EUROSLA 6: A selection of papers
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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Studies of the pragmatic aspects of second language acquisition and use (and particularly speech acts) have been rapidly growing in number and quality over the last few years. Such studies are particularly relevant from both theoretical and applied perspectives, but while we seem to know a fair amount about how non-native speakers and native speakers apologise, compliment, complain, refuse and criticise, we seem to know almost nothing about what constitute safe topics for strangers from different cultures to actually talk about to each other ('small talk', one might say).Since it is natural for Westerners to talk about themselves to casual strangers cross-cultural differences in both willingness to 'self-disclose' and the content of self-disclosure might have significant consequences for the success of ongoing interpersonal communication. Yet comparative studies of interculturally safe topics are restricted to McHugh's work on Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai and American nationals.For our own study, we used the Jourard Self Disclosure Questionnaire to examine the willingness to self-disclose of groups of Dutch, English, and Japanese students to imagined 'middling acquaintances', fellow-students of either gender with the same linguistic and cultural background and with whom they had friendly but non-intimate relationships. Sixty questions are divided into six categories, such as Body, Money, and Personality. Results for the Dutch group show clear patterns of cross-gender differences, some of which are at variance with those found in previously published research on Americans. For instance, in our data, male subjects disclose significantly more than females. However, while the gender of the conversation partner does not have an influence on the degree of male disclosure, it does have an impact on the disclosure of female subjects. Women disclose significantly more to women than they do to men. Comparable data from our English and Japanese subjects are reported.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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