Culture-specific notions in L2 communication strategies

Wongsawang, Piyasuda
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Communication strategies (CS) used by L2 speakers have been investigated using various tasks, and it has been demonstrated that there exist task effects that cause differences in CS choice. Previously missing in CS research has been the use of culture-specific notions as referents. This study aimed at exploring CS use for culture-specific notions in L2 by answering two questions: “What kinds of CS will Thai ESL speakers employ to convey these referential concepts in English?” and “ Will there be any patterns that can be observed as different from CS used in other kinds of tasks?” The participants, 30 Thai native speakers with intermediate English proficiency, were asked to perform two tasks that contain culture-specific notions. The analysis focuses on 14 concepts that were expected to be problematic. The results showed that circumlocution and approximation were the most preferred strategies. Patterns of approximation, all-purpose words, and L1 words followed by circumlocution were also seen and found to be similar to the hierarchy of CS found elsewhere in the referential CS research. Finally, the study suggests that the familiarity of the L2 speaker with a concept does not always help them in dealing with communicative problems; rather it is their knowledge of how to talk about it in the L2 that matters more.
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