A LASC Seminar

“Tell me about it”: Formulaic language in English Lingua Franca

Prof. Istvan Kecskes, State University of New York, Albany


What makes lingua franca communication unique is that interlocutors usually speak different first languages and belong to different cultures but use a common language that has its own socio-cultural background and preferred ways of saying things. So it is essential to ask the question: With no native speakers participating in the language game how much will the players stick to the original rules of the game?

If we want to answer this question, we will need to find out something about English Lingua Franca speakers’ thought processes and linguistic conventions as reflected in their language use. What are the possible means for this? People belonging to a particular speech community have preferred ways of saying things (cf. Wray 2002) and preferred ways of organizing thoughts (Kecskes 2007). Preferred ways of saying things are generally reflected in the use of formulaic language and figurative language while preferred ways of organizing thoughts can be detected through analyzing, for instance, the use of subordinate conjunctions, clauses and discourse markers. This presentation will focus on the use of formulaic language that consists of speech routines and prefabricated formulas whose use is conventionalized in a relatively homogenous speech community. Relatively common experience makes it possible for members of the speech community to process formulaic expressions in a similar way. However, in ELF this common experience is missing. The presentation will discuss how this fact influences the language use of ELF speakers.

ISTVAN KECSKES is Professor of Linguistics and Communication at the State University of New York, Albany, USA where he teaches graduate courses in pragmatics, second language acquisition and bilingualism and directs the English as a Second Language PhD and MA programs. Professor Kecskes is the President of the American Pragmatics Association (AMPRA). Some of his books and papers have been very influential in the fields of pragmatics and bilingualism. ‘Foreign language and mother tongue” published by Erlbaum in 2000 was the first book that described the effect of the second language on the first language. His latest books are an edited volume titled “Research in Chinese as a Second Language” published by De Gruyter in 2013 and “Intercultural Pragmatics” that will be published by Oxford University Press in 2013.

Professor Kecskes is the founding editor of the linguistics journal Intercultural Pragmatics and the Mouton Series in Pragmatics published by Mouton de Gruyter: Berlin/New York, as well as the new bilingual (Chinese-English) journal CASLAR (Chinese as a Second Language Research) and the “Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict” published by John Benjamins: Amsterdam/Philadelphia. He sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Pragmatics (Elsevier) Pragmatics & Society (Benjamins), International Journal of Multilingualism (Taylor & Francis), Lodz Papers in Pragmatics (De Gruyter), International Journal of Language and Culture (Benjamins) and the Journal of Foreign Languages (Waiguoyu) published in China. Prof. Kecskes is also on the editorial board of four book series: Pragmatics, Philosophy and Psychology (Springer), Series in Pragmatics (Cambridge Scholarly Publishing), Pragmatic Interfaces (Equinox), and Studies in General Linguistics (Hungarian Academy of Sciences). He is a board member at the Research Centre for English and Applied Linguistics, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.

When & Where?

11:00am – 12:00pm; Monday, 21st October, 2013
Clayton Campus, Building 11, room E561
RSVP: arts-lasc@monash.edu