Linguistic Pragmatic Background for the Study of the Speech Act of Apologising: From Theory to Practice
The European Union facilitates exchange of thought and work on a scale not known to Europeans ever before. Therefore it is no surprise that the EU advocates a plurilingual citizen with a high level of intercultural awareness, with a vast knowledge of both the EU itself, and its member states, their cultures and values. However, with so many member states, cultures and values at play, being a truly successful intercultural communicator in several languages seems to be a very difficult task. As Boxer (2002: 150) notes there is “great potential for miscommunication and misperceptions based upon differing norms of interaction across societies and speech communities”. Since the same situation can be interpreted differently by people from different cultural backgrounds, and since they may see a different reaction as being appropriate, if one does not conform to the social code of the other, then a social rule may be broken in the mind of one, but not the other. Mastering of the pragmatic and social code is a long, and a not to be underestimated process. For many the ability to communicate successfully in one foreign language requires an amount of time and effort, which disables them from pursuing the same level of competence in another language. It seems reasonable, therefore, that Europeans should not aim at knowing several languages on a mediocre level, but firstly one on a truly proficient level, and as it has been argued in the previous chapter, that first foreign language is for most Europeans English.