MES S322K • CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST
11:30 AM-1:00 PM
An old woman is standing in the middle of the isle in your local supermarket. You don't see her and you bump into her. In Korea, you would apologize ten times and give her your business card, just in case she wants to contact you. In Hungary, you would apologize profusely. In Israel, you would scold her and ask why she is standing in the middle of the isle waiting for an accident to happen What is the proper thing to do in a given culture? Why do non-native speakers visiting other cultures tend to offend the locals? These questions can all be answered by understanding the pragmatics of a culture. Pragmatics is the study of language as action and of the social contexts in which linguistic action takes place. Cross-cultural pragmatics is the study of linguistic action carried out by language users from different ethnolinguistic backgrounds. Pragmatics is based on speech acts such as apologies and requests and their acceptable use in different cultures.
In this class, we will first discuss two theoretical approaches to pragmatics: speech act theory and politeness theory. Following this introduction, we will focus on case studies from Middle Eastern countries such as Israel, Iran and Egypt. We will examine detail research on the production and interpretation of speech acts across cultures.
Quizzes on theoretical definitions of pragmatics: 25% One group or individual presentation of one or more articles from the readings: 25% Group or individual research project and presentation of findings focusing on one or more speech acts: 50%
Gars, S. M., & Neu, J. (Eds.). (2006). Speech acts across cultures: Challenges to communication in a second language. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Scollon, R., & Scollon, S. W. (2000). Intercultural communication: A discourse approach. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. Yule, G. (1996). Pragmatics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.