chapter  3
36 Pages

Facing Up to Difficult Situations

Confronting Confusion
WithGerrard Mugford

Chapter 3 takes a critical look at the uncooperative nature of language use in difficult situations. Within the concept of stance, research examines how foreign-language users are affected when faced with uncomfortable, difficult and confusing situations. By employing Grice’s Cooperative Principle (being as informative as possible, truthful, relevant and clear), analysis looks into how foreign-language interactants are liable to be confused and bewildered if the maxims are flouted or ignored.

To understand the occurrence of confusion and puzzlement in target-language contexts, interactants’ ‘voice’ (Bakhtin) is considered as the foreign-language users were asked to recall difficult situations through written interviews and reflect on why communication went wrong. To conduct this line of research, the responses to confusing and puzzling incidents of 77 Mexican users of English as a Foreign Language were analysed. An abundance of emic data provide the basis for an analysis of uncomfortable situations by employing the categories of identification, assessment and effect.