09.02.2001   ©2001 - Patrick Boylan – patrickboylan.it

www.boylan.it – Return to Publications Page or Home Page

In: Koch K. & Muggin T. (apparently not forthcoming), "Globalisation, foreign languages and intercultural learning", SIETAR-UK conference, South Bank University, London, 9-10.2.2001.
On-line publication in: www.dialogin.com Member's articles (17-9-2007) (registration required).
Revised version in: Cultus: the Journal of Intercultural Mediation and Communication, October 2009 - click here>








Cross-cultural Accommodation through a Transformation of

Consciousness



Patrick Boylan

Department of Linguistics,
University of Rome III (Italy)



For a printable .doc version, click here



Abstract


The present paper1 places the concept of accommodation, as originally defined by Giles et al. (1977, 1991), within a wider framework. To be effective and establish genuine entente, it is argued, accommodation must contemplate more than linguistic convergence with an interlocutor's communicative style. It must in fact be rooted in existential convergence. Especially in cross-cultural encounters, effective accommodation requires a 'transformation of consciousness' through introjecting – preliminarily – the other party's cultural value system (Weltanschauung). Other options are of course possible and this paper lists them on a 5-level Accommodation Scale in which 'transformation of consciousness' corresponds to Level 3. An evaluation is made of the communicative effectiveness of accommodating at each single level. Although the optimal level for any given situation will necessarily depend on the specific needs and dispositions of the parties involved, this paper argues that Level 3 is the most generally effective for international negotiators and therefore should be the privileged goal of professional training in intercultural communication.

Notion of accommodation


The term 'accommodation' (Giles et al. 1977,1991) means, in the context of this paper, adjusting one's expressive behavior in order to facilitate communication with linguistically and culturally diverse interlocutors. One makes one's modes of expression 'converge' with theirs (Thakerar et al. 1982). Seasoned international negotiators, for example, routinely alter their communicative style when dealing with interlocutors of other cultures; they may speak more slowly, or become more ceremonial, or avoid direct eye contact, and so on (Woolf 1990). The extent of such accommodation varies greatly from case to case. It can – optionally – imply choosing to speak the language of one's interlocutors.


In fact from the standpoint of language choice (the kind of accommodation this paper studies), negotiators working in cross-linguistic/cross-cultural contexts have five basic options: (1.) keep their native language but simplify their delivery style to match their interlocutors' comprehension level; (2.) adopt a conventional language known to all parties, such as a pidgin; (3.) opt to use their interlocutor's language; (4.) opt for a lingua franca; (5.) create a new, common, working language (this is, for example, the canonical first step in peace negotiations).


The negotiators can also choose to make no effort to change their language, by hiring (and relying on) a translator. This option may be called degree-zero linguistic accommodation. Its relative efficacy will be examined in another paper.


Let us look more closely at the five options involving accommodation. Each represents a modification of one's communicative behavior, aimed at creating a terrain for better mutual understanding. Human communication, let us not forget, is never a mechanical encoding, transmission and decoding of 'messages' using a common code, but rather the continual search for a common code through repeated attempts at co-constructing and testing meaning (Boylan, 2001).



Levels


The 5-Level Scale below indicates degrees of accommodation, specifically the amounts of change made to one's language habits to achieve 'entente' (good reciprocal understanding). It also corresponds, very roughly, to the amount of effort spent in making those changes and is therefore an economic indicator. Note that it does not necessarily correspond to the degree of entente actually achieved by making the changes, since entente depends on other variables, too.



5-Level Accommodation Scale

L1 = mother tongue; L2 = second language


0 Using your L1 normally (degree zero of accommodation).

1 Using your L1 carefully.

2 Using your L1 or an L2 conventionally.

3 Using an L2 authentically (the L2 is your interlocutor's L1).
Using your L1 or an L2 interculturally (they are not your interlocutor's L1).

4 Using an L2 authentically (the L2 is neither party's L1).

5 Using an L2 idiosyncratically, through mutual elaboration of a creole.

If you use your L1 idiosyncratically to create a creole, you accommodate

at Level 2+ and your interlocutor (for whom it is an L2) at Level 5.


N.B. There are two other, infrequently used, options in accommodating:

Multilateral Delivery Accommodation, Reciprocal Cultural Accommodation.2



What accommodation consists of at each Level


A description of the various levels of accommodation follows, showing the extent to which each can possibly contribute to creating entente among interactants.


Level 1. Negotiators in an intercultural encounter may accommodate to their non-native interlocutors by speaking their native language 'carefully', especially when the interlocutors have not mastered that language. This is called 'foreigner talk' (Hinnenkamp1987) when it becomes the stilted way of speaking that people use, for example, in giving street directions to foreigners. Unfortunately, as with foreigner talk, even a negotiator's 'careful diction' tends to give way, after a while, to rapid bursts of highly idiomatic and loosely articulated speech comprehensible only to a native or near-native speaker; ironically, this occurs especially when the negotiator treats deeply felt issues, precisely the ones she or he wants to convey the most (Carrol,1988). Another drawback of 'careful diction' is that it tends to eliminate the prosodic and paralinguistic signals of speaker intent, thereby making an utterance linguistically clearer but pragmatically less intelligible. Finally, it passes over cultural differences. As a way to assure entente, therefore, 'careful diction' is not very effective. What is more, it may even seem condescending and thus be counterproductive (Hinnenkamp1987).


Level 2. Negotiators may accommodate by using a mutually-intelligible conventional idiom, be it an artificial language such as Esperanto or a conventional subset or derivation of some natural language, such as a pidgin. Thus, while at Level 1 one accommodates simply by slowing down one's delivery, at Level 2 one accommodates by changing one's language (but not one's cultural mind set – one's frames of reference, affects and volition remain substantially the same).


Pidgins are conventional idioms derived from a subset of one or more natural languages, typically created for business transactions. Examples are the pidgin English and 'marketplace French' common in rural West Africa. Other (less obvious) examples are the professional lingoes developed for transactions in an international setting, such as the 'Eurospeak' of EU bureaucrats (Bern 1992).3


Note that Level 2 does not include authentic uses of a lingua franca, such as the widespread use of French by European diplomats in the XIX century or, today, the use of metropolitan French or classical Arabic by intellectuals from different ethnic groups in the Maghreb, or the use of Singaporean English among the Chinese, Malay, and Tamil speaking communities of Singapore. Cases like these belong to Level 4, since using a lingua franca authentically requires cultural sensitivity (and thus a transformation of consciousness) plus linguistic resourcefulness (thus a familiarity with the whole language, not just a subset for doing business). On the other hand, Level 2 does include conventional uses of a lingua franca, e.g. the use of English by educated Southeast Asian businessmen in their dealings with each other or the use of Latin in present-day Vatican conclaves (Crystal 2005). In these cases the cultural roots and linguistic nuances of the vehicular idiom go largely ignored; communication is made possible by adopting simplified linguistic norms (often influenced by native languages) and a commonly shared culture (in the two examples just given, Confucianism or contemporary Catholicism), however alien to the vehicular idiom the adopted culture may in fact be. Indeed, given that such idioms are no more than heterogeneous subsets of a natural language which has been largely stripped of its culture, it would be better, as with Eurospeak, to call them lingoes akin to pidgins and not examples of a lingua franca.


A final example of Level 2 accommodation – but one of maximum importance for the present study – is any second language (henceforth L2) learned and used scholastically: for example, the 'schoolbook French' of many British and American businessmen and diplomats stationed in France, or the 'macaroni English,' learned at many schools and universities in Italy today and used by a significant number of Italian businessmen and diplomats in international encounters.4 Employing an L2 (or rather, the scholastic subset of an L2) in this manner is indeed a purely conventional operation devoid of any cultural transformation of consciousness. Native-speaker interlocutors recognise the conventionality and usually respond with its counterpart, careful diction or foreigner talk (Level 1), thereby maintaining distances. Clearly, 'maintaining distances' is not something a negotiator normally wants to encourage.


Level 3. Negotiators may accommodate by meeting their interlocutor on her or his communicative terrain. They do this by abandoning their native ways of “seeing things and saying things” (Boylan, 2000) and adopting their interlocutor's language, frames of reference (Weltanschauungen), and 'sensitivity' (affects, volition). In other words, they use the language of their interlocutor and, what is more, they use it as he or she might – or at least in a way that he or she finds congenial. Saying no in French, for example, can involve more than just uttering "non": it can be rendered by "Mais non!", "Non non non...", "Ah non!" and so on, each with characteristic French facial expressions and intonation and each evoking the existential stance of a particular French persona. What Level 3 entails, then, is knowing the cultural values that these various no's transmit and, according to the persona one wishes to assume within the host culture, saying spontaneously the no that best communicates one's stance to someone of that culture. In doing so, one not only assures perfect entente, one also establishes a bond of solidarity with one's interlocutor by communicating a shared value: in this case, the value colouring the particular way of saying no that one has chosen.


Does accommodating at Level 3 mean that one has to sound like a stereotypical member of the L2 culture – in this case, like a celluloid Frenchman? Not at all (unless that is how one wants to sound). Sounding – and being – authentic in an L2 means something simper. It means that one sounds like – and is – the kind of non-native for whom translations, glosses, cultural justifications or joke explanations seem absolutely unnecessary to the native speakers with whom one speaks. For while one is perhaps not part of their culture, one talks and acts as if their culture were part of oneself. A near-native pronunciation and near-native interactional habits – including how one says “no” – will immediately convey just such an impression; but so will lesser degrees of linguistic/pragmatic convergence, compensated by other accommodation strategies.


Thus, opting for Level 3 involves a shift in both the linguistic and cultural norms that one adopts. One effectuates this shift by choosing to “be one with the other culture” (Boylan, 2000), i. e., by internalizing the other culture's value system. This change in existential values automatically spills over onto one's expressive habits: one's paralinguistic and non-verbal signals, pragmatic strategies, topic preferences, etc. tend to converge towards those of L2 native speakers. This is more than just 'thinking in the L2': it is feeling, desiring, willing new values.


Of course, one may also decide not to make such a choice. There is, in fact, nothing wrong with 'sounding strange' to a native-speaker interlocutor. A British or Italian businessman in Paris has every right to speak French scholastically and with a British or Italian expressive style, demanding to be accepted for what he is. This is in fact what most people do when using the language learned at school, since most have been taught, by well-meaning but misguided teachers, to treat the L2 as a neutral, conventional idiom – a sort of soulless Esperanto – to be bent according to their habitual speaking style. Theirs is clearly Level 2, not Level 3, accommodation and this can on occasion hinder the creation of entente.


There is a final but very common kind of accommodation at Level 3: it is cultural (not linguistic-cultural) accommodation using any lingua franca as a vehicle.


This is what an 'intercultural trainer' teaches the sales manager of an export firm who cannot possibly learn the language of his/her clients because they come from too many different linguistic areas. These executives learn to use their L1, and any L2s they may know, 'interculturally,' adapting them to the mind set of each client. For example, a French sales manager, in a meeting with a French-speaking Russian client conducted in French, will use, as much as possible, Russian pragmatic and cultural norms to facilitate entente (unless the client insists on keeping things French). In a negotiation conducted in English with a Chinese client, the Frenchman will not attempt to use English authentically but, instead, will seek to accommodate his English culturally to his Chinese partner by using Chinese interactional norms, imperative forms, courtesy routines, cultural references, humor, etc. In this case the English used is not a full-fledged lingua franca (which corresponds to the next level of accommodation to be described, Level 4), for the cultural content is not English; nor can it be called a kind of pidgin English, as is Eurospeak (Level 2), since it expresses a rich culture and is potentially capable of much more than transactional uses. Perhaps it can be best called 'virtual Chinese' in an English matrix, a creole of sorts (see Level 5).

Level 4. Negotiators and their interlocutors may jointly choose to abandon their native ways of expressing themselves and elect as their communicative terrain a full-fledged language and culture which is native to neither party, i.e. a lingua franca. Examples have already been given: metropolitan French or classical Arabic used in negotiations among different ethnic groups in the Maghreb, or the English used as a national vehicular language in some multi-lingual ex-British colonies, such as India or Singapore.5


Note that Level 4 differs from Level 3 in that both parties accommodate linguistically. This may seem more democratic but in practice simply doubles the stress load for each negotiator. In fact, not only must each negotiator make the effort to accommodate his or her own speech to L2 norms, but at the same time he or she must also calculate the other party's capability of grasping the linguistic nuances used. The effort is halved if one chooses to accommodate at Level 3.


Finally, Level 4and also Level 3differ from Level 2 (adopting a conventional language such as a pidgin) in that the parties commit to linguistic/cultural norms that are historically determined, i.e. that are alogical yet highly codified, open to innovation although immutable in the short term, and indicative of a particular, all-encompassing existential stance. It is, in fact, by mutually accepting these constrictions that the parties acquire a flexible yet well-defined common idiom. There is a price to pay, of course, just as there is with Level 3 accommodation – and, in the case of Level 4 accommodation, it is a price that both interlocutors must pay. That price is the time and effort it takes to master a historically determined language in one of its specific varieties – in the case of British English, for example, the 'Estuary' English of Milton Keynes, the 'neo-Bloomsbury' English of The Economist, the Sloan Ranger English of Lady Diana types (Crystal, 2005), whatever. Much less dedication is required to learn some soulless conventional language like 'scholastic English' or 'Eurospeak English'.


But by choosing specific incarnations of historically-determined languages as their lingua francas, negotiators gain access to an immense patrimony of expressive potential. Using that potential, they can render shades of meanings that a limited conventional language would keep them from even imagining. They are like artists who, instead of having to sketch their ideas with a ball-point pen on the back of envelopes, have at their disposition brushes, canvas, and an immense palette of infinite colours.


Level 5. Negotiators may accommodate by abandoning their native ways of expressing themselves in order to work out a common language (and common cultural space) with their interlocutors, i.e. an original system of meanings and associations that do not belong entirely to either party's native language. This is the first phase of negotiations in any peace process: substituting loaded words with terms open to definition, inventing new words to name little noticed positive aspects of the relationships or the environment, and so on. See for example, the section "Developing a common language and neutral terms for the drafting of a settlement" in Irwin (2002:88), describing the initial phases of the peace process in Northern Ireland between the Catholic and Protestant communities. In a literary vein, the American journalist Edgar Snow claimed to have established an exceptionally intimate rapport with Chinese President Mao Zedong – even though each man knew the other's language imperfectly and translators were necessary – by co-creating with Mao a highly personal, poetic metalanguage enabling discussion of the thorniest issues (both men were lovers of ancient Chinese poetry and by commenting poems, spoke about politics: Snow, 1938).


Normally, however, the parties know each others' everyday languages (or at least one of the parties does); this means that the resources of a given historically-determined language, mutually understood, may be used in creating the entente. For example, when Toyota constructed its model car plant in Kentucky (USA), it invested considerable sums to devise management techniques and communication protocols that would not seem Japanese to the American managers and workmen, yet would get them to share typical Japanese values such as dedication to the enterprise, Kaizen or 'constant quality improvement', Jidoka or 'team responsibility', etc. (Adent Hoecklin, 1993). In other words, the company did not impose Japanese ways on the workmen nor oblige managers to learn at least schoolbook Japanese and put up with the foreigner talk of inspectors from Tokyo, which is the policy of most American companies worldwide (Level 1). Nor did the company choose Level 2, imposing on the workers and managers a 'neutral' enterprise lingo and interactional ethos, such as IBM does internationally. Nor did the company choose Level 3; it did not 'localise' communication modes and ways of interacting (Sony's policy). Instead, the company chose Level 5; it opted to spend the time and effort needed to work out a new Bluegrass-Japanese culture and communication style. Adent Hoecklin hints that the effort, which took several years to accomplish, was perhaps not economically advantageous for Toyota. Communication, however, was optimal.


The task of working out a common language can also be done in the outsider's native language: missionaries who teach (and then preach in) their native language to the local population, commonly practice Level 5, absorbing within their L1 and religious world view various elements of the local language and culture and thereby producing syncretism, i. e. the creation of a novel language and ethos.6 Or it can be done using a third-party language: Level 5, in fact, represents the kind of accommodation commonly practised by two immigrants from different cultures who fall in love and, with only the host country's language in common, learn to understand each other as they learn to understand the language. In doing so they assign meanings to borrowed or coined expressions that native speakers of the language do not understand, thus creating a creole. But Level 5 accommodation is, in fact, precisely that: the amalgamation of differences through the linguistic process called creolization. When entire communities practice it, the final product is, obviously, a creole – for example, Haitian Creole, a mingling of French and African languages, or New Guinea Tok Pisin, a mingling of English and Austronesian languages. While pidgins are culture-deficient idioms used for business, creoles (like lingua francas) are culture-rich idioms, capable of any nuance, used for all communicative purposes.


Effectiveness of accommodating at each Level


Disregarding Level 0, the five accommodation practices listed above all seek to guarantee good reciprocal understanding in situations of cross-linguistic/cross-cultural communication. Which one ensures optimal reciprocal understanding?


Although the optimal level for any given situation depends on economic considerations (how much the parties are willing and able to invest in building entente, given their specific needs, dispositions and resources), this paper considers Level 3 to be, in most cases, the kind of accommodation that best ensures entente with linguistically and culturally diverse interlocutors and therefore the kind that should be taught in any professional training program in intercultural communication. To see why, let us re-examine the effectiveness of the various Levels, taking into consideration all possible trade-offs.


Effectiveness of accommodating at Level 1: The effectiveness of 'careful diction' in creating entente in an international negotiation setting is nil, since it does not reconcile cultural diversity and can even seem patronizing. Its usefulness, as such, is limited to non-problematic 'good-will transactions', like making small talk on the train with linguistically-culturally diverse fellow passengers.


Effectiveness of accommodating at Level 2: The use of conventional languages insures perfect understanding between interlocutors since all traces of cultural differences (except the supposedly neutral culture implicit in the lingo itself) are eliminated and, with them, the problem of reconciling Weltanschauungen. But conventional languages work best for conventional issues – service exchanges, for example. When deeply felt affective and volitional issues are at play, these languages fail, precisely because they are inadequate for rendering the cultural specificity that historically-determined languages confer on 'ordinary' words.


Effectiveness of accommodating at Level 3: Adopting the (linguistic and) cultural ways of one's interlocutors, even if the interlocutors make no effort to converge, is a sure, albeit unilateral, way to eliminate cross-cultural barriers. We may therefore call this option Unilateral Cultural Accommodation (UCA). Instead of leaving it up to one's interlocutors to correctly 'translate' – or guess – what one means, through UCA a negotiator translates her/himself and thereby maintains control over the flow and quality of information. When Gandhi negotiated with the British Viceroy of India using the latter's language and interactional norms (Gandhi, 1948), the Mahatma saw who he was dealing with. The Viceroy did not.


Effectiveness of accommodating at Level 4: Like Level 3 and unlike Level 2, accommodation by means of a lingua franca assures entente since both parties use a culturally dense idiom in expressing themselves. Moreover, unlike Level 5, Level 4 is immediately practicable, provided that both parties have learned the same L2 to the same degree of proficiency. But therein lies the problem. One never knows how well the other party has mastered the lingua franca and therefore whether s/he truly means what her/his words seem to say. Nor does one know if s/he has fully grasped the innuendos that one has tried to express by playing on the connotations of L2 words. If, instead, one uses the language of one's interlocutor (Level 3 accommodation), one is limited only by one's own competence in the L2.


Effectiveness of accommodating at Level 5: Using a commonly-worked-out ad hoc language is, in principle, the best guarantee of cross-cultural understanding. However it requires that both parties be highly inventive, highly co-operative, and able to dedicate to the task the considerable time required. Negotiators, on the other hand, typically find themselves in non-cooperative situations and with impending deadlines. Finally, the superior entente obtained by working out a common language may not justify the expenditure of time and effort.


In conclusion, since maintaining control over the quality of convergence and being able to create entente as quickly as possible are considered to be important negotiating assets (Woolf 1990), then the optimal strategy for cross-cultural negotiators in most situations is represented by Level 3 or UCA – Unilateral Cultural Accommodation, based on acquiring not only the linguistic habits of one's interlocutors (formal accommodation) but also, through a transformation of consciousness, their world view (substantial accommodation).



Formal and substantial accommodation through UCA


While purely formal accommodation implies simply 'tolerating' the other party's differences and 'acquiescing' to her/his cultural norms through suitable behavioural adaptation, substantial accommodation involves internalizing the other party's cultural differences and living them. But is this not a contradiction? How can one think, speak and act differently while continuing to 'be oneself'?


The answer lies in the inherent psychological complexity of individuals (Lash & Friedman, 1992) and in the intrinsic stratification of all societies (Elliott, 1999).


From a psychological standpoint, in fact, individuals are expert in 'switching selves': they do so continually in their native culture, foregrounding the self most appropriate to each context (home, work, chat room, etc.). Substantial accommodation calls for doing just that in intercultural encounters, by foregrounding the volitional and affective elements of the 'other' cultures that each individual has latent within him or her (Grosse, 1998). In other words, it is possible to transform one's consciousness simply by revitalizing particular intentional states. These are states that one experienced in infancy but that have atrophied since then, though disuse or through social injunctions to repress them. The parallel with phonemes is evident: babies can pronounce – and in fact do pronounce – the phonemes of all languages in the first months of their existence; in the course of time, however, they loose this ability by focusing on using only the speech-muscle subsystems employed by people in their environment. Learning to pronounce, as an adult, the words of a new language is therefore, figuratively speaking, “simply” learning to revitalize atrophied speech-muscle subsystems already in place: it is hard, but no new ones need be created. The same applies to revitalizing cultural behaviors. As for how to reawaken one's atrophied cultural behaviors, see “Taking the existential plunge” in Boylan (2000).


From a sociological standpoint, cultures, just like personalities, are by no means monolithic. They regularly contain variants within them ('alternative' life styles, sub-cultures, marginal roles, etc.) with which it is possible to identify in case one cannot accept – and therefore cannot identity with – the mainstream values of the culture of one's interlocutor. Assuming the persona even of a non-mainstream individual in the target culture, enables one to make one's words and expressive modes sound familiar to members of the target society, and thus more readily understandable by them – much more so than if one expressed oneself in a conventional way by accommodating to Levels 1 or 2. What is more, one gains the capacity to situate one's interlocutors within their culture and thus the capacity to understand them authentically – as much so as if one had assumed the persona of a stereotypical or mainstream individual in their culture.


In conclusion, substantial UCA (Level 3) enables one to communicate better across cultures through immediately meaningful language and behaviour and an immediate grasp of the communicative intentionalities of one's interlocutors. One's new expressive behavior is by no means a charade if it is sincerely willed. Nor, in speaking and acting from within the other culture, is one betraying one's native ways of seeing and saying things. One is simply translating them, faithfully. By accommodating at Level 3, the words that one utters and the actions that one performs become the mirror image of precisely what one might have said and done in one's native language and culture, if one's interlocutors knew them sufficiently well for negotiations to take place in them.


But since one's interlocutors do not have that knowledge (or prefer, out of inertia, to use their own language and culture and thus relinquish control over the translation process), one has wisely accepted to make their way of “seeing things and saying things” provisionally one's own. This has enabled one to maintain control over the flow and quality of information and thereby conserve a communicative and competitive advantage. One has stooped to conquer.


This is precisely what a good translator does. First s/he attempts to understand the text to be rendered, by identifying with the historical readers who decreed its success and who thereby 'gave it its sense.' In other words, s/he manages to see the text as they did by accommodating to their mind set. Then s/he attempts to identify with a (hypothesized) future readership, accommodating to it linguistically and culturally, in order to find the proper language in which to recreate the source text meanings s/he has perceived.


Level 3 accommodation is no different. Being based on a transformation of consciousness, it is in a very real sense exactly like good translation, as described by George Steiner (1975: 303): it is, in fact, “a hermeneutic of trust (élancement), of penetration, of embodiment, and of restitution.”



<<<>>>







Bibliography


Adent Hoecklin, L. 1993. Managing Cultural differences for Competitive Advantage. London: Economist Intelligence Unit Special Report No. P656.


Bern, J. 1992. "Eurospeak + Eurotexte = Eurolinguistik?: Anmerkungen zu sprachlichen Gewohnheiten im Brüsseler 'Euro Alltag'". Sprachreport, 2(3), pp.1-4.


Boylan, P. 2000. "To Be or not to Be: Success or Failure in Intercultural Communication." In D. Lynch & A. Pilbeam (Eds.), Heritage and Progress. From the past to the future in intercultural understanding. Bath: LTS/SIETAR, pp.106-116.


Boylan, P. 2001. "Relativizing the Concept of Communication." In M. Parry & D. Killick (Eds.), Poetics and Praxis of Languages and Intercultural Communication. Glasgow: University of Glasgow Publications, pp.45-53.


Carrol, R. 1988. Cultural Misunderstandings: The French-American Experience. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Crystal, D. (2005). The Stories of English. Harmondsworth: Penguin.


Elliott, A. (Ed.). 1999. Contemporary Social Theory. Oxford: Blackwell.


Gandhi, M. K. 1948. The Story of My Experiments with Truth. Washington, DC: Public Affairs Press. Translated from Gujarti by M. Desai.


Giles, H., Bourhis, R.Y. & Taylor, D. M. 1977. "Towards a theory of language in ethnic group relations". In H. Giles (Ed.), Language, Ethnicity and Intergroup Relations, London: Academic Press, pp. 307-44.


Giles, H., Coupland, N. & Coupland, J. 1991. "Accommodation Theory: Communication, Context, and Consequence". In H. Giles, N. Coupland & J. Coupland (Eds.), Contexts of Accommodation. Developments in Applied Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Grosse, S. 1998. "Second Language (L2) Learning and the Social World: Towards a Critical Account of Identity Assertion and the Dialectics of Self and Other". In: M. Parry & D. Killick, Proceedings of the Third Conference on Cross-Cultural Capability. Leeds: Leeds Metropolitan University Language Centre.


Henry, A. 1991. "Do Pilots Speak Pidgin? The Syntax of Aircraft Radio Messages". Belfast Working Papers in Language and Linguistics, 11, pp.124-135.


Hinnenkamp, V. 1987. "Foreigner Talk, Code Switching, and the Concept of Trouble". In K. Knapp, W. Enninger & A. Knapp-Potthoff (Eds.), Analyzing Intercultural Communication, Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 137-180.


Irwin, C. (2002). The People's Peace Process in Northern Ireland. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


Kachru, B. 1986. The Alchemy of English. Oxford: Pergamon Press.


Lash S. & Friedman J. (Eds.). 1992. Modernity & Identity. Oxford: Blackwell.


Seidlhofer B. 2001. “Closing a conceptual gap: The case for a description of English as a lingua franca.” International Journal of Applied Linguistics 11(2), pp.133-158.


Snow, E. 1938. Red Star Over China. New York: Random House.


Steiner, G. (1975). After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation. New York & London: Oxford University Press.


Thakerar, J. N., Giles, H. & Cheshire, J. 1982. "Psychological and Linguistic Parameters of Speech Accommodation Theory". In C. Fraser & K. R. Scherer (Eds.), Advances in the Social Psychology of Language, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 205–255.


Woolf, B. 1990. Friendly Persuasion. New York: Berkeley Books.



































1  This paper is a reworking of a presentation given at the 1st SIETAR-UK conference, "Globalisation, foreign languages and intercultural learning," held at South Bank University, London, 9-10 February 2001, the proceedings of which went unpublished. The author wishes to thank the discussants for their invaluable comments and contributions.

2  Among other possible options, in fact, is a multilateral variation of Level 1: interlocutors, who belong to a single language area (e.g., Romance languages) and who have received training in understanding all the other languages of that area, communicate among each other using their native languages. Thus the French negotiator speaks 'careful French', the Spanish negotiator speaks 'careful Spanish', and so on (see Blanche-Benveniste et al. 1998). This procedure may be termed Multilateral Delivery Accommodation. Another possibility is Reciprocal Cultural Accommodation, a bilateral variation of Level 3: each interlocutor elects to use the language and cultural references of the other party. This often occurs between two bilinguals who chance to meet, e.g. at a congress, and start off by accommodating to each other simultaneously. The interaction soon turns into Level 3 accommodation, however, albeit with frequent temporary code switching. The person holding the communicative advantage is the person who gets the other party to use that party's language (more on this ahead).

3  Eurospeak is the derisive – but increasingly used – term to indicate EU bureaucratic language that is: 1. regulated phonologically, lexically, syntactically by a subset of usages taken from British, American and expanding-circle Englishes ('expanding circle' refers to zones where English is a non-official, widely studied second language: Kachru, 1986); 2. augmented terminologically by a large number of acronyms, metonyms, neologisms, and politically-inspired euphemisms and code words; 3. characterized pragmatically by a reduction in the (inter)personal and the imaginative/ideational functions of language (for example, culture-bound metaphors and facetiousness are discouraged and argumentative discourse is generally non-confrontational and non-specific; 4. marked culturally by North Atlantic and Northern European discourse styles and interactional habits, thought to be neutral, plus EU 'house' norms specifying the legalistic formulation of documents. Typologically, Eurospeak is a subset of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF: Seidlhofer, 2001) used mostly for transactions, and thus a lingo akin to a pidgin. (It is sometimes called a jargon, but incorrectly so: a jargon is a professional or transactional sociolect used within a single language community.) Another ELF-based professional lingo – or 'ELF for specific purposes' – is the 'pilot talk' used in international airport control towers (Henry, 1991). It, too, is a sophisticated workplace pidgin based on professional jargon subsets of inner-circle and expanding-circle Englishes.

4  See the "linguistic and intercultural weaknesses" of certain EU countries in Recommendations from the Business Forum for Multilingualism European Commission, Directorate-General for Education and Culture, http://ec.europa.eu/education/languages/pdf/davignon_en.pdf, 9/7/08. Linguistic incompetence due to inadequate education is by no means a recent phenomenon; it was reported a century ago, at a time when diplomats constituted a highly educated elite and schools and universities were considered extremely rigorous. See “Blunders of Foreign Diplomats That Amuse Us,” New York Times November 17, 1907 (http://tinyurl.com/nyt1907).

5  International auxiliary languages like Esperanto are sometimes called lingua francas; but since they lack a specific, richly developed culture, this paper classifies them as pidgins (Level 2).

6  This policy is as ancient as the Roman Catholic Church itself. Pope Gregory the Great (590-604) instructed the Latin-speaking missionaries he sent to Britain to show initial respect for pagan rites, sacred formulas and places of worship and, over time, to create in Latin an amalgamation between them and Christian prayers and practices. See Gregory I, Epsitola 76 to Abbot Mellitus, PL 77: 1215-1216.