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Title: Relevance theory, culture and communication: intepretations of broadcast talk by native speakers of Mandarin Chinese and British English
Authors: Yu, Qiufen
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: © Yu Qiufen
Abstract: In studies of culture and communication, it is widely believed that (a) cultures can be distinguished according to the use of direct and indirect style (e.g. Adair and Brett 2004; Brew and Cairns 2004; Cohen 2004; Ting-Toomey 1999); (b) culture is closely related to communication style (e.g. Fujishin 2007; Neuliep 2006; Pekerti and Thomas 2003); and (c) there are differences in interpretation between people from different cultures (e.g. Cohen 2004; Gao and Ting-Toomey 1998; Scollon and Scollon 1995; Ting-Toomey 1999). Drawing on Relevance Theory, I argued that communication styles in cultures that have been categorised as using direct and indirect style are both indirect, and that there is no direct connection between culture and communication style. Specifically, I proposed that the claim that there are differences in interpretation between people with diverse cultural backgrounds can be more effectively addressed by focusing on contextual assumptions people draw on in response to an utterance. To investigate how cultural differences are realised by focusing on native speakers of Mandarin Chinese and British English, this study adopted a qualitative technique to analyse data in order not only to reveal how or whether cultural differences are realised through the use of communication style, but also to provide an in-depth understanding of contextual assumptions that hearers draw on and their relationship with cultural difference. This study involved two sets of radio talk shows broadcast in China and Britain. It also involved a series of interviews with hearers from China and Britain. The main findings from the study are: (1) styles of speakers of Mandarin Chinese and British English are both indirect; (2) there is no direct correlation between culture and communication style, and (3) cultural differences are realised if hearers from different cultures draw on different contextual assumptions in response to an utterance. This research has important implications for researchers in the area of culture and communication in understanding cultural differences in communication, and for research into contextual assumptions in intercultural encounters.
Description: A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/8565
Appears in Collections:PhD Theses (English and Drama)

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