International Journal of Applied Linguistics

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Volume 8 Issue 1 (June 1998), Pages 3-159

Self‐reports on silence as a face‐saving strategy by people with hearing impairment (pages 61-80)

The main assumption in this paper is that silence, defined here as avoidance or termination of talk in problematic and face‐threatening situations, is used by hard‐of‐hearing people as a face‐saving strategy in communication with hearing people. One hundred hearing‐impaired people were asked to list any situations in which they refrain from conversation due to embarrassment. The situations which were mentioned by the subjects can be summarized as follows: (a) avoid talk in group situations, in public, noisy or open spaces; (b) avoid talk while concentrating; (c) avoid talk through impossible channels (e.g. telephone) or with other physical obstacles (inadequate positioning); (d) avoid talk when it is uninteresting or irrelevant; (e) avoid talk for socializing; with strangers and with people in a hurry. We argue that, given the wide range situations/reasons elicited in this study, avoidance of conversation in communication by hearing‐impaired people cannot be uniformly viewed as a negative or maladaptive strategy of communication.

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