Alessia Cogo, University of Surrey/ University of Southampton

Alessia Cogo is a Lecturer in Applied Linguistics at the University of Surrey, where she also supervises postgraduate and doctoral students in the field of ELF and intercultural communication. She is also a senior researcher at the University of Southampton, where she investigates multilingualism and ELF in Europe (LINEE project). She is co-author with Martin Dewey of Analyzing English as a Lingua Franca: A Corpus Driven Investigation (Continuum, forthcoming 2010).

Constructing and negotiating understanding in ELF

Effective language use in any context would entail the speakers’ engagement in constructing and negotiating understanding. This kind of engagement becomes even more salient in contexts of ELF communication, where speakers from different lingua-cultural backgrounds are involved in generation and transfer of knowledge in increasingly transnational spaces. Moreover, the use of ELF for intercultural communication has also foregrounded the role played by the multilingual repertoire of its speakers. It has been suggested that the use of multiple languages in these communicative settings, whether work-place, institutional or social contexts, contributes to increased creativity and generation of knowledge.
This paper will focus on the extent and manner in which ELF interlocutors adopt different strategies to construct, negotiate and ensure understanding, and thus contributing to knowledge expansion. Drawing on a corpus of naturally occurring spoken discourse collected in work-place and social settings, I will focus on instances of ‘negotiation of meaning’, how they can contribute to enhanced understandings and eventually to shared knowledge. I will address the strategies involved in achieving understanding, such as monitoring each others’ take on the meaning and adopting preparatory utterances as contextualisation cues.  The findings will be discussed in light of what implications ELF strategies of negotiation and construction of understanding have for a re-conceptualisation of identity and membership in ELF encounters.


ELF Conference 2010 | Spitalgasse 2 | 1090 Wien