Mediating linguacultural asymmetries through ELF in unequal immigration encounters


The cognitive and communicative processes involved in situations of unequal encounters between non-western supplicants (i.e., African immigrants and asylum seekers) and western experts in authority shall be explored in this paper through a number of case studies aimed at illustrating that the variations of English as a ‘lingua franca’ (ELF) which each contact group uses obey different linguacultural conventions entailing a detachment of ELF from the norms of English as a native language (ENL), since ELF is seen as developing from non-native speakers’ processes of transfer into their English uses of their respective L1 typological, logical, textual, lexical-semantic and pragmatic structures. A number of case studies will illustrate how the lack of acknowledgement of other ELF variations – due to the fact that they are often perceived in intercultural communication as formally deviating and socio-pragmatically inappropriate – may have serious consequences in contexts involving social, legal, or health matters, thus giving rise to misunderstandings that often raise ethical issues about social justice. It is therefore argued that principled pedagogic initiatives aimed at making western experts in authority aware of the mediating strategies for achieving a ‘mutual accommodation’ of ELF variations could, on the one hand, protect the social identities of the participants in unequal encounters and, on the other, facilitate the conveyance of their respective culturally-marked knowledge. This would foster effective communication in cross-cultural immigration encounters with the ultimate aim of developing a ‘hybrid ELF mode’ of cross-cultural specialized communication that can be acknowledged and eventually shared by both interacting groups.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v15p155

Keywords: ELF immigration encounters; ELF variations; ELF-mediated accommodation; L1 typological and pragmalinguistic transfer. / colloqui con immigrati attraverso ELF; variazioni di ELF; accomodamento mediato da ELF; L1-transfer tipologico e pragmalinguistico.


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