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Review of  Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Cross-Cultural Communication

Reviewer: Vasilica Le Floch
Book Title: Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Cross-Cultural Communication
Book Author: Adam Bednarek
Publisher: Lincom GmbH
Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis
Cognitive Science
Subject Language(s): Chinese, Mandarin
Greek, Modern
Issue Number: 23.4453

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EDITOR: Adam Bednarek
TITLE: Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Cross-Cultural Communication
SERIES TITLE: LINCOM Studies in Pragmatics 21
YEAR: 2012

Vasilica Le Floch, IDEA Research Group, IUT Charlemagne, Université de Lorraine,


“Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Cross-Cultural Communication” is the fourth
of a series of volumes devoted to communication. This volume is a collection of
eleven research papers that focus on communication and cross-cultural
communication. Researchers from Poland, Taiwan, the Netherlands and Germany
bring their perspectives to linguistics and its relations to sociolinguistics,
anthropology, social psychology, cognitive linguistics, pragmatics and culture
studies. Particular aspects of several languages are brought to the reader’s
attention, giving rich interdisciplinary insights into language and interesting
suggestions for further research.

The first paper, by Barbara Lewandowska Tomaszczyk, is “Blurring the Boundaries:
A Model of Online Computer-Mediated Communication Activities (OCA).” She begins
with a description of computer mediated communication (CMC), and of its specific
parameters; a new type of Author-Addressee relationship is thus defined. As far
as the communicative functions of language are concerned, they are all present
in CMC. Nevertheless, in CMC, paralinguistic signals are not accessible to the
addressee, since the message sender is generally distant from their audience.
The researcher also introduces a new language function, “the Ludic Function,
when the user employs the medium to play and get entertainment” (p. 10). With
the development of CMC, a new type of language user has been evolving: a hybrid
between Author and Addressee. In the communication world of arts and media,
authors are no longer the only active language providers. Given the specific
context of Internet technologies, boundaries between active language providers
and silent audiences are blurred: audiences are no longer silent, addressees are
no longer passive. Addressees not only receive messages, they also reshape and
reconstruct knowledge. It is shown that web tools and modern communication
technologies allow the addressee to become “an active participant who does not
passively receive the message but who contributes to the incoming knowledge,
shapes it and gives the receiving message the final form” (p. 11). This
reshaping process has several sources: the social and cultural parameters of the
interaction, the context and the way the addressees construct their identities
in the virtual world. As Lewandowska Tomaszczyk further demonstrates, there is
also a blurring of boundaries “between the language modes -- spoken and written,
between types of genres such as a conversation, narration or description...,
between private and public domains, between the real and the virtual worlds” (p.

The second part of the paper offers an interesting case study, which aims at
identifying the strategies that users apply to express their perception of a
selected political event (Polish Parliamentary Elections, 2011). The researcher
proposes a Model of Overall Online CMC Activities (OCA), which takes into
account quantitative parameters (interconnectivity value, utterance length,
etc.) as well as qualitative parameters (lexical choices, syntactic patterns,
etc.). Interconnectivity, defined as “the strength of connection of each
individual user with all other users in the same topic domain” (p. 12) is given
detailed description; four graphs are also provided. English and Polish
newspaper articles and their respective commentaries are analyzed and research
results indicate differences between English and Polish language users. As the
researcher states, the results of her study can only be treated as tentative:
English and Polish texts have different structures; the two corpora are of
different size and commentaries seem to be of different types. Interdisciplinary
perspectives are needed here to account for all aspects of CMC and to describe
commentary writers in terms of cultural, political, social and linguistic
background. Appendices give detailed information about corpora; text examples
are also included.

Paper 2, by Louis Wei-lun Lu and Lily I-wen Su, is “Antonymous Polysemy: The
case of -shang in Mandarin.” This study focuses on polysemy and contradictory
meanings developed by the suffix -shang in Mandarin. To illustrate this
phenomenon of semantic opposition, the authors start by giving an example taken
from Lee (2001), of the English preposition ‘out’ (‘The stars are out/A cloud
blotted out the sun’). In the first part of the paper the authors introduce the
concept of “antonymous polysemy”, that was first used by Lewandowska Tomaszczyk
(1998) and give a rich literature review on this topic. In Mandarin, cases of
antonymous polysemy have been found in prepositions and in suffixes. The authors
provide examples of the suffix -shang allowing two opposite readings: completive
and inceptive. The analysis takes into account the collocating verbs of this
suffix and focuses on two factors: the conceptual profile and the conceptual
content of each cluster. While it is shown that there are distinct completive
and inceptive clusters for -shang, the researchers also provide examples of
collocating verbs being “ambiguous tokens that can be considered a transitional
stage” (p. 43). Antonymous polysemy is shown to be a result of a twist in the
perspective on conceptual content. The authors also discuss metaphor and
attenuation as factors to the semantic opposition of the completive -shang and
the inceptive -shang. The study offers an analysis from two complementary
perspectives: conceptual and constructional.

The third paper, “Repetition of Conceptual Content/Reformulation and Lexical
Borrowing,” is by Jerzy Tomaszczyk,. This study describes and analyzes
repetition and reformulation in relation to lexical loans, which are “sometimes
used in company of native synonyms” (p. 51). The corpus was drawn from 500 hours
of Polish conversation, recorded from 2008 to 2011. The researcher offers
detailed description of the linguistic data, coming from speakers with a very
wide range of ages, topics and professional backgrounds. A clear distinction is
made between repetition of conceptual content: “the speaker appearing to be
saying the same thing twice, but using different words” (p. 52) as opposed to
reformulation, which involves generally a reformulation marker, usually a
copula, between the two elements (Hyland 2007). Repetition and reformulation
instances are counted and clearly described. It is asserted that at an early
stage in their life, lexical loans are gradually integrated into the linguistic
system by means of native forms that are likely to be understood by all
speakers. The study brings in interesting conclusions on discourse synonymy and
speaker behavior.

In “Taking Stock in Audiovisual Translation” Łukasz Bogucki reports on the state
of the art regarding audiovisual translation (AVT). The author starts by
reviewing the range of names that have been used to refer to AVT. In this paper,
the term AVT refers to two distinct things: “preparing foreign language versions
of audiovisual material” (p. 65) and “making the audiovisual content accessible
to the blind as well as the deaf” (p. 65). The author proposes ten adjectives to
characterize AVT: attractive, under-researched, dynamic, intersemiotic, ominous,
varied, imperfect, divisive, elitist and omnipresent. These adjectives are
explained and interesting data about the industry in Poland is provided. The
impact of technology on audiovisual translation is also described and analyzed.
While AVT is a fertile research field and an increasing number of students want
to become translators, training opportunities at advanced levels are rare and
professionals complain about their work conditions.

Adam Bednarek’s paper “Localization and Translation in Cross Cultural
Environments: Issues of Website Localization” focuses on quality assessment
aspects of localized websites. The term “localization” is defined as “the second
phase of translation project work, accounting for distinctions, both
socio-cultural, linguistic and technical within appropriate markets” (p. 71). It
is stated that as a new and developing field, localization lacks methodological
background. In the specific case of website localization, several elements are
to be taken into account: contents, communication tone, graphical components.
The author asserts that localization puts stronger emphasis on technology and
translation tools, as compared to standard translation. Cultural aspects,
pragmatic and lexical elements as well as marketing strategies also suggest
interesting insights into localization.

The second part of the paper is devoted to a case study through a student
project; it aims at reaching a set of criteria for quality assessment of website
localization. The students were presented with a website for a holiday
destination. The project addressed three main aspects: cross-cultural
communicative strategy, market function and digital acceptability. Based on a
literature review and project work, the study presents a range of parameters to
be used in website localization quality assessment: skopos, functionality,
technicality, encoding of text elements, displayability, HTML/XML acceptability,
marketing value, and target audience (p. 79).

The sixth paper, “Do Companies Need Routine in Business Communication?, by
Elżbieta Jendrych, discusses routine formulas and conventions in business
communication. A formula is defined as “a sequence, continuous or discontinuous,
of words, or other elements, which is, or appears to be, prefabricated: that is,
stored and retrieved whole from memory at the time of use, rather than being
subject to generation or analysis by the language grammar” (Wray, 2002). The
author describes typical situations in which formulas are used, and analyzes
their function inside companies and at a global business level. Interesting
insights are given for teaching English for business communication. It is argued
that business conventions come from two sources: business culture and tradition,
and the need for predictability and logical structure (p. 82). In speaking,
formulas appear in typical business situations; in writing, they are an
essential element in letter and e-mail structure. Conventions are also found and
described in text organization. Conventions in text structure are accompanied by
appropriate formulas and style. Conclusions point out the importance of
conventions for good business practices as well as for effective language teaching.

Halina Wisniewska, in “Written Business Discourse in Lingua Franca: a
pedagogical perspective,” proposes a pedagogical approach to written business
discourse, based on communicative, sociolinguistic and pragmatic considerations.
The introductory part offers a review of communication models as they are
described by Shannon and Weaver (1949), Schramm (1954), and Grice in his maxims
of conversation: “maxim of quantity, maxim of quality, maxim of relevance, maxim
of manner” (p. 91). As far as English as a business lingua franca is concerned,
non-native speakers need to possess linguistic competence and cultural awareness
of national cultures as well as of specific company cultures. In the case of
written communication, the author mentions several recurrent types of discourse,
corresponding to important communication goals such as: explaining, introducing
news/information, and inducing action. Relational strategies in written
communication are also discussed, in relation to audience awareness, discourse
types and metadiscourse signals. The list of textual metadiscourse markers
suggests an interesting method of analysis. The final part of the paper
discusses business writing skills in course curricula. It brings in interesting
data and pertinent pedagogical recommendations regarding the content of business
communication courses and the intercultural communicative competence they are
expected to provide.

In “The Persuasive Nature of Letters to the Editor: The case of deontic
attitudinal meanings expressed by Polish and English writers,” Tatiana
Szczygłowska examines discourse strategies and persuasion techniques used in
letters to the press. The corpus is composed of 100 Polish and English letters
published in 2004. The author defines the letters to the editor as “a type of
written discourse, whose argumentative dimension is emphasized by a set of
interlinked argument-claim sequences, all meant to come to a shared stance on
some issue” (p. 103). The paper gives an interesting literature review of the
argumentative attitude as a linguistic feature. The methodological framework is
clearly described and the deontic argumentative strategies are explained through
examples. It is shown that the aim of letters to the editor is to advance a
personal opinion to a wide audience and to give recommendations for action. The
concept of “deontic claim” holds a central role in the analysis, which compares
the Polish and English corpora. The research results from these two corpora are
compared and several figures throughout the paper illustrate the differences and
similarities noted. Two variables are used to summarize and interpret the
research results: the frequency of deontic claims and the linguistic features
that express the writers’ deontic attitude (such as direct imperatives, modal
operators, and lexicalized deontic context). The analysis of deontic
argumentative strategies and the figure displaying their distribution (p. 113)
provide interesting data and research perspectives that can be applied to other
types of corpora. The comparison between English and Polish writers points out
certain differences in the way they express opinions.

The ninth paper, Die Korpuslinguistik und der Sprachgebrauch in einer
theoretischen Betrachtung unter Berücksichtigung der Kernbegriffe einer
Diskursanalyse, by Dorota Biadala (Universität Heidelberg) is written in German.
It focuses on corpora and their use in discourse analysis, and suggests common
research areas for corpus linguists and “armchair linguists” as Fillmore (1992)
ironically calls them. Important concepts in corpus linguistics are listed and
defined. The article offers an extended list of German and Polish language
corpora available to date.

Paper 10, “Pragmatic Functions of the ‘Purse Hand’ Shape in Everyday Greek
Discourse,” is by Agata Blichewicz,. The ‘purse hand’ shape as a specific
gestural modality marker is studied here from a pragmatic point of view. The
author notes important variation in gestures and gesture meanings across
cultures. It is shown that the purse hand has several meanings, going from
requesting information (in Italy) to showing satisfaction and the excellence of
something (in Greece), showing sarcasm and criticism (in Malta), or signaling
fear (in the French-speaking part of Belgium). Previous research on the topic
(most notably Kendon 2004) is identified and constitutes the framework for the
present study. Contrary to emblems, gestures accompany words but cannot be used
to replace them.

The research corpus is composed of four hours of video recordings, collected in
ten days in Crete; 15 people, males and females of different ages, took part in
the recordings. The researcher identified 89 occurrences of the purse hand in
the corpus, complete or incomplete, moved sagitally, vertically or horizontally.
Several pictures of speakers are provided as part of the description. The
research results highlight four distinct functions of the purse hand gesture in
Greek: the expression of question, the expression of essence, topic
specification and disagreement. The forms and functions of the purse hand
gesture “are similar in the case of essence and specification, the use of it
with questions is similar, but the movement differs” (p. 141). Interesting
suggestions for further research are given in the conclusion.

The final paper is by Anna Pałczyńska, “Generic Usage of Nouns and Pronouns in
Selected English, German and Polish EU Documents.” This article deals with the
issue of naming and semantic representation of women, and the use of gender
nouns as part of language conventions. The first part is devoted to a fairly
complete literature review of the feminist critique of language (Lakoff 1975,
Cameron 1990). The examples given mainly illustrate English and German;
nevertheless, the author notes that “Polish language has also been described as
sexist” (p. 149). The second part of the article gives a detailed analysis of
gender generics (nouns referring to both sexes) as opposed to feminine and
masculine forms. The author focuses on three language versions, English, German
and Polish, of the Directive 2010/41/EU (on the application of the principle of
equal treatment between men and women) and notes that “English in this legal
document is in accordance with all linguistic solutions to the problem of sexism
in language” (p. 150). The Polish and German documents still provide examples of
the sexist use of gender nouns. Clear examples are given to support this
argument. It is thus shown that documents do not have the same pragmatic value
in the three languages. Authors’ and translators’ lexical choices may partly
account for this situation. Nevertheless, it is suggested that the structure of
certain languages (Polish and German) should be considered, since in such
languages nouns are ascribed a grammatical gender and gender markers are more


This volume is part of a research project of the Lodz International Studies
Academy, focusing on “communication and organization of various parameters of
analysis” (p. 3). It is the fourth volume of a series devoted to communication;
several conferences have also been organized in relation to this research
project. The volume brings together different perspectives into the changing
field of communication studies. “Interdisciplinary Perspectives in
Cross-Cultural Communication” is interesting in many respects: it offers
original contributions to the field of cross-cultural communication and brings
in methodological aspects of the study of communication in its relations to
sociolinguistics, anthropology, social psychology, cognitive linguistics,
pragmatics and culture studies. The research papers focus on several languages:
English, Polish, German, Mandarin, and Greek, and they are likely to be of
interest not only to researchers working in communication studies, but also to
linguists, translators and language teachers.

The book addresses various traditional and modern modes of communicating,
including computer mediated communication, although its primary objective, as
stated in the Preface, is to “focus on discourse functional and pragmatic
analysis” (p. 3). The scholars who contribute to this volume work with different
types of data sets and several case studies focus on relatively new media, such
as digitized newspapers, television and radio transcripts, recorded discussions
and interviews, e-mails and messages to discussion groups. One interesting
aspect of the current volume is the analysis provided for new media data, which
clearly opens research perspectives in the field of cross-cultural communication.

A notable merit of the book is that it brings into discussion diverse analytical
approaches and various languages. Cross-cultural communication is not only the
central object of the book but also one of its most notable achievements.
Original research methods applied to certain languages could easily be
transposed to other types of data and to different languages; they can thus be
viewed as a new form of intercultural communication among scholars.

All of the papers focus on communication, and most of them propose
interdisciplinary perspectives, as announced in the title. It should
nevertheless be noted that the quality of the papers varies across the volume.
Most articles offer rich literature reviews, but they sometimes lack
explanations as to the choice of specific methodologies used. Research results
invite reflection and open up interesting research perspectives; more
comprehensive and detailed research results could be expected in some articles.
The paper written in German, and some Appendix documents in Polish might be
inaccessible to certain readers. However, it should be noted that data is
presented clearly throughout the book; graphs, pictures, figures and lists help
the reader understand research methods and results; nevertheless, certain graphs
do not allow the actual reading of data, due to unsatisfactory picture quality.
Foreign language examples are accompanied by their translation into English. To
conclude, the volume offers original insights into communication and will
undoubtedly provide interesting perspectives for future research.


Cameron, Deborah. 1990. The Feminist Critique of Language. London: Routledge.

Fillmore, Charles. 1992. Corpus Linguistics vs. Computer-aided Armchair
Linguistics. In Directions in Corpus Linguistics. (Proceedings from a 1992 Nobel
Symposium on Corpus Linguistics, Stockholm.) Mouton de Gruyter.

Hyland, Ken. 2007. Applying a Gloss: Exemplifying and Reformulating in Academic
Discourse. Applied Linguistics 28/2 : 266-285.

Kendon, Adam. 2004. Gesture: Visible Action as Utterance. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.

Lakoff, Robin, 1975. Language and Woman’s Place. New York: Routledge.

Lee, David. 2001. Cognitive Linguistics: An Introduction. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.

Lewandowska Tomaszczyk, Barbara. 1998. Dynamic Perspectives on Antonymous
Polysemy. In Schulze, Rainer (ed.). Making Meaningful Choices in English.
Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag Tübingen.

Schramm, Wilbur. 1954. How Communication Works. In Schramm, Wilbur, ed. The
Process and Effects of Communication. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Shannon, Claude E. & Weaver, Warren. 1949. The Mathematical Theory of
Communication. Urbana: The University of Illinois Press.

Wray, Alison. 2002. Formulaic Language and the Lexicon. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.

Vasilica Le Floch is a lecturer at IUT Charlemagne, Lorraine University, France. She belongs to the IDEA research group (Interdisciplinarity in English Studies). Her main research interests include language subjectivity, punctuation, translation and corpus linguistics. She is also working in the field of computational linguistics.