The constructivist approach to second language learning has emphasized the significance of "interactional competence" (Kramsch, 1986; Young, 2011) or "symbolic competence" (Kramsch & Whiteside, 2008) with the aim of achieving mutually coordinated actions and understanding rather than one-way communication. However, the process by which interlocutors construct a shared understanding has received less attention. This study attempts to explore this process from a language socialization (LS) perspective by observing the longitudinal shifts in participants' stances as indexed by affective markers in Japanese—the "masu" (honorific) form in the sentence/clause-final position. The longitudinal data, from pairs of students comprising a native speaker of Japanese and Japanese L2 (second language) learners, suggest that alignments take place implicitly and dynamically within each pair. A micro level analysis and accompanying interviews indicate that the conflicts in the stances occurred because of misinterpretations of the culturally and contextually specific meanings of the "masu" form. The findings suggest that such intercultural aspects may hinder the development of a shared mental space between interlocutors, and the LS perspective has some advantages in revealing such an implicit and bidirectional process.
Selected Proceedings of the 2011 Second Language Research Forum: Converging Theory and Practice
edited by Erik Voss, Shu-Ju Diana Tai, and Zhi Li
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