Verbal aggressiveness or cooperative support?

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This chapter discusses some preliminary results obtained as part of a broader investigation, which examines whether and how the communication of emotion differs in relation to three cultural groups (French, Italian and Anglo-Australian), with implications for intercultural communication. In particular, we focus here on how conflict talk operates in business meetings in Italian and French companies. Strategies of adjustment and control mechanisms between participants normally ensure that a meeting unfolds with respect to certain interactional rules and cultural norms that members of a given culture implicitly adopt. While anecdotal evidence abounds on the differences in conversational styles among the three groups we consider, empirical research exploring the deployment of affect in conflict discourse from a cross-cultural perspective is scarce.This paper illustrates instances of verbal conflict arising from challenges to the Chair’ s authority and power struggle, as manifested by interruptions and topic management sequences. This investigation of the pragmatic significance of interruptions in conflict talk contributes to research on emotional speech from a multidisciplinary (Mozziconacci 2002) and cross-cultural perspective (Scherer et al. 2001a; Rilliard et al. 2009).


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