Face as an interactional construct in the context of connectedness and separateness: An empirical approach to culture-specific interpretations of face

Ulrike Schröder
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

Abstract

In recent work, Arundale proposed a Face Constituting Theory based on the Conjoint Co-Constituting Model of Communication. His main concern is directed towards a shift from the individualistic conception of face and (im)politeness to a non-summative view on communication based on fundamental insights from conversation analysis. Based on two film shootings between German and Brazilian exchange students, which are part of the larger corpus NUCOI, we will take a closer look at moments in which face comes to the fore in the light of (dis)alignment and (dis)affiliation. While in the German example facework is negotiated metacommunicatively, in the Brazilian example facework is calibrated in more subtle ways represented by prosodic and visual cues, which are either given or held back by the co-participants. We will show that these two different patterns may be related to culture-specific construals of face.

Keywords:
Table of contents

1.Introduction

In recent work, Arundale (2009 2009 “Face as Emergent in Interpersonal Communication: An Alternative to Goffman.” In Face, Communication, and Social Interaction, ed. by Francesca Bargiela-Chiappini, and Michael Haugh, 33–54. London: Equinox.Google Scholar, 2010 2010 “Constituting Face in Conversation: Face, Facework, and Interactional Achievement.” Journal of Pragmatics 42: 2078–2105. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2013a 2013a “Face as a Research Focus in Interpersonal Pragmatics: Relational and Emic Perspectives.” Journal of Pragmatics 58: 108–120. CrossrefGoogle Scholar) proposed his Face Constituting Theory based on a Conjoint Co-constituting Model of Communication. His main concern is directed towards a shift from individualistic conceptions of face and delete hyphen and (im)politeness to a non-summative view on communication based on fundamental insights of conversation analysis (Arundale 2010 2010 “Constituting Face in Conversation: Face, Facework, and Interactional Achievement.” Journal of Pragmatics 42: 2078–2105. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). He also draws great attention to the interplay of connectedness and separateness, a dialectic relation analyzed as a fundamental category of human interaction by Baxter and Montgomery (1996)Baxter, Leslie A., and Barbara M. Montgomery 1996Relating: Dialogues and Dialectics. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar. Finally, a third cornerstone of his theory is his claim that there are culture-specific expressions of this dialectic relation forming the basic ingredients for first order emic construals of face which should be distinguished from the second order construals of the researcher’s theory on face (Arundale 2013a 2013a “Face as a Research Focus in Interpersonal Pragmatics: Relational and Emic Perspectives.” Journal of Pragmatics 58: 108–120. CrossrefGoogle Scholar).

The aim of the following paper is to outline the main proposition of Arundale’s Face Constituting Theory (FCT) from a cross-cultural perspective, namely, the understanding of ‘face’ in terms of an integral epiphenomenon emerging constantly in the course of interaction and as something coordinated and achieved between the interlocutors. I will pay special attention to (dis)affiliation, as well as to (dis)alignment as two concepts of conversation analysis which also deflect the focus from the speaker’s ‘intentions’ to his or her relation with the interlocutor and which are able to substantiate the claim that ‘face’ can by no means be conceived of in terms of (im)politeness but rather goes beyond such an isolated matter, especially when cultural concepts come into play.

Based on a corpus of two filmed elicited conversations which are part of the larger corpus of the project NUCOI11.Núcleo de Estudos de Comunicação (Inter-)Cultural em Interação: http://​www​.letras​.ufmg​.br​/nucleos​/nucoi​/. The site is also available in English.  – namely, one discussion among four Brazilian exchange students and one among five German exchange students – I will take a closer look at two moments in which ‘face’ comes to the fore in the light of both connectedness and separation, visible on the interaction level by displayed hints of (dis)alignment and (dis)affiliation.

2.The current debate on the locus of face and its cultural impact

Especially over the last decade, a pervasive theoretical discussion has been initiated around revisiting the notion of ‘face’.22.See the special issues in Journal of Pragmatics: Face in Interaction (Volume 42, Number 8, 2010); Identity Perspectives on Face and (Im)Politeness (Volume 39, Number 4, 2007); About Face (Volume 35, Numbers 10–11, 2003), as well as the special issue in Pragmatics: Relational work in Facebook and discussion boards/fora (Volume 25. Number 1, 2015). See also the volume edited by Francesca Bargiela-Chiappini and Michael Haugh: Face, Communication and Social Interaction (2009 2009 “Face as Emergent in Interpersonal Communication: An Alternative to Goffman.” In Face, Communication, and Social Interaction, ed. by Francesca Bargiela-Chiappini, and Michael Haugh, 33–54. London: Equinox.Google Scholar). Researchers in the field of intercultural and interactional pragmatics have endeavored to restore the notion of face in the light of the growing recognition of the limits which the concepts of politeness and impoliteness bear when it comes to explaining phenomena of wider scope, be it more complex moments of conversation and situations, multilayered participation frameworks, the multimodal interplay of verbal, vocal and visual plane, or the consideration of cultural background factors. Bargiela-Chiappini (2003)Bargiela-Chiappini, Francesca 2003 “Face and Politeness: New (Insights) for Old (Concepts).” Journal of Pragmatics 35: 1453–1469. CrossrefGoogle Scholar rightly remembers the social-ritual origin of Goffman’s (1967 [1955])Goffman, Erving 1967 [1955] “On Face-Work: An Analysis of Ritual Elements in Social Interaction.” In Interaction Ritual. Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior, ed. by Erving Goffman, 5–45. New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar idea of ‘face’ and the subsequent narrowing of the post-Goffmanian use of ‘face’, a transformation afterwards erroneously attributed to Goffman himself. If we take a closer look at Goffman’s essay (1967 [1955]Goffman, Erving 1967 [1955] “On Face-Work: An Analysis of Ritual Elements in Social Interaction.” In Interaction Ritual. Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior, ed. by Erving Goffman, 5–45. New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar) from today’s point of view, it seems as if Goffman in fact was oscillating between an essentialist-egological and a social-interactional perspective without dealing with the contradictions inherent to such opposing angles. Hence, on the one hand, he metaphorically turned the concept into an object by describing face in terms of having, maintaining, losing, giving, saving, being in wrong, or out of it (Goffman 1967 [1955]Goffman, Erving 1967 [1955] “On Face-Work: An Analysis of Ritual Elements in Social Interaction.” In Interaction Ritual. Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior, ed. by Erving Goffman, 5–45. New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar, 6–9); on the other hand, he locates face explicitly not in the body but “in the flow of events in the encounter” (ibid., 7) since face constitutes the “traffic rules of social interaction” (ibid., 12), emphasizing that face is only “loan to him [the individual, US] from society” (ibid., 10). Nevertheless, apart from this ultimately indistinct definition, it was Brown and Levinson (1987 [1978])Brown, Penelope, and Stephen Levinson 1987[1978]Politeness Some Universals in Language Usage. x> Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossrefGoogle Scholar who not only made Goffman’s ‘face’ popular for pragmatics but also transferred it “into a cognitive model based on Western ethnocentric assumptions such as the existence of a predominantly rational actor and strategic, goal-oriented nature of ‘facework’ and of social interaction.” (Bargiela-Chiappini 2003Bargiela-Chiappini, Francesca 2003 “Face and Politeness: New (Insights) for Old (Concepts).” Journal of Pragmatics 35: 1453–1469. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 1454) although some researchers believe such criticism would miss the crucial point of Brown and Levinson’s broader conception (Kerbrat-Orecchioni 2017Kerbrat-Orecchioni, Catherine 2017 “Abordagem intercultural da polidez linguística: problemas teóricas e estudo de caso.” In Descortesia e Cortesia: Expressões de Culturas, ed. by Ana Lúcia Tinoco Cabral, Isabel Roboredo Seara, and Manoel Francisco Guaranha, 17–55. São Paulo: Cortez.Google Scholar, 31–40).

However, Arundale (1999Arundale, Robert B. 1999 “An Alternative Model and Ideology of Communication for an Alternative to Politeness Theory.” Pragmatics 9 (1): 119–153. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2008 2008 “Relating Japanese Emic Face Concepts and Face Constituting Theory.” University of Alaska Fairbanks, unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar, 2009 2009 “Face as Emergent in Interpersonal Communication: An Alternative to Goffman.” In Face, Communication, and Social Interaction, ed. by Francesca Bargiela-Chiappini, and Michael Haugh, 33–54. London: Equinox.Google Scholar, 2010 2010 “Constituting Face in Conversation: Face, Facework, and Interactional Achievement.” Journal of Pragmatics 42: 2078–2105. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2013a 2013a “Face as a Research Focus in Interpersonal Pragmatics: Relational and Emic Perspectives.” Journal of Pragmatics 58: 108–120. CrossrefGoogle Scholar) goes beyond a mere criticism of some issues simply left out or neglected by showing that all approaches on (im)politeness finally keep on maintaining an encoding/decoding model of the communication process in which face is conceived in terms of “person-centered attributes” (Arundale 2010 2010 “Constituting Face in Conversation: Face, Facework, and Interactional Achievement.” Journal of Pragmatics 42: 2078–2105. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2086). Without being explicit about this point, Arundale takes up an important issue already discussed by the communication scientist Gerold Ungeheuer (2010 [1983]Ungeheuer, Gerold 2010 [1983]Einführung in die Kommunikationstheorie, ed. by Karin Kolb, Jens Loenhoff, and H. Walter Schmitz. Münster: Nodus Publikationen.Google Scholar, 1987 1987 “Vor-Urteile über Sprechen, Mitteilen, Verstehen.” In Kommunikationstheoretische Schriften I: Sprechen, Mitteilen, Verstehen, ed. by Johann G. Juchem, 290–338. Aachen: Rader Publikationen.Google Scholar) in the seventies and eighties. At that time, Ungeheuer advocated a science of communication in its own right. Influenced by Karl Bühler’s (1982 [1934]Bühler, Karl 1982 [1934]Sprachtheorie: die Darstellungsfunktion der Sprache. Stuttgart: Fischer.Google Scholar) definition of speech action as a reciprocal guidance for behavior; by George H. Mead’s (1967 [1932])Mead, George H. 1967 [1932]Mind, Self, & Society from the Standpoint of a Social Behaviorist. Works of George Herbert Mead. Volume 1, ed. by Charles W. Morris. Chicago, London: The University of Chicago Press. CrossrefGoogle Scholar postulate of the emergence of mind and self from the social process of communication by means of symbolic signs in the social theory; as well as by Philipp Wegener’s studies (1991 [1885]Wegener, Philipp 1991 [1885]Untersuchungen über die Grundfragen des Sprachlebens, ed. by Konrad Koerner. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar) of the bidirectional pervasiveness of coordinative action, the pivotal question for Ungeheuer was the particular structure of communicative interaction, being in itself a social action. Yet in the course of the elaboration of his theory, Ungeheuer looked into the shortcomings of the pragmatic theories of his time and questioned the ubiquitous psychological notion of intentions. The latter was being unheedingly transferred to the communication level in the theory of conversational maxims, as well as in speech act theory, without any critical questioning whether these were truly ‘intentions’ which were being communicated, and what exactly the hearer was doing with them (Ungeheuer 2010 [1983]Ungeheuer, Gerold 2010 [1983]Einführung in die Kommunikationstheorie, ed. by Karin Kolb, Jens Loenhoff, and H. Walter Schmitz. Münster: Nodus Publikationen.Google Scholar, 56–62).

In a quite similar sense, the Conjoint Co-constituting Model of Communication tries to overcome some deeper misconceptions when it holds that face represents a relational and interactional phenomenon which arises in everyday talk or conduct, and should not be conceived as “a psychological construct that is exogenous to language use, but a dyadic accomplishment that is endogenous to using language” (Arundale 2010 2010 “Constituting Face in Conversation: Face, Facework, and Interactional Achievement.” Journal of Pragmatics 42: 2078–2105. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2079). That is why Arundale sees a high potential in conversation analysis for offering new ground for his Face Constituting Theory (FCT) in its radical shift away from the individualistic perspective to the interactional level of co-oriented action. Thus, he brings to the fore some key principles as an anchoring of face: namely (a) ‘Interpreting’ as a continually evolving activity; (b) the ‘Adjacent Placement Principle’ linking one person’s design or interpretation of the current utterance with the other person’s design or interpretation of the prior or the subsequent utterance; (c) the ‘Sequential Interpreting Principle’ referring to the interpretation of the utterances currently being produced on the basis of the knowledge and expectations, which rise in designing and interpreting prior utterances; and (d) the ‘Recipient Design Principle’ regarding the multiple ways in which speakers shape their utterances for others by taking into consideration the participant’s perspective.

Additionally taking prosodic and visual cues into consideration and departing therefore from a multimodal approach, special attention will be paid to Arundale’s dialectic of connectedness and separateness with regard to alignment and affiliation, respectively disalignment and disaffiliation. These concepts have gained a lot of attention in conversation analysis so far, e.g., in analyzing preference organization (Atkinson & Heritage 1984Atkinson, Maxwell, and John Heritage 1984 “Preference Organization.” In Strutures of Social Action. Studies in Conversation Analysis, ed. by Maxwell Atkinson, and John Heritage, 53–56. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar, 53–56), sequence organization (Stivers 2008Stivers, Tanya 2008 “When Nodding is a Token of Affiliation.” Research on Language & Social Interaction 41(1): 31–57. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2013 2013 “Sequence Organization.” In The Handbook of Conversation Analysis, ed. by Jack Sidnell, and Tanya Stivers, 191–209. Malden, Oxford, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar), turn allocation and turn sharing in moments of ‘assisted story-telling’ (Hayashi 2013Hayashi, Makoto 2013 “Turn Allocation and Turn Sharing.” In The Handbook of Conversation Analysis, ed. by Jack Sidnell, and Tanya Stivers, 167–190. Malden, Oxford, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar; Lerner 1992Lerner, Gene H. 1992 “Assisted Storytelling: Deploying Shared Knowledge as a Practical Matter.” Qualitative Sociology 15(3): 247–271. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2002 2002 “Turn-Sharing: The Choral Co-Production of Talk-in-Interaction.” In The Language of Turn and Sequence, Cecilia Ford, Barbara A. Fox, and Sandra A. Thompson, 225–256. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar; Stivers 2013 2013 “Sequence Organization.” In The Handbook of Conversation Analysis, ed. by Jack Sidnell, and Tanya Stivers, 191–209. Malden, Oxford, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar), as well as in the structural analysis of special genres such as jocular mockery (Haugh 2010 2010 “Jocular Mockery, (Dis)affiliation, and Face.” Journal of Pragmatics 42: 2106–2119. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2017 2017 “Jocular Language Play, Social Action and (Dis)affiliation in Conversational Interaction.” In Multiple perspectives on language play, ed. by Nancy Bell, 143–168. Boston, MA: De Gruyter Mouton.Google Scholar) or complaints (Drew & Walker 2009Drew, Paul, and Traci Walker 2009 “Going too Far: Complaining, Escalating and Disaffiliation.” Journal of Pragmatics 41: 2400–2414. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), but not too much attention as an ongoing important factor in co-building face.

We will see that the visible tokens of (dis)alignment and (dis)affiliation, as well as their absence can be directly linked to Arundale’s (2010 2010 “Constituting Face in Conversation: Face, Facework, and Interactional Achievement.” Journal of Pragmatics 42: 2078–2105. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2013a 2013a “Face as a Research Focus in Interpersonal Pragmatics: Relational and Emic Perspectives.” Journal of Pragmatics 58: 108–120. CrossrefGoogle Scholar) idea of connection face and separation face which he conceives as being linked dialectically. Following Baxter and Montgomery (1996)Baxter, Leslie A., and Barbara M. Montgomery 1996Relating: Dialogues and Dialectics. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar and their conception of human interaction, Arundale explains how this means that participants are constantly oscillating between unity and differentiation, “between being a social entity and being individual entities” (Arundale 2009 2009 “Face as Emergent in Interpersonal Communication: An Alternative to Goffman.” In Face, Communication, and Social Interaction, ed. by Francesca Bargiela-Chiappini, and Michael Haugh, 33–54. London: Equinox.Google Scholar, 42). Note that there are some quite revealing concepts from the field of intercultural communication studies in which the following dialectic categories, amongst others, brought to the fore crucial differences in cultural emphasis which might allude to connectedness and separateness in interaction: ‘association’ and ‘dissociation’ (Triandis 1984Triandis, Harry C. 1984 “A Theoretical Framework for the More Efficient Construction of Culture Assimilators.” International Journal of Intercultural Relations 8: 301–330. CrossrefGoogle Scholar); self-face concern as expressed in self-enhancement style versus other-face concern as expressed in self-effacement style (Ting-Toomey & Oetzel 2007Ting-Toomey, Stella, and John Oetzel 2007 “Intercultural Conflict: A Culture-Based Situational Model.” In Intercultural Communication. A Text with Readings, ed. by Pamela J. Cooper, Carolyn Calloway-Thomas, and Cheri J. Simonds, 121–130. Boston: Pearson Education.Google Scholar); as well as empirical results from intercultural pragmatics revealing, e.g. higher ‘affiliation’ in Spanish as opposed to Swedish conversations at work, pointing to the categories of ‘autonomy’ and ‘affiliation’ as void of socio-cultural values which may be filled in by culture-specific content (Bravo 2008Bravo, Diana 2008 “(Im)Politeness in Spanish-Speaking Socio-Cultural Contexts: Introduction.” Pragmatics 28(4): 563–576. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Fant 2006Fant, Lars 2006 “National Cultural Norms or Activity Type Conventions? Negotiation Talk and Informal Conversation Among Swedes and Spaniards.” SYNAPS 19: 1–22.Google Scholar). However, whereas Bravo’s concept shows some parallels to Arundale’s (2013b 2013b “Is Face the Best Metaphor? / ¿Es imagen social la mejor metáfora?Pragmática Sociocultural / Sociocultural Pragmatics. Revista Internacional sobre Lingüística del Español / An International Journal of Spanish Linguistics 1(2): 282–297. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 293), most intercultual approaches’ categories, like those of Ting-Toomey or Triandis, represent rather macro-categorical dichotomies for already being culturally biased as a category.

That last issue is also taken up by Arundale (2013a) 2013a “Face as a Research Focus in Interpersonal Pragmatics: Relational and Emic Perspectives.” Journal of Pragmatics 58: 108–120. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, who points to the impact culture has on face and brings out an important cognitive aspect which would have been left untouched by a mere conversation analytic approach. According to Arundale’s view, identifying culture-specific construals of face corresponds to the understanding of the first order, emic conceptualization of face, while FCT’s accomodation of the cultural community first order’s concept reflects a second order theory. Amongst others, he resorts to Haugh (2007) 2007 “Emic Conceptualisations of (Im)politeness and Face in Japanese: Implications for the Discursive Negotiation of Second Language Learner Identities.” Journal of Pragmatics 39 (4): 657–680. CrossrefGoogle Scholar who gives an example of an emic construal of face in Japanese, where ‘place’ (basho) represents a pivotal notion for acquiring an emic understanding of how face is interactionally achieved in Japanese culture, and can be defined as “encompassing one’s contextually-contingent and discursively enacted social role and position” (Haugh 2007 2007 “Emic Conceptualisations of (Im)politeness and Face in Japanese: Implications for the Discursive Negotiation of Second Language Learner Identities.” Journal of Pragmatics 39 (4): 657–680. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 660). Thereby, two opposing dimensions come into play forming a dialectic relation: (1) the ‘place one belongs’ (uchi) and (2) the ‘place one stands’ (tachiba). While the first one refers to group-based relationships, mainly family and its extension, along with its obligations and dependencies, the second dimension comprises the interactional achievement of one’s public persona or social standing including role and status. Haugh refers to cultural concepts choosing a perspective ‘from within’ as an ‘emic construal’.

Note that this perspective is in accordance with the basic assumptions of ‘cultural model’ and ‘cultural conceptualization’ as proposed by cultural linguistics, a perspective which should be added as an appropriate understanding of culture at this point: Many intercultural conceptions of culture are frequently concerned with polarizing macro-categories by putting entire cultures on scales as if they were essential, homogeneous, and monolithic entities; second generation conceptions on their part often claim the complete opposite and suggest a mere functional view of contingent, situational, and emergent factors coming into play in situ as a consequence of the transcultural and globalized world.

From an intercultural pragmatics’ angle, Kecskes (2014)Kecskes, Istvan 2014Intercultural Pragmatics. New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar tries to overcome this dualism of macro- and micro-perspectives by proposing a socio-cognitive approach. In a quite similar way, cultural linguistics put together influences from cognitive and anthropological linguistics suggesting a dynamic view of cultural models. Sharifian (2015 2015 “Cultural Linguistics.” In The Routledge Handbook of Language and Culture, ed. by Farzad Sharifian, 473–492. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar, 474–476) develops the term ‘cultural conceptualization’ by building on the notion of ‘distributed knowledge and cognition’ meaning that not all members of a cultural group share the same concepts, additionally emphasizing that cultural cognition embraces the cultural knowledge that emerges from the interaction between members of a cultural group across time and space. Therefore, it has to be seen as constantly being negotiated and renegotiated.

Thus, ‘culture’ itself might be associated with different kinds of social groups, a view that is also shared by Spencer-Oatey (2008Spencer-Oatey, Helen 2008 “Introduction.” In Culturally Speaking: Culture, Communication and Politeness Theory, ed. by Helen Spencer-Oatey, 1–8. London: Continuum.Google Scholar, 3–4). That is to say, culture is a term operationlized by a researcher in order to elaborate specific research questions; for our purposes here, culture is primarily constructed in ethnolinguistic terms and manifested through co-occurring regularities within this ethnolinguistic group, such as basic assumptions and values, orientations to life, beliefs, procedures, behavioural conventions, meanings, schemas, metaphors, metonymies, and prototypes. We will come back to this issue in the respective discussion sections of the sequences.

3.Methodological background

The empirical data originates from the corpus of the research group NUCOI.33.The project’s website can be visited at: http://​www​.letras​.ufmg​.br​/nucleos​/nucoi/ Primarily, the project aims to videotape interactions between participants with different ethnolinguistic as well as those between participants from the same cultural background for comparative purposes. The interactions represent arranged elicited conversations with conversation tasks (Kasper 2008Kasper, Gabriele 2008 “Data Collection in Pragmatics Research.” In Culturally Speaking. Culture, Communication and Politeness Theory, ed. by Helen Spencer-Oatey, 279–303. London: Continuum.Google Scholar, 287–288; Senft 1995Senft, Gunter 1995 “Elicitation.” In Handbook of Pragmatics: Manual, ed. by Jef Verschueren, Jan-Ola Östman, and Jan Blommaert, 577–581. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 579–580). In order to gain insight into the culture- and language-related reflexive processes displayed by the participants in situ and to make these visible on the (meta)communicative level, cultural and intercultural topics serve as a stimuli for eliciting discussions. The video footage should reveal how the participants co-construct and negotiate these topics as well as how they deal with (pre-)typifications on a verbal, vocal, and, visual plane. Consequently, in line with Henne and Rehbock (2001Henne, Helmut, and Helmut Rehbock 2001Einführung in die Gesprächsanalyse. Berlin, New York: De Gruyter. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 26–27), the conversation type might be classified as a (1) non-public, (2) discursive and non-practical, (3) naturally arranged, (4) face-to-face interaction (5) in a small group (6) with unprepared participants mostly unknown to one another (7) who are in a symmetrical relationship.

After recording, the videotapes are transcribed in the software program EXMARaLDA44. www​.exmaralda​.org (Schmidt & Wörner 2009Schmidt, Thomas, and Kai Wörner 2009 “EXMARaLDA – Creating, Analysing and Sharing Spoken Language Corpora for Pragmatic Research.” Pragmatics 19: 565–582. CrossrefGoogle Scholar) following the conventions of GAT 2 (Selting et al. 2011Selting, Margret et al. 2011 “A System for Transcribing Talk-in-Interaction: GAT 2; translated and adapted for English by Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen and Dagmar Barth-Weingarten.” Gesprächsforschung – Online-Zeitschrift zur verbalen Interaktion 12: 1–51; http://​www​.gespraechsforschung​-ozs​.de​/fileadmin​/dateien​/heft2011​/px​-gat2​-englisch​.pdf; last accessed on September 30, 2017.).55.The conventions used here can be found in Section 6.

The examples below stem from my post-doctoral research year at the University of Münster where I filmed four interactions: (1) an interaction between five Brazilian exchange students shortly after the beginning of their exchange program in Germany; (2) an interaction revolving around their real experiences shortly before their return to Brazil; (3) an interaction between five German students shortly before their studies in different European countries; and (4) an interaction between the same students shortly after they have returned to Germany. In both cases, the number of original participants had reduced to four in each second film shooting. In the German case, one participant decided to stay for a longer period abroad, and in the Brazilian case, one participant did not show up at the second shooting. The recorded interactions lasted between one and two hours. Cards asking about the expectations and first experiences in the new culture with respect to university, friendship, romantic relationships, communication, and society served as a stimulus in order to initiate and maintain the conversation. The respective arrangement of the participants of the two film shootings chosen for analysis (interaction 2 and 3) is shown in Figure 1 and 2:

Figure 1.Brazilian film shooting (2) – talk about real experiences (July of 2014)
Figure 1.
Figure 2.German film shooting (3) – talk about expectations (November of 2013)
Figure 2.

4.Analysis

4.1Brazilian example

B4 starts reading out loud the next question concerning intercultural situations which the participants experienced in Germany and which involved misunderstandings:

(1)

2014 MuBr02((28:58–31:06)) 66.The video can be watched on https://​drive​.google​.com​/file​/d​/0B4065pqma9RCOUJWcGZzYS0yMzA​/view​?usp​=sharing

01   B3:    eu lembro de uma de um mal-entendido de AU:la assim;=
            I remember a misunderstanding of a lesson like

02          =mas isso já faz bastante TEMpo também;
             but that’s also a while ago

03          (.) que hm (.) ah DUas colegas minhas,
                that hm ah two colleagues of mine

04          o trabalho <<all> a gente tava fazendo> o trabalho em TRIo?
            the work we were doing the work in a threesome

05          e elas (.) tinham uma saída de CAMpo,
            and they had field work to do

06       →  (-) e elas me disseram que por exemplo AH;
                and they told me that for example ah

07       →  va_vamos saIR: bá (.) por dois dIas;
            we are going away for two days

08       →  a gente não vai (.) não vai (.) enFIM.
            we won’t won’t okay

09       →  (-) conseguir TÁ na n:: no laboratÓrio;=enfim,
                be able to be at the laboratory okay

10          para conduzir experiMENto?=e tal;
            to conduct the experiment and so on

11          a gente começa na_na seGUNda.
            we begin on on Monday

12   B4:    ((begins to look at the messages on her cell phone))

13   B3:    °hh ao menos foi isso que_eu tinha entenDIdo.=°h
                at least it was this what I had understood

14          °h (.) quando_eu cheguei na seGUNda,=
                   when I arrived on Monday

15          =eu descobri que elas foram na SEXta.
             I found out that they had been there on Friday

16          (.) e não tinham me aviSAdo.
                and they didn’t tell me

17          (.) e daí elas falaram que passaram MUI:to trabalho;
                and then they told me that they had a lot of work

18          e na sexta fazendo MUIta de coisa;
            and were doing many things on Friday

19       →  monte de_de_d:_de: (.) ativiDAdes e tal,
            lot of of of activities and so on

20          (.) e DESde da <<gesticulating with hands> do;
                and since then

21          isso foi tipo na no fiNAL do de um mÓdulo-
            that was like at the end of the module

22          da_dessa de_do final dessa terceira semana para QUARta
            semana,
            of the this of the end of that third week to the fourth week

23          era o ÚLtimo última semAna?
            it was the last last week

24          °h elas ficaram MUIto ah: (-) de mA:l assim;=sabe;
               they were very ah angry like you know

25          tipo ficou um clima muito ru↑IM entre nós assim.>
            like there was a very bad mood between us so

26          e tipo (-) °h e mais <<moving hands, f> porque eu realmEnte
            não não tinha sido avi`SAdo direto.>
            and like and more because I really hadn’t hadn’t been informed rightly

27          <<gesticulating with hands> tipo do do que tava aconteCENdo.
                                        like what what was going on

28          (-) e: não foi por falta de busCAR:;=
                and it was not because of lack of willing

29          =porque mandei eMAIL e tudo mais?>
             because I sent emails and everything

30       →  (.) e (.) NOSsa. ((claps his hands on his thighs))
                and my god

31          ficou um clima muito ruIM assim tipo entre nÓ:s assim.
            there was a very bad atmosphere like between us like

32          até o trabalho fiNAL assim: bE:m;
            until the final work like very

33       →  nOssa (.) eu me senti MUIto: (-) <<p> sei lá.>
            my god I felt very don’t know

34          (--) retraÍ:do assim pra pra poder ajudAr e tudo mais,
                 restrained like to to be able to help and everything

35          assim tipo Elas me <<gesticulating> botavam numa situação tipo
            ah-
            like they put me in a situation like ah

36          (.) faz isso aQUI.
                do this here

37          e daí_daí é um negócio> sUperdiFÍcil assim?
            and then then it’s a very difficult thing like

38          °h e (.) tipo (.) uma_uma coisa que poderia ter sido (.)
            <<looking at B2 and circulating hands> fei_feito em três
            pessoas discu[TINdo,   ]
            and like a a something that could have been done by three persons discussing

39   B2:                 [hm   aHÃ;]

40   B3:    [seria !FÁ!cil de fazer rÁpido;>]
             it were easy to do it quickly

41   B2:    [((unintelligible, 1.4))        ]

42   B3:    [de fazer elas_fazer <<reaching out his hand> FAZ tudo;>]
             to do they do do everything

43   B2:    [((unintelligible 2.0))                                 ]

44   B1:    [((unintelligible 2.0))                                 ]

45   B3:    aquÍ e daí a gente disCUTE.
            here and there we discuss

46       →  e [aí tipo ↑PÔ.]
            and it’s like damn

47   B2:      [aHÃ,        ]

48          (--)

49   B3: →  ↑TÁ ↓be´lEza FAço `fIz,
             okay fine I do it I did

50          daí: (cê) chegava para discutir elas (falavam) tá TUdo
            errado.
            and then you came to discuss they said it’s all wrong

51          (.) vamo fazer aGOra.
                let’s do it now

52       →  daí tipo (.) ↑POxa-
            and then like damn

53   B2: →  <<p>NOSsa.>
                my god

54   B3:    (--) foi tipo a ˊpiOR experi`Ência que=eu tive aqui.
                 it was like the worst experience that I had here

55          e isso é mas tiPO:;
            and this is but like

56          (-) talVEZ;
                perhaps

57          eu não sei se isso foi (.) por mal-entenDIdo;
            I don’t know if this was because of a misunderstanding

58          sei LÁ mas;
            I don’t know but

59          °hhh (.) é:;
                     it’s

60          só não foi uma situação agraDÁvel.
            it just wasn’t a pleasant situation

61          (3.3)

62   B2:    hm.

63   B3:    não me recordo de mais NAda.
            I don’t remember anything else

64       →  (8.3)

65   B3:    <<looks at B4, strained voice> alguém  mAIs  (.)  para  contar
            alguma COIsa?
                                           anybody else to tell something

66       →  estamos FEItos.>
            are we done

67          [°hhh hh°                       ]

68   B4:    [<<laughing, p> esta:mos (.) É:;]
                            we are it is

69          acho que é [ISso.>                  ]
            I guess that’s it

70   B3:               [<<looking at B1> enTÃO.>]
                                         okay

As Stivers (2013 2013 “Sequence Organization.” In The Handbook of Conversation Analysis, ed. by Jack Sidnell, and Tanya Stivers, 191–209. Malden, Oxford, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar, 203) shows, storytellings are normally organized around stances, as opposed to adjacency pairs, which in turn are organized around action types. However, what is missing here is some kind of uptake on part of the co-participants. During the whole storytelling of B3, on the part of the co-participants, neither alignment nor affiliation is realized in an expectable way. None of the interactants adopts an evaluative stance, which is increasingly treated by all members as a noticeable absence – apart from B4, who has already adopted a special kind of ‘crossplay’ (Goffman 1981 1981Forms of Talk. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar, 134) by sending SMS on her cell phone already from the beginning (L12). Let us first draw our attention to possible completion points in which continuers normally occur, and which take “the stance that the speaker of that extended unit should continue talking” (Schegloff 1982Schegloff, Emanuel 1982 “Discourse as an Interactional Achievement: Some Uses of ‘uh huh’ and Other Things that Come Between Sentences.” In Analyzing Discourse: Taxt and Talk, ed. by Deborah Tannen, 71–93. Washington: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar, 81); or in which turn transitions point to the engagement of the co-participants. Thus, we can observe an increasing number of possible syntactic completion points with co-occurring prosodic cues and other hints such as pauses (L34, 36, 51, 54, 56, 61, 64), falling intonation (L 33, 34, 34, 50, 51), final accent (L36, 56), lengthening combined with falling intonation (L55, 59), and also verbal cues like the lexical fillers sei lá (don’t know; L33, 58) or tipo (like; L38) which occur when some reaction of the hearer is expected to come in. Nevertheless, in the present case, the speaker has to continue and constructs his turn incrementally, especially when the climax of the story has been told – from line 19 onward – because none of the co-particianpts engages in the interaction. At various points, B3 reaches a possible completion in his storytelling and the absence of mid-telling responses displaying affiliation or simply tokens of acknowledgment displaying alignment is implicitly treated as increasingly problematic. This is especially salient at the climax of the story, in L19, when a first possible completion is reached (and obviously not perceived as such), indicated by the rising to high pitch movement at the end of the line, as well as the short intake of breath at the following line. The next possible completion follows in L23 when B3 even explicitly uses a rising intonation,77.That is why Sacks, Schegloff and Jefferson (1974Sacks, Harvey, Emanuel A. Schegloff, and Gail Jefferson 1974 “A Simplest Systematics for the Organization of Turn-Taking for Conversation.” Language 50: 696–735. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 718) call them ‘recompleters’. but neither does he get any continuer (Schegloff 1982Schegloff, Emanuel 1982 “Discourse as an Interactional Achievement: Some Uses of ‘uh huh’ and Other Things that Come Between Sentences.” In Analyzing Discourse: Taxt and Talk, ed. by Deborah Tannen, 71–93. Washington: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar, 81) nor does anyone take the turn. So, at these two TCUs, the rising intonation does not serve as a signal for the continuation of the story but to induce, or co-build, a comment. Concurrently, on the visual plane B3 constantly alternates his gaze between the two remaining co-participants, while in turn they neither answer his gaze nor engage in any body movements during the whole sequence; any head nodds are also minimal. In contrast, B3 himself becomes increasingly animated in line with the increasing emotional involvement of his story. There is no nonverbal ‘mutual monitoring’ (Goodwin 1980Goodwin, Marjorie Harness 1980 “Processes of Mutual Monitoring Implicated in the Production of Description Sequences.” Sociological Inquiry 50: 303–317. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), the ‘complaining story’ (Drew & Walker 2009Drew, Paul, and Traci Walker 2009 “Going too Far: Complaining, Escalating and Disaffiliation.” Journal of Pragmatics 41: 2400–2414. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2405) or ‘moral indignation’ (Günthner 1999Günthner, Susanne 1999 “Thematisierung moralischer Normen in der interkulturellen Kommunikation.” In Kommunikative Konstruktion von Moral, ed. by Jörg Bergmann, and Thomas Luckmann, 325–351. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag.Google Scholar) does not develop in the prototypical way by the construction of ‘affective sympathy’ because none of the co-participants enter the scene to collabroativley co-construct the storytelling. In the light of the absence of any token of acknowledgment, B3 himself goes on with the story-expansion. Starting in L24, the “emphatic speech style” (Selting 1994Selting, Margret 1994 “Emphatic Speech Style: With Special Focus on the Prosodic Signaling of Heightened Emotive Involvement in Conversation.” Journal of Pragmatics 22: 375–408. CrossrefGoogle Scholar) now evolves with deeper emotional involvement, expressed by means of the increasing use of pitch jumps and movements, repeated and reinforced in L25, L46, L49, L52, as well as by the co-occurrence of nonverbal cues displayed on a gestural level and mostly expressed by moving his hand back and forth, as well as up and down. He also gives the expected reaction from the others in form of ‘response cries’ (Goffman 1981 1981Forms of Talk. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar, 100) by himself in line 30 and 33 when he metacommunicatively comments on the ongoing story through the interjection NOSsa/nOssa (my god), as well as in lines 46 and 52 with ↑PÔ and ↑POxa (damn), both described by Marcuschi (2006Marcuschi, Luiz A. 2006 “Atividades de compreensão na interação verbal.” In Estudos de Língua Falada. Variações e Confrontos, ed. by Dino Preti, 15–45. São Paulo: Associação Editorial Humanitas.Google Scholar, 41) as interjections which represent frequent discourse markers (marcadores conversacionais) with an exclamative or emphatic function in Brazilian talk. They are usually uttered by recipients to encourage the speaker to proceed with his talk and can be seen as a sign of ‘attunement’ (sintonia) between the speaker and the participant with regard to their engagement. In L38, he finally exclusively addresses B2 by persistantly shifting his gaze towards him and maintaining eye contact as long as he at least elicits a sign of minimal agreement from him (L39).

Although B2 finally contributes with the emotive interjection nossa (my god, L53) on the verbal level, there is no sign of “mutual monitoring” (Goodwin 1980Goodwin, Marjorie Harness 1980 “Processes of Mutual Monitoring Implicated in the Production of Description Sequences.” Sociological Inquiry 50: 303–317. CrossrefGoogle Scholar) on the prosodic level as the interjection is neither accentuated, nor lengthened, but whispered. Also, the nonverbal level is ‘silent’, i.e., there is, for example, no body movement or nodding, described by Stivers (2008)Stivers, Tanya 2008 “When Nodding is a Token of Affiliation.” Research on Language & Social Interaction 41(1): 31–57. CrossrefGoogle Scholar as one crucial hint for the interlocutor’s access to the teller’s stance toward the events.

At the end of the sequence, in L56, B3 himself initiates a final stancetaking through a retrospective and summarizing perspective by using a metacommunicative act through which he comes back to the question on the card and questions whether his story really represents a typical misunderstanding or not. After nobody takes the turn at the completion point in L60 só não foi uma situação agraDÁvel (it just wasn’t a pleasant situation), which is reinforced by a pause of 3.3 seconds in L61, B3 again comes to a conclusion, now on a metalevel, with regard to a possible further response to the question on the card: não me recordo de mais NAda (I don’t remember anything else, L63), again followed by a now even more markable pause of 8.3 seconds. Every co-participant lowers their eyes and even B4 stops sending messages via cell phone and establishes eye contact with B3 who in turn picks up her glance and asks if there is any other topic they could talk about, or if they should finish the conversation, underscored by a strikingly strained voice (L65–66).

We have in fact a ‘deviant case’ of a storytelling which was incrementally expanded as a consequence of the absence of tokens of alignment and affiliation on the part of the co-participants visible on the verbal, vocal, and visual plane. Now, we have to further ask to which extent face issues come into play here if we recall one basic postulate of FCT, namely, that face is a continuous, co-constructed, and ongoing byproduct of interaction defined by the tensional interplay of connectedness and separateness. To a certain extent, I would agree with Goffman to describe this behavior of the interlocutors as a kind of “avoidance process” (Goffman 1967 [1955]Goffman, Erving 1967 [1955] “On Face-Work: An Analysis of Ritual Elements in Social Interaction.” In Interaction Ritual. Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior, ed. by Erving Goffman, 5–45. New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar, 15–16) since they do not actively prevent B3 from moving on with his story but simply minimize their reaction by showing no support to continue. Yet, what is more striking here is that, as a reaction to this, B3 does not avoid or cut off the topic he is talking about but, in contrast, goes into more depth by outlining all details of the story and displaying strong emotional involvement and indignation. In turn, the prolonged silence displayed by the co-participants cannot be simply analyzed in terms of ‘negative impoliteness’, as a personal strategy of ‘withheld politeness’ (Culpeper 1996Culpeper, Jonathan 1996 “Towards an Anatomy of Impoliteness.” Journal of Pragmatics 25: 349–367. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 357; 2005 2005 “Impoliteness and the Weakest Link.” Journal of Politeness Research 1 (1): 35–72. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 42; Bousfield 2008Bousfeld, Derek 2008Impoliteness in Interaction. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 122–123) but rather as a kind of “bone-crushing silence” (silêncio esmagador) in the sense of Marlangeon (2017Marlangeon, Silvia Kaul de 2017 “Contribuições para o estudo da descortesia verbal.” In Descortesia e Cortesia: Expressões de Cultura, ed. by Ana Lúcia Tinoco Cabral, Isabel Roboredo Seara, and Manoel Francisco Guaranha, 93–108. São Paulo: Cortez.Google Scholar, 99): While the storyteller tries to overcome the gap by making his narrated actions accountable by justifying his stance (L13, 16, 26–29, 38, 40), B1 and B2 seem to simply wait for him to finish. But why are silence and congealment chosen to calibrate face? Observing the interplay of connectedness and separateness is, however, more helpful because the pivotal point is not about (im)politeness but the calibration of the interaction. B1 and B2 are acting consistently, and, moreover, do not display any open disagreement regarding B3’s remarks. Even minimal, they contribute to maintain the conversation as it is reflected in the way B2 displays his emotive interjection nossa (my god, L53), which lexically articulates with relational connectedness but prosodically displays separatedness. In the same way, B3’s turns oscillate between articulating with connection and with separation: the connection becomes evident by the constant structurally furnishing completion points in which connection face can be created by tokens of affiliation; in contrast, the persistence of those procedures, as well as the emotional involvement included, concurrently articulate with separation by not recognizing the lack of support of the co-participants. This reveals that connection and separation face have to be understood as relational phenomena and not as personal needs.

The microanalytical tools used so far in our analysis are limited to the sequential analysis itself, but in order to at least allude to the richness of face as constituted in social interaction we also have to frame this instance of separation and connection in cultural and contextual terms although we are not able to illustrate but only point to some revealing data in this article: The history of the participants’ interaction both prior to and within the talk might be instructive in this respect; also the role of the bystander behind the camera should not be underestimated. As shown in Figure 1, B3 and B4 sit directly across from the camera, while B1 and B2 are located rather collaterally to it. It is crucial to underscore that especially the communicative genre – an elicited conversation – brings unavoidably to the fore the well known ‘observer’s paradox’ (Labov 1972Labov, William 1972Sociolinguistic Patterns. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania.Google Scholar, 209), which is nevertheless not directly related to the present study here: On the one hand, I agree with Duranti (1997Duranti, Alessandro 1997Linguistic Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 118) who points to the fact that dealing with the paradox means to understand the different ways in which the presence of the camera, tape etc., as well as the imagined researcher, plays a role in the activity that is being studied, and, as a consequence, influences that interaction but not necessarily adulterates it. He also emphasizes that despite that presence, in the end, people are not able to invent social behavior, including language, out of the blue, and that the question of ‘being onstage’ is finally also a question of degree. On the other hand, for our aims, the ‘presence’ of the bystander is not seen as a hindrance but in fact quite illuminative. Note that already in the first video, B3 displays the role of presenting more controversial opinions and discusses delicate issues keyed more seriously than the other participants do as is shown, for example, in a sequence analyzed by Schröder (2017 2017 “The Interactive (Self-)reflexive Construction of Culture-Related Key Words.” In Current Issues in Intercultural Pragmatics, ed. by Istvan Kecskes, and Stavros Assimakopoulos, 182–205. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 192–197) where the four exchange students talk about Germans being more direct than Brazilians. As opposed to the other four participants who tell short episodes, B3 reports his story with high negative emotional involvement which becomes increasingly expanded. Also here, he gets no backchanneling signals and is apparently semi-directed to the German researcher, the bystander behind the camera. In contrast, when the others talk about negative first impressions or expectations based on things they have heard from others or read somewhere, they tell these small stories by keying them in a joking manner. Such a mode can be seen as part of what I have introduced above as a ‘cultural model’, meaning that Brazilians frequently tend to tell even negative stories they have experienced as if they were funny anecdotes. In Brazilian Portuguese, there are two terms for ‘to play’: jogar and brincar. While jogar might be literally translated by ‘to play’, brincar means far more than only ‘to tease sb.’:

Os termos ‘brincar’ e ‘brincadeira’ são de difícil captação para quem não fala o português, já que não significam apenas ‘fazer graça’, mas, também, ‘agir com facilidade’. Este profundo significado do verbo aparece na expressão ‘o brasileiro trabalha brincando e brinca trabalhando’ […] um desprendimento quase alegre, espontâneo, e quase sacro. Significa o homo ludens.(Flusser 1998Flusser, Vilém 1998Fenomenologia do Brasileiro: Em Busca de um Novo Homem. Rio de Janeiro: Editora da Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro.Google Scholar, 170)88.“The terms ‘brincar’ and ‘brincadeira’ are difficult to understand for whoever does not speak Portuguese since they do not simply mean ‘to be funny’ but also ‘to act easily’. This deep meaning of the verb appears in the expression ‘the Brazilian works playing and plays working’ […] a detachment almost hilarious, spontaneous, and almost sacred. It means the homo ludens.”

This special speech style is additionally reflected in the expression rir para não chorar (laugh to avoid crying). The fact that B3 was revealed to be the one who looked into the camera more often than the others, while the other three partly try to avoid making eye contact, shows that B3 is more engaged and takes the specific task very seriously. He does not only evoke eye contact but also faces the camera more boldly. Interestingly, B1, who is the most invisible for the camera, has a continuing faint smile on his face during the storytelling of B3, and B4, when re-entering the scene, also smiles without any discernable reason.

There is a a growing field of studies in intercultural pragmatics and face which point to the relation between speech styles and cultural construals, explicitly or implicitly related to the idea of cultural cognition, such as the already mentioned study on kao (face) in Japanese (Haugh 2005Haugh, Michael 2005 “The Importance of ‘Place’ in Japanese Politeness: Implications for Cross-Cultural and Intercultural Analyses.” Intercultural Pragmatics 2: 41–68. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), the concept of guanxi (face) in Chinese (Chang 2016Chang, Wei-Lin Melody 2016Face and Face Practices in Chinese Talk-in-Interaction. London: Equinox.Google Scholar), respeto and confianza in Mexican relational communication (Covarrubias 2002Covarrubias, Patricia O. 2002Culture, Communication and Cooperation: Interpersonal Relations and Pronominal Address in a Mexican Organization. Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar) or shekasteh-nafsi (modesty) in Persian (Sharifian 2011Sharifian, Farzad 2011Cultural Conceptualisations and Language. Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). Turning to Brazilian communication and considering the ‘playing’ attitude described in the previous paragraph, there can be seen a relation to a broader cultural model that anthropological studies have labelled ‘Barroque style’ (Bastide 1971Bastide, Roger 1971Brasil – Terra de Contrastes. São Paulo: Difusão Européia do Livro.Google Scholar, 60; Ianni 1993Ianni, Octavio 1993O Labirinto Latino-Americano. Petrópolis: Vozes.Google Scholar, 120) and ‘jeitinho’ (a special way of doing things) (DaMatta 1997 [1979]DaMatta, Roberto 1997 [1979]Carnavais, malandros e heróis. Para uma sociologia do Dilema Brasileiro. Rio de Janeiro: Rocco.Google Scholar; Ferreira et al. 2012Ferreira, Maria C. et al. 2012 “Unraveling the Mystery of Brazilian Jeitinho: A Cultural Exploration of Social Norms.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 38(3): 331–344. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Barbosa 2006Barbora, Livia 2006O jeitinho brasileiro. A arte de ser mais igual do que os outros. Rio de Janeiro: Elsevier; Editora Campus.Google Scholar). Bringing out criticism in a more playful way in Brazilian culture is described as pervading everyday conversation and is explained by Sorj (2000Sorj, Bernardo 2000A Nova Sociedade Brasileira. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar Editor Ltda.Google Scholar, 31) in the following way: “É uma cultura pouco propensa à confrontação ou à crítica aberta, já que a pessoa nunca sabe quando poderá ‘precisar’ da outra num sistema cuja base de funcionamento é o favor e a boa vontade”.99.“…it is a culture which is less prone to confrontation or open criticism since one never knows when one will ‘need’ the other person again in a system whose functional basis are favor and good will.” This preference for ‘being opaque’,, also called jeitinho, implies the idea of a certain cultural ‘skill’ or ‘flexibility’ developed in order to survive in a non-functional society where there is a necessity for a constant situational adaption and where the line between the private and public sphere is quite blurred. As a consequence, in Brazilian everyday communication direct disagreement is avoided and face saving strategies which show affiliation are preferred (Meireles 2001Meireles, Selma Martins 2001 “A negação sintática em diálogos do alemão e do português do Brasil.“ Pandaemonium Germanicum 5: 139–168. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2016Meireles, Selma M. 2016 “Uso de verbos com valor epistêmico no Trabalho da Face por falantes alemães e brasileiros.” InAnais do I Congresso da ABEG, ed. by Helmut P. E. Galle, and S. Valéria, 395–401. São Paulo: ABEG Editora Associação Brasileira de Estudos Germanísticos (ABEG).Google Scholar); the phatic, poetic, and appellative speech styles are more salient (Schröder 2010 2010 “Speech Styles and Functions of Speech From a Cross-Cultural Perspective.” Journal of Pragmatics 42: 466–476. CrossrefGoogle Scholar); and as a result of the predominance of personal relationships, the ‘kind-heartedness’ (bondade) which has been condensed in the Brazilian narrative of the ‘cordial man’ (homem cordial; Buarque de Holanda 1995 [1936]Buarque de Holanda, Sérgio 1995 [1936] “O Homem Cordial.” In: Vanguardas Latino-Americanas. Polêmicas, Manifestos e Textos Críticos, ed. by Jorge Schwartz, 553–556. São Paulo: Editora da Universidade de São Paulo.Google Scholar, 553–556) sustains the wish for harmonious relations, affiliation, as well as agreement, as can be shown even in today’s Brazilian interaction and communication practices (Schröder 2014a 2014a “The Interplay of Politeness, Conflict Styles, Rapport Management and Metacommunication in Brazilian-German Interaction”. Intercultural Pragmatics 11: 57–82. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; b 2014b “Interkulturelle Kommunikation zwischen Deutschen und Brasilianern im Lichte von Strategien der (Un-)höflichkeit, divergierenden Konfliktstilen und Formen des Beziehungsmanagements.” In Interkulturalität unter dem Blickwinkel von Semantik und Pragmatik, ed. by Csaba Földes, 207–224. Tübingen: Narr, Francke Attempto.Google Scholar; Schröder & Viterbo Lage 2014Schröder, Ulrike, and Carolina de Viterbo Lage 2014 “Estratégias de polidez em momentos de dissensão: análise de uma interação entre estudantes brasileiros e alemães.” Revista de Estudos da Linguagem 22 (1): 153–179. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Viterbo Lage 2013Viterbo Lage, Caroline de 2013Comunicação Interpessoal e Intercultural entre Brasileiros e Alemães: Análise dos Momentos de Conflito. Belo Horizonte: Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Dissertação de Mestrado.Google Scholar). This topic was objective of a study on face issues that compared the Argentinean and Brazilian version of Big Brother: Barbosa de Lima (2012)Barbosa de Lima, Fábio 2012 “Parecer bom x parecer justo – o pedido de desculpas na gestão da imagem nas interações mediáticas.” Dissertação de Mestrado. São Paulo: Universidade de São Paulo.Google Scholar reveals two completely different tactics to get the audience’s vote: While the Argentinean habitants of the public housing being filmed were oriented toward an image of being coherent personalities who defend their opinions and stand for their convictions, the Brazilians were more oriented toward an image of being nice and avoiding the expression of strong opinions or the defense of polemic attitudes. In our example, B3 obviously displays a more confrontative style, perhaps also influenced by the task he is involved in, whereas the other Brazilian participants maintain the culturally patterned way of telling amusing ‘small stories’ when confronted with questions about cultural differences which could go in a negative direction.

4.2German example

The German sequence chosen for comparison unfolds quite differently. While the Brazilian example stems from the second shooting, namely, the shooting which was repeated after the year abroad, the German example has been singled out from the first conversation before the participants’ stay in the foreign country. Here, the same questions are asked but still with regard to their expectations.

During the eight minutes before the following sequence, G2 has already twice alluded to his expectation that he will not experience significant cultural differences. Thereby, the questions on the cards are downgraded to a certain extent. He is now returning to his claim when the others have just begun to talk about possible divergences concerning the concept of friendship. However, in this case, he evokes a quite opposite reaction, articulated by G1, whereas before nobody had directly challenged his statements:

(2)

2013MuGe01 ((15:15–15:41)) 1010.The video can be watched on https://​drive​.google​.com​/file​/d​/0B4065pqma9RCTTRwYnJpV0Zwdjg​/view​?usp​=sharing

01   G2:    also ich würd das genauso sehn wie <<points with his open hand
            to G3> DU das gesagt hast.>
            so I would see this exactly as you have said

02          das kommt halt (.) ECHT darauf an;
            it really depends upon

03          was das für ↑LEUte sind;
            what kind of people they are

04          nicht unbedingt auf die nationaliTÄT;
            not necessarily on the nationality

05          (-) also (.) das is ja individu[ELL ob man sich jetzt ]
                I mean it’s just individual if you

06   G1:                                   [<<aspirated> ja::;>   ]
                                                         yeah

07   G2:    ((changes viewing direction to G1))

08   G1:  → ´WEISS ich nich.
            I don’t know

09        → <<tilting her head side to side> das k es is immer s_sehr
          → diplomatisch AUS[gedrückt;]
            it’s always expressed very diplomatically

10   G2:                    [haHA;    ]

11   G2:    ((looks briefly into the camera))

12   G1:    aber WENN man;
            but if you

13          man hört ja auch von leuten die in aMErika sagen;
            you also hear from people who say in america

14          eh WA:RN,
            uh were

15          die danach einfach erZÄHlen;
            who after this simply tell

16          ↑es (.) !IST! (.) sO:,
            it is like this

17          dass ameriKAner (.) da irgendwie viel schneller auf einen
            zugEhn;
            that americans somehow approach you faster

18          und sagen ↑ey komm lass uns TREFfen und so;
            and say hey let’s get together and so on

19          aber das sind dann keine freundschaften für_s LE:ben.
            but those are no friendships for life

G2 is recalling the position that friendship rather builds on individual than national preferences when G1 chimes in by first overlapping with G2 in L05–06 and interposing the strongly lengthened and deeply aspirated particle ja:: (yeah), followed by the formulation of her doubts on G2’s stance introduced by the formulaic expression WEISS ich nicht (I don’t know). This turn-initial and preparatory Yes might be classically interpreted as a negative politeness strategy described by Brown and Levinson (1987 [1978]Brown, Penelope, and Stephen Levinson 1987[1978]Politeness Some Universals in Language Usage. x> Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 144) in the following way: “Do not presume/assume (keep ritual distance from the interlocutor)”. As in this case, G1 does not position herself unequivocally in opposition to G2. Furthermore, she continues her statement by choosing a metacommunicative act: es ist immer sehr diplomatisch AUSgedrückt (it’s always expressed very diplomatically; L09) through which she depersonalizes the addressed interlocutor, an effect stressed in combination with the generic passive construction ‘it is + adv + part’ instead of the specific active construction ‘you have + part + do + adv’. On a nonverbal level, this strategy is additionally underpinned by her tilting her head side to side, thus signaling consideration or indecision. The effect is a disclosure of G2’s comment, revealed by G2’s proper reaction to G1, represented by the nervous laugh token in L10 and his direct short glance into the camera in L11. As Schwitalla (2001Schwitalla, Joachim 2001 “Lächelndes Sprechen und Lachen als Kontextualisierungsverfahren.” In Sprachkontakt, -vergleich, -variation, ed. by Adamzik Kirsten, and Helen Christen, 325–344. Tübingen: Niemeyer.Google Scholar, 336) shows, such laugh tokens often have the function of reducing the relevance of a problematic assertion and “saving one’s own face in moments when something embarrassing has been brought to light”. The fact that G2 quickly looks for the camera endorses the fact that his performance has been addressed at the bystander but that at the same time he now feels ‘caught’.

After her mitigated introductory turn in L16, G1 finally takes a stance in which she places herself more openly in opposition to G2’s position when she picks up an example of cultural relativism, emphasizing its validity by means of the verum accent (Höhle 1992Höhle, Tilmann N. 1992 “Über Verum-Fokus im Deutschen.” In Informationsstruktur und Grammatik, ed. by Joachim Jacobs, 112–141. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), which she puts on the corpula: ↑es (.) !IST! so: (it IS like this). Höhle coins this term to point to the effect caused by placing the main accent on the finite verb, through which the speaker does not present the action or event referred to by the finite verb as new information, but instead merely asserts a supposed truth.

Although at first glance, and by what we have observed so far, this brief analysis seems to more accurately coincide with a traditional occidentally biased face analysis, we should take a closer look and compare the sequence to the Brazilian example: Interestingly, this short moment of ‘embarrassment’ does not cause any conflict or any ‘deviant situation’ with regard to the way the sequence proceeds. This could be seen as an indication for how culture plays a role in connection and separation face.

First, it might be helpful to take a brief look at the contextual background: The two students, G1 and G2, know each other very well and are probably in an intimate relationship, which is revealed especially in the second conversation six months later where they talk about their living together in Poland. In this sense, face for the two participants has to also be seen as the interpretation of “our-relationship-at-this-moment” (Arundale 2013a 2013a “Face as a Research Focus in Interpersonal Pragmatics: Relational and Emic Perspectives.” Journal of Pragmatics 58: 108–120. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 110). So, the situation could be conceived in terms of trying to tune the right level between two conflicting levels of interaction:

The first level to be considered is the intimate relationship in which the German cultural value of ‘coherence’ comes into play, along with ‘openness’, as ‘saying what one really thinks’ plays an important role: Studies on divergent communication styles have brought out (Schröder 2003Schröder, Ulrike 2003 Brasilianische und deutsche Wirklichkeiten . Eine vergleichende Fallstudie zu kommunikativ erzeugten Sinnwelten. Wiesbaden: Deutscher Universitätsverlag. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2010 2010 “Speech Styles and Functions of Speech From a Cross-Cultural Perspective.” Journal of Pragmatics 42: 466–476. CrossrefGoogle Scholar) that the German subjects under analysis tended to assign a higher value to the correspondence between words, thoughts, and acts than the Brazilian subjects in these studies. DaMatta (1997 [1979])DaMatta, Roberto 1997 [1979]Carnavais, malandros e heróis. Para uma sociologia do Dilema Brasileiro. Rio de Janeiro: Rocco.Google Scholar has shown the extent to which the Brazilian concept jeitinho incorporates a culture-specific technique of escaping from direct forms of talk, as we have discussed in the preceding section. By contrast, the cultural value of ‘coherence’, as well as the open expression of disagreement in German communication is frequently related to the wish to be able to count on one’s counterpart’s statements as empirical studies revealed especially in opposition to other speech communicties (House 2010House, Juliane 2010 “Impoliteness in Germany: Intercultural Encounters in Everyday and Instutional Talk.” Intercultural Pragmatics 7(4): 561–595. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Philburn 2011Philburn, Rob 2011 “Aspects of English and German Sociable Selfhood.” In Intercultural competence: concepts, challenges, evaluations, ed. by Arnd Witte, and Theo Harden, 411–435. Bern: Peter Lang.Google Scholar; Schröder 2014a 2014a “The Interplay of Politeness, Conflict Styles, Rapport Management and Metacommunication in Brazilian-German Interaction”. Intercultural Pragmatics 11: 57–82. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2014b 2014b “Interkulturelle Kommunikation zwischen Deutschen und Brasilianern im Lichte von Strategien der (Un-)höflichkeit, divergierenden Konfliktstilen und Formen des Beziehungsmanagements.” In Interkulturalität unter dem Blickwinkel von Semantik und Pragmatik, ed. by Csaba Földes, 207–224. Tübingen: Narr, Francke Attempto.Google Scholar). It might be instructive to take a brief look at the historical background that has favored such a focus on coherence since the beginnings of the functional differentiation of German society starting with the Renaissance: (a) the persistent repercussions of literary language as a kind of ‘objectivation’ of otherwise fugitive talk, (b) the interiorization process favored by the arising of Protestant values, as well as (c) the increasing dichotomy between public and private life (Elias 1997aElias, Norbert 1997aÜber den Prozeß der Zivilisation. Soziogenetische und psychogenetische Untersuchungen. Erster Band. Wandlungen des Verhaltens in den weltlichen Oberschichten des Abendlandes. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar, 110; 1997b 1997bÜber den Prozeß der Zivilisation. Soziogenetische und psychogenetische Untersuchungen. Zweiter Band. Wandlungen der Gesellschaft – Entwurf zu einer Theorie der Zivilisation. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar, 409–420; Luhmann 1989Luhmann, Niklas 1989 “Gesellschaftsstruktur und Semantik. Studien zur Wissenssoziologie der modernen Gesellschaft. Band 3.” Franfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar, 130–180; Weber 1991 [1904]Weber, Max 1991 [1904]Die protestantische Ethik I. Eine Aufsatzsammlung, ed. by Johannes Winckelmann. Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus Gerd Mohn.Google Scholar), to name just a few important factors. To know that G1 and G2 have an intimate relationship is hence an indispensable detail in the reconstruction of what happens here. Or, to put it in the words of Arundale (2010 2010 “Constituting Face in Conversation: Face, Facework, and Interactional Achievement.” Journal of Pragmatics 42: 2078–2105. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2013a 2013a “Face as a Research Focus in Interpersonal Pragmatics: Relational and Emic Perspectives.” Journal of Pragmatics 58: 108–120. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), in order to co-build connectedness on the intimate level, overt disagreement might be an appropriate account. Although G1 uses certain downgraders for expressing her opposing opinion, there is no delay before the production of her disagreement as could be expected in the case of dispreferred activities (Pomerantz 1984Pomerantz, Anita 1984 “Agreeing and Disagreeing with Assessments: Some Features of Preferred/Dispreferred Turn Shapes.” In Structures of Social Action. Studies in Conversation Analysis, ed. by Maxwell Atkinson, and John Heritage, 57–101. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar, 53).

The second level, which is in conflict with the described first level, is represented by the somehow anonymous public relationship with the other participants (who do not know each other), as well as with the bystander behind the camera constituting the specific communicative genre of ‘elicited conversation’. On this level, it might be in fact rude to disagree quite openly and to cause embarrassment in such a way that the social distance of such a discussion could be negatively affected. Again, the Labovian paradox (1972Labov, William 1972Sociolinguistic Patterns. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania.Google Scholar, 209) might play a certain role at this point, although the presence of the other participants could cause the same effect.

5.Concluding remarks

As we have seen, FCT appears to be an adequate approach for understanding the phenomenon of face from a communication-based, cultural- and context-dependent analysis of multimodal interaction. As it integrates conversation analysis-grounded principles from a participant’s point of view, it represents an epistemical, holistic attempt to overcome the shortcomings of intention-oriented (im)politeness notions of face. The two examples discussed departed from a fine-grained analysis and revealed that a mere person-centered view is too reductive to accurately take into consideration all aspects which mark the situationally and culturally anchored dynamics of talk. According to Arundale, FCT offers a conceptualization of face as relational connection and separation, as endogenous to talk-in-interaction rather than exogenous as in many existing theories.

However, the embedding of the results in the broader context of the history of the whole interaction(s), as well as the history between the interactants themselves, next to the framing of the revealed data with regard to the cultural background, shows us that we have to face the issue that it would be reductive to not take background, as well as theoretical knowledge, into consideration. Nevertheless, as we have seen, although there is an undeniable connection to dualistic categories as established by intercultural communication studies (House 2010House, Juliane 2010 “Impoliteness in Germany: Intercultural Encounters in Everyday and Instutional Talk.” Intercultural Pragmatics 7(4): 561–595. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Schröder 2014a 2014a “The Interplay of Politeness, Conflict Styles, Rapport Management and Metacommunication in Brazilian-German Interaction”. Intercultural Pragmatics 11: 57–82. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; b 2014b “Interkulturelle Kommunikation zwischen Deutschen und Brasilianern im Lichte von Strategien der (Un-)höflichkeit, divergierenden Konfliktstilen und Formen des Beziehungsmanagements.” In Interkulturalität unter dem Blickwinkel von Semantik und Pragmatik, ed. by Csaba Földes, 207–224. Tübingen: Narr, Francke Attempto.Google Scholar; Hofstede 1983Hofstede, Geert 1983 “National Culture in Four Dimensions. A Research Based Theory of Cultural Differences among Nations.” International Studies of Management and Organization 13: 46–74. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), such as German directness and explicitness in contrast to Brazilian indirectness and implicitness, those categories alone do not explain how participants orient themselves towards such concepts in concrete talk with regard to each other and the bystander behind the camera when face is negotiated, as well as how the emic cultural concept of face constitutes co-participant’s attitudes displayed by connectedness and separation.

Acknowledgements

First of all, I wish to express my deep gratitude to Robert B. Arundale for his interest in my paper and whose extensive and profound comments helped me improve it substantially. I would further like to thank CNPq (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development) for the support by the Fellowship Program Productivity in Research (2015-2018), FAPEMIG (The Minas Gerais State Research Foundation) for the Fellowship Research Program Minas Gerais (2015-2017 and 2017-2019) CAPES (Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel) and the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation for the one-year financial support within the program Capes-Humboldt Research Fellowship for experienced researchers at the University of Münster.

Notes

1.Núcleo de Estudos de Comunicação (Inter-)Cultural em Interação: http://​www​.letras​.ufmg​.br​/nucleos​/nucoi​/. The site is also available in English.
2.See the special issues in Journal of Pragmatics: Face in Interaction (Volume 42, Number 8, 2010); Identity Perspectives on Face and (Im)Politeness (Volume 39, Number 4, 2007); About Face (Volume 35, Numbers 10–11, 2003), as well as the special issue in Pragmatics: Relational work in Facebook and discussion boards/fora (Volume 25. Number 1, 2015). See also the volume edited by Francesca Bargiela-Chiappini and Michael Haugh: Face, Communication and Social Interaction (2009 2009 “Face as Emergent in Interpersonal Communication: An Alternative to Goffman.” In Face, Communication, and Social Interaction, ed. by Francesca Bargiela-Chiappini, and Michael Haugh, 33–54. London: Equinox.Google Scholar).
3.The project’s website can be visited at: http://​www​.letras​.ufmg​.br​/nucleos​/nucoi/
5.The conventions used here can be found in Section 6.
7.That is why Sacks, Schegloff and Jefferson (1974Sacks, Harvey, Emanuel A. Schegloff, and Gail Jefferson 1974 “A Simplest Systematics for the Organization of Turn-Taking for Conversation.” Language 50: 696–735. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 718) call them ‘recompleters’.
8.“The terms ‘brincar’ and ‘brincadeira’ are difficult to understand for whoever does not speak Portuguese since they do not simply mean ‘to be funny’ but also ‘to act easily’. This deep meaning of the verb appears in the expression ‘the Brazilian works playing and plays working’ […] a detachment almost hilarious, spontaneous, and almost sacred. It means the homo ludens.”
9.“…it is a culture which is less prone to confrontation or open criticism since one never knows when one will ‘need’ the other person again in a system whose functional basis are favor and good will.”
11.short, adopted version of GAT2 according to Selting et al. (2011)Selting, Margret et al. 2011 “A System for Transcribing Talk-in-Interaction: GAT 2; translated and adapted for English by Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen and Dagmar Barth-Weingarten.” Gesprächsforschung – Online-Zeitschrift zur verbalen Interaktion 12: 1–51; http://​www​.gespraechsforschung​-ozs​.de​/fileadmin​/dateien​/heft2011​/px​-gat2​-englisch​.pdf; last accessed on September 30, 2017..

Transcription conventions1111.short, adopted version of GAT2 according to Selting et al. (2011)Selting, Margret et al. 2011 “A System for Transcribing Talk-in-Interaction: GAT 2; translated and adapted for English by Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen and Dagmar Barth-Weingarten.” Gesprächsforschung – Online-Zeitschrift zur verbalen Interaktion 12: 1–51; http://​www​.gespraechsforschung​-ozs​.de​/fileadmin​/dateien​/heft2011​/px​-gat2​-englisch​.pdf; last accessed on September 30, 2017..

[   ]

overlap and simultaneous talk

[   ]

=

fast, immediate continuation with a new turn or

segment (latching)

and_uh

cliticizations within units

hm_hm

bi-syllabic tokens

(.)

micro pause, up to 0.2 sec.

(-)

short pause of 0.2–0.5 sec.

(--)

intermediary pause of 0.5–0.8 sec.

(2.0)

measured pause of 2.0 sec.

:, ::, :::

lengthening (0.2–0.5 sec.; 0.5–0.8 sec.; 0.8–1.0 sec.)

((laughs))

non-verbal vocal actions and events

<<laughing> >

para-verbal and non-verbal action as accompanying

speech with indication of scope

<<acc>

accelerando, becoming faster

(may i)

assumed wording

(i say/let’s say)

possible alternatives

ºhh hhº

in- and outbreaths

(xxx)

one unintelligible syllable

acCENT

focus accent

accEnt

secondary accent

ac!CENT!

extra strong accent

?

rising to high final pitch movement of intonation unit

,

rising to mid final pitch movement of intonation unit

-

level final pitch movement of intonation unit

;

falling to mid final pitch movement of intonation unit

.

falling to low final pitch movement of intonation unit

ˆSO

rising-falling accent pitch movement

ˇSO

falling-rising accent pitch movement

´SO

rising accent pitch movement

`SO

falling accent pitch movement

pitch upstep

pitch downstep

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Address for correspondence

Ulrike Schröder

Faculdade de Letras

Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

Av. Antônio Carlos, 6627

CEP 31270–901 Belo Horizonte – MG

Brazil

schroederulrike@gmx.com