Akofena (Jun 2023)

Socio-pragmatic and Pragma-linguisticFailures in Cross-cultural Communications

  • Djihed MESSIKH

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 03, no. 08


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Abstract: Mastering high level skills in linguistic competence like grammar, syntax, and phonology does not mean having an equal pragmatic competence. Indeed, misunderstandings are so often the case in intercultural communications among interlocutors from different speech communities, in which drawing the intended implicature in the target language becomes a difficult task, especially if there is a lack of knowledge concerning cross-cultural differences like taboos, traditions, attitudes, etiquettes, and politeness. In another word, meaning cannot be conveyed through words or sentences in isolation without considering the socio-cultural context of any communication. Thus, it is important to learn how native speakers tend to act and behave in different situations to avoid breakdowns in communications, though it is almost impossible to prepare learners for all the possible scenarios that they may encounter in cross-cultural communications. This paper stresses the importance of pragmatic competence in foreign language teaching through discussing the nature of pragmatic failure which can be either linguistic as “pragma-linguistic failure” when inappropriate linguistic means are used, leading to failure to express the intended pragmatic objective—especially due to pragmatic transfer, or it can be social as “socio-pragmatic failure” whenthe speaker fails to choose what to say under certain social circumstances. The paper suggests at the end some interesting effective means to avoid these two types of pragmatic failure. Keywords: Socio-pragmatic failure, pragma-linguistic failure, intercultural communication, pragmatic transfer, foreign language learning-teaching