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Discourse Markers in Cross-Cultural Conversation

Jung, Ji-Young

It is a great pleasure to offer this tribute to Professor Leslie M. Beebe and to help celebrate her vital contribution to the field of cross-cultural pragmatics (CCP). There is no denying that Professor Beebe stands as a distinguished scholar in the field. Anyone who wishes to conduct research on second language (L2) pragmatics would not be able to begin without learning of or citing her work. Among her contributions to the field, I would first like to ponder her groundbreaking call for serious attention to L2 pragmatics as early as the mid-1980s, a time when pragmatics was a neglected area in second language acquisition (SLA) research and L2 pedagogy. In a number of scholarly papers and at conferences, she suggested that “the social rules of speaking” are “basics, not frosting on the cake” (Beebe, 1995, p. 4). Professor Beebe is acknowledged among SLA researchers as one of the earliest linguists who was deeply concerned with cross-cultural misunderstandings (which often lead to unfortunate and offensive cultural stereotyping) resulting from a lack of pragmatic competence.

Also of great importance to the field was Professor Beebe’s contribution to establishing a solid link between pragmatics and SLA by introducing the concept of pragmatic transfer. In the late 1980s, by showing that L2 learners often refer back to rules of speaking from their first language (L1), she successfully demonstrated cross-linguistic influence at the level of pragmatics (Beebe & Takahashi, 1989a; Beebe & Takahashi, 1989b; Beebe, Takahashi, & Ulis-Weltz, 1990). Motivated by her seminal work, the research focus of L2 pragmatics began shifting from CCP to interlanguage pragmatics(ILP), moving beyond the comparison of L1 and L2 pragmatic conventions towards the understanding of the developmental stages that L2 learners go through. Since that time, pragmatics has rapidly grown into a legitimate area of research in the study of SLA. It is now widely accepted that pragmatics is indispensable in helping researchers to understand how L2 learners acquire and use the target language in a meaningful and appropriate manner.

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Working Papers in Applied Linguistics & TESOL

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