Journal Article Examining Potential Sources of Miscommunication between Japan and the West: Using Grice to Bridge the Sociolinguistic Gap for Japanese EFL Learners

Cutrone, Pino

17 ( 2 )  , pp.37 - 76 , 2015-06-01 , English Language Education Publishing
The main objective of this paper is to shed light on some issues that Japanese EFL speakers sometimes experience when communicating across cultures. These issues often stem from a lack of sociolinguistic competence in English. Revisiting the long-standing debate regarding the universality of Grice's theory of conversation, this paper argues that Grice's maxims of conversations do not apply universally and independently of culture. With the intention of informing EFL pedagogy in Japan, the writer demonstrates how Grice's theory of conversation can serve as a useful framework for intercultural analyses. In considering the thought processes and ideologies involved in interpreting each of Grice's four maxims across cultures, this paper highlights some of the fundamental issues underpinning crosscultural misunderstandings between Japanese EFL speakers and native speakers of English (NESs). By identifying some of the specific reasons for pragmalinguistic failure, this article helps language educators, as well as cross-cultural communication trainers involved with Japanese people, deal with these issues. To this end, it is suggested that ELT professionals begin by incorporating targeted awarenessraising strategies in their contexts and then follow up by providing students/trainees with opportunities to develop better product-oriented conversational management techniques.

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