Disagreement Strategies used by Speakers of English as a Lingua Franca in Business Meetings

Alaa Ahmed Alzahrani


Numerous studies have attested to the consensus-orientation and cooperative nature of English as a lingua franca (ELF) interactions. However, limited attention has been given to moments of disagreements in ELF communication, with most of the little existing work focusing on disagreements in ELF academic or informal contexts. Consequently, little is known about how ELF users display disagreement in real-life business contexts. For this reason, this study examined disagreement expressions in five ELF business meetings drawn from the VOICE corpus to understand the nature of disagreement in ELF interactions. Following the identification of disagreement instances, the study used Stalpers’s (1995) framework to investigate whether the disagreement was accompanied by a mitigation strategy that reduces its impact. It was found that the examined ELF business speakers express their disagreement in both mitigated and unmitigated forms with a marked preference for using mitigated expressions, indicating that the appropriate linguistic choice for expressing disagreements in a between-company business meeting is a mitigated disagreement form. Another main finding is the frequent use of disagreement utterances, suggesting that ELF speakers do not merely seek consensus, but they also raise objections and state their different opinions. One implication of these findings is that ELF encounters might not be as consensus-seeking and mutually supportive as suggested in previous works. Taken together, the findings of the present study extended the existing body of work on ELF disagreement and, in general, added further to our understanding of ELF interaction.


Disagreement in ELF Interaction, Business ELF Interaction, ELF Speaker’s Disagreement Strategies, Mitigated and Unmitigated Disagreement, The VOICE Corpus

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.alls.v.11n.3p.46


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