Volume 45, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0155-0640
  • E-ISSN: 1833-7139
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



While previous studies have outlined the advantages of semiotic resources for meaning making and relationship building, not all semiotic resources are equal in their ability to enhance these features. Using linguistic ethnographic interviews and focus group discussions, this article examines whether mobile phones provide sufficient semiotic resources for English as a Foreign Language (EFL) migrants to effectively communicate, particularly for service situations regarding finances where they often have to speak in English with unknown interlocutors. Two important elements are uncovered regarding EFL migrants’ difficulty in using phones as a semiotic resource – (1) linguistic superiority, where they are judged by their English-speaking interlocutor as engaging in inferior English practices, and (2) paralinguistic insufficiency, where the lack of gestures and facial expressions takes away their ability to make meaning. These elements combined make telephone conversations difficult for many EFL migrants, affecting their expressiveness and ability to effectively communicate, leading to negative outcomes such as avoidance behaviors, and feelings of anxiety and disempowerment. Such difficulties lead to the finding that EFL migrants must be better accommodated when engaging in service transactions, with other, semiotically richer resources required to better aid their understanding and ease feelings of anxiety.


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