Pragmatic Challenges and Relevance in the L2 Context

Erika Marcet Torrijos (Dublin City University)

Research on interlanguage pragmatics of L2 Japanese is limited in scope, as studies mostly focus on speech acts and other sociolinguistic and interactional strategies. As a result, researchers have yet to formally establish how learners of Japanese have difficulties with their production and interpretation of meaning from a cognitive perspective. Through Relevance Theory, this presentation explores some pragmatic challenges that L2 learners of Japanese encountered during their study abroad programmes and work placements in Japan. Learners reported difficulties with interpreting and producing several communicative acts, such as speech styles, ellipsis, prosody and ostensive silence. Findings indicate that learners are challenged by discrepancies between the linguistic form of utterances and the proposition expressed. Learners also have difficulties tapping into their inferential abilities, particularly in utterances where recovery or production of higher-level explicatures and implicatures is needed. With this presentation, I hope to consolidate the idea that notions within Relevance Theory can be particularly beneficial to the development of pragmatic competence in the L2 classroom.