Sixth Annual LASC Lecture – 2013

Interculturality and intercultural pragmatics

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


This presentation attempts to define interculturality in a socio-cognitive framework and relate it to current pragmatics research. Intercultural Pragmatics is a relatively new field of inquiry that is about how the language system is put to use in social encounters between human beings who have different first languages, communicate in a common language, and, usually, represent different cultures (Kecskes 2004; Kecskes 2010). The communicative process in these encounters is synergistic in the sense that it is a merger in which pragmatic norms of each participant are represented to some extent together with the emergent, co-constructed elements.

Interculturality is a phenomenon that is not only interactionally and socially constructed in the course of communication but also relies on relatively definable cultural models and norms that represent the speech communities to which the interlocutors belong. Consequently, interculturality can be considered an interim rule system that has both relatively normative and emergent components.

Intercultural pragmatics represents a socio-cognitive perspective in which individual prior experience and actual situational experience are equally important in meaning construction and comprehension. Research in intercultural pragmatics has four main foci: 1) interaction between native speakers and non-native speakers of a language, 2) lingua franca communication in which none of the interlocutors has the same L1, 3) multilingual discourse, and 4) language use and development of individuals who speak more than one language.

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?

3pm, 23rd October, 2013

Building 08 Lecture theatre R7