|Author(s)||Kaisa S. Peitikäinen|
|Title||Misunderstandings and Ensuring Understanding in Private ELF Talk|
|Tag(s)||EMCA, Misunderstandings, Repair, Lingua franca, In Press|
Although misunderstandings as such have been extensively studied, the ways in which problems of understanding are avoided—especially in cross-cultural communication—have so far received limited attention. This article examines over 24 h of private conversation data from seven established, intercultural couples who use lingua franca English as their ‘couple tongue’. Thorough conversation analysis reveals that these couples utilize a remarkably diverse range of strategies to pre-empt misunderstandings and to construct shared understanding, all the while enforcing their ‘couplehood’. Misunderstandings are not very frequent, and when they do occur, they mainly seem to derive from the ‘common ground fallacy’, the expectation to achieve shared understanding from fewer cues. Compared with findings from less private English as a lingua franca (ELF) encounters, ELF couples resort to direct clarification requests more often but avoid imposing on the partner with word suggestions. They are also found to use innovative extralinguistic means such as pointing, showing, drawing, acting, deixis, and onomatopoeia. It is suggested that the stage of familiarity of speakers should be regarded as one key factor when examining language in interaction and understanding.