Home Forums Discussion Board Discussion 2.2 – Misunderstandings in ELF Contexts

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    • #2327

      In trying to think of relevant examples, I remembered separate instances in which in first time interactions with a friend from New Zealand I was a bit thrown by the question “How are you going?” (“um, what, where…?”), and in the UK by the “You alright?” question. Both essentially mean “how are you?” but the use of ‘going’ in the NZ English question, and asking someone whether they are alright, did not quite land well with me, a user of L2 English mostly used to American varieties. However, some negotiation of meaning (I love this term) was certainly helpful in clarifying the questions and soon made me realize the person asking “You alright?” wasn’t particularly worried about my well being. 🙂

      To view past replies go to: https://changingenglishes.proboards.com/thread/12/misunderstandings-elf-contexts

      • This topic was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by adminadmin.
    • #3467

      I agree with admin when I stayed in NZ, people asked me how are you going? I am thinking about where I am going to today.
      Actully not that question means how are you?
      when I were in UK, people said you’re alright? I often think about health issue but it means how are you as well.Now I know both questions mean how are you?
      It is wonderful for me to be in ELF contexts because its lot of help to understand their English and communicate correct meaning with them.

    • #3737

      culture differences, for example, in my country we used to kiss the old people hands as a kind of respect.

    • #4085

      I think it is very much important to know the cultural differences and the context whenever we communicate. Communicators must adjust when it is needed so that we can understand the message fully.
      Whenever I teach my students in the university, I always remind them that there are words that can be used in a informal setting but not in a formal setting. They also need to consider the culture, age and upbringing to avoid misconception.

    • #4194

      Once in a workshop for English teachers, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, there was this confusion of a ‘goma green’ colour saree worn by a particular participant , when the admiration came from the resource person, an American lady that it was a nice saree and someone in the audience said that it was ‘goma green’. Later on, the issue was settled by the explanation that this was a Sri Lankan English compound, the word ‘goma’ being associated with ‘ cow dung’, and it’s a version of green. But surprisingly this didn’t hinder the communication process.

    • #4219

      Cultural difference is among the factor that influence the use of language. When I asked my students to translate indonesian to English, they tend to transslate the litteral word to word translation. For example:
      Jangan buang samapah sembarangan (do not littering), they translate as “Do not throw the waste anywhere”

    • #4531
      Dauda PikawiDauda Pikawi

      If I may ask, can accommodation by the English NS help in ELF? This I think can also connect entire English language speech community.

    • #4714

      Share here any interesting examples of misunderstandings in ELF contexts, either involving native speakers or solely between non-native speakers. To what extent were they language-based? Do you recall how they were resolved?

      ELF context defines a context where English language uses as a lingua franca. In Sri Lanka, English language also utilizes as a lingua franca between Tamil and Sinhala ethnic groups. Furthermore, when foreigners come to our country, we tend to use English as a lingua franca language in order to explain them the food items and certain terms which are unique to Sri Lankans. For instance, “Ayubowan”, “Kiribath – Milk rice and etc.

    • #4747

      I have had so many different experiences with this!

      I think the one that stands out the most was a situation that arose a few different times. I teach English in an international school for adults in San Diego, and I mostly prepare European (occasionally Asian, South American, and Saudi) students for the Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) exam offered by Cambridge University ESOL. We do a lot of exam practice as part of the course, and we have one listening exercise where we listen to an Australian English speaker talking about a sheep herding contest for dogs. The speaker is talking about how the dogs can lose points in the contest, and he says “If a dog turns away from the sheep, we call that ‘turning tail’.” In the Australian accent, “tail” sounds a heck of a lot like the way an American would pronounce the word “tile” and the students often write “tile” instead of “tail” and miss that question.

      From this experience, I learned to advise my students who want to take such standardized exams to listen to as many speakers of English as they can.

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