Intercultural pragmatic variations: misunderstandings and cooperation difficulties. The case of Egyptian users of English

30 May 2024
Room F1

Intercultural pragmatic variations: misunderstandings and cooperation difficulties. The case of Egyptian users of English

In order to use language for communication effectively, not only interlinguistic but also intercultural pragmatic competences are needed. However, various linguistic and cultural communities use language differently producing both linguistic and pragmatic variations. Such variations are mainly caused by the influx of their mother tongue linguistic and pragmatic forms which are culturally constructed and involuntary (Leonard, 2012).

This study, which focuses on intercultural pragmatics, aims at showing how, in a multicultural context, the non-compliance with intercultural pragmatic norms may lead to miscommunication (Mühleisen, 2011; Kecskes, 2014), cooperation difficulties and even offense. This aim will be reached through the analysis of the case-study of Egypt. Indeed, in Egypt, English is increasingly used producing numerous cases of contact between it and Arabic (La Causa, 2022a). This contact situation is leading to the development of linguistic and cultural variations and to the consequent creation of an ‘Egyptian way’ to use English (La Causa, 2022a; 2022b) which affect both the linguistic and the interactive communicative modalities. This paper’s methodology is based on a contrastive analysis between English and Arabic pragmatic norms which wants to show how English and Egyptian people apply diverse extralinguistic competences while communicating in English. These include competences in paralanguage elements like accent, voice inflection, tone, pitch of voice (vocalics), in prosodic features like frequency, rhythm, silence and turn-taking (chronemics), in visual cues like body motion, facial expressions, gestures (kinesics), and in interpersonal distance, eye contact (oculesics) and touch (haptics) (proxemics). Evidence and data will be manually collected into a corpus of typical pragmatic variations produced by Egyptians using English. The corpus will be then examined to verify whether Egyptians succeed in communicating properly or whether the adoption of their mother tongue pragmatic norms leads to misunderstanding and cooperation difficulties when they use English.



Kecskes, I. (2014). Intercultural Pragmatics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

La Causa, L. (2022a). The Expanding area turn: modelling and defining ‘English as a Potential Variety’. The case of Egyptian English (Ph.D. Dissertation), University of Catania.

La Causa, L. (2022b). ’Egyptian English’ as an emerging glocal language. Currents. A Journal of Young English Philology Thought and Review, 7-8, 18-40.

Leonard, V. (2012). An Introduction to Interpersonal Communication: A Primer on Communication Studies. Online:

Mühleisen, S. (2011). Pragmatics in multilingual language situations. In G. Andersen & K. Aijmer, Pragmatics of Society (pp. 115-134). Berlin and New York: De Gruyter Mouton.