Uses of English as a lingua franca in domain-specific contexts of intercultural communication – University of Salento – 4-6 December 2019
This Conference represents the conclusion of a PRIN Project (PRIN is the acronym for ‘research project of national interest’) co-funded by the Italian Ministry of University Research, whose title is: “English as a Lingua Franca in domain-specific contexts of intercultural communication: a cognitive-functional model for the analysis of ELF accommodation strategies in unequal migration contexts, digital-media virtual environments, and multicultural ELF classrooms.” Three academic Research Units are involved in this Project: the proposing Unit of the University of Salento (Principal Investigator and Unit Coordinator: Prof. Maria Grazia Guido); the Unit of the University of Roma Tre (Unit Coordinator: Prof. Lucilla Lopriore); and the Unit of the University of Verona (Unit Coordinator: Prof. Roberta Facchinetti). The Conference will enquire into the uses of ELF in domain-specific discourses that, more than others, provide evidence of an appropriation of the English language by non-native speakers who no longer perceive it as a ‘foreign’ language, but rather as a ‘lingua franca’ through which they can express their own native linguacultural uses and rhetorical repertoires, experiential schemata and, ultimately, socio-cultural identities. Such professional discourses regard ELF used in: (a) unequal migration encounters in institutional settings; (b) digital media for global communication; (c) the multilingual classroom in today’s western societies. The Conference Speakers (who are internationally recognized ELF scholars, as well as young and promising ELF researchers), starting from the assumption that non-native speakers appropriate ELF by exploiting its virtual meaning potential without conforming to native speakers’ norms of usage, will seek to examine specifically how ELF users interact among themselves, how they understand each others’ ELF variations, and what kind of problems naturally arise when one set of L1 usage and register conventions – transferred by users to their ELF variations – comes into contact, and often indeed into conflict, with another. This Conference proposes to explore the relevance of such questions to spoken, written and multimodal domain-specific communication which is of relevance particularly to multicultural settings. Since the awareness of the socio-cultural and political impact of ELF use in today’s globalized world is relatively recent, prominence will be given to the development of original Cognitive-functional Models which will put into question the established notions of cognitive and functional grammars, text linguistics and discourse pragmatics focused on native-speaker norms of English usage, in order to investigate how ELF communication can be enhanced by strategies of meaning co-construction and register hybridization accounting for ELF speakers’ different native linguacultural backgrounds, and how it can be instead hindered by failure in ELF accommodation. The ultimate aim is to open up this area of enquiry to a critical debate so as to further a fuller understanding of ELF as a crucial dimension of today’s international communication.
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