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"My major is English, belive it or not:)" – Participant orientations in nonnative/native text chat

Issue: Vol 30 No. 3 (2013)

Journal: CALICO Journal

Subject Areas:

DOI: 10.11139/cj.30.3.393-409


In their interactions with native speakers (NS), nonnative speakers (NNS) often position themselves as relative novices. For example, they may orient to the language expertise differential by apologizing for their linguistic ineptness or by making self-disparaging remarks about their second language (L2). This is true even for advanced learners in settings which foreground language learning (Hosoda, 2006). By and large, previous research on NNS/NS interaction has narrowly focused on instances where L2 ineptness interferes with mutual understanding. Widening the scope of analysis, this study considers such orientations more broadly, including those where perceived L2 shortcomings did not trigger miscommunication.


Using extracts from a corpus of dyadic NNS/NS task-based interactions in quasi-synchronous CMC (SCMC), this study seeks to document ways in which advanced NNS participants position themselves and are positioned by NSs. The findings show that, as a group, these orientations to participants' differential language competence do not primarily occur in (other-)repair sequences but rather elsewhere in the interaction. The data suggest that they serve a range of social functions, including (re-)indexing an L2 social self, building and maintaining social solidarity and intersubjectivity with the coparticipant, and ratifying the power of the native speaker (see Kramsch, 1998).

Author: Ilona Vandergriff

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