Pragmatics of Intercultural Communication

Degree course: 
Academic year when starting the degree: 
Academic year in which the course will be held: 
Course type: 
Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class
Second semester
Standard lectures hours: 
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (35 hours)

A basic knowledge of linguistics and pragmatics is a plus. However, presupposed notions will be kept to a minimum.

Final Examination: 


Oral exam. The discussion will revolve around a case study chosen by the student among various proposals on the basis of his/her specific interests.

Voto Finale


The module comprises two parts, a theoretically-oriented one (approx. 20/25 hours) and a practically-oriented one (approx. 10/15 hours).

The first part aims at providing the students with basic notions in intercultural pragmatics. Intercultural pragmatics is a discipline that deals with the language-specific and culture-specific aspects of speech acts and conversation. When communicating in a foreign language, mastering conversational routines is one of the most difficult tasks. Such an ability is relevant to both translators, who mostly operate with written texts, and mediators, who often face unplanned conversational situations in their profession.
The main theoretical notions of intercultural pragmatics (such as, for instance, the notions of face, politeness) will be critically presented, and their usefulness will be evaluated through a rich exemplification drawn from recent studies, mostly concerned with the language- and culture-specific declinations of these notions in various European and extra-European contexts.

The second part will deal with intercultural pragmatics in multilingual professional settings. Through the analysis of real case studies, the students will identify the possible sources of intercultural misunderstandings and impoliteness, and to sort out the common problems that arise in intercultural conversation. They will also identify good practices in dealing with this sort of problems.

At the end of the module, students will be able to apply the theoretical notions to a wide range of real and potential situations of conflict and to propose ways to prevent or resolve the conflict.


- Introduction to pragmatics
- The theory of speech acts: Austin, Searle
- The notion of face
- The notion of politeness
- Theories of politeness: Lakoff, Leech, Brown & Levinson
- Theories of politeness and their critics
- Politeness in intercultural perspective
- Conversational routines in intercultural perspective
- Language and identity
- Interlanguage pragmatics
- bilingualism and biculturalism
- Intercultural pragmatics in multilingual working settings (laboratory)


- C. Bettoni, Usare un’altra lingua, Bari-Roma: Laterza, 2006 (o successive)

- Slides and other materials made available through the e-learning platform

Teaching methods

Lectures (20/25 hours) + Laboratory (10/15 hours). Guest lectures will also be possible.