International Journal of Applied Linguistics

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Beyond intelligibility: ‘Transintelligibility’ phenomena in English as a Lingua Franca interactions

Through conversation analysis, this study analyzes the negotiation of pronunciation in English as a lingua franca (ELF) contexts among students at a Japanese university. Previous research has demonstrated that interactants in ELF contexts can repair segmental pronunciation so that they can maintain mutually intelligible pronunciation in situ (e.g., Matsumoto 2011; O'Neal 2015). The present study nevertheless claims that the phonetic negotiation of pronunciation in ELF interactions can at times go beyond the goal of restoring or maintaining mutually intelligible pronunciation. That is, phonetic negotiations can continue in ELF interactions even after the restoration or maintenance of mutual intelligibility is achieved. Although most ELF phonology studies (e.g., Deterding, 2013; Jenkins, 2000) have hitherto focused on the issue of intelligibility, interactants in ELF contexts might also orient to states beyond the maintenance of mutual intelligibility as an interactional goal. Namely, ‘transintelligibility’, or the negotiation of individually favored ways of pronouncing, can be an alternative aim of phonetic negotiations in ELF interactions. Based on the analysis, this study provides pedagogical implications regarding how to negotiate pronunciations for English language users in intercultural communication.

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