutionary forces
Italian reduplication: its meaning and its cultural significance
Interjections across cultures
Particles and illocutionary meanings
Boys will be boys: even 'truisms' are culture specific
Conclusion: semantics as a key to cross-cultural pragmatics