Homework 1_Responses


Homework 1_Responses
#1:An Nguyen
In Bolden (2014), the researcher analyzes everyday conversations in a Russian-American family. Through these conversations, the researcher

is able to observe how speakers respond to asymmetries in cultural and/or linguistic expertise while conversing. The conversations utilized in the

study demonstrates that speakers react to asymmetries in various ways. For instance, a speaker may assume that a listener does not understand a word

that they utilized, causing them to check for the listener’s understanding before continuing the conversation. Another reaction may be to assume that a

listener is not linguistically or culturally competent and “repairs” their talk for the sake of the listener. Lastly, a speaker may assume that a

listener is linguistically/culturally competent and does not repair their talk until the listener asks for clarification (Bolden, 2014).
What struck me the most about this study is that I could really relate to the younger generation in the study, especially Lena. While Lena

speaks and understands Russian, she is clearly better in English, having been raised in the United States. Additionally, her grandmother’s comment in

Excerpt 9 (Bolden, 2014, pp. 229) claiming that Lena has become an “English lady” caught my attention because it was a very familiar situation for me.

Bolden (2014) notes that this situation is due to one’s linguistic competency being related to one’s identity. Although we do not have much insight on

Lena’s reaction to this identification, I felt shame for her, perhaps due to my own experience with trying to maintain my parent’s language/culture

despite living in a completely different one.
Of course, this is not how Bolden (2014) depicts the findings. In fact, Bolden (2014) shines a positive light on the interactions within the families

observed. Bolden (2014) states that such repairs during intercultural conversations not only allows for clarification but also serves as teachable

moments. For instance, Lena was able to understand more about Russian culture when the elders’ took the time to explain parts of words and/or cultural

references such as “going for potatoes” (Bolden, 2014, pp. 231). I believe the researcher’s purpose here is to convince others to take the time to

explain parts of dialogue, especially when there is an intercultural interaction, in order to improve cross-cultural communication.

Bolden, G.B. (2014). Negotiating understanding in “intercultural moments” in immigrant family interactions. Communication Monographs, 81(2), 208-238.

doi: 10.1080/03637751.2014.902983



#2: Angela Bishop
1- This study evaluates the communication between members of an immigrant family. There are scripted conversations between Russian grandparents and

their American-born granddaughter. The family members come face to face with miscommunication due to lack of cultural and linguistic literacy. The

members of the family practice the repair sequence to carry on with a meaningful conversation.
2- What strikes me the most about this study is how well the family members communicated with one another. The grandparents brought up cultural and

linguistic topics that their granddaughter did not understand, having been born in a different country and being from a different generation. The

grandparents worked together with their granddaughter to build understanding. The granddaughter experienced cultural illiteracy when she did not

understand that the war her grandmother was referring to was WWII. She also experienced linguistic incompetency when she didn’t know the Russian words

her grandparents were using. What struck me the most, was how they never seemed to get frustrated with one another. Nor did they ever just give up in

the middle of the conversation and move on to a new topic. Instead, the grandparents worked together to help iron out any issue they had while

communicating with their granddaughter. They took this as a time to teach. The granddaughter, as well, was able to teach her grandmother the word for

fractions in English. This family also seemed to be able to sense when there was miscommunication by reading body language and reading into pauses or

straight faces. If only everyone could be as responsive and aware of the people around them.
3- My biggest take away from this article comes from a section of the conclusion. It states, “Kitzinger and Mandelbaum have demonstrated that in

designing their talk for particular others, interlocutors would rather over-assume than under-assume competency in their addressees since under-

assuming competency has negative identity implications” (Bolden, 234). In order to respect the person with whom we are speaking, we must anticipate

that they are both culturally and linguistically literate. If we set the bar too low, the “other” will feel disrespected by our negative assumptions.

That being said, we must not be shocked if the person with whom we are speaking suddenly shows cultural or linguistic illiteracy. We must not get mad,

jump to the conclusion that they don’t understand anything that we’re saying, or begin to make negative judgements of that person. Instead, we should

remember that we are engaging in a cross-cultural communication and use the moment as a time to teach one another or simply rephrase what we are saying

in a way that is easier to understand. It seems to me that we should always assume competency, but revise our communication methods if we see continual

misunderstandings. After all, as Bolden alluded, the more we teach one another and do things together, the more inter-culturally connected we will

Galina B. Bolden (2014) Negotiating Understanding in “Intercultural Moments” in Immigrant Family Interactions, Communication Monographs, 81:2, 208-238,

DOI: 10.1080/03637751.2014.902983