Identity, politeness and discursive practices in a changing world

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This special issue continues the discussion of the impact of culture on identity, communication, politeness, and discourse strategies (see Russian Journal of Linguistics 22 (4) 2018, 23 (4) 2019, 24 (2) 2020). The topic has become particularly relevant in the context of two multidirectional processes, i.e., globalization resulting from current geopolitical trends and technological advancements, which have encouraged the intensification of contacts between people, languages, and cultures; and deglobalization focused on the preservation of national cultures and development of a multipolar and multicultural world. In our introductory article, we attempt to trace the impact of communication technologies, language, and culture contacts on digital, face-to-face, and public communication in different settings and discourses and outline its influence on communication, language variation, and change. In this introductory article we present a summary of the contributions of our authors to the issue, which showed that the implications of globalization and language contact are multifaceted, they can have both positive and negative effects on language use, maintenance, and change, as well as on cultural identity and diversity. Pursuing these latter factors contributes to developing trends of deglobalization. Our authors invite the reader to reflect on these processes. In conclusion, we sum up their major findings and suggest a brief avenue for further research.

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  1. Introduction

The topic of this special issue is consonant with the dominant anthropological paradigm in modern linguistics, which focuses on homo loquens and the study of the language in use, rather than a system. Problems of intercultural communication, as well as the study of communicative and linguistic variations, have become particularly relevant in the context of globalization and the development of digital communication which has encouraged intensification of contacts between people, languages, and cultures. At the same time, we can observe an opposite process of deglobalization, focused on the preservation of national cultures and identities and development of a multipolar and multicultural world.

 Communicative strategies, discursive practices, and the styles of interaction, in general, are predetermined by contexts of interaction, both situational and cultural (e.g. Bargiela-Chiappini & Kádár 2010, Bilá & Ivanova 2020, Gladkova & Larina 2018, Goddard 2018, Kecskes 2014, Eslami et al. 2023, Lee & Poynton 2000, Placencia & Eslami 2020, Wierzbicka 1999, 2003, 2020 among many others). As van Dijk states (2009: 154) “local, situational contexts are the interface between global, cultural contexts and discourse, by means of the cultural knowledge of the participants”. The broader cultural aspects of local contexts should be taken into consideration as, due to different cultural values and attitudes, “interpretations and definitions of social situations in general, and hence of contexts in particular, are variable across cultures and languages” (Ibid). For instance, whereas age and power may be among the top values of Eastern cultures and make the style of communication status-oriented, the value of equality which is characteristic of Western cultures dictates the choice of different politeness strategies, which make the style of interaction person-oriented and egalitarian, even in asymmetric contexts. The same applies to such cultural characteristics as independence vs interdependence, reflected in the I-identity prevailing in individualistic cultures and the We-identity representatives of collectivist cultures which are manifested in language and discourse (Larina et al. 2017).

Ethnic identity, which is one of the prominent manifestations of identity, “derives from the sense of peoplehood within a group, a culture, and a particular setting” (Phinney & Ong 2007: 271). It has been studied with reference to an individual’s sense of belonging to an ethnic group, that is, a group defined by one’s cultural heritage, including values, traditions, and language (Larina et al. 2017:112). Manifestation of ethnic identity can be observed at all levels of language, as well as in communicative strategies, understanding of im/politeness, and discursive practices (Bilá & Ivanova 2020, Eslami 2005, Mirzaei & Eslami 2013, Tzanne & Sifianou 2019, among many others).

Despite different definitions of the term, ‘discursive practice’ is viewed by most researchers as a linguistic reflection of a social practice defined as “a relatively stabilized form of social activity” (Fairclough 2001: 231). Scholars delve into the analysis of discursive practices as “mechanisms of the discursive construction of various types of relations, starting with power distribution and going into diverse types of communication” (Bilá & Ivanova 2020:224). As a result, “the study of discourse turned out to be closely connected with the study of communication with its various communication strategies” (Ibid). To explain the social, cultural, and ideological values or the discursive relations that underlie the generic or rhetorical variability evidenced in different texts, critical discourse analysis (CDA) is employed (Fairclough 2010, Mirzaei & Eslami 2013, van Dijk 2009). The critical approach to discourse analysis is appropriate for research into social and cultural change, as it foregrounds links between social practice, culture, and language. In this regard, Fairclough (2010:131) argues that “social and cultural changes are changes in discursive practices”. Positive discourse analysis, a more recent approach to the analysis of discourse (Guan 2022, Hughes 2018, Martin 2004, Stibbe 2017), in contrast to CDA, is focused “on constructive social action, rather than on the deconstruction of negative social action”, “on the discourse we like rather than on the discourse we wish to criticize” (Alba-Juez 2009: 254), on “heartening accounts of progress” rather than on “discouraging analysis of oppression” (Martin 2004: 184), and it also considers social, cultural, and ideological aspects of discourse.

In this special issue, our aim is to further trace the impact of culture and identity on language in use and discourse practices, taking into consideration both the local and global context. The contributors to the issue address questions dealing with:

  • identity in language and communication;
  • im/politeness in different cultural and situational contexts with a focus on online and face-to-face communication;
  • discursive practices in different contexts;
  • languages and cultures in contact.

All these issues are considered against the backdrop of the results of globalization caused by geopolitical processes, the development of modern communication technologies, migration, increased mobility and contacts, as well as opposite processes of deglobalization aimed at preserving cultural identity and building a multicultural world.

  1. Theoretical overview

2.1. Identity in language and communication

Identity plays a significant role in language and communication, since it shapes how people use and understand language. Language is not only a tool for conveying information but also a way to express one’s identity and to signal membership in certain social groups. Language use can reflect an individual’s identity in terms of their culture, ethnicity, social class, and gender. For example, people from different cultures may use different language structures or vocabulary to convey the same idea (e.g. Bromhead & Ye, Goddard 2006, Kecskes 2014, Lee & Poynton 2000, Mills 2003, Wierzbicka 2003). Similarly, people from different social classes may use different linguistic registers or accents. In this way, language use can convey information about a person’s background, experiences, and identity. Language can also be used to signal group membership and establish social connections. People may use language to indicate that they belong to a certain community or to distinguish themselves from others. The use of slang, jargon or specialized language is an example of this practice, which aims to build a sense of belonging and identity among group members.

Thus, people’s communication styles and preferences may reflect their personalities, which are multi-layered and include individual, social, and cultural traits. In this issue, our focus is mostly on lingua-cultural identity which is manifested in “linguistic behavior through which a language user verbalizes all concepts, values, and schemes of conduct practiced in a particular lingua-culture” (Bilá et al. 2020: 347). Particular attention is paid to second language (L2) learners’ identity (Ishishara 2019, Mirzaei & Parhizkar 2021, Vovou 2019). When learners engage with languages, they engage in conveying or interpreting social identities (Palmieri 2019). The interplay between identity and pragmatics does not occur in a vacuum but discursively and dynamically evolves over time in sociocultural situated contexts of language use (Mirzaei & Parhizkar 2021). Moreover, the way people communicate can also reveal aspects of their identity. For example, nonverbal communication such as body language and tone of voice can convey emotional states and social status.

With the social turn as well as the recent surge in the dynamic systems approaches in applied linguistics research, the concept of identity has gone through a transformation (Mirzaei & Parhizkar 2021). Identity is conceptualized as a dynamic construct as well as a variable subjectivity or intentionality within and across individuals in different contexts at different times and, thus, a site of conflict, struggle, and change (Darvin & Norton 2015, Miller et al. 2017). This poststructuralist view of identity (e.g., Norton & McKinney 2011) emphasizes the interconnection of the individual language learner and the wider social world, stressing the flexibility or ‘agency’ of the learner in portraying and jointly negotiating their identity and characterizing “the role of language and discourse practices in the construction of identity” (Mitchell et al. 2013: 276). As it relates to L2 pragmatic performance, L2 learners should not be considered as passive receivers of target language norms, but as having the agency to intentionally choose pragmatic strategies from among the different alternatives they have, actively negotiate social identities, and discursively reshape their identities in a complex, dynamic way. Little research has yet been done related to L2 pragmatics and identity from this poststructuralist perspective, indicating how L2 learners’ pragmatic choices and perceptions of sociocultural norms and contextual variables might vary in accord with their identity (re)constructions and agency enactments (Ishihara 2019, Norton 2013).

In summary, identity plays a significant role in language and communication, influencing both the content and style of communication. Understanding the relationship between identity and language use can help improve communication and promote cross-cultural understanding.

2.2. Im/politeness in cross-cultural perspective

 The way people interact with each other is greatly influenced by their understanding of politeness, which is a universal and at the same time culture-specific phenomenon. Im/politeness and the way it is realized follows both universal and culture-specific norms (Bargiela-Chiappini & Kádár 2010, Bayraktaroğlu & Sifianou 2001, Eslami 2005, Kádár & Haugh 2013, Kádár & Mills 2011, Leech 2014, Locher & Larina 2019, Mills 2009, Pizziconi 2007, Watts 2003 among many others). Politeness is a cognitive and socio-cultural phenomenon as the politeness strategies are predetermined by people's identity and their understanding of im/politeness based on their social and cultural values (e.g. Larina 2015, Mugford 2020, Sifianou 1992a,b, Tzanne & Sifianou 2019, Watts 2003).

Culturally-based differences concerning what is expected during communication can be a significant source of cross-cultural communication difficulties (Gudykunst & Kim 1992, Thomas 1983). These expectations may be linked to differences in the realization of particular speech acts (e.g. Alemi et al. 2021, Haugh & Chang 2019, Litvinova & Larina 2023, Trosborg 2010, Wierzbicka 2003), or they may be linked to broader and often more diffuse issues of discourse organization and communicative style (House 2006, Larina 2015). Thomas (1983) has shown that when speakers do not share the same cultural background, sociopragmatic failure is more likely, resulting largely from a lack of shared resources for understanding the interlocutor’s communicative intention and the pragmatic meaning of their utterance. Cultural values are both reflected by and carried through language. Gumperz (1982: 166) notes that while speech activities exist in all cultures, there might be differences in the ways particular activities are carried out and signaled. With the increased mobility of peoples throughout the world and the breakdown of small, egalitarian face-to-face societies (Gumperz 1982), communicative conventions have become more important in establishing understanding and acceptance. Speech acts and other verbal behavior cannot be truly understood without reference to cultural values and attitudes. Wierzbicka argues that linguistic differences are due to “aspects of culture much deeper than mere norms of politeness” (Wierzbicka 1985: 145) and are associated with cultural values such as, for instance, autonomy, distance, intimacy, closeness, informality, harmony, sincerity, directness vs. indirectness (Wierzbicka 2003). As Suszczynska (1999: 1055) mentions, the issue to be considered is “what face-saving, face-threatening, and support mean for different cultures and language groups”.

The development of discourse analysis as an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary methodology for the study of language in use (e.g. Alba 2009, Fairclough 2010, Ponton & Larina 2016, 2017, Zappettini et al. 2021) led to the extension of the discourse analysis field and offered a discursive approach to the study of politeness as one of the core communicative categories. The discursive approach to politeness (Eelen 2001, Mills 2003, Watts 2003) converted politeness strategies into discursive practices and gave a new impetus to the development of the theory of politeness by including impoliteness in its framework, as well as the Hearer, who evaluates the degree of im/politeness of an utterance. Thus, it contributed to overcoming some limitations of the face-saving approach to politeness by Brown and Levinson (1987), and widened the scope of the politeness theory to include both politeness and impoliteness (e.g. Bousfield 2008, Bousfield & Locher 2008, Culpeper 2011, Culpeper et al. 2017). Culpeper (2011) rightly states, that “impoliteness is an important aspect of social life, and indeed plays a central role in many discourses (from military recruit training to exploitative TV shows), discourses which are rarely described in detail” (Culpeper 2011: xiii). Both politeness and impoliteness involve the study of communicative behavior in social interaction with a focus on situational and cultural contexts (e.g. Alemi & Latifi 2019, Bousfield 2008, Eslami 2005, Fernández-Amaya 2019, Kaul de Marlangeon 2018, Larina & Ponton 2020, 2022, Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk & Pęzik 2021, Locher 2013, Tzanne & Sifianou 2019). The discursive turn contributed to understanding the evaluative and situated nature of im/politeness, the importance of emotions in assessments and the link of identity construction with these discourse aspects (Locher & Larina 2019: 875). To establish and maintain harmony, it should be examined what is appropriate in different cultures and language groups, as what is considered im/polite is strictly connected to cultural and social aspects of context.

2.3. Online communication and online culture

Online communication is a growing area of research aiming to explore everyday interactions and the ways different medium-related affordances impact communication as well as social norms. However, research on how technology enhances or displaces discourses and practices of tradition is scarce (Herring et al. 2013, Placencia & Eslami 2020, Scott 2022, Wilson & Peterson 2002). With the development of online communities on varying platforms, there is a great interest in examining the rise of online cultures and their users’ corresponding behavior and language practices (Danet & Herring 2007, Fetzer 2021, Lee 2017). As argued by Bell (2001), online cultures are simultaneously both a product and a producer of culture.

Advancements in technology, the increasing use of online discourse, and globalization are recognized as highly powerful forces influencing everyday language use and practices. This has led to concerns that technologization, in line with globalization, and increasing dominance of the English language will lead to the homogenization of the world, reducing cultural and linguistic diversity in discourse practices, which are at the heart of this interconnectedness (Sifianou 2013). Research findings reveal that increasing use of online SNSs and interconnectedness does not necessarily mean eradication of cultural differences in discourse practices but it does decrease these in language use (Eslami & Yang 2018).

However, as Virtanen and Lee (2022) state, digital interaction is getting “increasingly multilingual and/or transcultural in nature, reflecting ‘glocal’ practices and multiple conceptualizations of face” (Virtanen & Lee 2022: 1). Multilingualism and the use of multiple languages by users of social networking sites have become the norm rather than an exception. Emerging literature on online language use indicates that despite similarities in online communication on different platforms, the users of social networking sites demonstrate deep cultural differences and different online communities may have their own cultural attributes (Fernández-Amaya 2019, Maíz-Arévalo 2018, 2021, Xie et al. 2021, Zidjali 2019 among many others). The studies show that in online communication the patterns of offline interaction are reproduced (e.g. Eslami & Yang 2018, Lorenzo-Dus 2001, Maíz-Arévalo & García-Gómez 2013). Thus, they testify to the fact that the linkage between language and culture is indisputable even in a virtual context.

Technology has provided more options and more flexibility in using discourse practices that are aligned with the local/national culture of the speech community as well as the global culture, which is dominated by English speakers’ cultural norms. It can contribute to the introduction of new norms and practices not previously observed in face-to-face communication. Technology and the intensification of online communication may promote more changes in cultural values and perspectives. Although traditional values and customs still exist, we cannot deny the force of globalization, the ease of communication through technology, nor the dominant role of English as an international language, in changing people’s views, attitudes, and discourse practices.

2.4. Languages and cultures in contact

Globalization not only promotes the intensification of contacts between people, but it also creates new opportunities for intercultural and intracultural communication and dynamic shifts in language use of those in contact. This can lead to a range of outcomes, including language borrowing, code-switching, and creolization. In a bilingual or multilingual community where two or more languages are used in the same context, there is a possibility that one language may begin to dominate and the other may gradually be replaced by the dominant one. In such situations, the languages in contact may influence each other in various ways.

Code-switching can be a sign of bilingual proficiency and may help to create social bonds between speakers of different languages (Gardner-Chloros 2020). On the other hand, if one language dominates the norms and practices of language use, it can lead to the erosion of languages, the loss of cultural heritage, and the suppression of linguistic diversity. The ongoing widespread shift of languages today offers a great opportunity to analyze the linguistic changes displayed by shifting speakers, i.e., identifying language change and loss as a process rather than an outcome (Grenoble & Osipov 2023).

Recent work by Lee (2020) on documenting and preserving contact languages suggests that much more needs to be done to safeguard and conserve the endangered contact languages of the world. There is an urgent need to invest in language documentation, bilingual education, and community-based programs (Bromham et al. 2022), in order to avoid the loss of over 1,500 languages by the end of the century, as “[W]hen a language disappears, so does the whole universe that is imprinted in it” (Kibrik 2021: 508).

Overall, the trend toward languages in contact is likely to continue as mobility, migration and global communication continue to increase. This creates both opportunities and challenges for language preservation and revitalization efforts, as well as for the study of language contact and its effects on linguistic diversity. When two or more languages are in contact, there is a greater potential for linguistic diversity to flourish. This can lead to the preservation and promotion of minority languages, which may otherwise be at risk of extinction. Languages in contact can also facilitate cultural exchange and understanding between different lingua-cultural communities. By learning about each other’s languages and cultures, individuals can better understand and respect other cultures and gain a greater appreciation for cultural diversity.

  1. Outline of contributions to the issue

The contributions to this volume address some of the issues outlined above and do so from a variety of methodological approaches, using different datasets, and focusing on different settings and discourses. Four articles in the issue explore im/politeness in computer-mediated communication and face-to-face interaction aiming to identify culture-specific communicative features of representatives of different cultures and their impact on interaction.

Seongha Rhee explores im/politeness in social network service communication in Korea. He points out that interactants in social network service (SNS) communication are driven to use language creatively, overcoming the disadvantages and exploiting the advantages of this type of communication. He investigates diverse elements of language used by SNS interactants to show their polite and impolite stances such as interjections, emoticons, exaggerated punctuations, omission of regular punctuation marks, intentional violation of orthographic rules, prolific slang expressions, deviated spelling, etc. He argues that all these creative strategies lead to language change at lexical, grammatical, and discourse levels.

Minoo Alemi and Zahra Maleknia address im/politeness from a pedagogical perspective. They investigate the use of politeness strategies and markers of politeness in English emails from Iranian non-native English-speaking university students addressed to an American professor. The results of their study showed that students did not accommodate to either verbal or structural politeness cues in emails and their knowledge of the rules of etiquette in the genre of academic e-mail, concerning both etiquette formulas and structural features of the text of the message, appeared to be insufficient. The paper emphasizes the importance of students' awareness of the politeness etiquette of the target language and contains some pedagogical implications aimed at improving their knowledge and competencies.

Research on impoliteness in different cultural contexts has received great attention in the past two decades. Adding to this literature, Tajeddin and Rassaei Mogadam conduct a cross-cultural study of impoliteness as perceived by English and Persian speakers. They explore variations in the perception of impoliteness and response to impoliteness by English and Persian speakers focusing on the speech act of refusal. The findings showed that when reacting to impoliteness in refusals, native English speakers used a wider range of strategies in comparison with Persian speakers and were more likely to adopt offensive strategies to counter impoliteness. The results demonstrated that social factors of communication such as social distance and power distance were of more significance for Persian speakers than for English speakers in perceiving the degree of impoliteness.

Tanju Deveci, Jessica Midraj, and Wael Samir El-Sokkary explore the speech act of compliment and its use by students at Emirati universities in communication with teachers in an intercultural context. The results showed that compliment is often used by students to mitigate a subsequent complaint and/or request. The authors identify compliment topics and syntactic structures of compliments used by students. They emphasize the importance of taking into account the context including interlocutors’ lingua-cultural backgrounds and their social status to understand their communicative intention and to be able to interact successfully in a multicultural university environment.

Two other papers deal with discursive practices in political and business discourses, and the issues they consider are directly related to processes of globalization. Douglas M. Ponton explores the problem of human immigration across the Mediterranean, which increased significantly in the first part of the  21st century and has become one of the most relevant and acute topics of political debate in Europe. The originality of this study lies in the fact that it approaches the topic from a Positive Discourse Analysis (PDA) perspective, rather than one of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), which is more prevalently used in discourse studies on such themes. It focuses on a discussion with an Italian mayor on recent migration involving Italy. By applying tools of pragmatic linguistic analysis and the socio-political context, the study aims to identify positive discourse and ideologies implicit in it, which may indicate alternative approaches to the phenomenon for example, discourses of human solidarity rather than repudiation. 

Addressing business discourse, Elena Malyuga presents the results of a study on corporate communication. She focuses on reports on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which has become an important tool for maintaining the reputation of companies and one of the key concepts of corporate communication. The author substantiates the need for a comprehensive study of the language of CSR reports, reflecting the principles of corporate culture as a phenomenon of intercultural and global significance. The findings, obtained with the implementation of a corpus-based approach and contextual analysis, identified a number of linguistic features in effective CSR reports that reflect the basic principles of modern corporate culture. They contribute, as the author states, to a “systematic understanding of the corporate language policy, which allows maintaining effective communicative interaction with stakeholders” (Malyuga 2023).

Gritsenko and Laletina present the results of an original study that deals with the issues of sociolinguistic authenticity. They examine the notion of authenticity in relation to the linguistic presentation of Russian womanhood. The authors analyze the song “Russian woman” which was performed by the Tajik-Russian singer Manizha at the Eurovision 2021 contest and prompted controversial interpretations of the audience. They also explore the singer’s post-performance interviews, and the viewers’ online comments in order to reveal the authenticating and deauthenticating discourses of gender and ethnicity in relation to the song, the performer, and the created image. Through a multimodal semiotic analysis, they reveal opposite concepts of Russian femininity and argue that authentication and deauthentication of this textual assemblage are driven by different ideologies and often depend on a single textual level or element.

The next topic raised by the contributors to this issue is language and culture contact, intersections of languages, and the positive and negative outcomes of this process. When languages are in contact, this may not only contribute to the development of a particular language but can also become a threat to its existence, especially in cases where a language or dialect does not have written literature. Khalil Tazik and Mohammad Aliakbari express concern about the fate of the Bahmayeh dialect, a variant of Luri dialect spoken in southwestern Iran. Their research focuses on the stylistic variations of kinship terms in different contexts and the factors influencing these variations. The results showed that while people aged 40 years and older used Bakhmai terms more often, speakers in the 15 to 19 age group preferred Persian kinship terms, which indicates a process of Persification which is more pronounced among young speakers. The authors attribute this trend to the higher status of the Persian language, language contact and migration, which have led to a generational gap. They suggest some strategies that can oppose the dialect’s endangered status, including documenting the Bakhmai dialect, encouraging educated speakers to use the dialect, and promoting intracultural communication.

Language and cultural contacts resulting from migration, as well as current geopolitical and technological processes attract the attention of writers and become the subject of literary works. Semyon Galaktionov and Zoya Proshina discuss linguistic and cultural contacts in the novel “House of Many Gods” by Kiana Davenport, a bilingual Hawaiian-American author. They explore translingual discourse in which three lingua-cultures, namely American, Hawaiian, and Russian, intersect and aim to identify linguistic tools that contribute to the creation of translingual and transcultural narratives. They focus on lexical borrowings from Native Hawaiian into English, including endonymic toponyms and culture-specific concepts; transliterated borrowed Russian words, as well as loan translations and allusions from Russian, pidginization of speech among others, and discuss the processes which take place in the linguistic accommodation and alteration.

The volume ends with two book reviews that are in tune with the topics discussed in this special issue.

  1. Discussion and conclusion

This special issue further explores the influence of culture and identity on language and communication in today's changing world, showing the impact of new communication technologies, language, and culture contacts on digital, interpersonal, and public communication in various contexts and discourses, as well as their impact on communicative and linguistic variability. It pays special attention to the social and sociocultural factors that influence discursive practices and identity construction. These issues were considered against the background of two multidirectional processes: globalization caused by modern geopolitical trends and the development of communication technologies that contribute to the intensification of contacts between people, languages, and cultures; as well as deglobalization, which is focused on the preservation of national cultures and the development of a multipolar and multicultural world. The contributions of our authors outline directions and prospects for further interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research, combining linguistic, cognitive, social, psychological and cultural aspects of offline and online interaction.

The articles showed that the study of politeness and impoliteness in various discourses, contexts and genres of offline and online communication does not lose its relevance (Rhee, Alemi & Maleknia, Tajeddin & Rassaei Mogadam). Influencing the outcome of social relationships, impoliteness plays an important role in communication and can have far-reaching consequences, both constructive and destructive. The conceptualization of im/politeness in various linguistic cultures, identification of strategies of im/politeness and their realisation, as well as the role of the social and sociocultural context in their choice, still remain promising areas of research.

The authors demonstrated the importance of further study of digital communication, in particular, on how technologies improve, change or replace traditional discourses and practices in intracultural and intercultural interaction (Alemi & Maleknia, Rhee). As shown in this issue, communication technologies have provided new opportunities and means for communication, they may promote new norms and practices not previously observed in face-to-face interactions and lead to changes at the lexical, grammatical, and discursive levels (Rhee). The quick advancement in information and communication technology offers greater access to people, leading to the exposure to other languages and cultures. This might change people’s perspectives, values, attitudes, personality, and communicative behavior. It seems necessary to continue research to identify the role of social networks and the media in the formation of values and identity construction. Promising areas of research include the use of multimodal messaging, the discursive practices of bilingual and multilingual users, changes in the language code by bilinguals and multilinguals in offline and online communication, and the construction of their identity. Future research could examine the gendered and cultural identities of monolinguals, bilinguals, and multilinguals, manifested in offline and online communication.

Intercultural and cross-cultural communication in various fields including business, politics, etc. continue to be important areas of interdisciplinary research (Ponton, Malyuga). As the authors of this issue (Alemi & Maleknia, Deveci et al.) have shown, academic discourse is a worthy research object, in particular, the interaction of students and teachers in various cultural and multicultural contexts in online and offline communication. Due to the growth of academic mobility and migration processes, the university environment has become multicultural, and to ensure effective communication and positive psychological climate, it is crucial to take into account the cultural and communicative characteristics of students, role relations in their academic culture, and culture-specific features of their national communicative style. However, when teaching international students the norms of communication in the target language, the importance of which is emphasized in one of the articles (Alemi et al.), one cannot ignore the question of to what extent non-native speakers should adapt to the communicative models of their other culture interlocutors in order not to lose the opportunity to express their own identity and self in today's culturally diverse world. According to some researchers, the traditional approach in language education called “native-speakerism”, based on the belief in the superiority of native speakers, is problematic because it often restricts the freedom of expression, reduces international intelligibility and freedom of thought of students and works against cultural diversity (Hino 2021). Researchers are advocating a new approach to language education that ensures the acceptance of lingua-cultural varieties of English and the right of non-English speakers to express their values (Houghton & Hashimoto 2018).

The materials of this issue point to broad prospects for the study of linguistic changes caused by the expansion of contacts between languages and cultures (Tazik & Aliakbari, Gritsenko & Laletina), which can have positive and negative consequences. On the one hand, the spread of linguistic and cultural contacts involves more people in intercultural communication, which can contribute to a better understanding and recognition of different cultures and ways of life, intercultural communication, and cooperation, and the destruction of stereotypes and prejudices. On the other hand, this may cause the erosion of traditional languages and cultures. When one language or culture dominates others, it can lead to linguistic and cultural imperialism, where the dominant language and culture supplant and endanger minority languages and cultures.

As noted, linguistic and cultural contacts, promoted by globalization and the development of communication technologies, may bring new perspectives on assumptions of cultural values. They influence the consciousness of people, their identity and can contribute to changing their views, attitudes, and discursive practices. It is no coincidence that we are witnessing the opposite process – deglobalization, aimed at preserving national cultures and ethnic identity, forming a multipolar and multicultural world. Our authors invite the reader to reflect on these ambiguous and multipolar processes, the discussion of which we will continue in subsequent issues.

We thank the authors of this special issue for their insightful articles and hope that they will serve as an incentive for our readers to do their own research in the directions outlined in this issue.


About the authors

Zohreh R. Eslami

Texas A&M University-College Station

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2969-5056

Professor at the Department of Educational Psychology at Texas A&M University in College Station. Her research has examined intercultural and cross-cultural communication, English as an international language, sociocultural perspective of teaching, and acquisition of English as a second/foreign language. Her publications include over one hundred journal papers, book chapters and conference proceedings. She is also Managing Editor and Co-Editor of Applied Pragmatics Journal (John Benjamins).

Texas, USA

Tatiana Viktorovna Larina

RUDN University

ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6167-455X

Doctor Habil., Full Professor at Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University). Her research interests embrace interaction of language, culture and communication, the theory of politeness and impoliteness, cross-cultural pragmatics and communicative ethno-styles. She has authored and co-authored monographs, book chapters, and numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals, including Intercultural Pragmatics, International Review of Pragmatics, Journal of Politeness Research, among others.

Moscow, Russia

Roya Pashmforoosh

Texas A&M University-College Station

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9394-6887

Ph.D., is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology of the School of Education & Human Development at Texas A&M University, USA, and an Accountability, Climate, Equity, and Scholarship (ACES) Faculty Fellow. Her research interests cover globalization and English language teaching, English as an international language, English as a second language, bilingualism, and virtual professional development.

Texas, USA


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