Cross-Cultural Pragmatic Failure in Computer-Mediated Communication


  • Martina Baumer
  • Henriette van Rensburg



cross-cultural pragmatic failure, computer-mediated communication, politeness


The study reported in this paper examines the occurrence of cross-cultural misunderstandings in computer-mediated communication (CMC). CMC has become a part of many people’s everyday life; rules of language practice such as politeness and other characteristics of relational communication are blurred. The study will expose subtle conducts that are language and culture specific. It will further explore how these social and culture factors influence language use of native and non-native English speaking national and international postgraduate Education students. In particular, the positive and negative tactics and the depiction of relational regularities and patterns prove to be useful to uncover cross-cultural interactions. Questions that arise are: What is considerate as polite and acceptable and what is rude and intolerable in CMC? Is politeness a luxury we no longer can or want to afford? How is this affecting cross-cultural communication and negotiation in CMC?