A. Linguistics



A. Linguistics
A. Linguistics
YEAR VIII / 2009
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
I. Theory & Methodology
The paradigm shift ­- from instruction to learning
Alina Preda, Adriana Fekete 7
Réalisé et non réalisé dans l’imparfait
Sergiu Zagan-Zelter, Diana Zagan-Zelter 15
Teaching Adult Learners – Difficulties and Rewards
Kovács Réka 23
Marele dicţionar român-polon ca un “text cultural”
Joanna Porawska 33
„Esquemas de rumano. Gramática y usos lingüísticos”
la importancia del aprendizaje de la morfología en el proceso
de adquisición del rumano por estudiantes extranjeros
José Damián González-Barros
Cross-Cultural Dimensions of Foreign Language Teaching
and Assessment
Ioana Nan 51
Adrian Ciupe 57
Self Evaluation As a Metacognitive Strategy in the Context
of BEC Higher
Ana Maria Pascu 71
Conversation analysis in an oral business communication
Emilia Plăcintar 81
Completing the incomplete
Intercultural awareness raising and business discourse
Biró Enikő 91
La comunicación publicitaria
Timea Tocalachis 103
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The Role of Language in Branding.The Use of Plain
Language as a tool for Branding
Kelemen Antonia Izabella 111
Exploiting Pictures in Motion
Kovács Réka, Gabriela Ioana Mocan 117
II. Varia
“Babeș-Bolyai” University at the European Universities
Debating Championship
Ana Maria Pascu
Fifth Corpus Linguistics Conference
Adrian Ciupe
TBLT 2009 Tasks: Context, Purpose, and Use.
Veronica Armașu, Ioana Nan
III. Reviews
„Marele Dicţionar Român-Polon” în contextul dezbaterilor
de lingvistică integrală
Mircea Borcilă
Dicţionar contextual de termeni traductologici –
Alexandra Viorica Dulău 137
Mariana Istrate, Numele propriu în textul narativ
Denisa Ionescu 4
I. Theory & Methodology
The paradigm shift ­- from instruction to
Alina Preda, Adriana Fekete*
er Begriff integriertes Lernen, im englischen Blended Learning
(direkt übersetzt, „gemischtes Lernen”) bezeichnet einen
zusätzlichen Teil an dem Lernprozess, wobei Vorteile durch die
Verbindung verschiedener Medien und Methoden gesteigert und
Nachteile vermindert werden können. Dieses neue Konzept verbindet
die Effektivität und Flexibilität der elektronischen Lernformen mit den
sozialen Aspekten der Face-to-Face-Kommunikation. Es bezeichnet
damit eine Lernform, die eine didaktisch sinnvolle Verknüpfung von
„traditionellem Klassenzimmerlernen“ und modernen Formen von
E-Learning anstrebt. Besonders wichtig ist es, dass das eine ohne das
andere nicht funktioniert - die Präsenzphasen und die online Phasen
müssen also optimal aufeinander abgestimmt sein. Die Qualität eines
hochwertigen integriertes Lernangebotes kennzeichnet sich durch
ein, durch allen Phasen des Lernprozesses gehendes Curriculum,
eine Wahl des Mediums, welches die Stärken der jeweiligen Phase
voll zur Geltung bringt, ein Programm, das dem Lernenden möglichst
viel Freiraum einräumt (Lerntempo, Eingangskanäle, soziale Bindung,
Module, usw.) und eine Didaktik, die dem Spaß am Lernen Priorität
einräumt. Der zentrale Aspekt des integrierten Lernens ist die Vorbzw. Nachbereitung in Präsenzveranstaltungen. Insbesondere die
Nachbereitung sichert somit einen gewissen Lerntransfer, den
klassische Präsenzveranstaltungen nicht leisten können.
metakognitive Fähigkeiten, Lehrprozessen, Lernprozessen,
Mediendidaktik, kooperative Lernformen, E-Learning, integriertes
They say that “variety is the spice of life”, so it should come as no surprise that
variety may well be the secret of successful learning. This secret began to unravel on
September 11, 1956, on the second day of an MIT symposium, organised by the Special
Interest Group in Information Technology. It was there and then that the history of
blended learning started being written. As Kai Peters and Mario Weiss (2006) note,
it was the first time that “a symposium had been held that drew together a broad
range of people” whose interests covered various areas of study, from psychology,
philosophy, linguistics, anthropology, to physics, neuroscience, information and
* Babeș-Bolyai University
Lingua A. Linguistics
computer science. Each and every one of these different experts had become aware
that only by drawing together these various disciplines could they make progress in
their respective fields. Thus, they began the search for “a unified science that would
discover the representational and computational capacities of the human mind, and
their structural and functional realization in the human brain” (Miller, 2003: 144).
Eventually, they succeeded in defining “a new area of cognitive processes, which over
time came to be known as cognitive science” (Peters and Weiss, 2006: 79). The term
cognitive science was coined by Christopher Longuet-Higgins in 1973, and in the
same decade the journal Cognitive Science and the Cognitive Science Society were
This rapidly evolving interdisciplinary study aims to establish whether and how
intelligence may be modelled computationally, and thus focuses on issues pertaining
to learning and development; language acquisition and processing; memory,
attention, perception and action. Over the years, cognitive sciences have made it
possible to conceive of new ways of structuring information, and have pointed out
that the traditional linear approach to information structuring may be replaced by a
novel view which opens “new opportunities for mass customisation in learning and
communication” (Peters and Weiss, 2006: 79). One of the main advantages of such
an approach lies in the fact that it overcomes the frustration one feels when, in an
attempt to structure information, one finds that certain items “do not fit into neatly
defined categories” and, consequently, cannot be represented into simple hierarchical
filing systems (Peters and Weiss, 2006: 79).
Peter and Weiss (2006) outline the history of the new approach to information
structuring, starting from the 1990s when Yahoo “started with a number of high-level
categories” which later expanded, then subcategories were introduced, which, in turn,
“spawned more sub-categories” and categorization was replaced by links between
data entities “described in terms of properties and classes, and their relations”. Finally,
Google “really made it work” since on Google “the search forms the basis for the
result, not the other way around” (Peters and Weiss, 2006: 80). These revolutionary
ontological structures have been used in innovative e-learning applications with
important results, their efficiency being guaranteed by the fact that linear learning
engagements and hierarchy-based interfaces are abandoned in favour of “learning
interfaces where links, relationships and information bridges predominate”, interfaces
that generate “a learning flow which is individualized” (Peters and Weiss, 2006: 81).
Employed by companies such as Airbus to help employees prevent back injuries,
but also by the European Society of Cardiology, for instance, e-learning was also
adopted by various corporations, medical centres, important banks, human resource
consulting firms, county councils, adult learning inspectorates and universities, such
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
as Ashridge Business School, which, in 2004, launched an on-line MBA module.
But, as Andrew Ettinger and Viki Holton (2004: 22) show, due to significant barriers
encountered in implementing e-learning, the “initial wild enthusiasm” was later
replaced by a more cautious approach, or even by reluctance and rejection. The
barriers included the considerable investment and resources required, the cultural
change supposed to take place in the case of both trainers and learners, the enormous
amount of time needed to develop such a platform, the various technological problems
and, last but not least, the loneliness of the e-learners. Here is a systematised chart of
the most significant advantages and disadvantages identified by various researchers
in the field, such as Kurtus (2004), as well as Ettinger and Holton in light of their 2004
research on the impact of e-learning:
potentially efficient training programme
controversial topic
time-saving for users due to:
on-line guides and book-reviews
overviews of various subjects and skills
links to recommended websites
practical difficulties in implementing it:
financial problems
time-related issues
mentality hurdles
staff-training difficulties
technology is advancing at high speed
technological problems may arise
cost-effective training for large groups
high development costs (initially)
creative ways to motivate learners
requires a profound cultural change
can cover the basics efficiently
not appropriate for all types of training
focus on individual learning
lack of a supportive environment
cannot replace good classroom training and the buzz
the ‘where’ and ‘when’ are flexible as the setting is free experienced at the end of a fruitful classroom discusfrom time and place constraints
allows for an adjustable learning pace
does not allow for discussions with peers
individualized learning flow
loneliness of the e-learner
different ways of presenting knowledge
can have a negative second-class image
Consequently, over time, the term e-learning has fallen into disgrace, being
subject to negative interpretations and associated with technical problems, monotony,
dullness and boredom. Thus, out of the need to overcome this negative image,
blended learning has surfaced as a better approach to the process of teaching and
learning. Just like e-learning, blended learning uses interfaces where “the response to
questions of preferred learning styles, knowledge levels, job functions and language
needs determine the order, style and flow of the learning engagement” (Peters and
Weiss, 2006: 81). However, a blended approach implies the use of both classroom
Lingua A. Linguistics
and e-learning activities, both diagnostic tests interpreted by a tutor, and selfadministered ones, direct guidance as well as on-line coaching. This variation is
welcome and highly appreciated by the learners, as it fosters many different but equally
efficient ways of accessing knowledge: far from being isolated behind the computer
screen, as they are bound to be in a strict e-learning course, learners may thus benefit
from the enhanced potential of blended learning approaches, which allow for real
interaction, face-to-face communication and socialising as well, in an environment
where learning is truly valued. Establishing a common-ground between traditional
and e-learning, paving the way from instruction to learning, blended learning gives
learners access to the best of both worlds.
Thus, as Donald P. Buckley (2002: 29) pointed out, at the beginning of this new
millennium, we are in the midst of a profound change, as “our generation has the first
opportunity to enable an educational transition from a reliance on metaphors about
how people learn to an emphasis on pedagogies founded on an understanding of the
cognitive development of learning.” This transition is likely to reach the proportions
of a paradigm-shift, according to Barr and Tagg, as the traditional instructional
paradigm, which stresses “the delivery of content as the principal product of
education”, gives way to the learning paradigm, which emphasises “the need to
ensure that the content is being delivered within powerful learning opportunities”
(Buckley, 2002: 30). Learning-centered instructional technology in tune with the
cognitive development of learning may offer a solution to poor student-learning
outcomes. Thus, Buckley (2002: 30) outlines the four essential factors required by
such a transition: a learning - centered technology that will lead to the formation
of learning-centered communities can only be implemented if transformational
faculty development is coupled with institutional change based on efficient coursemanagement systems.
According to Buckley (2002: 30-32), “the pedagogical feature set” needed in order
to create the desired learning-centered technology includes:
• an interactive environment that may prompt the students “to construct
knowledge, to learn with understanding” by “exploring and interpreting the content
• varied information formats that activate different kinds of learning
opportunities which, being “enabled by different parts of the brain” prevent the
students from perceiving the instructional process as monotonous and make full use
of the “sensory-rich nature of instructional technology”
• electronic communication that offers opportunities for teamwork and
cooperative learning
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
• formative assessment, which, whether structured or open-ended,
encourages “mindful engagement” by allowing the students to “reflect on their
understanding” before tackling new issues, and to develop metacognitive skills
• authoring tools, which “promote the construction of knowledge” and allow
students to benefit from a wide array of information formats and “associated cognitive
• research simulation, essential because “critical inquiry is an acquired skill”,
since the part of the brain responsible with the search for alternative evidence and
with the insightful interpretation of valuable evidence “may have evolved from
perceptual regions of the brain”; therefore, a lot of practice is needed, if the students
are to “develop robust epistemological skills earlier in their academic experiences”
The need for such a learning-centered technology can be the catalyst for
transformational faculty development, which, nevertheless, requires more than the
occasional workshop; it requires “recurrent development cycles in which innovative
products and pedagogies are fashioned, used and refined” (Buckley 2002: 32). Since
faculty communities are made of content experts trained in critical inquiry, these
gifted educators still need training in the cognitive development of learning, if they
are to succeed in using the new instructional technology. By exploring learningcentered and inquiry-oriented teaching styles, the faculty will find it stimulating to
create and promote small projects and technology-assisted student activities that
promote student learning with understanding. However, since the focus should
be not on technology, but on learning, the goal is finding “the simplest possible
entry” into this “technology-assisted world of learning” (Buckley 2002: 33). Given
that collections of learning modules are available on-line, the authoring efforts of
the faculty can be directed, from the start, towards the development of “pedagogies
and activities that exploit the available learning modules” (Buckley 2002: 36). Course
management systems offer at least three classes of tools that promote student learning
with understanding:
• web-based content delivery tools, which “foster the transition from pure
lecture to learning activities” such as problem-based and case-based experiences;
• communication tools that support team-work, foster cooperative learning
and thus allow the faculty members to “step away” form center-stage, and “assume
the role of facilitator”;
• on-line assessment tools, which, in time, will lead to the development of
“routine formative assessment systems”, based on “a web-based homework system”,
which allows for accurate assessment of students’ progress and learning needs and
Lingua A. Linguistics
ensures a “competency-based learning standard” by providing “real-time feedback to
students” (Buckley 2002: 36-37).
Not surprisingly, the students see technology as a natural part of their learning
environment, as they use the Internet not only for leisure and socialization, but for
school work and school research as well. The generation gap between students and
faculty is probably widened by the fact that the former are more Internet-savvy than
the latter. What Diana Oblinger stated in 2003 about North American students is true
of our students now: thus, although most students have grown up with technology,
lack of hardware resources in universities, old equipment and filtering software
limit students’ in-school use of technology. Oblinger (2003: 40-42) summarizes
the ten attributes that Jason Frand has identified as characteristic for the current
“information-age mindset”:
The students
• see the computer as an assumed part of life,
• consider the Internet as superior to television,
• acknowledge that “reality is no longer real”, as digital images can be altered
and “an e-mail sent from someone’s address may not have come from that person”;
• believe that “doing is more important than knowing”, and thus value results
and actions much more than the mere accumulation of facts
• prefer a “trial-and-error approach to solving problems” to the traditional
“logical, rule-based approach”
• see “multitasking” as the natural response to “information overload”
• prefer typing to handwriting
• think that staying connected is essential, and make sure that they are in
touch with their friends, family and peers via cell phones, PDAs and computers (the
Internet, e-mail, Yahoo! Messenger, Hotmail MSN, Skype, chat-rooms, blogs, etc.)
• tend to manifest “zero tolerance for delays”, having “a strong demand for
immediacy” and expecting responses to be quick
• find it increasingly difficult to make the distinction between creator/owner
and consumer in “a file-sharing cut-and-paste world”, living under the impression
that “if something is digital, it is everyone’s property” (Oblinger 2003: 40-42)
Consequently, “the new students”, being the product of a technologically imbued
environment, require faculty able to deal with their new demands and with their
novel needs:
The teachers should
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
• be able to point out the meaning of “authoring” in cyberspace and the
techniques of avoiding plagiarism when doing research on the Internet;
• have the ability to use information technology so as to facilitate cooperative
learning and encourage students to work collaboratively;
• employ varied information formats, making use of web-based contentdelivery tools, a web-based homework system and on-line assessment tools
• offer a wider scope of learning situations
• use the most appropriate techniques for each type of learning activity
• deliver what the students need
• gather together all the important topics previously discussed thus creating a
virtual knowledge repository
• offer students the necessary time to reflect on all the information presented
• offer pro-active support to the learners
• be aware that, by helping others while sharing experience and knowledge,
the students will gain at least as much as they give, enriching the input of innovative
ideas and techniques of study, thus significantly increasing learning efficiency, which
will ultimately benefit the group as a whole
• encourage students to pursue and maintain active membership of discussion
forums and on-line groups relevant to their area of study, enabling meetings with likeminded peers, in the classroom and on-line (by written electronic communication –
e-mails, or via synchronous communication, in a videoconference or in discussion
• be enthusiastic, able to motivate students to start and continue a
• use group dynamics appropriately, ensuring the desired learning outcomes
• offer face-to-face and on-line training meetings
• offer students real-time feedback and
• provide links to diagnostics
The ever more impressive advances in technology and the “information-age
mindset” characteristic of the younger generation, together with recent research in
cognitive science pointing towards the efficiency of learning interfaces that generate
an individualized learning flow have resulted in a rapid growth of interest in computerassisted learning and teaching. While e-learning as such failed to fulfil the original
promise, a more appropriate solution has been found: blended-learning, a learneroriented approach that integrates e-learning strategies within traditional classroom
activities, promoting learning with understanding and encouraging studentautonomy. By the end of this century’s second decade, blended learning will, most
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probably, have been accepted by most, if not all of the people closely involved with
training, as a powerful learning tool, extremely efficient in knowledge management.
Buckley, D. P. (2002). “In Pursuit of the Learning Paradigm – Coupling Faculty Transformation and Institutional
Change”, EDUCAUSE, January/February, Vol. 37, 2002. Available at: http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/
erm0202.pdf; Retrieved on 3 September, 2007.
Ettinger, A. and V. Holton (2004). “E-Learning – A Challenging Journey Started Research Findings from Ashridge
Business School”, The 9th International Telework Workshop, Crete, Greece: 6th – 9th September 2004. Available at: http://
www.ashridge.org.uk. Retrieved on 15 June, 2007.
Ettinger, A. and V. Holton (2004). “E-learning: revolutionary or evolutionary?” Available at: http://www.ashridge.org.
uk. Retrieved on 15 June, 2007.
Miller, G.A. (2003). “The Cognitive Revolution: A Historical Perspective”, Trends in
Cognitive Sciences, Vol 7 (3), March, 141-144.
Oblinger, D. (2003). “Boomers and Gen X-ers Millennials – Understanding the New Students”, EDUCAUSE, July/
August, Vol. 38, 2003. Available at: http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0342.pdf; Retrieved on 4 September,
Peters, K. and M. Weiss (2006). “Understanding Computes: Cognitive Science and Learning”, Convergence, Vol 7 (1),
February. Available at http://www.ashridge.org.uk. Retrieved on 14 June, 2007.
Réalisé et non réalisé dans l’imparfait
Sergiu Zagan-Zelter, Diana Zagan-Zelter*
n this paper, we study to what extent the unaccomplished part of
the French ‘imparfait’ can become accomplished and situations
when the part that appears to be accomplished (due to inferences),
is in fact unaccomplished. We focus on elements such us anaphora,
essential properties of the ‘imparfait’ and ellipsis to show that this
French tense allows the reference to an internal phase of a situation
without providing information about the part that is not described. In
this respect, considering the relation ‘passé simple – imparfait’ as a
background for our study, we argue that the unaccomplished part of
the ‘imparfait’ is in direct relation with the phenomenon of ellipsis.
ellipsis, anaphora, aspect, imperfectivity, narration.
Dans ce travail, nous analysons le problème de l’imperfectivité de l’imparfait
et la relation qui existe entre “l’incomplet”, “l’inaccompli” ou “l’imperfectif ” et le
phénomène de l’ellipse. Dans notre démarche, nous nous appuyons sur les procédés
anaphoriques dont on recourt souvent quand on utilise une phrase avec un verbe à
l’imparfait, sur la relation étroite entre le passé simple et l’imparfait dans le discours
narratif et sur la possibilité de compléter la partie non réalisée de l’imparfait. Dans le
chapitre 2, nous montrons qu’il est possible de saisir la totalité en s’appuyant sur une
partie et dans le chapitre 3, nous montrons que l’imparfait permet de renvoyer à une
partie de la phase interne d’une situation, sans apporter d’information sur la partie
qui n’est pas décrite. Le chapitre 6 présente la possibilité que la partie qui n’est pas
réalisée devienne réalisable et des situations quand la partie qui semble réalisée soit
* Babeș-Bolyai University
Lingua A. Linguistics
en réalité non réalisée. Avant cela, nous abordons la relation passé simple- imparfait
qui est définitoire pour notre étude.
2.Les propriétés essentielles de l’imparfait temporel
L’imparfait a la particularité de traduire des actions ou des états passés, sans les
enclore dans les limites de leur réalisation, sans les présenter comme ayant eu de
commencement ni de fin. (Wagner, 1939 : 320) L’imparfait a été schématisé par Holger
Sten (1952) de la manière suivante:
( )
( )
Ce qu’on observe dans ce schéma est l’absence de la délimitation initiale et finale,
le manque de contrainte dans des espaces bien délimités en ce qui concerne la
réalisation des actions.
L’imparfait temporel (exceptant l’imparfait dans les conditionnelles), a deux
propriétés essentielles : la première est son caractère anaphorique (ainsi nommé parce
que la référence temporelle de la phrase à l’imparfait est construite par rapport à un
autre événement, qu’il s’agit de reconstituer) et la seconde propriété est aspectuelle
(l’imparfait semble décrire un événement en train de se produire). Berthonneau
et Kleiber (1993) soutiennent la thèse anaphorique et considèrent que l’imparfait,
à la différence du passé composé, contient un manque. L’existence d’imparfaits dits
narratifs met en discussion le problème de l’imperfectivité de l’imparfait. Ainsi, les
événements mentionnés en Le lendemain, Paul téléphonait à Marie sont présentés
comme s’étant produits plutôt qu’en train de se produire. Mais dans une phrase comme
Quand je suis entré il y a deux minutes, Paul téléphonait à Marie, rien n’indique que
Paul ait à l’heure actuelle terminé la conversation au téléphone. La caractérisation de
l’imparfait comme un état englobant crée une imperfectivité possible: l’état peut se
continuer après la fin de l’événement. La propriété d’imperfectivité peut expliquer la
thèse selon laquelle le temps n’avance pas avec l’imparfait.
Dans l’exemple: Paul entra. Marie téléphonait. nous notons x < y le fait que x
débute avant y et x ⊆ y le fait que début (x) ≥ début (y) et fin (x) ≤ fin (y). Nous
comprenons par cela que Marie ne peut pas cesser de téléphoner avant que Paul
n’entre. Mais, si nous considérons la situation: Paul téléphona. Marie entrait. et
que nous tenions compte de la représentation avec x et y, nous pouvons découvrir
une situation assez bizarre: la fin (x) ≤ fin (y) peut signifier que Marie continue
à entrer même après que Paul cesse de téléphoner. Une telle possibilité peut être
acceptée si nous introduisons en discussion le phénomène de l’ellipse: Marie peut
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
être la secrétaire qui entre et sort régulièrement. Par l’imparfait alors, on annonce
non seulement une partie d’un événement, mais aussi une partie d’une situation
habituelle; à l’aide de l’ellipse, de la partie, on saisit l’habituel, c’est-à-dire la totalité.
Un autre aspect que nous voulons soutenir est en opposition avec l’idée selon laquelle
le temps n’avance pas avec l’imparfait. Dans l’exemple ci-dessus, le temps avance si
on saisit l’événement dans sa totalité ou dans son aspect répétitif. La représentation
début (x) ≥ début (y) signifie que Marie entrait toujours, même avant le coup de fil.
3.L’ellipse aspectuelle (le cas de l’imparfait)
L’imparfait de rupture apparaît en général après le passé simple et entre ces
deux moments c’est l’ellipse explicite qui prédomine: Lorsque le notaire arriva avec
M. Geoffrin [...] elle les reçut elle-même et les invita à tout visiter en détail. Un mois
plus tard, elle signait le contrat de vente et achetait en même temps une petite maison
bourgeoise ( Maupassant 1999 : 292). Paul Imbs (1968) considère que l’action décrite
par l’imparfait ne fait plus partie de la narration proprement-dite parce que la trame
des événements est finie. Cet imparfait de rupture qui suit à l’ellipse, fonctionne
comme une extension de la narration au-delà des événements déjà accomplis.
Dans La Pipe en sucre de M. Rolland, Carl Vetters montre qu”il y a une relation
entre l’imparfait narratif et l’ellipse narrative: Deux semaines après, on lui coupait
les deux jambes, et le deux février suivant, deux chevaux la menèrent au cimétière.
(Caudal & Vetters, 2005 : 54). Tout le monde comprend que la personne est morte et
est conduite au cimétière pour être enterrée et non pas pour se promener. On peut
donner deux autres exemples, de James H. Chase:
Le Vautour attend toujours et de Simenon: Tout Simenon: Il grommela, mit le contact et
la Morris démarra. Dix minutes plus tard, les deux hommes se trouvaient dans une petite
chambre chichement meublée, éclairée par une ampoule poussiéreuse et sans abat-jour
qui pendait lamentablement du plafond sale. (Caudal & Vetters, 2005 : 54).
Il lui donna le numéro de l’immeuble, endossa son pardessus et quelques instants plus
tard, il y avait une silhouette sombre de plus à marcher à pas rapides dans le brouillard. Ce
ne fut qu’au coin du boulevard Voltaire qu’il trouva un taxi. Les avenues, autour de l’Etoile,
étaient presque désertes. (Caudal & Vetters, 2005 : 54).
Dans ces deux exemples d’ellipse, il s’agit d’un trajet pendant lequel il ne se passe
rien de significatif. Personne n’est surpris de constater qu’un personnage qui finit par
trouver un taxi au boulevard Voltaire se trouve, dans la phrase suivante, déja du côté
de la place de l’Etoile.
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Dans le contexte narratif, l’imparfait permet de renvoyer à une partie de la
phase interne d’une situation, sans apporter d’information sur la partie qui n’est pas
décrite. Caudal et Vetters (2005) ont nommé ce phénomène ellipse aspectuelle. Le
contexte narratif ne contredit pas le contenu aspectuel de l’imparfait mais il ajoute
l’information aspectuelle qui n’a pa été donné par ce temps. L’imparfait exprime un
type particulier du point de vue imperfectif et renvoie à une sous-partie de la phase
interne, de sorte que la phase résultante et le changement d’état associé font l’objet d’une
ellipse aspectuelle. C’est le contexte qui permet d’inférer que la phase résultante a été
atteinte. Voilà un exemple de La nuit du carrefour de Simenon: Quelques instants plus
tard, Maigret descendait (e1) l’escalier, traversait (e2) le salon aux meubles disparates,
gagnait (e3) la terrasse ruisselante des rayons déjà chauds du soleil. (Caudal&Vetters,
2003: 55) On constate que c’est e2 qui permet d’inférer que e1 a atteint sa borne de
droite et qu’une transition a eu lieu. En effet, Maigret ne peut pas être en train de
traverser le salon tant qu’il n’est pas arrivé en bas de l’escalier. Or, l’affirmation que
Maigret est en train de traverser le salon est prise en charge par le narrateur, même
si l’inférence qu’il a effectivement traversé le salon n’est pas explicitée, mais inférée à
son tour sur la base de e3. Autrement dit, l’imparfait a sa valeur sécante normale et
sature une partie de l’interval (qui ne comprend pas la borne de droite); l’autre partie
(avec la borne de droite) n’est pas explicitée par l’imparfait. On pourrait dire qu’elle
fait l’objet d’une ellipse narrative et le contexte est celui qui permet d’inférer que la
borne de droite a été atteinte.
4.Imparfait au début et à la fin du récit
Berthonneau et Kleiber (Berthonneau & Kleiber 1993) considèrent qu’il est
difficile de commencer un récit par une phrase à l’imparfait isolée. C’est pour cela
qu’une phrase comme Il y avait d’abord ce visage allongé par quelques rides verticales,
telles des cicatrices creusées par de lointaines insomnies, un visage mal rasé, travaillé
par le temps (Ben Jelloun 1985 : 7) demande le recours à l’aspect anaphorique de
l’imparfait, aussi bien qu’une analyse de son aspect elliptique. Le mot d’abord oblige
le lecteur d’admettre l’existence d’un personnage dans sa totalité, tout en le forçant de
se fixer sur un aspect qui exclut une grande partie du portrait.
On trouve l’imparfait au début d’un récit, quand la trame événementielle n’est
pas encore mise en place et qu’il s’agit simplement d’indiquer au destinataire qu’il
est question de données passées: Il était une fois... . L’imparfait de fin de récit et vu
par Paul Imbs (1968) présente les événements comme des moments (nous préférons
le terme moments à celui d’états utilisé par Imbs, parce que expliquer l’imparfait de
rupture en termes d’état est inexact, - cela reprend la vieille conception de l’imparfait
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
duratif) dans lesquels le narrateur voit les héros installés, et caractérise l’atmosphère
finale du drame. On peut comparer cet imparfait à la fin du récit avec la dernière
image d’un film qui devient une photo fixe et sur laquelle s’affiche le générique, pour
que le spectateur éprouve la sensation floue et agréable d’une histoire terminée qui
continue à lui faire impression. Le lecteur continue à compléter la dernière “image”
du livre avec des choses qui se sont déjà passées, à la différence du lecteur qui lit une
première phrase comme Il était une fois et qui doit compléter l’espace libre au fur et
à mesure.
5.La relation passé simple – imparfait
Dans l’exemple Le 12 septembre 2003, il pleut / il pleuvait à Birmingham,
on découvre le fait que le passé simple et l’imparfait sont anaphoriques. Dans
cette commune nécessité d’un support temporel, le passé simple marque le point
d’incidence au temps du procès pleuvoir (sans pour autant indiquer précisément la
localisation temporelle de ce point), alors que l’imparfait ne le marque pas. Dans La
nuit vint. M. Marambot se coucha à son heure ordinaire et s’endormit. Il fut réveillé
par un bruit singulier. Il s’assit aussitôt dans son lit et écouta. (Labeau 2007 : 29),
nos connaissances du monde nous demandent de poser entre l’endormissement et
le réveil ultérieur un certain temps. Le passé simple franchit cette ellipse sans le
concours d’un circonstant. La sécution s’endormir < être rêveillé demande que ce
second procès soit représenté à partir de son point d’incidence au temps. L’imparfait,
lui, ne peut franchir cette ellipse par ses propres vertus et exige un adjuvant du type
x temps plus tard: La nuit vint. M. Marambot se coucha à son heure ordinaire et
s’endormit. Il ? était réveillé / Deux heures plus tard, il était réveillé par un bruit
singulier. Il s’assit aussitôt dans son lit et écouta. (Labeau, 2007 : 29) L’explication
aspectuelle est qu’à la même demande cotextuelle de représentation du procès à partir
de son point d’incidence du fait de la succession, l’imparfait, de par son instruction
[ - incidence], répond négativement.
6.La perfectivité / l’imperfectivité de l’imparfait
Selon Dospinescu (Dospinescu 2000), tant qu’un autre événement ne vient pas
arrêter le cours de l’événement, l’imparfait reste ancré dans le passé par sa partie
déjà réalisée et, pour sa partie non réalisée mais réalisable (peut-être), ouvert sur le
présent de l’énonciation avec lequel il peut interférer: - Tu fais quoi maintenent? / - Je
lis, enfin je lisais. [= je ne lis plus, je réponds à la question mais je peux reprendre
ensuite la lecture] (c’est nous qui soulignons). La possibilité que la partie qui n’est pas
réalisée devienne réalisable tient d’un contexte plus large: s’il s’agit d’un examen pour
Lingua A. Linguistics
la préparation duquel un étudiant consacre beaucoup de temps et que la question
vienne juste avant le départ vers la faculté (il s’agit de deux collègues qui vont ensemble
à la faculté), il est possible que la partie qui manque ne soit jamais réalisable: l’étudiant
passe l’examen
et suit
une carrière
autre domaine
et il ne continue
plus la
je regardai
elle traversait
la rue.
lecture du livre. Mais, si l’étudiant échoue à l’examen, il est possible qu’il reprenne la
lecture duNous
livre. C’proposons
est pour cela que
nous possibilités
considérons que
partie non réalisée
le signifié
de l’im
une ellipse, dont la récupération tient du contexte.
d’un procès perçu dans toute sa dimension ou non. Soit A
Prenons s’il
Quand je regardai vers le magasin, elle traversait la rue.
qui signifient le parcours d’une personne qui traverse une rue. Soit X u
Nous proposons quatre possibilités de schématiser le signifié de l’imparfait et
établir s’il
d’un procès La
dans toute
sa dimension
ou non. Soit
B deux
ce parcours.
le parcours
de A
tel qu’i
points qui signifient le parcours d’une personne qui traverse une rue. Soit X un point
regarde.La flèche représente le parcours de la personne, tel qu’il est
ce parcours.
perçu par celui qui regarde.
Dans la première situation, on peut voir que tout le processus est vu par celui qui
regarde. En b., on voit seulement le parcours X – B et on infère que la personne a
Dans la première situation, on peut voir que tout le processus est vu pa
regarde. En b., on voit seulement le parcours X – B et on infère que la p
parcouru la période A – X avant que celui qui regarde ne voie. En c., celui qu
même s’il n’a pas vu tout le parcours, infère que la personne va aboutir à B.
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
parcouru la période A – X avant que celui qui regarde ne voie. En c., celui qui regarde,
même s’il n’a pas vu tout le parcours, infère que la personne va aboutir à B. En d.,
on peut repérer la personne au milieu du trajet A – B et d’inférer que la personne a
traversé et va traverser la rue. En fait, il se peut que les choses se passent d’une autre
manière pour les points b., c. et d. Pour b., la personne peut remplir seulement le
segment X – B si elle doit aller de B à X pour récupérer un objet qu’une autre personne
a jeté du point B. Ainsi, la personne part de B, arrive à X et retourne à B avec l’objet
récupéré. Le segment A – X n’a été jamais parcouru, donc en réalité, traversait [AB]
= traversait [AB - AX]. En c., il se peut que la personne qui traverse, se souvienne de
quelque chose et retourne. Alors, traversait [AB] signifie traversait [AB - XB]. En d., il
est possible qu’une personne soit laissée au milieu de la rue par une voiture et qu’elle
monte dans une autre voiture. C’est le cas où la personne ne traverse pas la rue et le
trajet pourrait être représenté par traversait [AB] = traversait [ - AB].
7. Conclusion
Dans le chapitre antérieur, nous avons proposé quatre possibilités de schématiser
le signifié de l’imparfait et d’établir s’il s’agit d’un procès perçu dans toute sa dimension
ou non. Nous avons montré le fait que les inférences n’aident pas toujours à remplir
les espaces libres et qu’on peut utiliser un verbe à l’imparfait qui dénote le mouvement
pour faire référence à un manque total de mouvement. Avant cette démonstration,
nous avons étudié des problèmes comme: les propriétés essentielles de l’imparfait
temporel, l’ellipse aspectuelle, l’utilisation de l’imparfait au début et à la fin du récit et
bien sûr, la relation parfait simple – imparfait.
Ben Jelloun, T. (1985). L’Enfant de sable. Paris: Seuil.
Berthonneau A.-M. & Kleiber G. (1993). « Pour une nouvelle approche de l’imparfait: l’imparfait, un temps
anaphorique méronomique », Langages, 112, 55-73.
Caudal, P. & Vetters, C. (2005). «Que l’imparfait n’est pas (encore) un prétérit».
P. Larrivée & E. Labeau
(éds.), « Nouveaux Développements de l’imparfait » - Cahiers Chronos, 14, Amsterdam/Paris/New York : Rodopi,
Dospinescu, V. (2000). Le Verbe. Iasi: Junimea.
Imbs, P. (1968). L’emploi des temps verbaux en français moderne. Essai de grammairedescriptive. Paris: Klincksieck.
Jayez, J. et all. (1998). Le temps des événements. Paris: Kimé.
Labeau, E. & Larrivée, P. (2005). Nouveaux Développements de l’imparfait. Amsterdam / Paris / New York: Rodopi.
Lingua A. Linguistics
Labeau, E., Vetters, C. & Caudal, P. (2007). Sémantique et diachronie du système verbal français. Rodopi.
Maupassant, G. (1999). Une vie. Paris: Hachette.
Sten, H. (1952). Les temps du verbe fini (indicatif) en français moderne. Copenhague: Munksgaard.
Sthioul B. (1995). Imparfait et focalisation. Genève: Université de Genève.
Touratier, C. (1996). Le système verbal français. Paris: Colin.
Wagner, R.-L. (1939). Les phrases hypothètiques commençant par “si” dans la langue française des originès à la fin du
xv-ème siècle. Paris: Droz.
Wunderli, P. (1980). Du mot au texte. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag.
Teaching Adult Learners – Difficulties
and Rewards
Kovács Réka*
er vorliegende Artikel befasst sich mit Aspekten des
Fremdsprachenunterrichts für Erwachsene. Da erwachsene
Lerner schon über ein reiches Sprachrepertoire verfügen, können
frühere Spracherfahrungen als einträgliche Quellen verwendet
werden, die den Lernprozess erleichtern können. Im Sinne des
Erwachsenenunterrichts sollte die Aufgabe des Sprachlehrers nicht nur
darin bestehen, die Bedürfuisse der Lernenden zu erkennen, sondern
auch ihre Lernerwartungen mit den Zielsetzungen des Unterrichts
zu verbinden. Im Folgenden werden die Englischkurse für Anfänger
im Rahmen des Lingua-Sprachzentrums dargestellt und gleichzeitig
Erfolge und Schwierigkeiten sowohl der erwachsenen Lernenden
als auch des Lehrers hervorgehoben. Es werden Beispiele geliefert,
wie die Lernhindernisse überwunden und die Kursteilnehmer zum
erfolgreichen Lernen ermuntert wurden.
Erwachsenenunterricht, Bedürfnisse, Zielsetzungen,
kommunikative Fähigkeiten, Schreiben, Grammatikunterricht,
Hindernisse, Erfolge.
Teaching adult learners can be described as a complex process involving
the intricate, mutually complementary and many-sided relationship between the
learners and the teacher. At the same time, it can be considered a lucrative field with
rewards accompanied by frustrations that would have either positive or negative
impact on the classroom actors. Teaching adults requires not only the sound
knowledge of management skills and teaching techniques, but also a certain degree
of flexibility, sensitiveness and empathy towards adult learners and the language
itself. In such an interdependent environment, an effective teaching-learning process
could come into being, provided the instructor is able to find equilibrium between
the sides and manages to combine the above practices for the common goal of both
learners and the teacher.
That is why questions like “How can adult learners be taught effectively?”, “How
can they be led once again into the world of learning?”, “How can their language
* Babeș-Bolyai University
Lingua A. Linguistics
awareness be raised?”, “How can adults be motivated, encouraged, evaluated and even
monitored?” or “How can the needs of adults be identified and their expectations
met during the classroom activities?” sound familiar to and should be a subject of
concern for every language teacher engaged and interested in adult teaching. This is
but a short list of challenges and dilemmas regarding the feelings of teachers involved
in teaching adult learners.
However, the course instructors’ uncertainty, doubts and anxiety about the
learning-teaching process can even triple once he or she is confronted with further
issues of great significance, such as gaining the sympathy of the students, preparing
the lessons, highlighting the language, selecting the materials or, last but not least, the
impact of the topics on the adult learners and on their feelings. “Will they like me?”
“Do the subjects relate to their interest and speak to them evoking an immediate
response?” “Can the issues lead to a personal reaction?” These are a few of the many
concerns and problems teachers would face.
Besides the above-mentioned obstacles, language teachers can often experience
other difficulties, mainly when teaching foreign languages to adult learners at
beginner level. Since these students have no command of the foreign language
and yet they are endowed with communicative competencies, having a particular
language background and possessing a well-formed “world awareness”, the teacher’s
job and responsibilities towards both the students and the language are much more
complicated and varied.
Needs assessment
In order to avoid any potential pitfalls or to prevent any problems from occurring,
language teachers have to be fully aware of the different needs adult learners may
have. For achieving this, teachers have to establish connections between the needs and
aspirations of the students and the objectives of the course with the aim of providing
not only a pleasant and enjoyable class atmosphere but also a useful, interactive
learning-teaching medium.
Thus, in order to respond positively to the adult learners’ expectations, the first step
to be taken – both by the teacher and the teaching establishment – is to recognise and
identify the needs of adult students. Since many of the learners have only a vague idea
of the objectives they would like to achieve by learning a foreign language, it is vital
for them to form an idea about the language course and the teaching establishment.
It is therefore of utmost importance for the future learners to try and specify their
objectives concerning the studied language and furthermore to match these objectives
to those of the teacher, language course or teaching institute. In this first stage of
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
looking for and recognising the own objectives, the students may also learn about
their personality, thereby becoming aware of certain characteristics of it. Knowledge
of their own identity may play an important role in determining their behaviour and
attitude towards the teaching-learning process, as well as in their selection of learning
methods. When realising these objectives, the students should also ask themselves
about the areas where they wish to use the foreign language or about the skills they
intend to acquire.
Following the specification of the learning objectives, assessment should occupy a
major position and should be integrated in the learning material. In this way, students
will have the opportunity to check and evaluate their adopted strategies, as well as
the application of these techniques. Assessing the progress, comparing the newly
acquired knowledge to the previous one and receiving constant motivation from
the instructor would encourage the learners, leading them to success. Nevertheless,
during the course, the objectives of the adult students may change and at the same
time alterations may take place in their identity. Therefore, the aforementioned
factors might have a decisive part in the continuation of the course. The more clearly
the objectives are defined and the more effectively the teaching/learning strategies are
implemented, the better chances the students have to acquire the foreign language.
In addition to the identification of the students’ expectations, it is also extremely
useful, and even advisable, for a teaching establishment to improve its knowledge
of the future learners. Tailoring the needs of the learners to those of the teaching
institute would prove to be the source of a fruitful collaboration in the long run. That
is why, in order to satisfy the changing needs of the students, teaching establishments
and staff should also be characterised by a high degree of adaptability and flexibility
offering onward consultancy or advisory service in order to better meet the demands
of all parties (Richterich, Chancerel 1980: 17-42).
Teaching a foreign language to adult learners at beginner level means the
consideration and application of a wide range of new classroom approaches and
techniques. However, a course instructor may rightfully ask these questions: “Do the
students already have some previous knowledge in the foreign language?” or “Can
the students’ knowledge of their mother tongue be exploited in a way to enhance
success?” Owing to the fact that adult students have already a certain level of fluency
in more than one language and that they regularly use it in everyday life with some
degree of self-confidence, they are able to constantly grasp at their invaluable linguistic
resources taking full advantage of them for their own benefit. Thanks to the already
existing linguistic resources and language skills, students can speed up the process
of learning the foreign language. Apart from that, learners’ anxiety may be reduced,
confidence and motivation may be added to the class activities, and thus students can
Lingua A. Linguistics
be helped to contribute to the lesson in a variety of ways, depending on their previous
language experience.
As long as the learners’ linguistic resources are utilised, many difficulties might
be overcome, while problems and misunderstandings might be solved. Because the
above resources may be well exploited by both the teacher and the students, the
different aspects of language learning like the teaching of vocabulary, pronunciation,
comprehension, grammar and writing, to name but a few, may be facilitated, thus
providing the learners with sufficient exposure to new language items. Alternatively,
students may be encouraged to develop their ability to relate to topics, to predict,
deduce and infer, compare and get meaning from contexts or give meaning to
situations. In a nutshell, the personal contribution to the class would definitively
arouse the learners’ interest, curiosity and motivation towards the foreign language
(Nicholls, Hoadley-Maidment 1988: 80-85).
In addition to these resources, the students’ mother tongue and cultural heritage
could turn out to be generous aids in understanding and identifying the language
difficulties students may face. Being aware that a person’s way of thinking and feeling
is rooted in their mother tongue could help the teacher not only in error correction
but also in understanding the communication difficulties students might undergo.
It is common knowledge that, at the initial stages of learning a foreign language,
the students’ repertoire is limited to those few utterances already learned and that
they must constantly think in their mother tongue before or while speaking. Even
– when having a simple conversation – learners become aware of what they actually
mean only after delivering the message. Therefore, in order to understand essential
information or to structure their ideas, students may often need to think in or use
their mother tongue; moreover, in certain cases, they would also need explanations in
their native language. In this sense, teachers will manage to better monitor the process
of referring back to mother tongue equivalents and supervise the way students would
sort out their ideas and apply learning strategies of their own (Nicholls, HoadleyMaidment 1988: 97-103).
As opposed to the previous idea, according to which adult students could benefit
from their linguistic repertoire, it should also be noted that adult learners’ experience
could be a drawback as well, a hindering factor in the learning process. Indeed, adult
learners’ past experiences could play an important role in their learning activity, but
at the same time they could have a negative impact on the learning techniques and
strategies adults would implement. To put it simply, negative learning experiences
could constantly remind adult students of their past failures. That is why adults may
frequently approach learning tasks with preconceived ideas or even preconceptions
that would prevent them from reaffirming the objectives or simply from choosing the
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
most appropriate and effective learning strategies. In other words, since adult learners
can never start with a totally blank mind, negative experiences may hold adults back,
discourage and deter them from forming or improving their own learning styles.
In addition, other barriers to learning could be emphasised, some of which are
external in nature, being caused by domestic and financial difficulties, while others
are of internal nature, arising from psychological or physiological problems. When
considering factors like adult learners’ personal identity, life goals, marital status,
families, sex, personal finances, their disposal over free time, the balancing of fulltime work with part-time studies, timetable, etc., we could draw the conclusion that
enrolling for a language course may not only affect their domestic environment and
everyday life or lead to subsequent changes in the students’ personal identity, but
could also result in alterations in behavioural and emotional adjustments in family
life. All these negative outcomes may go together with the other barriers created by
the teacher himself/herself. Hence, the teacher’s personality, his/her personal attitude
towards the students, the choice of teaching techniques, the lack of empathy or
attention, and imperfections in the teaching environment may also be regarded as
negative points that could be sometimes crucial in the learners’ decision of continuing
or completing the language course (Huddleston, Unwin 2002: 79-107).
As a consequence, we could ascertain that teaching adult learners may pose
challenges and difficulties, but also provide perspectives and opportunities to every
language teacher. Nearly all the time teachers may get the impression of tiptoeing
on a minefield, where they can constantly witness as well as experience situations
with hidden difficulties, unexpected joy, and where instructors have to pay attention,
be patient and open-minded or show sensitiveness and understanding towards the
students’ attitude. Teaching adult students is a complicated process, so it is not possible
to follow absolute rules that would insure success. However, it is worth bearing in
mind that teaching itself is not a personality contest where instructors should aim
for popularity; it is rather success that would derive from the teacher’s competence
and knowledge of handling the situation, from knowing what to do (Lewis, Hill 1993:
Sharing my teaching experience
When teaching English language to beginner adult students at the Lingua language
school of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, course instructors
may encounter several difficulties, which however could be well managed and even
overcome, as long as the teachers pay enough attention to them and come up with an
answer to the challenges.
Lingua A. Linguistics
Teaching Speaking
As far as speaking is concerned, we could observe that beginner students often
run into difficulties when having to speak freely or express their views about subjects.
Since they have only limited language resources, it can be difficult to convince them
to speak or use their productive skill in a meaningful way. Thus, at the early stages
of the language class, adult students are generally confused using a kind of mixture
of English and their mother tongue. In addition, the lack of self confidence or the
awareness that they have no precise knowledge of the grammar rules could be
regarded as serious impediments in the learning process.
In spite of the difficulties adult students would face, it is vitally important to give
them speaking tasks that would encourage and provoke them to use the language
at their command. Getting students to have free discussions or take part in roleplays would stimulate their interest and motivate them to develop their spoken
communication skills. This element of real life may help them to understand what
communicating in English really feels like. Besides this, good speaking activities can
be highly motivating provided all the students participate fully, and the feeling that
they belong together or have the same aims would give them enormous confidence
and satisfaction (Harmer 1998: 87-96).
In what follows, we would present some speaking tasks that proved to be creative,
stimulating and popular among the students attending the Lingua language courses
at beginner level. In the first unit “International English”, the students learned about
countries and nationalities. The next class, they received several cards with foreign
names on them and in pairs they had to guess each other’s nationalities and countries
they were from. The aim of this exercise was not only to practise the already acquired
structures, but also to encourage spoken fluency and successful communication.
Later on the learners were given the pictures of certain personalities and their task
was first to present these famous people, and second to write short paragraphs about
them. By the use of such cards or pictures the students managed to overcome their
anxiety of “getting involved” in the topic or discussion more easily.
Another case in point would be the unit “Food and Drink”, where the students
learned the special vocabulary of communicating in a restaurant, of ordering food
and drink and of writing a menu. Several practice activities followed the presentation
of the new language, their aims being accuracy and the correct manipulation of
language patterns. At this stage, the students were also provided with menus and
they had to role-play simple conversations in a restaurant. By putting the language
in context, the learners managed both to practise the language and to acquire several
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
key functions – starting a conversation, inviting people, making suggestions, asking
for help, asking for and offering things, agreeing and disagreeing, etc. - a foreigner
would need when speaking English.
As a consequence of such activities, we could remark that the students managed
not only to express their views in the form of a free discussion but also to get rid
of their fears of using the English language. Since all the above activities involved
an element of information gap and the demand that the students would interact in
order to complete the tasks, the adult learners were highly motivated and strived
to communicate. Under relaxing and motivating circumstances, the elements of
frustration were offset by the interesting and engaging nature of the tasks.
Teaching Writing
Another area of concern for the teachers of English would be the teaching of
writing to adult students. It is again a widely held view among the language teachers
that mastering the ability to write effectively should be a key objective for the learners.
Due to the fact that writing can be used for a variety of purposes, ranging from being
the background for grammar teaching to reinforcing the language to be taught,
teachers should lay a special stress on both the development and improvement of the
students’ writing skills.
As compared to oral communication, writing presumes different mental processes
students would go through. Since writing is not time-bound, learners have more time
to reflect upon their ideas and consult dictionaries or grammar reference sources
so that they will use the language accurately. After going through all these phases,
students could become better writers and could learn how to write in various genres
using different registers.
When helping students to become better writers, teachers have a number of
vital tasks to perform. First of all, learners need to be made aware of the writing
conventions and genre constraints in specific types of writing. Second, teachers need
to act as motivators and provokers, mainly because learners tend to be reluctant
when expressing themselves in different contexts. Besides these roles, the teachers’
responsibilities would be to support and reassure the students, react to their written
work and, finally, evaluate it (Harmer 2004: 31-43).
Next, we would like to highlight by means of a few examples how the adult students
coped with the challenges of writing at the Lingua English courses. In order to
encourage learners to write teachers should bring some energy and excitement in the
process of writing. Successful activities could not be organised and performed unless
a strong, engaging context is created. Thus, with the aim of generating motivation,
Lingua A. Linguistics
writing activities were combined with the use of visual aids (e.g. describing photos of
family members) or students were often asked to carry out the writing task in groups,
using a limited number of words. The latter method proved to be quite provoking,
and the idea of competition added an extra incentive to the writing approach.
Teaching Grammar
Another important aspect closely linked to speaking and writing skills would
be the teaching of grammar. Since nearly all the students have a reluctant or even
rejecting attitude towards grammar, language teachers have to come up with
interesting and exciting class activities that would contribute not only to a better
understanding of grammar rules, but also to encouraging students and wiping out
their misconceptions.
As I have observed during my teaching experience, adult students prefer the
deductive approach to the inductive one and in general are unfamiliar with learning
grammar through texts. Although in real life we experience texts in their entirety and
in their contexts of use, adult students tend to detach language from the context. It
would seem they would rather analyse sentences in isolation than groups of sentences
or even texts. Somehow they lose their self-confidence, get scared of a text or simply
refuse dealing with contexts (Thornbury 1999: 69-90).
Moreover, their anxiety reaches a peak when having to handle grammar exercises
embedded in speaking or writing tasks. At this stage, adult learners should not only
be encouraged by their teachers but also be led into and adjusted to activities that
combine grammar with other skills. In this context group work, dialogues and roleplays could be generous sources that would foster their learning and help them to get
rid of their inhibitions when practising the English language.
As the above examples point out, adult learners reacted well to the set of interactive
and challenging activities. What’s more, they turned out to be quite flexible and
sensitive towards different tasks, despite the fact that at the early stages of the
language course they needed to be carefully convinced and motivated to accept the
new teaching methods and learn from these. Little by little, adult learners gained selfconfidence and later on managed to successfully juggle with the foreign language.
In conclusion, we could take the view that teaching adult students is both
rewarding and frustrating – feelings that are familiar to all those engaged in the
teaching-learning process. It is not only the teachers who may encounter difficulties
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
or experience success, but also the adult learners who may go through positive and
negative phases.
The key to a fruitful interaction and collaboration is the identification of the needs
and their adaptation to and combination with the objectives to be set.
Harmer, Jeremy (1998). How to Teach English. Essex: Longman.
Harmer, Jeremy (2004). How to Teach Writing. Essex: Longman.
Hopkins, Andy; Potter, Jocelyn (1994). Look Ahead. Classroom Course. Essex: Longman.
Huddleston, Prue; Unwin, Lorna (2002). Teaching and Learning in Further Education. London, New York:
Lewis, Michael; Hill, Jimmie (1993). Source Book for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Oxford: Heinemann
English Language Teaching.
Nicholls, Sandra; Hoadley-Maidmnet Elizabeth (1988). Current Issues in Teaching English as a Second Language to
Adults. London, New York: Edward Arnold.
Richterich, René; Chancerel, Jean-Louis (1980). Identifying the Needs of Adults Learning a Foreign Language. Oxford:
Pergamon Institute of English.
Thornbury, Scott (1999). How to Teach Grammar. Essex: Longman.
Marele dicţionar român-polon
ca un “text cultural”
Joanna Porawska*
es linguistes, surtout ceux qui reconnaissent les bases
anthropologiques dans leur recherche (parlant dans ce cas
également de l’histoire des mentalités), ont souvent constaté que d’un
dictionnaire de la langue transparaît la réalité au sein de laquelle celuici a été élaboré. Le dictionnaire reflète une langue et une culture non
seulement par ce que l’on peut y trouver, c’est-à-dire une certaine
liste de mots-titres et les définitions utilisées, mais aussi par ce qu’il
en manque. Le Nouveau Dictionnaire roumain-polonais (Édition de
l’Université Jagiellonne, Cracovie, 2009) est un terrain intéressant
d’investigations dans ce sens. Ses auteures, Halina Mirska Lasota et
Joanna Porawska, se sont basées sur le premier corpus d’exemples
du dictionnaire, élaboré dans les années ’80 du siècle dernier, l’ont
actualisé et l’ont préparé pour la publication. Dans le processus de
rédaction du Grand Dictionnaire roumain-polonais, toute une série
d’exemples/contextes employés antérieurement ont été abandonnés
ou remplacés par d’autres. L’analyse de ces exemples nous permet
d’observer les processus qui ont eu lieu dans la mentalité des Roumains
et dans celles des Polonais, dans une période relativement courte,
de 1989 jusqu’à présent, les processus étant conditionnés surtout
par les transformations sociales, les mutations idéologiques et les
changements politiques de ce temps
dictionnaire roumain-polonais, exemples, transformations
Consideraţii introductiv-teoretice. Pe baza acordului între Academia
Polonă de Ştiinţe (PAN) şi Academia Republicii Socialiste România, s-a elaborat şi
s-a publicat la Varşovia, în 1970, primul “Dicţionar român-polon”. În acelaşi timp, la
Institutul de Lingvistică din Bucureşti au pornit lucrările având ca scop elaborarea
dicţionarului polon-român, dar el nu a fost publicat până acum. În consecinţă, un
mare dicţionar polon-român (mă refer în această comunicare la seria dicţionarelor
mari), elaborat de vorbitori nativi de română, nu există încă. În aceste condiţii, acum
câţiva ani, când am aflat că o lucrare de acest fel a fost deja elaborată în mare parte
de dr. Halina Mirska Lasota, o renumită specialistă în domeniul limbii române, am
luat decizia să mă ocup de actualizarea acestui dicţionar şi de editarea lui. Această
* Jagielloński University, Cracovia, Poland
Lingua A. Linguistics
mare lucrare lexicografică (aproximativ 45 de mii de articole), la publicarea căreia
s-a renunţat după schimbarea situaţiei economice a editurilor după 1989, rămăsese
neterminată. După aproape un deceniu de muncă de actualizare şi editorială,
dicţionarul a apărut în anul 2009 la Editura Universităţii Jagiellone, la Cracovia.
Lucrarea noastră se adresează în primul rând publicului larg. Bineînţeles, un astfel
de dicţionar trebuie să cuprindă şi unii termeni de specialitate, chiar unele forme
învechite şi regionalisme, necesare, de exemplu, celui care studiază limba română,
celui care citeşte literatura română veche şi clasică, traducătorului. El cuprinde şi
informaţii de tip cultural, legate de istorie, politică, mitologie şi religie (mai ales
cea ortodoxă, de ex. denumirile sărbătorilor) – informaţii fără care unele articole
ar fi neinteligibile pentru polonezi. La actualizarea lucrării am introdus anumite
modificări, astfel încât dicţionarul să devină “user-friendly” pentru cititor. Chiar dacă
nu se dovedesc a fi în perfectă conformitate cu instrucţiunile tradiţionale, deciziile
noastre au fost determinate de ceea ce am putea numi adecvarea la cititor, urmând
binecunoscutul principiu al utilităţii publice al lui E. Coşeriu, după care “cercetătorul
nu are dreptul să se izoleze , ca într-un turn de fildeş, în sfera îngustă a specialităţii
sale, vorbind exclusiv pentru şi pe înţelesul <savanţilor>”. (Munteanu 2005:37).
Credem că acest dicţionar este menit să fie de folos în primul rând cititorului
obişnuit, care nu posedă nici cunoştinţe filologice specializate, nici cunoştinţe
specializate în alte domenii. Nu am evitat, aşadar, explicaţiile de tip enciclopedic,
atunci când le-am socotit importante pentru înţelegerea unui anumit lexem de către
cititorul polonez. Am încercat să introducem şi neologismele apărute în limba română
în ultimii 20 de ani. Actualizarea şi revizuirea primei versiuni a fost însă o muncă grea,
dat fiind faptul că au existat puţini specialişti (sau nu există deloc; de exemplu jurişti,
politologi, dar şi ingineri etc.) care să cunoască bine ambele limbi. Numai cei care au
astfel de competenţe - şi lingvistice şi într-un domeniu bine precizat - pot hotărî dacă
echivalenţele date sunt corecte sau nu. Şi vorbim despre situaţia unor limbi pentru
care nu s-au elaborat dicţionare de specialitate bilingve, în ţări în care resursele
financiare pentru ştiinţă sunt încă minime. În consecinţă, viitorii cititori care vor
consulta în acest dicţionar, de exemplu, termeni juridici, nu vor găsi întotdeauna ceea
ce au nevoie – dat fiind faptul că nu am găsit specialişti care să cunoască amândouă
sistemele juridice. Este mai simplu să stabileşti un echivalent exact din domeniul
medicinei, decât din domeniul juridic, chiar administrativ – pentru că şi realitatea
diferă în cele două ţări. Spre surpriza mea, chiar termenii botanici, cu toate că au şi
denumirile latine, revizuiţi după 20 de ani, au suferit multe modificări.
O situaţie aparte am avut la lexicul religios, unde am pornit de la ideea că termenii
româneşti trebuie traduşi prin termeni din limbajul ortodocşilor polonezi. Pentru
că limbajul acestora este puţin dezvoltat şi puţin descris în cadrul limbii polone
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
(majoritatea polonezilor fiind catolici), corpusul acesta a cerut mult efort şi timp
(1). Aşadar, am conştiinţa că prima ediţie a dicţionarului nu este perfectă (oare un
dicţionar poate fi perfect?), dar, cu timpul, va fi revizuită şi ea.
Constatarea că limba îmbătrâneşte şi că, după 20 de ani care s-au scurs de la
culegerea materialului lexical, s-a schimbat realitatea şi limba care o reflectă, este
un truism. În acest text nu mă voi ocupa de totalitatea schimbărilor care trebuiau
efectuate în procesul de actualizare, această muncă fiind descrisă parţial în articolul
meu publicat anterior (Porawska 2006). Necesitatea introducerii noilor cuvinte şi
a noilor sensuri este evidentă, mai ales astăzi, în lumea dominată de internet. Nici
descrierea complexă a elementelor fals prezentate existente în dicţionarele publicate
în România şi în Polonia din această perioadă nu va constitui scopul prezentării mele.
Deformarea imaginii cultural-lingvistice a lumii, efectul ideologizării din perioada
trecută în amândouă limbile este descrisă în câteva lucrări de sinteză şi într-o serie
de articole (Zafiu 2007 şi alţii). E. Coşeriu, în articolul său “Limbaj şi politică” vorbea
despre “uzul lingvistic determinat de atitudinile şi ideologiile politice, de valorile şi
nuanţele speciale pe care cuvintele – cele care aparţin terminologiei politice ca atare,
dar şi multe din limbajul curent – de obicei le dobândesc în cadrul unor anumite
ideologii” (Coşeriu 2002:20); şi, mai departe: “în regimurile <autoritare> atât de
dreapta, cât şi de stânga, termenul <partid> ajunge să fie folosit pentru [partidul
unic], adică pentru ceva care ar părea să fie negarea ideii înseşi de <partid> şi apare în
construcţii care indică explicit această <unicitate> (<a intra în Partid>, <a fi membru
de Partid>) (ibidem).
Intenţia mea este de a prezenta un fragment al imaginii cultural-lingvistice a
lumii anilor 80 ai secolului trecut, aşa cum transpare ea din descrierea lexicografică
din primul corpus de exemple al dicţionarului nostru. Mai precis, un fragment al
acestei imagini, descris pe baza articolelor eliminate sau modificate de noi în timpul
revizuirii, sau, cel puţin, a celor care au căpătat indicaţia ist. şi care s-au referit la
“limba de lemn”, la limbajul politic şi economic al epocii.
Începând cu Hasdeu, Şăineanu şi Tiktin – ca să enumăr numai câteva nume de
mari lexicografi români, lingviştii au atras atenţia că un dicţionar de limbă reflectă
şi, în acelaşi timp fixează, nu numai o anumită etapă a dezvoltării lingvistice, ci şi
fragmente ale realităţii şi ale experienţei umane. Din cauza acestei “oglinzi a societăţii”
(2), pietrificate în limbă şi descrise sub formă de dicţionar, lucrările lexicografice
pot fi un câmp de investigaţie interesant şi un teren de analize, arătând imaginea
cultural-lingvistică a lumii. Cercetarea de acest tip a cunoscut o dezvoltare deosebită
în Polonia în ultimele decenii (există deja o tradiţie în domeniu, astfel încât putem
vorbi despre un cognitivism polonez). Aceasta presupune, la modul general, privirea
lumii prin prisma limbajului, interpretarea ei pe baza analizei datelor lingvistice,
Lingua A. Linguistics
iar “analiza datelor lingvistice permite reconstituirea acestor reprezentări, stabilirea
modalităţii în care un polonez interpretează lumea, observă trăsăturile lucrurilor şi
ale persoanelor, le stabileşte ierarhia, precum şi locul omului în cadrul acestui univers”
(Bartmiński, Panasiuk 1993:347). E. Coşeriu spunea, în articolul citat anterior, că
textele politice pot fi studiate “ca orice text, în sens <filologic>, adică în calitate de
documente, ca surse de informaţie istorică sau istorico-culturală, inclusiv în ceea ce
priveşte concepţiile şi ideologiile politice” (Coşeriu 2002:24).
În aceeaşi ordine de idei, o opinie asemănătoare formulează Mariana Neţ într-unul
dintre articole. Autoarea scrie, în concluziile analizei sale, referitoare la cercetarea
operelor lexicografice: “Dicţionarele de limbă constituie şi un instrument util pentru
studiul culturii şi al civilizaţiei la un moment dat, pentru că reflectă evoluţia acestora”
şi, în continuare “Evoluţia limbii, evoluţia lexicografiei şi evoluţia civilizaţiei sînt în
interdependenţă” (Neţ 2005:455-470).
Cercetarea propusă de mine se situează într-un cadru teoretic mai amplu al
etnolingvisticii actuale, definită de E. Coşeriu “în aşa fel încât ea să corespundă unei
<lingvistici e s c h e o l o g i c e> (....), care să studieze în totalitatea sa contribuţia
<cunoaşterii lucrurilor> cu privire la configuraţia şi funcţionarea limbajului”
(Coşeriu 1994:134) (3). Pornind de la corelaţia limbaj – cultură în aşa conturată de
E. Coşeriu etnolingvistica propriu-zisă sau lingvistica etnografică “obiectul de studiu
este limbajul” , este vorba de “fapte lingvistice ca fiind condiţionate de <cunoaşterile>
despre lucruri” (ibidem:135). “Etnolingvisticii limbii îi aparţine, în mod cert, studiul
faptelor unei limbi ca fiind motivate de cunoaşterile (idei, convingeri, concepţii,
ideologii) despre <lucruri> (...)” (ibidem:145).
Autorii dicţionarelor bilingve cunosc, în general, nu numai limbile pe care le
descriu, ci şi realitatea vieţii popoarelor care le folosesc. Regretata Halina Mirska
Lasota, după studii şi doctoratul susţinut în România, a lucrat toată viaţa la Agenţia
Poloneză de Presa ca redactor responsabil cu ţările socialiste (1956-1986), predând
concomitent limba română la Universitatea din Varşovia. Perioada îndelungată
de contacte cu limbajul presei româneşti din epocă şi multe experienţe personale,
lucrarea ei ştiinţifică din domeniul lingvisticii (4), efectuarea de numeroase traduceri,
toate acestea constituie o garanţie a excelentei cunoaşteri a ambelor limbi şi, în acelaşi
timp, a realităţii anilor din perioada trecută. În corpusul iniţial al dicţionarului nostru
apar cuvinte şi contexte specifice epocii, multe provenind din presa românească a
anilor 70’-80’(5). Materialul descris îl constituie aşa numitele solidarităţi lexicale
(unităţile sintagmatice), adică colocaţiile care aparţin „discursului repetat” (Lingvistica
integrală 1996:36) care au apărut ca exemple în materialul cules în anii 70 ai secolului
trecut. “Ceea ce a fost fixat în limbă este (a fost), de asemenea, fixat în conştiinţa
socială într-o perioadă istorică concretă” (Bartmiński, Panasiuk 1993:373) Analizând
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
exemplele, contextele folosite anterior, aşa cum apăreau ele în presa epocii, modificate
de noi în timpul revizuirii, putem contura deci şi imaginea conştiinţei sociale a anilor
70-80 ai secolului XX, sau, cel puţin, imaginea ei dorită de conducătorii vremii.
Ilustraţii practice. Grupul cel mai mare de exemple care au suferit modificări
este din domeniul “limbii de lemn” a epocii, mai ales din domeniul politicii şi, în al
doilea rând, din cel al economiei (6). Cel mai des am luat hotărârea de a schimba
exemplul sau de a-l completa prin indicaţia ist. sau polit., mult mai rar am eliminat
articolul în întregime. Conştiinţa noastră lingvistică de după anul 2000 ne-a
determinat să schimbăm contextele folosite anterior.
a. Realitatea politică. Aşadar, activitatea Partidului Comunist (Român – în
România), numit muncitoresc în Polonia (Polska Zjednoczona Partia Robotnicza) a
constituit o zonă lingvistică foarte bine reprezentată în limbajul presei de atunci.
Realitatea perioadei anilor 70-80 poate fi parţial reconstituită, scoţând la iveală
următoarele aspecte (7):
1. modul de funcţionare a partidului
congrés n (pl ~e) 1. zjazd m; kongres m; ~ de partid <de sindicate> zjazd partyjny
<związków zawodowych>; ~ ştiinţific kongres naukowy;
I. ~ul Partidului Comunist Român
II. ~ de partid <de sindicate>
lărgí|t, ~ta adj (mpl ~ţi, fpl ~te) rozszerzony, poszerzony
s-a scos contextul plenara lărgită
Urmează exemplele care arată:
2. apartenenţa la partid:
mémbr|u, ~ă (mpl ~i, fpl ~e) I n , (..) II m, f człon/ek m, -kini f; ~u de sindicat
członek związku zawodowego
I. ~u de partid
II. ~u de sindicat
candidá|t, ~tă m, f (mpl ~ţi, fpl ~te) kandydat m, -ka f; ~t la preşedinţie kandydat
do urzędu prezydenta
I. ~ de partid
II. ~t la preşedinţie
exclúde I vt (exclúd) wykluczać; wyłączać; a ~ dintr-un partid wykluczać
z (jakiejś) partii
I. a ~ din partid
II. a ~ dintr-un partid
epur|á vt (~éz) 2. przen. oczyszczać; usuwać; polit. a ~a rândurile funcţionarilor
przeprowadzić czystkę w szeregach urzędników
Lingua A. Linguistics
I. a ~a rândurile partidului
II. a ~a rândurile funcţionarilor
3. modul propagandistic de a gândi
transpare din următoarele exemple:
líni|e f (pl ~i) 11. linia f; punkt m; kierunek m; zarys m; în ~i generale
<mari> w ogólnych zarysach; pe toată ~a na całej linii; polit. pe ~e de stat po linii
I. pe ~e de partid
II. pe ~e de stat
învăţătúr|ă f (pl ~i) 1. nauka f; ~a lui Hegel doktryna Hegla
I. ~ă marxistă
II. ~a lui Hegel
învăţăm|ânt n (pl ~inte) 2. nauczanie n; program de ~ânt program m nauczania
s-a scos exemplul program de ~ânt în politică <ideologic, de partid>
evolúţi|e f (pl ~i) 1. ewolucja f; rozwój m; ~a gândirii filozofice rozwój myśli
I. ~a gândirii marxiste
II. ~a gândirii filozofice
gândír|e f (pl ~i) 2. myśl f; ~e umanistă myśl humanistyczna
I. ~e marxistă
II. ~e umanistă
4. lupta pentru pace a „lagărului” comunist:
lágăr n (pl ~e) 1. wojsk. obóz m; ~ de prizonieri <de concentrare> obóz jeniecki
s-a scos exemplul ~ socialist<capitalist>
menţínere fsing utrzymywanie (się) n, trwanie n; ~a ordinii <păcii> zachowanie
n porządku <pokoju>
I. ~a păcii
II. ~a ordinii <păcii>
alătur|á (~éz) II vr a se ~a 2. przyłączać się, przystępować; a se ~a mişcării pentru
drepturile omului przyłączać się do ruchu na rzecz praw człowieka
I. a se ~a mişcării pentru pace
II. a se ~a mişcării pentru drepturile omului
5. atitudinea faţă de (aşa numita) lumea a treia:
deşteptá (deştépt) I vr a se ~a 1. budzić się; rozbudzać się; m-am ~t târziu
obudziłem się późno; przen. natura se deşteaptă la viaţă przyroda budzi się do
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
I. popoarele se deşteaptă la viaţă
II. natura se deşteaptă la viaţă
capituláţi|e f (pl ~i) polit. praw. kapitulacja f (= konwencja między państwami,
z których jedno zapewnia drugiemu ochronę prawną jego obywateli)
(= convenţie impusă unei ţări semicoloniale de către o ţară capitalistă,
în virtutea căreia aceasta obţine anumite privilegii pentru cetăţenii săi stabiliţi
II. (= convenţie care asigură cetăţenilor unui stat anumite privilegii pe terioriul
altui stat)
6. realitatea politică nouă de după 1989:
guvérn n (pl ~e) rząd m; ~ de coaliţie <minoritar> rząd koalicyjny
Articolul iniţial a fost redactat fără context, s-a adăugat : ~ de coaliţie
fundáţi|e f (pl ~i) 2. fundacja f; Fundaţia pentru Drepturile Omului Fundacja na
rzecz Praw Człowieka; Fundaţia Culturală Română Rumuńska Fundacja Kultury
Nu au existat exemplele, am adăugat: Fundaţia pentru Drepturile Omului;
Fundaţia Culturală Română .
integr|áre f (pl ~ări) 2. ekon., polit. integracja f; ~area producţiei integracja
produkcji <produkcyjna>; ~are în structurile euroatlantice włączanie się do struktur
euroatlantyckich; ~are europeană integracja europejska
I. ~area producţiei
II. ~are în structurile euroatlantice; ~are europeană
intrá vi (íntru) 7. zaczynać, rozpoczynać ; a ~ de serviciu rozpoczynać
<obejmować> dyżur; am ~t în douăzeci de ani rozpocząłem dwudziesty rok życia
s-a scos colocaţia: a intra în câmpul muncii
naţionál, ~ă adj (mpl ~i, fpl ~e) narodowy; venit ~ dochód narodowy; problemă
~ă kwestia narodowa <narodowościowa>; minoritate ~ă mniejszość narodowa;
s-a adăugat: minoritate ~ă
nesupúner|e f (pl ~i) nieposłuszeństwo n, nieuległość f, niesubordynacja f; ~e
civilă nieposłuszeństwo obywatelskie
s-a adăugat: ~e civilă
7. experienţele româneşti sau cele poloneze:
După experienţele poloneze din 1981, cuvântul marţial a căpătat şi exemplul –
colocaţia a introduce legea marţială, iar
activist a căpătat indicaţiile polit., peiorativ.
b. Realitatea economică a anilor 80 transpare din următoarele exemple din
domeniul economic, în sens larg, care se referă la:
Lingua A. Linguistics
8. proprietate:
particulár, ~ă (mpl ~i, fpl ~e) III m 1. osoba prywatna 2. właściciel m sklepu
<zakładu>, pot. inicjatywa prywatna, prywaciarz m
Am scos indicaţia învechit ( dawn.) şi exemplul: a cumpăra de la particulari
editúr|ă f (pl ~i) wydawnictwo n; ~ă de stat <particulară, ştiinţifică, universitară>
wydawnictwo państwowe <prywatne, naukowe, uniwersyteckie>
s-a adăugat: <particulară, ştiinţifică, universitară>
9. impozite:
hotăr|î (~ăsc) I vt 5. uchwalać;
I. parlamentul a ~ât desfiinţarea impozitelor parlament uchwalił obniżkę
II. parlamentul a ~ât mărirea impozitelor parlament uchwalił podwyżkę
impózit n (pl ~e) ekon. podatek m; ~ pe venit <pe autovehicule, pe salariu>
podatek dochodowy <samochodowy, od zarobku>
s-a adăugat: pe salariu
gríl|ă f (pl ~e) 4. przen. próg m (wyborczy, podatkowy)
s-a adăugat: fin. ~e de impozitare
10. cumpărături:
găs|í (~ésc) III vr a se ~i 2. występować (w przyrodzie)
I. în magazine nu se găseşte nimic
a fost înlocuit prin:
II. în Silesia se ~eşte mult cărbune
găs|í (~ésc) 6. dostać; zdobyć; kupić; am fost la magazin, dar n-am ~it
nimic convenabil byłem w sklepie, ale nie udało mi się kupić niczego, co by mi
prima versiune:
I. am fost la magazin, dar n-am ~it nimic
a fost completată prin:
II. nimic convenabil:
coádă f (pl cózi) 8. kolejka f; ogonek m; ~ la casă kolejka do kasy; ~ pentru
bilete <carne> kolejka po bilety <mięso>; a face ~ stać w kolejce; a cumpăra fără ~
kupować bez kolejki
prima versiune:
I. ~ pentru carne
completată prin
II. la casă; ~ pentru bilete
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
nimer|í (~ésc) III vr a se ~i 2. pot. trafić <nawinąć> się; citeşte tot ce se ~eşte
czyta wszystko, co się trafi <jak leci, pot. jak popadło>
I. cumpără tot ce se ~eşte
II. citeşte tot ce se ~eşte
Am renunţat la articolul nechezol din cauza absenţei unui echivalent polonez.
desfiinţ|áre f (pl ~ări) zniesienie n, likwidacja f; ~area unui program likwidacja
I. ~area cartelelor
a fost înlocuit prin
II. ~area unui program
“Limba se transformă sub influenţa schimbărilor de regim, atât ca instrument
al descrierii, cât şi ca instrument implicat în aceste schimbări” iar “Percepţia (...)
lumii depinde de punctul de vedere adoptat (...) care decide modul de a vorbi despre
evenimentele social-politice, influenţează interpretarea fenomenelor, evaluarea şi
estimarea lor” (trad. ns) (Kamińska-Szmaj 2001:7). Opinia citată a Irenei KamińskaSzmaj, lingvistă poloneză care a descris limbajul politicii de după 1989 în Polonia, îşi
găseşte confirmarea în materialul lingvistic analizat, referitor la trecutul comunist,
în linii mari comun în România şi în Polonia. Autoarea observă, în continuare, că,
dându-şi seama de compromiterea limbajului din epoca trecută şi dorind să rămână
pe scena politică, politicienii şi ziariştii erau conştienţi de necesitatea de a-şi schimba
comportamentul comunicaţional, în conformitate cu noul context politic.
Ciocnirea între formele vechi şi cele noi este resimţită mai ales în procesul de
traducere, dicţionarele bilingve care răspund necesităţilor urgente ale vieţii fiind
aşadar un teren de investigaţie interesant şi pentru analize de tip cultural-lingvistic.
Autorii lor, care trăiesc, de obicei, în două lumi create de limbile comparate, observă
mai bine unele fenomene, iar realitatea îi împinge să introducă în dicţionar unele
forme şi semnificaţii care lipsesc din dicţionarele unilingve. Bineînţeles, contextele
care, în cazul dicţionarului român-polon, le-au înlocuit pe cele din anii 70-80,
pot deveni cu timpul şi ele un teren de cercetare. Ele vor fi probabil modificate în
dicţionarele viitoare, pentru că, nemaifiind oprimată de sistemul unui „partid unic”,
realitatea se schimbă repede, iar internetul influenţează puternic cantitatea şi calitatea
comunicării interumane.
Lingua A. Linguistics
1. Nici în dicţionarele explicative româneşti (adică punctul de plecare pentru munca noastră) acest domeniu nu a
fost bine elaborat. În anul 2000, Rodica Zafiu observa: “Terminologia bisericească e lacunar şi uneori chiar incorect
prezentată în multe dintre dicţionarele noastre moderne; acest lucru e poate chiar mai evident pentru lexicul catolic
decât pentru cel ortodox” (Zafiu 2000). Şi, în continuare, “ (...) în dicţionarele de după război, ca efect al cenzurii
ideologice, prezenţa termenilor bisericeşti (şi cu atât mai mult a celor catolici) e redusă la minimum” [ibidem].
2. ”căci nemic mai social ca limba, <creatorul şi oglinda societăţii>, fără care nu se pot asocia doi indivizi şi s-ar
spulbera într-o clipă orice comunitate umană” (Hasdeu 1988:VII).
3. E. Coşeriu atrage atenţia, într-o comunicare prezentată în 1978, asupra faptului că etnolingvistica s-a dezvoltat
până acum într-un mod fragmentar, iar “în cadrul programului <Wörter und Sachen> şi al geografiei lingvistice, s-a
acordat atenţie în principal relaţiei dintre limbaj (în special: lexic) şi cultura populară <materială>. (...) Însă aceasta
este insuficient, deoarece condiţionarea limbajului prin <lucruri> şi prin <cunoaşterile despre lucruri> depăşeşte cu
mult ceea ce a fost considerat până acum ca atare” (Coşeriu 1994:133).
4. Halina Mirska Lasota (1930-2006) a susţinut în 1974, la Facultatea de Limbă şi Literatură Română a Universităţii
din Bucureşti, teza de doctorat intitulată Aspectul verbal în limba română (pe baza comparaţiei între limba polonă şi
limba română), conducătorul tezei fiind prof. Alexandru Graur.
5. Unele explicaţii din interiorul articolelor se datorează experienţei îndelungate de viaţă a Halinei Mirska Lasota.
Acest factor important la autori de dicţionare (vârstă şi experienţă) nu poate , totuşi, înlocui existenţa operelor
lexicografice cuprinzând , mai ales, cuvintele din limba de lemn din perioada comunistă în România, unde străinul
ar putea găsi formele nechezol, obsedantul deceniu, patrioţi, petreuşi etc.
6. În prezentul articol nu mă ocup cu termenii specializaţi, ştiinţifici din domeniul economiei ci, mai degrabă de
formele din limbajul general, de fiecare zi.
7. Pentru a uşura lectura prezint schimbările efectuate sub forma unei scheme, în care apare articolul citat (sau un
fragment al lui) în forma lui actuală, iar sublinierile au fost introduse de mine pentru nevoile acestui text, pentru
a pune în relief fragmentele modificate. Cifrele romane sunt folosite dupa modelul următor: I – pentru exemplul
anterior, II – pentru contextul actual.
1. Bartmiński, J. Panasiuk. (1993). Stereotypy językowe, (in:) Encyklopedia Kultury Polskiej XX wieku t. 2. Współczesny
język polski. coord. J. Bartmiński , Wrocław , 363-387.
2. Coşeriu, E. (1994). Lingvistică din perspectivă spaţială şi antropologică. Chişinău: Ştiinţa.
3. Coşeriu, E. (2002). “Limbaj şi politică”, Identitatea limbii şi literaturii române în perspectiva globalizării, volum
îngrijit de Ofelia Ichim şi Florin-Teodor Olariu, Iaşi: Editura Trinitas, 17-40.
4. Kamińska-Szmaj, I. (2001). Słowa na wolności. Język polityki po 1989 roku. Wrocław:Wydawnictwo Europa.
5. Hasdeu B.P., Studii de lingvistică şi filologie 1, p. VII, Bucureşti:Editura Minerva, 1988.
6. Lingvistica integrală. Interviu cu Eugeniu Coşeriu realizat de Nicolae Saramandu. (1996). Bucureşti:Editura
Fundaţiei Culturale Române.
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
7. Munteanu, E. (2005). Introducere în lingvistică. Iaşi: Polirom.
8. Neţ, M. (2005). “Urbanizare şi dicţionare”, Limbaje şi comunicare: Colocviul Internaţional de Ştiinţe ale Limbajului:
ediţia a VII-a, Suceava – Cernăuţi, 2-5 oct. 2003, vol. VII, Ed. Universităţii Suceava, pp. 455-470.
9. Porawska, J. (2006). “Problemele elaborării noului dicţionar român-polon”, Identitatea culturală românească în
contextul integrării europen, volum îngrijit de Marius-Radu Clim, Ofelia Ichim, Laura Manea, Florin-Teodor Olariu,
Iaşi: Editura Alfa, 291-296.
10. “Słownik rumuńsko-polski” (1970).
Warszawa: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Wiedza Powszechna, red. Jan
11. Zafiu, R. (2000). “Lexicografice şi bisericeşti”, România literară, nr.46, 22 noiembrie.
12. Zafiu, R. (2007). Limbaj şi politică. Bucureşti: Editura Universităţii din Bucureşti.
„Esquemas de rumano.
Gramática y usos lingüísticos”
la importancia del aprendizaje de la morfología en el proceso de adquisición del rumano
por estudiantes extranjeros
José Damián González-Barros*
he present study describes the activity of the Department of
Romanian Language from Escuela Oficial de Idiomas in Madrid. In
my position of a member of this department I will take into discussion
a useful method we successfully apply in the teaching/learning
process of the Romanian language. In the ‘70s the Romanian language
was learned by philologists only. Starting with 1999, due to the great
number of Romanians coming in Spain, a great number of persons
needed to learn the language of the country. A publishing house
from Madrid came up with a successful idea for the books teaching
the Romanian language: some tables used during the revision classes
that include both grammar aspects and vocabulary notions – specific
for diverse communication contexts These tables were useful in order
to make a synthesis of the Romanian morphology, where, more than
often the exceptions from the rule are the rule itself.
Diagram, table, revision, study, morphology
Para el estudio del rumano en España, el año 1976 representó, sin duda
alguna, un hito importante ya que fue entonces cuando comenzaron los cursos de
esta lengua en la Escuela Oficial de Idiomas de Madrid. Las Escuelas Oficiales de
Idiomas son centros de titularidad estatal creados en 1911 con el fin exclusivo de
enseñar lenguas extranjeras a cualquier ciudadano mayor de catorce años que deseara
aprenderlas por razones diversas, lo que hacía que el público-meta no tuviera, por
tanto, que tener necesariamente una preparación filológica.
El Departamento de Rumano nació para completar la oferta de lenguas románicas,
uniéndose pues a los de francés, italiano y portugués. Posteriormente, alrededor
del año 1985, se crearon los departamentos de gallego y de catalán. Actualmente,
los alumnos pueden elegir entre 20 idiomas: desde los de circulación internacional
(inglés, francés, alemán), hasta otros más minoritarios, como irlandés, finés o húngaro;
todas las lenguas románicas; dos eslavas (ruso y polaco), y también árabe, japonés y
chino, que han conocido en los últimos dos o tres años un aumento significativo en
* Departamento de Rumano de la Escuela Oficial de Idiomas de Madrid “Jesús Maestro”
Lingua A. Linguistics
el número de estudiantes. A estos idiomas se añade también el español como lengua
extranjera en régimen intensivo de dos horas diarias de clase. En la actualidad, el
Departamento de Rumano cuenta con dos profesores, Ana Maria Diaconescu,
licenciada por la Facultad de Lenguas Extranjeras de la Universidad de Bucarest,
y el autor de estas líneas, licenciado por la Facultad de Filología de la Universidad
Complutense de Madrid. Hasta el año 1999-2000, la mayoría de los alumnos que se
matriculaban en los cursos de rumano eran estudiantes de la Facultad de Filología,
tanto de la especialidad de románicas, como de la de clásicas, a los que se unían
personas con diversas formaciones y profesiones, a las que les gustaba estudiar
idiomas y las cuales, después de haber aprendido los de circulación internacional,
querían también conocer una lengua más “exótica”. Además de estos alumnos, había
también personas que habían viajado a Rumanía y que, desde el recuerdo de los días
que habían pasado allí, de los lugares visitados y de las personas que habían conocido,
querían aprender a hablar rumano ya que tenían la intención de volver en un futuro
no muy lejano.
La fecha mencionada anteriormente representa el momento en el que los rumanos
comenzaron a emigrar a España en un número cada vez mayor, y esta situación
supuso, evidentemente, una conexión más estrecha, un conocimiento recíproco, más
directo, entre los dos pueblos, sobre todo en el caso de los españoles, teniendo en
cuenta que hasta entonces Rumanía, los rumanos, la cultura rumana eran muy poco
conocidos por el gran público, lo cual también contribuyó a que aumentara el número
de alumnos de nuestro Departamento y a una diversificación de los mismos. Además
de las tres categorías de estudiantes antes mencionadas, también encontramos ahora
a los que han hecho amistad con rumanos que han emigrado a España, o a los
que se han casado con rumanos/rumanas asentados en nuestro país y que quieren
comunicar con los parientes (suegros, cuñados etc.) que se han quedado en Rumanía.
Están también los que trabajan para empresas españolas que desarrollan su actividad
comercial en este país, otros son maestros o profesores con un número significativo
de alumnos rumanos en sus grupos, otros son trabajadores sociales que se ocupan
de los inmigrantes y sus problemas. Por consiguiente, un grupo muy heterogéneo,
deseoso de conocer la realidad, la cultura, las costumbres de los rumanos, y en este
sentido, la lengua es, sin duda, la mejor manera para entrar en ese nuevo espacio.
En este contexto de gran interés por el rumano, la editorial „Palas Atenea Centro
de Lingüística Aplicada” de Madrid, quiso publicar dos trabajos importantes para
el estudio de este idioma: una serie de tablas para repasar los principales puntos
gramaticales y un vocabulario para varias situaciones comunicativas. La misma
editorial ha publicado (y sigue publicando) trabajos de esta índole en inglés, francés,
alemán, italiano, portugués, español, y también en polaco, ruso, eslovaco, búlgaro,
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
hebreo, etc. El proyecto tiene como objetivo difundir lenguas menos conocidas y al
mismo tiempo ofrecer a los que las aprenden un valioso instrumento de estudio.
La editorial „Palas Atenea” se puso en contacto con nuestro Departamento
para que redactáramos estos dos trabajos, teniendo en cuenta un criterio que
personalmente me ha parecido muy interesante: los “Esquemas” de gramática los
tenía que escribir un hablante no nativo, ya que éste, al haber aprendido esa lengua,
sabe mejor lo que es difícil para un estudiante español y cómo se puede enfocar la
explicación de un determinado aspecto gramatical; mientras que el “Léxico” para
situaciones comunicativas estaba a cargo de un hablante nativo, puesto que éste tiene,
obviamente, un sentido de la lengua que, en principio, un hablante no nativo no
posee. Por lo tanto, yo me encargué de la realización de los “Esquemas”, y Ana Maria
Diaconescu, la jefe del departamento, se encargó del “Léxico para situaciones”.
También deseo subrayar una particularidad de todos los libros de esta serie, un
gran invento de la editorial: las páginas, en formato A5, se pueden desprender del
lomo y se pueden volver a poner en su sitio. Se trata de que el estudiante se lleve sólo
aquellas tablas que quiera estudiar o repasar y poder leerlas en el autobús o en una
pausa en la facultad o en el trabajo, sin tener que cargar con todo el librito.
La primera edición de estas tablas apareció en junio de 2002 con el nombre de
„Esquemas de rumano. Gramática y usos lingüísticos”, y el vocabulario en abril de
2005 con el título de „Léxico para situaciones. Español/Rumano, Român/Spaniol”.
Ambos trabajos tuvieron un gran éxito de ventas, lo que prueba el interés creciente
por el rumano que existe en España.
La experiencia de la realización de estos „Esquemas” fue muy interesante para mí
como profesor de rumano y estudiante de otras varias lenguas extranjeras. ¿Qué deben
contener estos cuadros? Los aspectos gramaticales más importantes de la lengua,
claro está, presentados de manera sucinta (había un límite tanto para las dimensiones
de la página, como para el número de las mismas), con un breve texto en español.
En principio, el objetivo del trabajo no era el de presentar la lengua rumana a una
persona que quisiera acercarse a ella con interés de filólogo o de aficionado al estudio
de lenguas extranjeras, o con la intención de aprenderlas utilizando los cuadros en
vez de un libro de texto. La idea fundamental fue más bien poner al alcance de los
estudiantes de rumano (tanto a los que estudiaban en nuestro Departamento o en la
Facultad de Filología, como a los que estudiaban por su cuenta), una herramienta que
les permitiera repasar las nociones de gramática que habían aprendido de manera
teórica y práctica, pero que les resultaban difíciles y debían sistematizarse y repetirse
fuera de las aulas. Aún más si cabe en el caso del rumano, donde las excepciones a la
regla...son una norma.
Lingua A. Linguistics
Para cualquier extranjero que empiece a aprender rumano existen varias
dificultades que lo ponen a prueba, y en este sentido un problema serio lo constituye
el hecho de que el rumano, a diferencia de otras lenguas, y seguramente de las otras
lenguas románicas, es difícil desde el principio. La diferencia de género (masculino,
femenino, neutro), las formas doi/două, la formación del plural con sus múltiples
desinencias y las innumerables alternancias fonéticas desorientan a cualquier aprendiz
ya desde las primeras lecciones. A todo esto se añade más tarde la conjugación de los
verbos en presente de indicativo, con las cuatro conjugaciones que se transforman en
ocho paradigmas “distintos”, más, otra vez, las correspondientes alternancias fonéticas
(un aspecto en el que el rumano sobresale de manera especial). Esto es suficiente para
que la formación de una frase sencilla se convierta en un verdadero problema al
haber tantas “posibilidades de elección” (género, desinencia de plural, desinencia de
persona...). Esta es la razón por la cual los cuadros debían comprender, en la medida
de lo posible, todo este abanico de irregularidades (o de aspectos que un extranjero
considera como irregularidades, aunque no sean consideradas como tales), como son
las alternancias fonéticas, sistemáticas en rumano, pero una fuente de problemas para
cualquier alumno, que no entiende, por ejemplo, por qué un sustantivo como ceaşcă
tiene un plural ceşti, forma en la que difícilmente se reconoce el singular.
Lo mismo ocurre con la conjugación de los verbos en presente de indicativo.
Debían presentarse no sólo los ocho modelos de conjugación, sino también otros
“modelos” para la primera conjugación (la más difícil para un extranjero), como a
pleca, a cumpăra, a învăţa, a juca.
Para la realización de estas tablas consulté todos los libros de rumano para
extranjeros que tuve entonces a mi alcance y fui cogiendo algo de cada uno de ellos,
comprobando que no todos tenían los mismos esquemas o que no todos eran tan
amplios como hubiera querido, añadiendo otros donde hiciera falta. Otras veces
recurrí también a tablas hechas por mis estudiantes (no pocas veces es el mismo
aprendiz quien hace el esquema o el resumen más adecuado para él). Ese fue el caso
para la tabla con las formas combinadas de los pronombres en dativo y acusativo.
Debo confesar que en ninguno de los manuales publicados hasta ahora encontré
una solución mejor para un aprendizaje eficaz de estos pronombres que siguen
constituyendo un aspecto difícil en el proceso de adquisición del rumano y que, a mi
modo de ver, no estaba enfocado en los libros de una manera satisfactoria.
Tal como ya he mencionado, el límite del número de páginas impuesto por la
editorial (y que en el caso del rumano ya superaba de todos modos el número fijado
para las otras lenguas publicadas hasta entonces), no ha permitido presentar aspectos
gramaticales importantes como el discurso indirecto, ni considerar, aunque fuera
de manera breve, la sintaxis. La rica (y difícil) morfología del rumano se impuso,
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
al ocupar un considerable número de páginas. En el caso de cualquier lengua
románica, la morfología tiene un peso tan grande que un enfoque comunicativo de
la enseñanza/aprendizaje de estas lenguas no puede disminuir la importancia del
estudio sistemático de las formas gramaticales. Ahora bien, en el caso del rumano,
este peso es aún mayor, y por eso considero que un obra de estas características, a base
de tablas de repaso puede ser un muy buen complemento también para un enfoque
comunicativo. No podemos “librarnos” fácilmente de la gramática y es bueno saber
y recordar que, con independencia de la manera en que se vaya a enseñar el rumano,
se tiene que conceder una atención especial a la morfología.
Cross-Cultural Dimensions of Foreign
Language Teaching and Assessment
Ioana Nan*
oreign language learning has become, in recent years, one of the
most important objectives on the educational agendas of European
Union member states. Consequently, the role of foreign language
teachers has also gained in prominence. The idea of the article is that
foreign language teaching makes professionals in the field share the
same characteristics and have the same mission as mediators between
nations and cultures. As far as assessment practices are concerned, the
article raises some questions as to whether it is society who should
influence the setting of learning standards or, rather, standards which
should determine what is to be acknowledged as valuable in a given
Educational policies, foreign language teaching, assessment,
The teaching and assessment of foreign languages are areas difficult
to define outside and across national or cultural boundaries, as they depend to a
significant extent on local social, political and educational contexts whose variety of
content and purpose cannot be easily ignored.
However, the need to transcend spatial limitations and engage actively in intercultural communication has become, especially in recent years, an important item
on the educational policy agendas of many countries around the world, as well as
a central goal for education in the EU member countries. The desirable effect of
developing cultural knowledge “and empathy with people of other languages and
cultures”1 and of “deepening students’ understanding of the peoples and places of
the world [in order to] foster an attitude of respect for those cultures”2 has come to
be seen as one of the direct results of foreign language learning and therefore as one
of the most important tasks of foreign language teaching. Thus, from the point of
view of the Council of Europe, modern language teaching should aim at promoting
* Babeș-Bolyai University
Lingua A. Linguistics
not only “the personal development of the individual”, but also “a positive attitude
towards other cultures, free from prejudice, intolerance and xenophobia.”3
On the other hand, research has shown that it is still not certain to what extent
language learning activities and programmes will actually produce these positive
cross-cultural attitudes unless they are specifically structured to do so by including
communicative language teaching as well as thorough knowledge and understanding
of the “real” target culture defined as the native speakers’ “way of thinking, feeling and
viewing the world”.4 In this context, the role of language teachers as cultural mediators
becomes crucial, and their special status among teachers comes to the fore. Therefore
it might not be entirely irrelevant to ask ourselves whether, if it is only logical and
usually taken for granted that the teacher makes the subject, the subject can also
make the teacher – in other words, whether there is something about the subject
matter of language that distinguishes it (and its teachers) from other subjects.
Research over the years has shown that questions such as this are not unjustified,
especially since it has been pointed out that most of our current knowledge of teaching
actually comes from subject areas characterized by a paradigmatic type of knowledge
(such as science or mathematics), which might not make it ideally suited to describe
and understand areas such as foreign language teaching, defined by narrative ways
of knowing.5 While “hard” disciplines such as physics or chemistry emphasise
cognitive goals such as learning facts, the “soft” areas of humanities focus more on
general knowledge, character development and thinking skills. Moreover, foreign
language teaching is one of the few areas of the humanities where “the medium is the
message”, that is, “the content and the process of learning the content are the same.6
Consequently, the widely used concept of pedagogical content knowledge, implying
teacher’s knowledge of a subject and of how to teach it, “may not be wholly applicable
to foreign language teaching”.7
These and similar reasons have prompted research into what distinguishes foreign
language teachers from teachers of other subjects. The report publishing the findings
mentions five groups of respondents to this question, including not only experienced
teachers (some of them master students in TESOL at a UK university), but also
pre-service English teachers, subject specialists in fields such as science, chemistry,
mathematics and history, as well as a number of undergraduate students in English.
The respondents, all of them non-native speakers of English, came from various
countries in Europe, with two groups based in Hungary and Slovenia each.
The findings seem to confirm the researcher’s intuition that the topic deserves
further attention and resources. Roughly placed into two categories, these results
describe, on the one hand, the disciplinary characteristics of language teaching, and
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
on the other hand, the features of a good language teacher. Among the disciplinary
characteristics are mentioned:
1. The nature of the subject matter:
Foreign language teaching requires the teacher to use a medium the students do
not yet understand, although all of them will have already learned their first language.
This conclusion also triggered some comments of the conceptual demands of foreign
language learning, especially when it comes to adult, cognitively mature learners,
since it was felt that there might sometimes be a gap between the level of knowledge
one is asked to demonstrate in the foreign language and the more general cognitive
abilities of the learner. The issue will be further dealt with when assessment problems
are discussed.
Furthermore, a foreign language is also felt to be “an inherently ambiguous subject,
less hierarchically organised than maths, for example, and which encompasses a variety
of subdomains.”8 This translates for teachers into greater freedom in the classroom
and autonomy in developing the curriculum, but it also means a necessarily rigorous
selection of the learning areas and purposes.
2. Interaction patterns in classroom work – which, desirable as they are in other
subjects, are not felt to be as necessary as they are in language learning.
3. The professional abilities of language teachers - which are often perceived to be
the equivalent of their proficiency in the target language.
4. The practical outcomes of language teaching – which are not comparable to
those of other subjects (as one of the respondents put it, “Math graduates will not
apply Pythagoras when they go shopping”).
5. Many more adults study languages than they do other subjects - which also
means that language teaching is driven, more than other subjects, by commercial
forces. However, it was pointed out that the subject itself is usually perceived as low
status, even if this status applies to other subjects such as history.
6. Language teaching is a political activity, introducing learners to ways of thinking
and being that reflect those of the target culture. The content of teaching in this case
was seen to be not only the language but the culture behind it.
As far as personal qualities of foreign language teachers are concerned, the
survey results revealed that, even if these were indeed desirable in teachers of other
subjects, they were seen as almost essential in foreign language teachers. Thus, what
was emphasized was the closer, more relaxed and more positive relationship with
learners, along with traits such as creativity, flexibility and a sense of humour.
Encouraging as these results may be, it must be mentioned that much of this
perceived distinctiveness is, as underlined before, context-dependent. Language
teaching is a socially constructed phenomenon, so any further research must pursue
Lingua A. Linguistics
the question with reference to particular educational settings, especially outside
Europe, where educational systems may still share a large enough number of common
aspects. So far, existing research has shown that, despite the different perceptions
of power and authority commonly associated with Asian countries, for example,
students in these surveyed countries also question the traditional authority structure
of the classroom, while European students, although culturally individualistic, have
a positive attitude to cooperating in groups to achieve common goals. The more
progressive methodology usually associated with foreign language teaching may well
serve to promote these positive cross-cultural learning trends.
If language teaching is rated a political activity, so much more is assessment.
Calls for educational reform in countries such as the USA now include a new and
very strong demand for accountability in the form of testing systems that financially
punish or reward schools and educators based on students’ performance. Educational
funding around the world is now tied to reported achievement level.
In Europe, “the impact of the CEFR comes from the fact that it offers a common
metalanguage facilitating transparency and coherence in the provision of language
learning and in the reporting of achievement in it”.9 However, the language tests for
citizenship and immigration have brought to researchers’ attention another aspect of
assessment. Language tests have been compared to roads built by skilled engineers,
and the role of technical expertise as an exercise of power has been called into
question. Drawing on insights in social theory, the proponents of this new approach
to assessment advocate a more discriminate view of standardisation. “Recognising the
other”10 and sustaining diversity are more important, in their opinion, than setting
rigid standards from a position of authority:
“As ‘new Englishes’ have started to emerge, language testers ask themselves how closely a
particular, ‘localised’ variety does – or does not – align with an accepted, or ‘acceptable’,
This, in turn, triggers further considerations about the role of standardisation and
the choice of norms, as well as about the notion of prescriptivism – is there a particular
language variety whose value is inherently higher? The dilemma is well illustrated by
the frequently used comparison “native speaker” versus “non-native speaker”, when
the latter’s is itself a language variety. Moving beyond such traditional debates as
“who owns the language?” by accommodating linguistic diversity and recognising
the existence of “international English” marks the beginning of “a new paradigm
characterised by notions of ‘interdependence and complementary differentciation’”12,
where assessment should primarily take an ethical perspective ensuring fairness and
equity to all stakeholders.
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This is all the more necessary taking into account the significant attitudinal,
behavioural and developmental impact language test scores and their interpretation
might have on individuals or groups. On the other hand, it might be useful to see to
what extent tests and test policies are also influenced by the kind of society where
they are applied. A case in point could be Norway13, a strongly egalitarian society
whose functioning is well illustrated by the unwritten principle according to which
“Thou shalt not think that thou art better than thy neighbour”. The role of school in
the anti-elitist Norwegian society is to wipe out social differences and ensure equity,
so that “the less you have, the more you get”. Under such particular circumstances,
the functions of competition and testing are difficult to grasp or to justify.
However, in the wake of some political changes and education reform, national
tests of English as a foreign language were first introduced at secondary level in 2004.
They consisted in a computerised reading test and a direct test in writing. Teachers
were trained to apply the CEFR standards in assessing both skills. Nevertheless,
the feeling among stakeholders – both test-takers and concerned parents – were so
strong against the supposedly “subjective” assessment of writing that they triggered
a national debate about the reliability and usefulness of the writing test, as a result of
which this was dropped altogether.
It is difficult to imagine such developments in EU member countries that, despite
differences in national standards, are still bound by a unique and commonly accepted
frame of reference. However, the example seems to illustrate that local societal
contexts do determine the need for standards or absence thereof.
This brief excursion into cross-cultural issues of teaching and assessment was
meant to suggest that, as teachers of foreign languages, we are not different from our
colleagues anywhere in the world, and that our work is valuable. On the other hand,
when it comes to assessment, we should probably learn more about how to become
thinkers, and not mere technicians.
Japanese 1999 Course of Study, Foreign Languages (Senior High School), in D.E. Ingram, op. cit.
Trim 1997, in D.E. Ingram, op. cit.
D.E. Ingram, Language Learning and Cross-Cultural Attitudes.
Grossman and Schulman 1987, in Simon Borg, The Distinctive Characteristics of Foreign Language Teachers,
Language Teaching Research 10,1 (2006); pp. 3–31.
Hammadou and Bernhardt 1987, in Simon Borg, op. cit.
Freeman 2002, in Simon Borg, op. cit.
Lingua A. Linguistics
Grossman and Schulman 1994, in Simon Borg, op. cit.
Dr. Brian North, The Educational and Social Impact of the CEFR in Europe and Beyond: a Preliminary Overview,
key-note address, the works of ALTE 3rd International Conference, Cambridge, 10-12 April 2008, pp. 16-17.
10 Tim McNamara, Recognising the Other: Language Assessment, Immigration and Citizenship, key-note address,
op. cit., p. 15.
11 Dr. Lynda Taylor, Setting Language Standards for Teaching and Assessment: a Matter of Principle, Politics or
Prejudice?, key-note address, op. cit., p. 18.
12 idem 11, p. 19.
13 Cecilie Carlsen, Crossing the Bridge from the Other Side: the Impact of Society on Testing Policy, workshop
presentation, op. cit., pp. 32-33.
Borg, S. (2006). “The Distinctive Characteristics of Foreign Language Teachers”, Language Teaching Research 10,1,
Ingram, D. E. (2005). Language Learning and Cross-Cultural Attitudes, http://www.tesolchile.net/documents/
sept2005/DEIngram_fullpaper_Oct2004.htm), accessed November 15, 2008.
The works of ALTE 3rd International Conference, Cambridge, 10-12 April 2008, The Social and Educational Impact
of Language Assessment.
The StS Project – BUILDING AN
Adrian Ciupe*
a linguistique appliquée aux corpus lexicaux est un domaine relativement
nouveau de nos jours à cause des techniques informatiques de
plus en plus performantes. Notre étude présente une idée pratique
originale ayant une application dans le domaine de l’enseignement et
de l’apprentissage de l’anglais pour des buts spécifiques (ESP), tout en
discutant tout d’abord les déficiences des approches traditionnelles, puis
mettant l’accent sur els destinataires du processus éducationnel, par
une « délégation d’autorité » dans l’élaboration des syllabus et des tests
d’anglais au niveau tertiaire. Tout ceci concourt à une familiarisation
des étudiants avec la construction des corpus linguistiques relevantes
dans des domaines spécifiques, aussi au niveau éducationnel que
professionnel (lifelong learning).
ESP, ELT, discours, linguistique, corpus, lexis, collocation, projet,
A Definition
StS = Student to Student; or, StS = Student – teacher – Student. Interestingly
enough, through pure serendipity, the preposition ‘to’ and the noun ‘teacher’ in these
phrases become synonymous, by a coincidental overlapping of the initial letters in
the StS abbreviation / pun, thus clearly indicating a ‘directional’ semantics of the
noun ‘teacher’, one of the central premises of the thesis to be explained below.
ESP (English for Specific Purposes) is a long-established preserve of specialized
English discourse at tertiary level, in practical and theoretical courses, universally
ready-made or more or less locally customized through institutional focus. Any ESP
teaching syllabus will obviously insist on an amount of specialized lexis to be taught
to students in economics, business and political studies and so forth. Although
grammar structures may also inform such courses, this is ‘strangely’ tributary to a
frequency principle – for example, the passive voice in English may rank high on an
* Babeș-Bolyai University
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ESP teacher’s agenda because of the frequency rate of such structures in scientific
ESP lexis is incorporated into ELT (English Language Teaching) materials also
guided by such frequency principles. Specific topic units in various course books
will include domain-specific terms, allegedly topping the word lists that any future
professionals trained in English (as a foreign language) as undergraduates ‘should’
know for immediate evaluation purposes and, ‘maybe’, for their future professional
careers as well.
The relativity signalled in the above statements stems from an increasing awareness
that many of the traditional ways of looking at ESP are ‘traditional’ enough to be
superseded, gradually, by an approach that leaves prescription behind, favouring an
on-going process of method-building and customization of ELT materials.
Of course, teachers keep improving their methods and they keep producing more
adequately customized ESP materials for their students. But is this ‘good enough’? Or
is it just a good excuse, unwittingly brought to the fore as a novelty in ESP teaching?
Because ‘new methods’ might add up to nothing new and may amount to just a minor
– and possibly insignificant – change by the teacher and for the teacher; likewise,
what could ESP / ELT customization amount to? If ELT tailoring is guided by the
teacher for what s/he thinks that his or her students may find useful, this could well
be just a deftly disguised new prescription.
The purpose of this study is to discuss the implications of a possible approach
to ESP by shifting ‘method’ and ‘customization’ of ESP materials from the teacher’s
realm to that of his or her students, through an express focus on specialized corpora
embarked on by students for students, through the guidance of a teacher. The StS
Project is an original idea of the author of this paper, based on ESP learning (and also
teaching) needs constantly observed and ascertained by nearly a decade’s experience.
This study will explain the basic motivation behind such a project and it will also
give a detailed overview of The StS Project itself. Finally, it will present conclusions
derived from its application and evaluation, with a view to enhancing and reinforcing
the method described below, towards logical (and hopefully relevant and useful)
extensions for future pursuits of this kind.
Rationale of The StS Project
A few (boldly rhetorical) questions underlie The StS Project: are ready-made ESP
courses ‘good enough’? Are customized syllabi ‘good enough’? Are dictionaries ‘good
enough’? More daring interrogations may ensue: are teachers ‘good enough’? Are
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
students ‘good enough’? Obviously, such apparently impudent allegations have to be
From experience, teachers may conclude that ready-made courses (a variety of
textbooks produced by leading ELT publishers like LONGMAN, OUP, CUP etc)
are good, but ‘not good enough’ because no matter how ‘advanced’ they are, they
may be too broad and not very easily adaptable to learners’ needs (Harwood 2005:
150). The specialized lexis offered by such textbooks may or may not adequately span
the range of interests and applications present in various departments of economic,
business management or political (and not only) profile faculties. By using online
texts, teachers may try to fill this gap by devising materials more customized to their
students’ needs. However, this may pose different problems.
Online texts are usually used as the ‘starting point’ for a specific vocabulary
activity, examples are carefully gleaned, modified, edited, to assist the non-native ESP
teacher in his or her endeavour of teaching ‘relevant’ terms. Nevertheless, courses
customized by non-native speakers of English may suffer from an ‘alien complex’ that
could be perpetuated by students’ compounded difficulty and confusion in facing
‘real language’ texts in their future careers (McEnery 1996). The simplification of
examples for the sake of an intended ease on the part of the students in acquiring
new structures presents itself as a double-edged problem: on the one hand, simplified
examples may serve the immediate purpose of introducing new specialized lexis. But
is this kind of simplification not prone to clouding the issue when students are faced
with real-life situations / texts?
John Sinclair notes this very dilemma: “When ‘sounds natural’ is examined closely,
it usually transpires that it is almost impossible to invent an adequate example;
attempts made by language teachers, lexicographers and others to represent usage are
often embarrassing and never reliable” (Sinclair 1997: 31). If this quotation refers to
ELT in general, it becomes apparent that if we were to apply Sinclair’s assertion to ESP
teaching, the implications would be even greater. Producing examples in a language
that is not yours, which is further rendered even more problematic by a specialized
field in which you are not an expert, is indeed a formidable task.
So, what could be done? The present study puts forward The StS Project, but I
would first have to attempt an answer to the question ‘Are dictionaries good enough’,
a query I have left for last, obviously, for strategic reasons.
Established ELT publishers keep coming up with innovative approaches to
dictionary building. These new methods are obviously tributary to the latest
advancements in technology, mainly computers. Dictionaries like the ones from
accompanied by interactive multimedia CDs that are meant to supplement and even
Lingua A. Linguistics
replace book formats with electronic versions inspired by contending corpora. It is
true that such dictionaries may offer thousands of sample sentences to illustrate lexis,
all sentences being extracted from the corpora on which these dictionaries are based,
but is this enough? No dictionary could be ‘complete’ enough to offer the ESP learner
a multitude of relevant examples. Dictionaries will continue to retain their general
character as a useful tool or as a means to an end. No matter how innovative they
are at the present time, they are still of secondary importance to either the general
language or the ESP learner.
However, applied corpus linguistics, underlying the construction of ELT
dictionaries themselves, may lend itself to changing the shift from the above mentioned
teacher-conceived method and teacher-created syllabus to a student-based approach.
If by using ready-made textbooks teachers and students are more or less confined to
a limited number of choices (Bogaards 1994), creating a customized corpus may be
of much greater assistance. Moreover, if students themselves are acquainted with a
method they can use themselves and are ‘delegated’ sufficient authority to be the prime
deciding factor in building a corpus relevant to themselves, the dilemmas discussed
above could make substantial room for possibly highly innovative improvements. So,
how about The StS Project?
The StS Project (Student to Student) is a project in English as a foreign language,
freely submitted by university students on a bonus-granting basis, as part of their
semester class work / self study.
The project centres on (upper-intermediate / advanced) language awareness
in terms of specific vocabulary (ESP = English for Specific Purposes) and its
performance implications for learners of English at an upper-intermediate, advanced
and proficient level (Common European Framework B2, C1 and C2 levels, i.e. the
exact levels of academic / professional relevance in Romania, the rest of the European
Union and countries like the U.S., Canada and Australia). It involves acquiring and
developing skills in active reading through language awareness-raising and language
structure manipulation at a high level of English, in terms of mastery of domainspecific vocabulary, collocations (including fixed expressions, idioms and phrasal
verbs) and derivatives.
This project has been developed as a result of need-based criteria, gradually and
consistently ascertained and established after years of teaching English as a foreign
language (in the ESP / exam format) to undergraduate students in the fields of
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
The main student-oriented objectives (in random order) of this project include:
enhancing research skills and their relevance; developing and enhancing awareness of
online materials for English language study; developing self-study skills; developing
student independence in working with target tasks (texts in English); developing
active reading and language awareness; developing student skills in dictionary
usage; providing high-level students with opportunities for self-improvement;
familiarizing students with English exam-relevant language structures; providing
students with a learning focus; providing students with a sense of personalized
independence; providing students with a viable alternative to the existing assessment
/ marking system; encouraging life-long improvement of skills in a foreign language;
familiarizing students with texts apt to be found in various exam formats; familiarizing
students with the language of texts they may encounter in their future careers; raising
students’ awareness of the interlinks between language learning and computer skills;
familiarizing students with the ways in which relevant English exams are constructed;
letting students play an active part in the construction of academic-specific curricula;
letting students contribute to the construction of relevant exam questions in English;
encouraging access to information and language learning by sharing; reinforcing the
idea that language-learning is an on-going process etc. All these objectives have been
and may be discussed in class for further clarification.
The main teacher-oriented objectives (in random order) of this project include:
ensuring that the student-oriented objectives above are met; assisting in making
statistics regarding syllabus (course) and exam improvement / relevance; better
differentiating among students’ levels of English; being better and more realistically
informed in suggesting / making curricula / syllabi; attending to immediate and
long-term students’ interest-based needs in language learning etc.
How to Do The StS Project
The steps of this procedure are as follows:
1. Participating students access a website of their own choice (but based on the
list of topics given) and select a relevant text according to their own preference.
2. Students process the text by highlighting derivatives (e.g. ‘prosecution’ –
students are free to decide which derivatives are relevant to their level and interest),
domain-specific terms (e.g. if a text is about the Holocaust, if a term like ‘death camp’
is present, it may be highlighted – students are free to decide which such terms are
relevant to their domain, level and interest); collocations (e.g. ‘fast car’), idioms (e.g.
‘make light of something’), phrasal verbs (e.g. ‘set up’ a business – note that this
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phrasal verb also forms a collocation with ‘business’) and fixed expressions (e.g. ‘in
view of ’ something).
3. Students copy / paste the above information in a 3-column table (see the
SAMPLE) as follows: (1) the first column will contain only relevant grammatical
information about the words / expressions / collocations in column 2 (definite or
indefinite articles or auxiliary verbs that make the usage of the expressions in column
2 obvious; if such words are not needed, that space of the table will be left blank
(see the SAMPLE and class discussions on the issue); (2) the second column will
contain the elements mentioned in (2) above in their neutral form, all alphabetically
arranged (see the SAMPLE and class discussions on the issue); (3) the third column
will contain a complete example sentence (practically, the entire copied and pasted
text sentence in which the highlighted item appears).
4. Students identify their project as shown in the SAMPLE.
5. Students submit their project by email as instructed.
Those students who want to participate in this project should note the following:
1. The project is not compulsory; it is an alternative to the existing system of
class activities and final performance (exam) assessment.
2. The project is mainly intended for higher-level students (upper-intermediate
and above). Lower-level students are not expected undertake this project if they
are not sure they can do it successfully. These should work on their current level of
English until they feel more or less certain that they can successfully accomplish such
a project.
3. Students are discouraged from undertaking this project just because they
need the bonuses in marking. They have to be made aware of the fact that they will
not get any bonus if the submitted project is not (near) perfect and also, they should
be encouraged to regard the project as a long-term endeavour – with respect to its
effects on themselves and their colleagues (sharers). Students should be reminded
that their projects will be accessed by their own colleagues as well as students they do
not know – at present and in the future.
4. Students wanting to submit such a project should do so early. When they
submit the project, it may take a few rejections before it is finally accepted. This will
reflect the quality of their work and the feedback they get from the teacher.
5. Students are encouraged to ask for feedback at any stage of their project.
By submitting The StS Project, students are aware that:
1. the project is relevant to their English learning needs at an upper-intermediate
level and above;
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
2. they are submitting the project of their own free will and as an alternative to
the existing evaluation and final marking system;
3. they have read and asked for all the information regarding the project;
4. their project will be made public;
5. their names will be mentioned when the project is made public;
6. their freely-submitted projects can be used in whatever form and for whatever
purposes – excluding commercial ones in themselves, but including the following:
statistics of whatever kind, sharing in any form, quoting for whatever purposes;
should their projects appear in a recognizable form (close to the original project they
have submitted), in whatever circumstance, they will be properly acknowledged.
Submitting The StS Project will be taken as a final and unequivocal statement
of complete agreement with the above conditions, as well as with all regulations
pertaining to The StS Project, made known as such, in various forms.
Practical Application of The StS Project
Collecting such projects from interested students is supposed to lead to a
cumulative building of a dictionary of domain-specific collocations and fixed
expressions (no such dictionary exists at present) to be accessed by various students
at all times and free of any charge. The leader of the project (teacher / instructor /
examiner) makes these projects electronically available (on established websites or
on CD / DVD copies), in their original and edited forms as well, to all participating
students, on a semester / study-year / graduation year basis.
At the end of each semester, all the collected projects will be made available to
students FREELY, on a CD or DVD. The CD / DVD will be given to the students’
representative (one for each major and year of study) who will make it available to his
/ her colleagues ALSO FREELY. All students may duplicate the CD / DVD for their
own personal use.
Since The StS Project is cumulative and continuous in nature and by design, each
semester there will be a new edition of this collective endeavour. Each new edition
will be updated as to contain ALL previous editions. Each CD / DVD version (edition)
of the project will contain:
• separate folders with projects collected from each year of study and major for
that specific semester;
• separate folders with archived projects collected from each year of study and
major for all previous semesters since the start of the project;
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• a WORD document containing the entire compilation of all collocations and
expressions (all tables put together and arranged alphabetically) available for that
specific edition of the project, including all previous editions;
• the original project sample and overview as guidelines for other students
wishing to embark on the project themselves;
• a document containing tips about how to make the most of The StS Project;
• any further relevant data.
The ultimate goal is to gradually produce a freely available specialized electronic
dictionary of collocations and expressions of unlimited magnitude, guided by
principles of language-learning, language-exam and ESP subject-oriented relevance,
all doing justice to the name of the project itself: one made by students for students,
under the supervision of their instructor to ensure a quality final product. This
product, renewed with every subsequent edition, is intended to become a highly
original and extremely useful tool for undergraduate students preparing for all sorts
of exams in English, as well as for all future professionals seeking careers in business,
politics or the mass media.
Findings and Conclusions
Having piloted The StS Project for one entire academic semester, I have obtained
what at first sight may seem pretty dismal results: very few students embarked on the
project and much fewer had their projects accepted. Why? Given that The StS Project
was originally intended as optional,
1. very few students chose to do it in the first place, since they benefited from
an alternative (traditional) marking bonus;
2. very few of them produced successful projects (after repeated attempts) also
because most students displayed little if any seriousness in poring over the provided
SAMPLE and OVERVIEW; most did it ‘by the ear’, in the hope of receiving the
bonuses available.
Obviously, it would be unfair to ‘blame’ only superficiality on the part of students.
The project itself is indeed a difficult one, requiring advanced discriminatory skills in
handling difficult language concepts (collocations, fixed expressions, derivatives etc),
especially if these are also accompanied by theoretical awareness. So, the original
version of the project may be deemed a failure, but with a necessary rider. In the
first place, it was administered in a piloted version; this could well mean that the
pilot version is in fact a diagnosis of student psychology, motivation and language
awareness skills. Sadly, though, this diagnostic project also reveals that traditional
methods are so deeply instilled in student psychology, that more novel ways (even if
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
they are apparently appreciated by students when they are introduced and explained
at length in class and in ‘rules’ laid out in a written guide) continue to have a powerful
deterrent value.
Taking the piloted project and its results as a diagnostic test of students’ skills,
in order to ensure the success of future attempts, the following conclusions may be
1. such a project needs to be made mandatory, as an integral part of the overall
marking system;
2. should it be so, the project has to be simplified in order to make it accessible
to students of all levels, but without detracting from its utility – this can be achievable
with the assistance of a concordancer (software) made available to all students (along
with training sessions on how to use it), which will, in effect, do the most difficult
tasks automatically;
3. such a project has to be more effectively linked to other class activities by
adapting it to integrated tasks – texts will be manipulated not only linguistically, but
they will also have to be the starting point for speaking and writing activities;
4. the original conception of The StS Project may be retained as such – but only
on an optional, bonus-granting basis, recommended to very high-level ambitious
students, usually preparing for C1 and C2 exams. From this point of view, using
the original version of The StS Project with such students may well amount to the
building and reinforcement of language in use skills – pivotal in all exams.
With hindsight, The StS Project has been a great opportunity for diagnosing various
deficits in ESP teaching / learning, leading to one of the most worrying conclusions
of all: currently, students prefer to steer clear of innovative approaches for the sake of
the simplicity and familiarity implied by traditional ways. Nevertheless, since there
is an increasing trend towards networking at all levels (and ‘networking’ is a concept
to be explored elsewhere) – take the example of the ‘double standard’ introduced
by book-form dictionaries and their electronic counterparts, all based on corpora
of varying magnitude and focus – tradition in ELT must be made to accommodate
sufficient opportunities for ‘networking’ with more topical methods provided by the
Cyber Age; we should not forget that even old-fashioned libraries lined with book
shelves have come to boast computerized connections to an amount of information
more vast than ever. Ultimately, the obsolete / obsolescent book worm may change,
as a ‘species’, into, perhaps, a mouse trap.
Lingua A. Linguistics
This appendix contains a SAMPLE of The StS Project referred to in this paper.
Since The StS Project involves essential layout rules, the SAMPLE is reproduced in
jpeg format, each of the following being a print-screen of the individual pages of
the SAMPLE. This same sample has been discussed in class and it has been sent in
electronic form (as a template WORD document) to all my current students, along
with the – slightly modified (student-friendly) – overview / rules discussed in various
sections of this paper.
Section 1 of SAMPLE (complete)
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Section 2 of SAMPLE (complete)
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Section 3 of SAMPLE (a one-page extract)
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Section 4 of SAMPLE (complete)
Bogaards, P. (1994). Le vocabulaire dans l’apprentissage des langues etrangeres, Paris: Editions Didier.
Harwood, N. (2005). ‘What do we want EAP teaching materials for?’, Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 4, 150.
McEnery,T., A. Wilson (1996). Corpus Linguistics, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Sinclair, John (1997). ‘Corpus evidence in language description’, in A.Wichmann et al.
Self Evaluation As a Metacognitive
Strategy in the Context of BEC Higher
Ana Maria Pascu*
l presente lavoro indaga sull’importanza della metacognizione
nell’acquisizione di lingue seconde, concentrandosi soprattutto
sulle strategie metacognitive nel contesto del BEC (Business English
Certificate) Higher. Oltre al backround teoretico il lavoro include uno
sperimento longitudinale, centrato sull’importanza dell’autovalutazione
come un elemento della metacognizione, durante una prova di lettura
del BEC Higher.
metacognizione, strategia, autovalutazione, lettura.
The paper is focused upon theoretical aspects of metacognition in second
language acquisition, with a view to applying this theoretical knowledge to the
practical field of preparing candidates for examinations. The investigation of self
evaluation as a metacognitive strategy in the context of a Cambridge examination
(Business English Certificate Higher) represents the practical side of this paper.
We will begin by looking at some theoretical aspects of metacognition and its use
in second language acquisition so that later we can analyze its applicability to the
restricted field of preparation for the BEC exam.
A possible definition of metacognition is “the process of becoming aware of
declarative and procedural knowledge about cognition and applying these types of
knowledge in order to regulate cognitive mechanisms so as to improve their function”
(one can thus talk about metaattention, metamemory or metacomprehension).
Flavell (1979) makes the distinction between two components of metacognition:
metacognitive knowledge and metacognitive processes.
Metacognitive knowledge can be defined as the declarative knowledge about
cognitive processes. This type of knowledge can be used to regulate and control
cognitive processes. Metacognitive knowledge may refer to:
* Babeș-Bolyai University
Lingua A. Linguistics
• the subject (i.e. the student or candidate): general knowledge about learning,
such as means of processing information that is directly related to the subject’s specific
• the task: knowledge about the specific requirements of different types of tasks
and the way in which they involve cognitive processes.
• strategies: knowledge about cognitive and metacognitive strategies and about
the instances in which these strategies may be applied.
• interactions among any of the above: knowledge about the way in which any
of the above mentioned items interact and thus influence the result of cognitive
Metacognitive processes imply procedural knowledge referring to the application of
cognitive strategies. Metacognitive strategies are sequential processes that regulate the
cognitive processes with a view to reaching a cognitive objective (Livingstone 1997).
The main metacognitive strategies that we have in mind are planning, monitoring and
self evaluation. Planning takes place before the task, monitoring occurs in parallel with
the task, whereas self evaluation occurs after the task has been completed. Chamot
(1999) adds problem solving to these three metacognitive strategies. However, it is
our stance that problem solving is not a metacognitive strategy, but a cognitive one,
as its purpose is to fulfill a task, not to regulate or better learning.
Furthermore, Brown (1983, in Yussen 1985) adds prediction to the above list of
metacognitive strategies, which can be defined as the estimation of the quantitative
result of the cognitive activity, e.g. the amount of information that the subject will
acquire after the completion of the task. In addition, guessing the answer to a task
before its completion is another metacognitive strategy the researcher considers.
However, he does not make reference to self evaluation. We believe that prediction
and guessing may just as well be considered sub- elements of planning.
Overlap as far as cognition and metacognition are concerned is not infrequent,
the above example of categorizing problem solving as a metacognitive strategy being
only one example. One cannot stress enough the fact that metacognitive strategies
precede (planning), follow (self evaluation) or occur simultaneously (monitoring)
with the cognitive ones. Furthermore, metacognitive strategies have a different
purpose than cognitive ones. While cognitive strategies are applied in order to help
a certain subject reach a certain objective (e.g. completing a task that requires the
subject to reorganize a text in order to make it coherent), metacognitive strategies are
used by a subject who wants to ENSURE that a certain goal will be reached. Thus, it is
obvious that subjects having metacognitive skills usually perform better in tasks that
involve cognitive processes.
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
The BEC Higher examination tests the candidates’ ability to use English within
the context of business at an advanced level. All the four skills are tested, our focus
here being reading, particularly the second reading task (the jumbled text).
Students can choose from two different ways of preparation, which may also be
combined when preparing for this examination: focusing on tasks that are similar in
content, structure and level to the examination tasks and/ or starting with tasks that
are identical in structure and level with the BEC Higher tasks. In our view, the second
variant is more advantageous, particularly for those students whose level is at least
upper intermediate, for two reasons:
• The improvement of declarative and procedural knowledge. By focusing
on tasks that are identical in structure and level with the examination tasks, the
students can improve their procedural knowledge (by applying certain cognitive
and metacognitve strategies) more effectively. Moreover, they get the opportunity
to enrich their declarative knowledge at the same time, by learning new vocabulary
items and grammar structures from those very tasks.
• Effective monitoring. By focusing on such tasks the students can evaluate
their performance correctly and thus have the chance to concentrate particularly
on those that require more practice. On the contrary, if the students only focus on
less demanding tasks that are only similar to the examination tasks, it may make
preparation a lot easier and they may get the wrong impression that they are doing
well and expect the same to happen in the examination.
Metacognitive strategies involved in the second reading
task of the BEC Higher examination
The reading test lasts for 60 minutes, in which the candidates are required to
complete six tasks, the second task being the jumbled text.
By and large, planning implies both setting objectives and time management. The
former involves knowledge of the task and understanding of instructions, while the
latter is equally important having in mind that time could become a real stress factor
in the entire exam.
As far as the second reading task is concerned, the subjects should decide upon
not spending more than 10 minutes on this task. The subjects should also direct
their attention to the text and read it while ignoring the gaps to ensure a general
understanding of it.
Monitoring, as it has already been pointed out, occurs in parallel with the
completion of the task and it implies analyzing the attention given to the task and
the level of comprehension while it takes place. The direct result of monitoring is
Lingua A. Linguistics
self evaluation, the two being interconnected in the sense that if the evaluation is
unfavorable, one can resort to further planning and monitoring by employing
additional cognitive resources.
Monitoring as a metacognitive strategy ensures that the subject employs enough
cognitive resources and strategies in order to achieve his/ her goal. The metacognitive
strategies subjects may decide to apply with a view to achieving the goal are the
• Read the text up to the first gap and the sentence following it.
• Underline key words in the sentence that precedes and in the one that follows
the first gap.
• Read all the seven sentences that have been taken out of the text and choose one
(or several if the subject realizes after appropriate monitoring that he/ she does not
know the answer; in this case he/ she must return to the gap later and eliminate the
unnecessary sentences). The answer should be chosen on the basis of the information
gathered from the sentences around the gap and after reading all the possible
• Do the same for all the gaps in text.
The self evaluation of comprehension after it has taken place usually involves the
following stages:
• Every time a sentence has been chosen for a certain gap, all the other sentences
are analyzed as well, even if they have already been selected for other items, in order
to avoid mistakes.
• The subject explains to him/ herself the reason(s) for choosing each sentence, by
evaluating the connections with the text.
• After filling in all the gaps, the subject reads the entire text again in order to
check whether it makes sense.
It can be argued that any learning involves restructuring information. Therefore,
learning to apply such metacognitive strategies step by step involves restructuring
some skills (Rost 1990).
First of all, subjects must be ready to accept ambiguity. Acceptance of ambiguity
can be applied to both planning and monitoring. As far as planning is concerned, the
subject must read the text ignoring the missing information in the gaps, which is a
cause of ambiguity. Regarding monitoring, the subject must be able to focus his/ her
attention on texts that more often than not lack coherence and/ or cohesion and can
thus be ambiguous.
Related to the acceptance of ambiguity, being able to detect sources of ambiguity is
another necessary skill. Ambiguity may be a result of the way the task is structured
(as in the second task of the reading test) as well as of the subjects misunderstanding
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
or lack of understanding some parts. While beginners have the tendency to extend
sources of ambiguity to larger linguistic sequences, more proficient subjects are able
to restrict and eliminate them by using inferences.
The flexibility of evaluating risks is another skill that may be applied to both
planning and self evaluation. Underestimating or overestimating the importance of
risks may lead to either a superficial or a time consuming approach to the task. Thus,
flexibility is the key word in this context.
All of the above mentioned metacognitive strategies and their implications are
options that candidates have when either preparing for the BEC examination or taking
it. There are candidates who choose to apply other strategies and, one must admit, there
are candidates who succeed in the examination without applying any metacognitive
strategy. What we suggest, however, is that applying some metacognitive strategies
improves one’s performance.
The experiment
The experiment we made looks into the option that subjects have when it comes
to the self evaluation of their performance in the second reading task. Self evaluation
can be undertaken not only at the end of the task, but also at the end of each stage
within the task, in this case after choosing each particular answer.
The objective of this experiment is the analysis of the relationship between the
moment in which self evaluation as a metacognitive strategy takes place, performance
and the quality of self evaluation in the case of the jumbled text type of task.
The hypothesis is that subjects that evaluate themselves immediately after the
completion of each item do so more precisely and have a better performance in the
long term than subjects who evaluate their performance at the end of the task, after
completing all the items.
The method
The subjects were 60 2nd year students at the Faculty of Economics and Business
Administration, from Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj- Napoca. The average level of the
students was upper intermediate, as it has been ascertained by taking into account
their performance in the English classes and tests in the previous two semesters. The
60 subjects were randomly divided into two groups: the experimental group and the
control group.
The design. An experimental design with two factors was used (the moment of
self evaluation and the verbal instruction – the experimental group had been told to
apply the metacognitive strategy, while the control group had not been told about it
before the completion of the task). The independent variable was represented by the
moment of the self evaluation (either after the completion of each single item for the
Lingua A. Linguistics
experimental group, or at the end of the task for the control group). The dependent
variable was represented by the accuracy of the self evaluation and the number of
correct answers.
The materials. Both the experiment and the control group subjects were given a
jumbled text type of task (see annex), namely an authentic text of approximately 450500 words, with six gaps out of which six sentences had been taken out and seven
randomly mixed sentences (the six sentences plus a distractor).
The procedure. The subjects had been divided in two groups of 30 and each group
was tested collectively. Both the subjects in the experimental group and the ones in
the control group were familiar with the metacognitive strategies they had to apply
(as a result of previous training). They were all instructed to apply all the planning,
monitoring and self evaluation strategies, with the exception of the last self evaluation
strategy in the case of the experimental group.
The subjects in the experimental group were told that they would get a jumbled
text type of task (they were familiar with this type of task). They were told that after
each answer they gave they should evaluate it as follows: if they were sure about the
answer they should encircle the letter corresponding to the correct answer, and if they
were not they should underline it. We only chose two variants for this condition so
as not to complicate the subjects’ task and in order to avoid subjectivity. The subjects
were also told not to think about their answers once they have evaluated them and to
hand in their question paper as soon as they finished evaluating their last answer. An
invigilator made sure that this happened. The subjects had 15 minutes for this task.
The subjects in the control group were also told that they would get a jumbled text
type of task, with which they were also familiar. They were told to address the task as
usual, by applying the above mentioned strategies. After 15 minutes they were told
to take a red pen and evaluate their answers just like the subjects in the experimental
group (by encircling the letters they were sure about and by underlining those that
they were not confident about). They were told that they were not allowed to change
their answers at this stage and an invigilator made sure that was the case.
After a semester the experiment was repeated with another jumbled text in order
to see whether there were any significant differences in the subjects’ performance and
self evaluation quality.
Results and discussion
The results of this experiment are partly consistent with the hypothesis.
1. The relationship within the experimental group between the quality of the
self evaluation at the beginning and at the end of the longitudinal experiment
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
The difference between the two sets of results was not significant.
2.The relationship within the experimental group between the performance at the
beginning and at the end of the longitudinal experiment
The performance of the experimental group at the end of the longitudinal
experiment increased significantly in comparison with the initial moment (p<0.02).
3.The relationship within the control group between the quality of the self
evaluation at the beginning and at the end of the experiment
The quality of self evaluation improved significantly for the control group
4.The relationship within the control group between the performance at the
beginning and at the end of the experiment
The performance of the control group did not increase significantly.
5.The relationship between the initial quality of self evaluation for the control
group and the experimental group
The performance of the experimental group was significantly better than that of
the control group from this point of view (p = 0.02).
6.The relationship between the initial performance for the control and the
experimental group
The difference was not significant.
7.The relationship between the quality of self evaluation at the end of the
experiment for the control and the experimental group
The experimental group performed better than the control group in this respect
(p= 0.06).
8.The relationship between the final performance for the control and the
experimental group
The difference was not significant. A possible explanation would be the insufficient
number of subjects that took part in this experiment.
Self evaluation is much more accurate when it immediately follows each item of
the task that is being evaluated, instead of having it done at the end of the task, both in
the short and in the long term. However, the subjects’ ability of evaluating themselves
immediately after the completion of each item does not increase significantly in time.
Moreover, their self evaluation significantly improves, even though it remains less
accurate than in the case of the subjects who evaluate themselves immediately after
each item.
As far as performance is concerned, the results are as follows. For the subjects
that evaluate themselves after the completion of each item performance improves
in the long term, but for the control group it remains at the same level, despite the
Lingua A. Linguistics
fact that, as stated above, there is significant improvement in the control group’s self
However, there has not been a significant difference between the performance of
the experimental and the control group, regardless of the moment in which this was
measured. This may be due to the insufficient number of subjects (60) and also to
other variables related to planning and monitoring as metacognitive strategies which
have not been taken into account in this experiment.
Reading test part two
Questions 9 – 14
• Read this text taken from an article about how companies’ decision-making can
go wrong.
• Choose the best sentence from the opposite page to fill each of the gaps.
• For each gap 9 – 14, mark one letter (A – H) on your Answer Sheet.
• Do not use any letter more than once.
• There is an example at the beginning, (0).
Bad business decisions are
easy to make
Example: 0 - H
Those who make disastrous business decisions generally exhibit two characteristic
types of behaviour. First they make a selective interpretation of the evidence when
deciding to go ahead with a project. (0)...H... .
How do such bad decisions come about? One reason is that the people in control
are determined to make their mark by doing something dramatic. (9)......... . Once
the leader has decided to put his or her name to a project, many in the organisation
believe it politic to support it too, whatever their private doubts. (10)........ . These
doubters know that such a perception will cloud their future careers. The desire
to agree with the boss is typical of committees, with group members often taking
collective decisions that they would not have taken individually. They look around the
table, see their colleagues nodding in agreement and suppress their own doubts. If all
these intelligent people believe this is the right thing to do, they think to themselves,
perhaps it is. It rarely occurs to committee members that all their colleagues have
made the same dubious calculation.
Responsible managers usually ask to see the evidence before reaching a decision.
(11)........ . Even those who consider all the evidence, good and bad, fail to take account
of the fact that expert predictions are often wrong. The reason for this is that feedback
is only effective if it is received quickly and often; and senior executives rarely become
the experts they claim to be, because they make too few big decisions to learn much
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
from them. So when it becomes clear that disaster looms, many executives insist on
pressing ahead regardless. (12)........ . The repercussions of doing so can be daunting.
So what can be done to prevent companies making bad decisions? (13)........ .
Another is to delegate the decision on whether or not to continue to people who are
not in the thick of the decisionmaking, such as the non-executive directors. (14)....... .
But they shouldn’t expect any gratitude: people who have made huge mistakes are not
going to say ‘Thank you, we should have paid attention to you in the first place.’
A It would be far better, though, if dissidents in the organisation raised their
doubts beforehand, and were listened to.
B They want to be recognised as having changed the company in a way that history
will remember.
C This is not to argue that companies should never attempt anything brave or
D Too much money has been spent and too many reputations are at stake to think
about stopping at this stage.
E One solution is to set targets for a project and to agree in advance to abandon it
if these are not met.
F After all, people who persistently point to potential pitfalls are seen as negative
and disloyal.
G But they often rely only on those parts of it that support their case.
H Coupled with this, they insist that the failure was someone else’s fault.
Answer key
Chamot, A., Barnhardt, S., Beard El. Dinary, P., Robbins, J. (1999). The Learning Strategies Handbook. London, New
York: Longman.
Flavell, J. H. (1979). ”Metacognition and cognitive monitoring: A new area of cognitive developmental inquiry”,
American Psychologist 34, 906-911.
Rost, M. (1990). Listening in Language Learning. London, New York: Longman.
Lingua A. Linguistics
Yussen, S. R. (1985). “The Role of Metacognition in Theories of Cognitive Development”, Metacognition, Cognition
and Human Performance, vol. 1. D. L. Forrest- Pressley, G.E. MacKinnon, T. G. Waller (eds.). New York, London:
Academic Press.
BEC Higher reading task [Online]. Available:
http://www.cambridgeesol.org/support/dloads/bec/bec_higher_04.pdf [2006, February 20]
Conversation analysis in an oral
business communication course
Emilia Plăcintar*
onversation Analysis (CA) treats language in use as an emerging
process through which the participants coordinate their
interactional behaviour to achieve a joint project. This paper is an
attempt to make a case for an introductory theoretical CA component
in a course on advanced oral communication for our MA students in
international communication in business. For this purpose, we briefly
describe conversation as a prototypical speech genre, outline the CA
field of study and provide a selection of course and seminar activities.
In conclusion, we assert that by familiarising the students with the inner
workings of ordinary conversation they will be able to understand the
idiosyncracies of the various sub-genres of oral business discourse.
conversation, conversation analysis, action sequences, business
discourse, cognitive planning
1. Introduction: Conversation Analysis
Conversation as the bedrock of human interaction provides a genuine source
of materials on the basis of which to study language in use. Conversation Analysis
addresses the practical workings of language in the communicative actions carried
out by real interactants through speech.
According to Edmonson (1981: 6), conversation “is used loosely and nontechnically to refer to any interactional stretch of talk involving at least two
participants, and taking place in a non-formalised setting, such that no special rules
or conventions may be said to operate.” In his definition of conversation, besides the
non-specificity of the setting in which conversation occurs, Levinson also focuses on
its functioning. He describes conversation as “the sustained production of chains of
mutually-dependent acts, constructed by two or more agents each monitoring and
building on the actions of the other” (1983 : 44). It follows that conversation is a
* Babeș-Bolyai University
Lingua A. Linguistics
reciprocal undertaking, as speakers coordinate their behaviour and cooperate for the
sake of a fluid and orderly interaction in the process of achieving a joint enterprise.
All the diverse areas of human activity involve the use of language. Bakhtin (1986)
explains that language enters life through concrete utterances and that each sphere
of activity in which language is used develops characteristic types of utterances, i.e.
speech genres. He distinguishes between primary genres, which have taken form in
unmediated speech communion and are found in the local communicative activities
of everyday life, and secondary/complex genres, which have absorbed and digested
various primary genres. Obviously, ordinary conversation belongs to the former type
of speech genre, as conversational interaction is the central type of communication.
This view on conversation can be associated with Levinson’s remark that conversation
is “the prototypical kind of language usage, the form in which we are all first exposed
to language – the matrix for language acquisition” (1983: 284).
The prime object of study of CA is the organisation of naturally occurring
conversation or talk-in-interaction. Its task is to look into the emergence and
maintenance of a presupposed “interactional order” (Psathas 1995: 45) or “meaningful
conduct” (Pomerantz and Fehr 1997: 69) produced and understood on the basis of
shared procedures and methods that allow the communicators to sustain the flow of
conversational interaction.
Sacks et al. (1974) pioneered the study of conversational management as a process
per se, concentrating strictly on the activities effected by the conversationalists as they
open and close conversations, change turns, or make inferences about the relations
between sequences. They advanced the assumption that conversations are rulegoverned and that these rules are double-faced: on the one hand, they are quite general
and, on the other, they allow for an adaptation to the immediate local contingencies of
interaction. In their terminology, rules are both “context-free” and “context-sensitive”,
and the very objective of CA is to study how people in an interaction interpret each
other’s utterances and behaviour and produce an intersubjective understanding of
their doings.
Here are some of the fundamental questions that CA specifically addresses: In
what ways can talk be seen to be structured? How does a participant know when
to start speaking after a previous speaker? How do two (or more) interactants who
begin speaking simultaneously negotiate who will get the turn? How do speakers
construct their turn to make sure their listener understands them? How do speakers
display understanding of the last speaker’s turn? How do speakers signal to their
listeners that they intend to hold the floor? How do speakers manage agreement and
disagreement? How do participants move from one topic of conversation to another?
How do participants repair their own utterances or those of the co-participant(s)? How
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
do speakers bring a conversation to a close? What role do non-lexical or quasi-lexical
items play in the construction of meaning? How are pauses used and interpreted
in conversations? (cf. Reay 1998: 54-5) In short, CA treats language as a dynamic
activity and an ongoing process and demonstrates how interactants achieve a sense
of mutual understanding.
Mey (1994) explains the distinction between the tasks and functions of CA
and those of pragmatics. He argues that, in their concern with users of language,
pragmaticists are faced with a hidden partner: society. If CA simply studies the
interactional mechanisms involved in verbal interaction, then pragmatics goes
beyond conversation to look at societal constraints, as it is society that “determines
what we can say and how we say it, and in what kind of situation or context” (1994:
250). It follows that pragmatics complements the insights of CA into the organisation
of discourse with predictive and explanatory power to account for the way in which
conversational actors are able to manipulate the characteristics that the interactional
system makes available in order to realise a particular goal and carry out a plan.
In our argument for the introduction of the basic CA (and pragmatic) concepts
in our communication course, we are inspired by Mey’s (1999) metaphor of words
being “our common currency”, which is meant to emphasise the importance of
language users’ membership of the social community: “To have my words pay for
my communicative expenses in dealing with the world, I must remain a contributing
member of my community, my context, by recognizing my social obligations and
paying my speaking dues” (1999: 302). Elsewhere, Mey (1998) is preoccupied with
the issue of “emancipatory linguistics” and hopes that raised-consciousness linguistics
can contribute to making the users more aware of the language they (and others) are
It is our conviction that linguists, language teaching practitioners, and
communication professionals should share in this responsibility for communicative
emancipation, including conversational emancipation. In the ensuing sections, we
briefly describe our course and selectively present some activities designed for the
introduction and application of basic CA concepts.
2. Description of the MA programme in international
communication and business administration
Buiding and developing communicative competence is a project that is gaining
more and more space in the updated curricula for tertiary education in Romania.
In particular, the academic foreign language curricula, especially at ‘Babeş-Bolyai’
Lingua A. Linguistics
University, allot considerable space to communication in various professional fields:
journalism, law, political science, business, international relations, and social work.
This context has facilitated the initiation by our department of modern languages
and business communication of the MA programme in professional communication,
which has been running for three years now. Here’s a selection of some communication
subjects from the respective curriculum: Introduction to argumentation; Language
and style in professional discourse; Advanced oral communication in business;
Communication in conflict situations and negotiations; Communication in public
relations; and Intercultural communication.
As for the course in advanced oral communication in business, here are the major
themes included: The process of spoken communication; Organisational patterns
in conversational interaction; Business discourse vs. ordinary conversation; The
interpersonal dimension of workplace talk; Talking to do things: Speech activities
in business communication; Business presentations; Business meetings; Business
interviews; and Business negotiations.
We deem that understanding the techniques and patterns that people use in
everyday conversation forms the basis for the more task-oriented types of interaction
employed in workplace communication, such as chairing or participating in a
meeting, interviewing or being interviewed, negotiating, making an appointment,
making/answering enquiries via the telephone, etc. That is why our course begins
with a theoretical preamble that introduces some fundamental CA notions, such
as elements of conversational interaction, the emergence of turns and sequential
3. A selection of course and seminar activities
The length of this article does not allow us to demonstrate how all those concepts
are introduced in the course. Below, we explain how sequencing devices and the
specific features of business discourse are presented to our students.
3.1 Action sequences
We use as exemplification two conversations, (C1) from Graddol et al. (1994: 193)
and (C2) from Svartvik and Quirk’s (1980) corpus of English conversation.
1 M: Oh, g’day John! How’s things?
2 J: Hi, Mike, not too bad. How’s things with you?
3 M: Can’t complain, can’t complain, be going on holiday soon. How’s work?
4 J: Good, real good, actually.
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
5 M: Well, look, got to dash, good seeing you – catch up with you later.
6 J: Yeah, look, let’s have coffee soon.
7 M: OK, great: see you then.
8 J: Yeah, see you.
1 A: (rings)
2 B: Benjamin Holloway.
3 A: this is Professor Dwight’s secretary, from Polymania College,
4 B: ooh, yes, –
5 A: uh:m . about the: lexicology *seminar,*
6 B: *yes*
7 A: actually Professor Dwight says in fact they’ve only got two more m . uh:m
sessions to go, because I didn’t realize it it . finishes at Easter,
8 B: I see, yes, *uh:um*
9 A: *so* it . wouldn’t really be .
10 B: much point, . *no,*
11 A: *no,* . (laughs)
12 B: OK right, thanks very much,
13 A: OK . * bye,*
14 B: *bye,*
Conversationsalists in both conversations perform three broad actions in sequence:
(1) they open the conversation, (2) they exchange information, and (3) they close the
conversation. Each of these actions further divides into other sequences of actions.
Here are the components of each action in [C1]:
Action (1): (1a) M greets J (line 1); (1b) J greets M (line 2).
Action (2): (2a) M asks J a question (line 1); (2b) J answers M’s question and asks
M a question (line 2); (2c) M answers J’s question and asks J a question (line 3); (2d)
J answers M’s question (line 4); (2e) M attempts to close the conversation and gives
reason for it (line 5); (2f) J agrees to close but not before he has made an invitation
(line 6); (2g) M accepts the invitation (line 7).
Once students notice that not only is conversation a joint activity but so are its
parts, the notions of sequencing and sequential patterns can be introduced. Why
do pairs of actions occur in sequence? What accounts for most of the sequencing is
the fact that each action is dependent on the completion of the previous one, that is,
interlocutors cannot exchange information until they have opened the conversation,
and, similarly, they cannot close before they have exchanged information. The same
explanation holds for the sequencing of sub-actions: a question cannot be answered
prior to asking it, just as an invitation cannot be accepted prior to launching it. It
Lingua A. Linguistics
follows that these sequences are not determined by what the interactants are trying
to say, but by what they are jointly trying to accomplish.
The fundamental sequencing device in conversation is the adjacency pair, the
prototype of which is the question-answer sequence. Adjacency pairs have two parts
– a first pair part (abbreviated as FPP) and a second pair part (abbreviated as SPP),
and their most important property is conditional relevance. This means that once
the speaker has produced a FPP of a certain type of adjacency pair (e.g. invitation),
it is conditionally relevant for the hearer to produce a SPP of the right type (e.g.
acceptance/rejection of invitation). Clark explains that adjacency pairs are ‘minimum
joint projects’ and ‘ideal building blocks for dialogue’ (1994: 992). To illustrate these
notions we analyse the adjacency pairs in [C2]:
FPP = 1A [Summons] – SPP = 2B [Response]
FPP = 3A [Assertion] – SPP = 4B [Assent]
FPP = 5A, 7A [Assertion] – SPP = 6B, 8B [Assent]
FPP = 9A, 10B [Assertion] – SPP = 11A [Assent]
FPP = 12B [Thanks] – SPP = 13 A [Response]
FPP = 13 A [Good-bye] – SPP = 14 B [Good-bye]
Other sequential patterns that are introduced and exemplified then are presequences and insertion sequences.
Pre-sequences serve as preliminary inquiries that check the conditions for more
extended joint tasks. For example, they are used in paving the way for invitations,
requests, announcements, questions, stories, jokes, or for terminating conversations,
Strict neighbouring of the two-component utterances in an adjacency pair is a
requirement that is frequently ignored in the sense that the FPP is separated from the
SPP by other talk. For example, an answer to a question may be delayed by several
intervening utterances, a phenomenon known as insertion. Generally, insertion
sequences are used to clarify a FPP before replying to it. In this way, the clarifying
turn becomes the FPP of an embedded adjacency pair and the answer to it is the
SPP. Only when clarification has been accomplished does the SPP of the initial pair
A powerful concept related to the aspect of sequential organisation in conversation
is preference organisation. Some adjacency pairs may take more than one kind of
response of which only one is considered the common pattern. These alternative
SPPs are not treated by participants as equivalent choices. For example, FPPs that
seek action on the part of the hearer may be met with either acceptance or refusal,
the former pattern being the preferred response, while the latter the dispreferred
one. Therefore, a request, an offer, and an invitation are preferably followed by an
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
acceptance, not a refusal, although either response will comply with the requirement
established by the FPP. To exemplify, the following two contrasting SPPs to an
invitation are analysed:
[1] A: Why don’t you come up for a drink one evening?
B: I’d love to.
[2] A: Why don’t you come up for a coffee tomorrow morning?
B: Well, er, that’s awfully nice of you, but, you see, I don’t think I can make it tomorrow,
uhm, actually, I’m expecting the plumber to fix the water taps, so…er, couldn’t we make
it some other day, perhaps?
We can notice that the acceptance of the invitation in [1] is naturally quick and
direct and that the structural simplicity of the preferred response contrasts with the
structural complexity of the dispreferred rejection of the invitation in [2].
Thus, the question that arises is about the structural characteristics that mark the
SPP in [2] for dispreferredness. Levinson (1983) mentions the two essential features
of dispreferred actions: they tend to occur in a marked format and to be avoided.
Above all, the negative response poses greater demands on the speaker as (s)he has
to resort to politeness strategies to mitigate the dispreferred option. As a result, this
is conspicuously more complex and richer in terms of linguistic resources. The actual
refusal in our case is delayed by prefaces or hedges (well, you see), then by hesitation
(er), uncertainty (I don’t think), and an appreciative comment on the invitation.
Finally, the declination is produced, but it is accompanied by an account and the
expression of availability at another time. All these tentative linguistic devices point
to the speaker’s reluctance to turn down the invitation.
Thus, students are made aware that: most of the conversation activity is organised
into sequences of adjacency pairs; utterance interpretation is mainly grounded on
the sequential environment; different combinations of adjacency pairs have different
uses; in their conversational activity, interactants orient themselves to the various
sequential structures to the degree in which these patterns answer their needs for
carrying out certain communicative goals and plans.
Given the significance of goal achievement, sequences of actions in institutional
discourse are consciously organised. That is why we also introduce the notion of plan
as a cognitive representation of predetermined actions through which the talk is
steered towards some desired result.
According to the literature on cognitive processes, the activity of plan conception
is multi-layered and multidirectional. Hayashi (1996) explains that such a cognitive
model contains (1) “outcomes” (task/ideational goals), (2) “designs” (behavioural
goals), (3) “procedures” (gross actions), and (4) “operations” (minute actions). The
first three planes are related to the top-down planning process, while the last one refers
Lingua A. Linguistics
to the bottom-up emergence of conversation. While ordinary conversation involves
predominantly bottom-up operations, business conversations are predicated on an
overall interactional and organisational plan, which argues for the predictability of
business discourse in terms of its global and sequential organisation.
Later in the course, when the main areas of oral performance in business, i.e.
presentations, negotiations, meetings, and interviews, are studied and practised, the
students will be aware of and able to observe the repetitive overall structure of each
type of discourse and the way in which the interaction emerges locally to accomplish
The seminar activities that follow the theoretical lecture are based on conversational
data provided by us or collected by the students themselves, as most of them have a
job. The assignments are meant to get the students to identify various organisational
patterns and their utility, describe the overall project of an exchange and the actions
it is made up of, or interpret the functions of selected utterances in the realisation of
the local and global goals of an interaction.
4. Conclusion
In describing our approach to teaching oral business communication to MA, we
have intended to make a point of the utility of introducing a Conversation Analysis
component in the course. The feedback we have received from our students allows
us to assert that an understanding of the basic concepts mentioned herein raises
their awareness of business conversation as action and helps them grasp the internal
mechanisms of “collective behaviour” (Searle 1997) in conversational interaction.
Once the students become aware of the conversational machinery of everyday
interaction as the baseline template of the speech exchange process, they will be able
to analyse the particularities of the different sub-genres of business discourse.
Bakhtin, M. M. (1986). The problem of speech genres, in M. Holquist (Ed.), Speech Genres and Other Late Essays.
Austin: University of Texas Press, 60-103.
Clark, H. H. (1994). Discourse in production, in M. A. Gernsbacher (Ed.), Handbook of Psycholinguistics. San Diego:
Academic Press, Inc., 985-1018.
Edmonson, W. (1981). Spoken Discourse: A Model for Analysis. London and New York: Longman.
Graddol, D., J. Cheshire, and J. Swann (1994). Describing Language. Buckingham: Open University Press.
Hayashi, T. (1996). Politeness in conflict management: A conversation analysis of dispreferred message from the
cognitive perspective, Journal of Pragmatics, 25, 227-55.
Levinson, S. C. Pragmatics. (1983). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
Mey, J. L. (1994). How to do things with words: a social pragmatics for survival, Pragmatics, 4(2), 239-63.
Mey, J. L. (1998). Pragmatics, in J. L. Mey (Ed.), Concise Encyclopedia of Pragmatics. Oxford: Elsevier, 716-37.
Mey, J. L. (1999). When Voices Clash – A Study in Literary Pragmatics. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
Pomeranz, A. and B. J. Fehr (1997). Conversation Analysis: An approach to the study of social actions as sense making
practices, in T. A. van Dijk (Ed.), Discourse Studies, vol. 2. London/Thousand Oaks/New Delhi: Sage Publications,
Psathas, G. (1995). Conversation Analysis: The Study of Talk-in-Interaction. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Reay, S. (1998). Conversation Analysis, in A. Wray et al. (Eds.), Projects in Linguistics – A Practical Guide to Researching
Language. London: Arnold, 54-62.
Sacks, H., E. Schegloff and G. Jefferson (1974). A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking in
conversation, Language, 50 (4), 696-735.
Searle, J. (1997[1986]). Conversation as dialogue, in M. Macovski (Ed.), Dialogue and Critical Discourse. New York/
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 237-55.
Svartvik, J. and R. Quirk (Eds.) (1980). A Corpus of English Conversation. Lund: Gleerup.
Completing the incomplete
Intercultural awareness raising and
business discourse
Biró Enikő*
ie vorliegende Arbeit möchte die Wesensart der interkulturellen
Kompetenz im Kontext des Fremdsprachenunterrichts erhellen.
Dabei steht die Entwicklung verschiedener Fertigkeiten, sowie die des
bewussten Lernens in Bezug auf die eigene und die fremde Kultur
im Vordergrund, indem die Empfindlichkeit der Lernenden für die
kulturellen Unterschiede trainiert wird. Die Entwicklung des bewussten
Lernens spielt im Fremdsprachenunterricht eine Schlüsselrolle, da es ein
ganzes Leben lang hält. In der Arbeit werden kurz die Ergebnisse eines
in Sankt Georgen durchgeführten Experiments dargestellt und darauf
hingewiesen, dass der Entwicklung der interkulturellen Kompetenz und
des bewussten Lernens eine ganz bedeutende Rolle zuzuschreiben ist.
Abschließend werden in der Arbeit einige Techniken dargestellt, die
der Entwicklung der interkulturellen Kompetenz dienen.
interkulturelle Kompetenz, Bewusstmachung, positive Haltung,
Entwicklung der interkulturellen Kompetenz
“No man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of the
continent, a part of the main, if a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am
involved in mankind.” (John Donne)
According to my paper professional discourse is business discourse and I would
like to reflect upon some elements of business discourse acquisition.
The notion of a discourse I am using is based on the work of a sociolinguist named
James Gee, who defines a discourse as “a socially accepted association among ways of
using language, of thinking, feeling, believing, valuing, and of acting that can be used
to identify oneself as a member of a socially meaningful group … or to signal (that
one is playing) a socially meaningful ‘role’.” (1990: 143)
* Babeș-Bolyai University
Lingua A. Linguistics
In our case: the ‘socially meaningful role’ is that of a competent speaker in a
business environment by competent meaning here: inter-culturally competent.
Professional discourse is important from both a cognitive and a social point of
view. All kinds of professional discourse enable students and trainees to read and use
guide books, courses etc. (i.e. brochures, reports, handbooks, flyers).
Gee suggests that discourse acquisition takes place through observation of and
interaction with people who are already members of that discourse community:
therefore getting sensitized could be one of the key elements in language learning.
Any kind of learning (and especially language learning) is a process of socialization
into a new community (the ELT community) and therefore into a new discourse –
learners acquire a new discourse along with a new social identity.
In other words acquiring a new discourse means becoming able to take on a new
social identity – one of a number – and a new view of the world and the things that
are important in it.
Therefore business professional discourse shows learners or “clients” a way to
be – when they are engaged in various business communicative situations – and
from a cognitive point of view provides them with linguistic tools for perceiving and
categorizing, and reflecting upon the objects, processes, behaviors, and events arising
in a business environment.
We need to socialize an FL learner into the language of profession. But before
we teach them these language skills, we must examine how this specific professional
discourse works, what is effective, what kind of talk suggests authority or weakness, and
what kind of rules of speaking are part of this tradition (i.e. business communication).
We can empower an FL learner to take on an identity kit that is part of being a business
person. If we help FL learners to communicate with authority in a business professional
situation, they present themselves confidently. We need to model presentation skills
for them including strategies. The learners need interpersonal skills, analyzing skills
and guidelines for interactions. A confident command of a professional discourse
brings authority and credibility to the speaker. A discourse of power is not just about
vocabulary – it is dealing with arguments, competence, reasoning, listening – and
authentic presentation of one’s ideas.
A language learner has to become interculturally competent in order to play a
socially meaningful role, taking part in a professional discourse.
We know it very well that in this globalizing world remote and separated business
discourses are no more available and have no purpose. The language learner is going
to become not just a business speaker, therefore well equipped with the tools of a
business discourse, but also has to reach a certain stage of an intercultural speaker.
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
The topic of intercultural competence became more and more important
during the past years: globalization and worldwide contacts between companies,
organizations and individuals need the ability to communicate in a successful way.
Intercultural competence is the ability of successful communication with people of
other cultures. This ability can exist in someone at a young age, or may be developed and
improved due to willpower and competence. The bases for a successful intercultural
communication are emotional competence, together with intercultural sensitivity.
This paper deals with not the linguistic tools or cognitive tools first of all, but with
that difficult-to-approach side of intercultural competence acquisition – the way to
be – and one of the main steps of it.
2.Getting “sensitized”
Socio-cultural and intercultural competence
By the appearance of the communicative language teaching a focus has been
placed on the development of competences. Communicative competence has become
the target model of language pedagogy. An often used model belongs to Canale and
Swain (1980), containing four components: linguistic competence, sociolinguistic
competence, discourse competence and strategic competence.
There are other models too, of course, but no one reflects explicitly on the fifth
element of the model, which is cultural competence. According to Bárdos (2005)
we have to include the fifth element the model of communicative competence, the
cultural competence. Language does not just deliver the cultural background but it is
part of it. Therefore developing cultural competence should be present while learning
and acquiring a foreign language. Liddicoat (2005) mentions that culture is practice,
which is accomplished and realized by the members of a cultural group in their daily
lives and interactions. Therefore it is a lifelong engagement together with all those
strategies, interactions, reactions which are important for the participants of that
particular culture. It is also a dynamic set of practices, changing and developing day
by day.
Actually, the most important part of culture is that which is internal and hidden,
but which governs the behavior it encounters. Kramsch (1993) believes that culture
should be taught as an interpersonal process, rather than presenting cultural facts
and the aim of teaching culture is increasing students’ awareness towards the target,
‘host’, culture, helping them to make comparisons among cultures.
Actually, while studying cultural competence we have to mention two terms:
socio-cultural and intercultural competence.
Lingua A. Linguistics
Socio-cultural competence refers to acquiring an appropriate linguistic behavior,
obeying the linguistic rules, the target community’s cultural-social conventions.
Acquiring socio-cultural competence would mean learning and most of all
acquiring the culture of another community, being culturally competent in the target
On the other hand, the term intercultural competence (ICC) refers to the
development of those skills which enable language learners to understand the target
culture and cultural conventions and this is consciously based on the given cultural
background which is their own cultural background. This is a kind of being an insider
and an outsider at the same time, having a critical approach but also non-judgmental
opinion about ‘home’ and the ‘host’ cultural norms. This means simultaneously
increasing student’s awareness towards the target culture and to their own, sensitizing
them to cultural diversity.
Therefore, intercultural competence enables you as a language learner to be aware
of the fact that cultures are relative. No one can speak of one “normal” way of doing
things. This is linked to the view that positive attitudes and awareness are equally
important where awareness involves exploring, experimenting and experiencing,
being reflective and introspective. Therefore these elements have to be developed
while forming ICC.
3.ICC components
Traits, characteristics
Three areas or domains
Four dimensions
Levels of attainment
According to Fantini (1995), one definition of ICC is that it is the complex of
abilities needed to perform effectively and appropriately when interacting with others
who are linguistically and culturally different from oneself. According to him, ICC
encompasses multiple components. These include:
• a variety of traits and characteristics (e.g. flexibility, humor, patience,
openness, interest, curiosity, empathy, tolerance for ambiguity, and suspending
judgment, among others)
Clearly, the traits associated with intercultural competence require further
examination. According to Fantini (1995), empathy might be more an abstract ideal
than a reality. Theoretically, it is impossible to place ourselves in someone else’s shoes,
therefore the term “relational” empathy - acknowledging that at best, we can attempt
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
to understand from another’s perspective, but never quite succeed - was introduced.
Being non-judgmental arouses the same kind of problems - being another is a trait
impossible to achieve. Human beings are de facto judgment machines. We make
judgments that guide our actions. If we understand this, however, it may help us to
suspend judgments momentarily in an unfamiliar cross-cultural situation.
• three areas or domains (the ability to establish and maintain relationships, the
ability to communicate with minimal loss or distortion, the ability to collaborate in
order to accomplish something of mutual interest or need)
• four dimensions (i.e. knowledge, (positive) attitudes/affect, skills, awareness)
Of these, awareness is central and especially critical to cross-cultural development.
It is enhanced through reflection and introspection. Awareness differs from knowledge
in that it is always about the “self ” and helps to clarify what is deepest and most
relevant to one’s identity. Awareness is furthered through developments in knowledge,
positive attitudes, and skills, and in turn also furthers their development. • proficiency in the host language
• varying levels of attainment throughout a longitudinal and developmental
4. Completing the incomplete
An intercultural speaker
Recurrent mistakes
Developmental model of intercultural sensitivity
The concept of “the intercultural speaker” was introduced due to the fact that what
the FL learner acquires and the learning processes passed through are different from
the similar processes of a native speaker. The FL learner is also influenced by other
contexts: like the socio-cultural ones through which he/she has passed up until that
point. Therefore, learning a new language is related to linguistic and cultural contexts,
and the learning process involves, among many, intercultural awareness raising and
constant revision of already existing conceptions. That is why the integration of
culture in the model of Communicative Language Teaching might seem not enough.
This model suggests that FL learners should „copy” native speakers, and the learners
are viewed as incomplete native speakers. There are also opinions according to which
a non-native speaker can never achieve a native speaker’s competence, as Medgyes
(1992) believes.
Lingua A. Linguistics
A shift should be made from teaching communicative competence to teaching
intercultural (communicative) competence.
In the process of foreign language learning the aim should not be to become a
native speaker or mediator: the FL learner should become able to engage in different
communicative situations of complexity and avoid stereotyping.
Also we should try to avoid making the same mistake over and over again. We
should not focus anymore on the concept of a “complete”, “perfect” language user.
New views highlight that this is even impossible. But if ICC research includes
personality traits (e.g. empathy) this may lead to the same conclusion – that those who
are not showing empathy towards the other cultures are interculturally “incomplete”.
Therefore it seems more important to focus on raising – because it has been said that
once acquired it becomes lifelong, it is not forgotten. It can be developed.
Among the models of culture learning – and therefore intercultural competence
developing – there is the model of Bennett (1986), the developmental model of
intercultural sensitivity, which might be useful while dealing with intercultural
awareness raising. The author observed that individuals confronted cultural difference
in some predictable ways as they learnt to become more competent intercultural
communicators. Bennett organized these observations into six stages of increasing
sensitivity to cultural difference. Bennett built this model on the assumption that
as one’s experience of cultural difference becomes more complex and sophisticated,
one’s competence in intercultural relations increases. Each stage indicates a particular
cognitive structure that is expressed in certain kinds of attitudes and behavior.
Learners of FL have to pass the different stages of intercultural sensitivity, which are
the following: denial, defense, minimization, acceptance, adaptation, integration. The
first three DMIS stages are ethnocentric, meaning that one’s own culture is experienced
as central to reality in some way. Denial stage: does not recognize cultural differences.
Defense stage: recognizes some differences but sees them as negatives. Minimization
stage: views many of own values as universal, own culture is seen superior.
The other three DMIS stages are ethnorelative, meaning that one’s own culture is
experienced in the context of other cultures. Acceptance stage: presents a reasonable
goal for FL teachers. It involves understanding that the same behavior can have
different meanings in different cultures. Adaptation stage: is cognitive and behavioral
and may allow the person to function in a bicultural capacity. Integration stage:
requires in-depth knowledge of at least two cultures (one’s own and another) and the
ability to shift easily into the other cultural frame of reference.
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
This model predicts that as time goes by, people can move from defense into
minimization. The goal of the FL teacher should be to get learners of FL to at least
the fourth stage of this model: acceptance stage. At this stage we can speak about
development of intercultural competencies and strategies are more easily understood
and followed than in the first three stages. At this stage it can be required from the
learner to show some positive attitude and where the developmental task requires
analysis of cultural contrasts. Learners may focus on cultural difference while
deepening cultural self-awareness.
Because raising awareness becomes a lifelong engagement we can say that once
established the kind of an independent learner can deepen it later on. We can
tentatively say that an independent learner: uses effective strategies; has appropriate
knowledge; holds positive beliefs and attitudes.
We can show them strategies, we can provide them with items of knowledge and
we can encourage positive attitudes towards the target language and culture and back
up their struggle to work out effectively their intercultural needs…
5.Raising awareness
Over the years, various writers have explored the relevance of awareness to
educational processes. Increased knowledge, skill, and positive attitudes enhance
awareness just as increased awareness enhances the others. Awareness is heightened
through introspection and reflection; it is part of the intercultural experience.
Awareness develops from the insights one gains about the self in relation to other
people, and to the world. Once developed, awareness cannot be put aside; for
unlike knowledge, awareness is not forgotten. ICC development, then, goes beyond
knowledge; it also requires the skills, attitudes, and awareness that mediate interactions
with others.
At this stage the learners are introduced new input about the target language and
culture. During participative tasks the learners should be encouraged to compare the
new language culture with their own practices and language use. The teacher should
support them in noticing differences. These should be followed by explanations. Using
authentic materials is extremely useful, moreover because some materials designed
for language learners may edit out cultural information and therefore may distort the
learners picture of the culture.
Lingua A. Linguistics
6. A brief survey
A needs analysis
University students at our department are intermediate to upper intermediate
level English, German or French language learning students. They need to learn and
to acquire English for Specific Purpose, which in their case is Business English.
Being at an intermediate or even upper intermediate level of English they have
already got a certain background consisting of communicative competence. For
obtaining their language certificate at the end of their studies they need to learn a lot
of grammar, and vocabulary related to Business English. They have a good syllabus to
provide them with useful information and lots of exercises and reading sections.
Being aware of the importance of ICC the mere preparation for the language
certificate might seem not enough. The role of the FL teacher here is loaded with
extra-curriculum researche and options to develop ICC. Therefore extra materials
could be chosen in order to emphasize ICC developing.
A needs analysis for analyzing the students’ already existing developmental stage
of intercultural sensitivity was carried out. It was based on a brief survey, which
included 36 bilingual students of our department, bilingual meaning here Hungarian
mother tongue and Romanian as second language. The items of the questionnaire
were grouped around four main topics:
A. their level of English (self-assessment)
B. their knowledge about big Culture and small culture (culture-related
information, e.g. history, holidays, traditions of the English and American people)
C. their attitude towards English learning and English culture (stereotypes, wish
to learn the language, understanding cultural differences)
D. their willingness to use different sources of English to improve their
knowledge of English (courses, grammar book, books, movies, documentaries, news,
email/IRC, others)
A. Level of English – self-assessment
According to their self-assessment, the majority of them (24) ranked themselves
on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the worst, and 10 the best) around 7 (average). They
had to rate separately speaking, reading, writing, grammar, pronunciation, listening.
Only one of them ranked himself as being on level 1 (although he belongs to an
intermediate group) and 11 of them ranked themselves on the scale around 5
(average). The number of years they have studied English varied from 1-12 years of
study of English.
B. Their knowledge about big C and small c
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
According to the questions, their knowledge is extremely low concerning
historical events or traditional way of life of the English. The questions were open
ones; therefore they had to recall their memories. The historical events noted were:
11th September (8), Independence Day (6), or 4th of July (4), Lincoln (3), Shakespeare
(3), Queen Elizabeth (2), Washington (2), and Civil War (2). Among the answers
there were mentioned Robin Hood and the Vietnam War.
The traditional events mentioned were: Christmas (34) and Halloween (21), Easter
(16), Saint Valentine’s Day (11), Thanksgiving Day (8), and New Years Eve (2).
C. Their attitude towards English learning and English culture
They were given some stereotypes and they had to tick those which they agree
most with. There were 8 statements (strong stereotypes) among which “England is
land of beer, football and bad weather” were the most popular, 28 of them thought as
true. 24 of them wrote a No answer to the item “The English boil all their food”, but
this could have happened because of lack of information and not of their strong belief
in a stereotype. But most of the statements were regarded as true statements about the
English which means that they think of the target culture framed by stereotypes.
They were also asked whether they consider the cultures (English, Romanian,
and Hungarian) very distant ones, or they think that one can understand the target
culture by living there or even just by speaking the target language. The answers were
varied of course, but 23 of them considered that culture can be understood by living
in the target country, while 9 of them thought that people can understand each other’s
culture quite easily if they know the language, and just 4 of them believed that people
(Romanian or Hungarian and the English) cannot understand each other’s culture.
This means that they do believe in the success of an immersion situation considering
understanding culture and just a little percent of them has a strong denial or defense
attitude towards other cultures and languages.
Their attitude towards English learning was also tested by the final question “why
do you learn English”. According to the answers the majority of them (28) thought
that “I have to graduate the University” or “English is a world language”. Among them
17 confessed that “I like the language”. Only 8 of them ticked “I like their culture” or
“I am interested in other cultures.” This could mean that their developmental level of
intercultural sensitivity is far beyond the fourth stage (acceptance).
D. Their willingness to use different sources of English
About learning English they were asked whether they are willing to use different
sources for learning English, or given any kind of opportunities how they would
improve their English. According to the answers, 27 of them considered films/movies
a useful source. 26 of them said that university course is also useful for learning
English, 16 of them would choose books. Interestingly, just 16 of them considered
Lingua A. Linguistics
email/IRC a useful source of English learning – although being young people it was
supposed that they may have English speaking pen-friends or chatters. Grammar
books were ticked just by 14 of them, being the least useful source according to their
This shows that they are not really interested in seeking for other alternatives than
what is given already: courses and films, the latter being also their entertainment, of
The opportunities for improving their English varied from language courses to
staying in an English speaking country at least for a month (differentiated according
to stay for work or a tourist trip). They were allowed to choose just one. The majority
of them would improve their English while working in an English speaking country
(21). The others: by going on a tourist trip to an English speaking country (10) and
staying at least in an English speaking country not for working (3) or by joining
some courses (1) and watching movies (1). The results were not surprising knowing
the fact that many students go abroad with short term jobs and one of the pleasant
consequences of their stay is an improved language command.
They acquired stereotypes of the language, generalizations about the target
language and culture – not facts. This must be changed.
These language learners lack awareness and therefore their knowledge of the target
culture is also very incomplete and insufficient. They think that culture knowledge
is acquired and matters only when one is in the target country. They also should
pay attention to other possibilities than university courses in order to improve
their knowledge of English; therefore the concept of independent learner should be
advertised. In conclusion: students are not born with innate awareness towards the
target culture and therefore great attention should be placed on raising it.
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
Bárdos, J. (2004). Nyelvpedagógiai tanulmányok. Iskolakultúra, Pécs.
Bennett, M. (1986). A developmental approach to training for intercultural sensitivity. International Journal of
Intercultural Relations, 10(2), 179-195.
Canale, M. and Swain, M. (1980). Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second language teaching and
testing. Applied Linguistics 1, 1: 1-47.
Fantini, Alvino (1995): “About intercultural communicative competence: a structure”. Brattleboro, VT, USA, 2000,
2001, 2003, Revised 10.15.2005. http://www.experiment.org/gsi/. Date of download:20.03.2007.
Fekete, A. (2004). Suport Curs An I. Varianta revazuta. Cluj-Napoca.
Gee, J. P. (1990) Social Linguistics and Literacies. London: The Falmer Press.
Golubeva, I. (2003). Teaching Culture. In: Nyelvek és kultúrák találkozása. Szerk.: Tóth Szergej. Officina Press Kft.,
Kramsch, C. (1993). Context and Culture in Language Teaching. Oxford. Oxford University Press.
Liddicoat, A. J. (2002). Static and dynamic views of culture and intercultural language acquisition. Babel, vol. 36, nr.3,
pp. 4-11, 37.
Medgyes, P. (1992). Native or non-native: Who’s worth more? ELT Journal, 46(4), 340- 349.
La comunicación publicitaria
Timea Tocalachis*
a communication publicitaire représente l’une des composantes de
la communication, un domaine d’étude très actuel. Notre analyse
se propose d’étudier à la fois les différentes composantes du processus
de la communication publicitaire, de même que mettre en evidence
l’influence du destinataire, du support (le moyen par lequel on transmet
l’information) sur le message publicitaire.
communication, publicité, modèle, annonce, message, produit
Una de las metas de la comunicación publicitaria es hacer vender los
productos. Desde el punto de vista organizacional, en un informe de la Comisión
Internacional para el Estudio de los Problemas de la Comunicación se toma en
cuenta la publicidad como uno de los más importantes sectores de de la industria
de la comunicación. No obstante, cabe imponer ciertas diferenciaciones entre los
esquemas de la comunicación clásica y los de la publicidad: en primer lugar, el hecho
de que el remitente es una instancia que paga; cualquier anuncio necesita una inversión
financiera. En segundo lugar, el período entre la emisión del mensaje y su recepción
es mayor que en el caso de la comunicación entre dos interlocutores presentes (la
publicidad escrita llega al lector sólo cuando y en el caso en que éste compra dicha
publicación). En tercer lugar, la publicidad de la prensa escrita puede ser considerada
un tipo de comunicación “involuntaria”, en el sentido en el que se dirige a un público
que no espera y tampoco está dispuesto necesariamente a recibirla (uno no compra
el diario o la revista para la publicidad, menos en el caso en el que se ha propuesto
su estudio). Por lo consiguiente, se puede afirmar que la publicidad escrita (el objeto
de nuestra investigación) es, según la clasificación de Jakobson, fática e impersonal,
puesto que la instancia enunciativa constituye un elemento conector en búsqueda de
un número mayor de contactados a los que no conoce más que un poco o incluso en
absoluto y cuyo único denominador común es la recepción del mensaje.
* Babeș-Bolyai University
Lingua A. Linguistics
La comunicación publicitaria es ambivalente, compaginando la retórica del textoimagen con las significaciones simbólicas de dicho producto. La publicidad explota
las connotaciones de los mensajes, usando del poder del lenguaje poético para
evocar enentos del pasado, propios a cada individuo. El efecto simbólico del anuncio
resulta de la colaboración entre el autor – que se inspira de su patrimonio cultural de
palabras e imágenes capaces de despertar al lector (e implícitamente al consumidor)
experiencias únicas y la inducción del deseo y de la acción de comprar – y la persona
a la que va dirigido el anuncio. Éste último contribuye a su turno a la atribución de
una connotación simbólica al texto inductor, el lector proyectando sobre el texto el
aura de resonancia y analogías que le permita identificarse en el anuncio. Desde este
punto de vista, la perspectiva comunicacional clásica queda reducida, ya que se sitúa
sólo en el dominio del mensaje o del receptor, ignorando de esta manera los contextos
culturales y económicos. La comunicación comercial y la comunicación simbólica
son inseparables, de modo que el acento recae tanto en el cambio económico, como
en el simbólico.
Un nuevo modelo de la comunicación publicitaria comprende nueve elementos:
el remitente, el receptor, el mensaje y el medio de transmisión (instrumentos de
comunicación), la codificación, la decodificación, la respuesta y la reacción contraria
(funciones), el ruido del sistema. (apud Kotler, Saunders, Wong, Armstrong 1998:
816). Este modelo resalta los factores principales de una comunicación eficaz. El
remitente debe saber a quién dirigirse y qué respuesta quiere obtener. Cabe que él
sepa codificar mensajes, teniendo en cuenta la manera en la que los destinatarios a los
que estos mensajes se dirigen los decodifican o los interpretan. Él debe transmitir el
mensaje por un medio recepcionado por los destinatarios y crear canales de reacción
contraria que le permitan evaluar la respuesta que los destinatarios han dado al
mensaje. Por lo tanto, la persona que se ocupa de la comunicación de márketing
debe realizar las cosas siguientes: identificar a los destinatarios del mensaje; saber qué
respuesta espera; selectar el mensaje; elaborar el presupuesto promocional; elegir el
mix promocional; recepcionar la reacción contraria para poder medir los resultados
de la promoción y coordinar el conjunto del proceso de la comunicación de márketing.
A continuación, veremos en qué consta cada una de estas operaciones.
Un especialista en la comunicación de márketing tiene desde el principio
una imagen clara sobre los destinatarios (el grupo-meta). Éstos pueden ser los
compradores potenciales o los usuarios actuales de un producto, los que toman la
decisión de compra o los que la influencian. Una vez definidas las características de
los destinatarios, el especialista en comunicaciones de márketing debe decidir sobre
la respuesta que busca a recibir. Desde luego, en la mayoría de los casos, la respuesta
final la constituye la adquisición del producto. Los destinatarios se pueden hallar en
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
cualquiera de las seis etapas de preparación del comprador, etapas que el consumidor
recorre normalmente hasta el consumo de un producto. Éstas son: la información, el
conocimiento, el placer, la preferencia, la convicción y la adquisición. Ellas forman la
jerarquía de las etapas de la respuesta ofrecida por el consumidor. La comunicación
tiene como objetivo el pasaje del consumidor por todas estas etapas, finalizada con la
adquisición del producto. Algunos destinatarios podrían ser convencidos, pero no de
tal manera como hagan la adquisición. Es posible que ellos esperen a que una ocasión
favorable se presente, que deseen más informaciones o que tengan la intención de
actuar más tarde. El especialista en comunicaciones tiene que determinar a éstos
últimos a dar el paso final.
Analizando las etapas de preparación del comprador, partimos de la hipótesis
de que éste pasa por tres tipos de situaciones: cognitivas (la concienciación, el
conocimiento), afectivas (el placer, la preferencia, la convicción), y comportamentales
(la adquisición). El orden “aprende - siente – actúa” corresponde a la situación en la
que los compradores están profundamente implicados en el proceso de adquisición
de un producto de una cierta categoría, percibiendo grandes diferencias entre las
marcas, como en el caso de la compra de un automóvil. Sin embargo, muchas veces los
compradores recorren dichas etapas en otro orden. Por ejemplo, el orden “adquieresiente- aprende” es específico para los productos que necesitan, para la adquisición,
una gran implicación por parte del consumidor, las diferencias entre marcas siendo
irrelevantes. Éste es el caso de los sistemas de calefacción central. Existe también un
tercer orden “aprende- adquiere- siente”, situación en la cual los consumidores se
implican poco en el proceso de adquisición, percibiendo pequeñas diferencias entre
los distintos productos y marcas. El orden mencionado corresponde a la compra de
un producto de tipo sal de cocina. Conociendo las etapas del proceso de compra
recorrido por los consumidores, igual que el orden en el que estas etapas están
enfocadas, el operador de márketing puede aumentar la eficiencia de la actividad de
planificación de las comunicaciones.
Después de haber establecido en qué consta la respuesta buscada, el especialista en
comunicaciones pasa a la creación de un mensaje eficaz. Lo ideal sería que el mensaje
llamara la atención, mantuviera vivo el interés, suscitara el deseo y determinara la
acción (de aquí la denominación del modelo AIDA, un modelo linear desarrollado
por los teóricos americanos en 1925). En realidad hay pocos mensajes que hagan al
consumidor recorrer el proceso entero desde la concienciación hasta la adquisición.
El modelo AIDA contiene las características que posee un mensaje bien concebido.
Otro modelo linear es el concebido por Lavidge & Steiner (1961) que valorifica la
notoriedad de la marca del producto, teniendo como efecto la atracción y la convicción
del consumidor en vistas de la compra. Pero este modelo de la publicidad ha sido
Lingua A. Linguistics
visto como uno restrictivo, puesto que no se basa en el pensamiento, sino en el reflejo
de compra inducido al consumidor. Sin embargo, estos modelos de comunicación
publicitaria parecen funcionar en el caso de las publicidades con un impacto más
débil (es el caso de los detergentes), caso en que las repeticiones parecen producir el
efecto previsto, el de determinar su compra.
En cambio, los modelos modulables, si bien describen la comunicación publicitaria
como un proceso unidireccional entre un remitente y un público receptor, traen
como elemento nuevo la descomposición del proceso publicitario en elementos que
pueden combinarse independientemente los unos de los otros. Mencionamos que
nos hemos inspirado de la descripción de los modelos del trabajo de Jean Michel
Adam y Marc Bonhomme, L’argumentation publicitaire. El modelo triádico [LEARN],
[LIKE], [DO], elaborado por teóricos como Starch, Festinger o Krugman describe
la comunicación publicitaria desde la perspectiva de tres módulos centrados en el
receptor: el modelo cognitivo [LEARN], que muestra la necesidad de conocimiento
del receptor, el modelo afectivo [LIKE] (refleja las reacciones y las preferencias del
receptor frente al producto) y el modelo práctico [DO], que actúa como filtro en la
elección de dicho producto. La permutación de estos tres módulos determina varios
tipos publicitarios: [Learn > Do > Like] representa una implicación minimal por parte
del receptor centrada en la información de éste por la repetición <LEARN>, el pasaje
al acto de compra <DO> y finalmente la evaluación del producto <LIKE>. Este tipo
de comunicación atañe en general los productos sin una gran fuerza de influencia, que
se compran por hábito. El tipo siguiente [Like > Learn > Do] se centra en la seducción
del receptor <LIKE>, su concientización en lo concerniente a las características del
producto <LEARN> y su adquisición <DO>. Este tipo de publicidad se encuentra
en la publicidad que insiste en las imágenes de marca de renombre, como también
para los perfumes o relojes de lujo. [Like > Do > Learn] revela la fuerza de seducción
del producto <LIKE> que determina la acción de compra <DO> y probablemente
la búsqueda de informaciones concerniendo el producto <LEARN>. Es el caso de
las publicidades que subrayan los deseos instintuales del receptor, que es también
la meta del eslogan “No dude(n) en tenerlo/comprarlo!”. El modelo [Do > Learn >
Like] empieza con la adquisición del producto <DO> por una motivación anterior
(ofertas, reducciones), seguido por el descubrimiento de sus propiedades <LEARN>
y el grado de apreciación <LIKE>. Este modelo se aplica en el caso de las rebajas,
donde la bajada de los precios contribuye a la acción de compra, sin tener en cuenta
otros rasgos tales la cualidad o la necesidad real de tener el producto. El modelo [Do
> Like > Learn] se caracteriza por la adquisición una vez más del producto <DO>,
hecho que se debe a la apreciación anterior del producto <LIKE>, lo que conlleva al
descubrimiento de las cualidades del producto todavía ignoradas <LEARN>. Este
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
modelo corresponde a las campañas publicitarias de amplitud (Coca-Cola) o a la
publicidad por fidelidad, en la que la costumbre de comprar dicho producto tiene
una importancia significativa.
El modelo de Jakobson y el análisis de los elementos que lo componen ha constituido
el objeto de estudio de numerosos investigadores en el dominio de la publicidad.
Éstos han clasificado los diversos anuncios en función de la valorización de algún u
otro elemento. De esta manera, además de la comunicación - remitente, centrada en
la competencia del productor de comunicar el mensaje deseado, la comunicación –
receptor, que pone de relieve la fuerza de persuasión del mensaje, la comunicación
– referente (el producto y las connotaciones que derivan de su presentación). Adam
y Bonhomme identifican también la comunicación – contacto, que visa llamar la
atención por imágenes – choque, las cuales tienen como propósito la retención
de dicha marca en la memoria colectiva justamente por el efecto provocado. La
comunicación – código utiliza un sistema entero de signos que explotan el gusto del
público hacia lo lúdico; de esta categoría forman parte los anuncios construidos sobre
los juegos de palabras o sobre parónimos.
Lejos de dirigirse a un público pasivo, la comunicación publicitaria forma parte
de un sistema complejo basado en la interdependencia. De este modo, los enunciados
dependen en una gran medida del soporte por el cual están transmitidos, del remitente
y del destinatario.
En lo que concierne el marco en el que se producen los enunciados, éste tiene una
relevancia determinante en el caso de la publicidad escrita: uno no va a encontrar los
mismos anuncios en una revista que se dirige al público femenino y en una revista con
sujetos políticos, por ejemplo, como igual de importante es también la paginación. Al
mismo tiempo, la última cubierta de la revista, que de costumbre no leemos, contiene
sólo imagen y eslogan.
Un criterio en la elección de los anuncios lo constituye la temática de dicha
revista: así, en el número de agosto de la revista National Gographic România de 2006
aparecen nueve reclamos, de los cuales cuatro para marcas de coches, uno para un
tipo de ordenador, dos para algunas marcas de bebidas alcohólicas y dos reclamos
hacen publicidad para unas cadenas de televisión. El público-meta de esta revista es
el público preponderantemente masculino, de donde resulta también la opción de
estos tipos de reclamos. Además de la temática de la revista, los anuncios publicitarios
están repartidos también según la posición de las columnas. De esta manera, en la
revista Cosmopolitan (febrero de 2007), en la rúbrica “Belleza” (las páginas 48-59),
predominan los reclamos para los productos de tocador (champú, rojo de labios),
mientras que en la rúbrica “Salud” (las páginas 132-141) están presentes anuncios
para marcas de pastas dentífricas o varias lociones para distintas enfermedades.
Lingua A. Linguistics
Finalmente, el contexto espacial en el que aparece el reclamo tiene igualmente
una importancia decisiva, como también los colores utilizados y la forma que el
especialista en publicidad elige para evidenciar el anuncio. Por ejemplo, acudir a un
reclamo que se extiende sobre una página entera crea al receptor una sensación de
“invasión” de su intimidad, agreada por ciertas personas, mientras que un anuncio
más pequeño, situado en un rincón de la página, crea una sensación de intimidad,
una relación estrecha que se establece entre la persona que ha pensado y producido el
mensaje y el destinatario del mensaje, con un impacto a lo mejor igual de fuerte como
en el caso del anuncio de otro tamaño.
Ciertamente, entre el anuncio de la prensa escrita y su soporte existe una relación
de interdependencia bidireccional: si al principio el soporte ha sido el que ha
influenciado el anuncio, paulatinamente se ha llegado a la reacción inversa, a saber el
reclamo ha impuesto reglas de paginación o espacio, puesto que muchas publicaciones
dependen en una gran medida desde el punto de vista financiero de la publicidad.
El objetivo principal de la publicidad es la valorización del referente. El tipo
del producto determina el mensaje publicitario. En función de las posibilidades
descriptivas del producto, éstas se pueden clasificar en productos que no necesitan
una descripción interna de la composición o de los componentes. En este caso, el que
realiza el anuncio siente la necesidad de conferir al producto otras determinaciones
(como la espacial o a través de la metaforización). Éste es el caso también de las
marcas para cerveza, caso en que una descripción de su composición no tendría
impacto sobre el receptor. Es ésta la causa por la cual aparecen reclamos como “Los
amigos saben por qué”, intentándose por una metonimia la colocación del producto
en su marco referencial (el consumidor).
Otra categoría de productos son aquellos cuyos componentes permiten un análisis
separado (es el caso de los automóviles o de los ordenadores); este análisis es incluso
recomendado para evidenciar las cualidades del producto. Un ejemplo en este
sentido es también el anuncio siguiente para la marca de automóviles Rover: “Sólo
aquellas personas que poseen un estilo propio pueden apreciar el Rover 827 Sterling.
Un vehículo que combina la elegancia de su interior – decorado en madera de nogal
y tapizado en cuero Connolly – con la tecnología más sofisticada. Con un coeficiente
aerodinámico del 0’33, una perfecta insonorización del habitáculo y un excelente
sistema de suspensión autonivelante. Y sin olvidar su robusto motor de 2.657 c.c.,
177 CV, 24 V e inyección multipunto programada. Ni su poderosa mecánica que
incorpora dirección servoasistida con sensor de velocidad y ABS. Todo en la SERIE
ROVER 800 cuatro puertas que incluye el TOVER 827 STERLING, el ROVER 820
Si – 2 L, 140 CV y 16 V – y el ROVER 825 SD Turbo Diesel Intercooler – 2,5 L y 118
CV -, está cuidado para conseguir un perfecto acabado. Un estilo muy personal.”
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
Pese a todo esto, por el recorte de las partes de un producto para expresar una
imagen de conjunto, al creador de publicidad no le está prohibida la capacidad de
creación e imaginario, éste teniendo la posibilidad de atribuir otras connotaciones
metafóricas al producto, como en el ejemplo que sigue: “Alfa Romeo – la pasión
de conducir”, donde la idea fundamental reside en la ambivalencia de la palabra
“pasión”: por un lado el placer de conducir, y por otro lado la sensación de alegría
que le confiere a uno el hecho de conducir un Alfa Romeo.
Puesto que el público de los mensajes con propósito comercial, institucional o
humanitario no es uno pasivo, la publicidad debe adaptarse a la categoría de personas
a la que está dirigida. En Francia, el Centro de comunicación avanzada, tras varias
encuestas sistemáticas, ha evidenciado cinco grandes familias de “socio-estilos” que
constituyen la galería de los estilos de vida, una cartera de todos los segmentos de
clientes, diferenciados no sólo por la categoría socioprofesional y socioeconómica,
sino sobre todo por el denominador común en lo que concierne la conducta, los
gustos, los hábitos en todos los dominios de la vida. En su enumeración nos hemos
inspirado del trabajo de Bernard Cathelat “Publicidad y sociedad”, de la traducción
rumana de 2005. Los rigoristas, 20% de la población, se caracterizan por un
neoconservatorismo en el cual se compaginan la búsqueda de las raices ideológicas
del pasado con las tecnologías modernas. Su meta no es escapar de la realidad por
metáforas u otras figuras de estilo, al producto atribuyéndose sólo una connotación
moral. Los materialistas (24%) se acercan a los rigoristas por el deseo de seguridad y
la evitación de las innovaciones de cualquier tipo, pero se distinguen de éstos últimos
por la aceptación de una argumentación simplicista del mensaje publicitario. Los
egocentristas (23%) se constituyen generalmente de jóvenes que proceden de entornos
sociales en crisis y que son receptivos a todo lo que choca o es sentimental al mismo
tiempo. Para los decalados (20%), lo que importa es evadir del contingente, sin tener
mucho aprecio para el consumo o la conyuntura económica; son individualistas, de
costumbre jóvenes de menos de 40 años, receptivos a los mensajes humorísticos.
Los activistas (13%) se caracterizan por dinamismo, son receptivos en general a los
mensajes publicitarios inusuales y elitistas.
El mensaje publicitario toma en cuenta estos tipos de público. Así, los dos ejemplos
de mensajes publicitarios para relojes de lujo que siguen se dirigen cada uno a otra
categoría: “Técnica del futuro, tradición del pasado. Seiko, el reloj de calidad de
hoy” es un mensaje que tiene como público-meta a los rigoristas, propensos hacia la
tradición. “Si puede, tenga un Rolex. Y si puede aún más, regale otro” es un mensaje
que se adecua a los activistas, por acudir a valores como la unicidad (no sólo por el
precio, sino también por el prestigio) y al mismo tiempo la puesta de relieve de un
Lingua A. Linguistics
valor como la amistad, pero con el mismo fin de valorizar a la persona que ofrece el
La publicidad es determinada también por la mentalidad del público, por los valores
culturales del momento. De esta manera, si hasta el decenio pasado los reclamos
para automóviles subrayaban las cualidades inherentes de éstos, en los reclamos del
último decenio se ha venido notando una acentuación de la preocupación por el
medio ambiente como resultado de los cambios climáticos a los cuales asistimos
todos. Cualquier tipo de publicidad tiene que reflejar el sistema de valores del público
para evitar los malentendidos y la recepción errónea del mensaje.
El proceso de comunicación, esencial en el márketing promocional, puede ser
entendido como el camino desde el remitente al receptor, para obtener una respuesta.
Este modelo puede ser descrito también como un agente publicitario, enviando un
mensaje comercial (un reclamo) al comprador que le responde por la decisión de
comprar o no dicho producto o servicio. El público ve en el reclamo un estímulo que
genera una respuesta previsible en el mercado.
La comunicación es esencial en cualquier momento de nuestra existencia. Su
ausencia conlleva a menudo malentendidos y confusiones provocadas también por
la inadaptación del mensaje al registro correspondiente.
Adam, J-M., Bonhomme, M.(2005). L’argumentation publicitaire : Rhétorique de l’éloge et de la persuasion, Armand
Colin, Paris.
Cathelat, B.(2005). Publicitate şi societate, Trei, Bucureşti.
Kotler, P., Saunders, J., Armstrong, G., Wong, V.(1999). Principiile Marketingului – ediţia europeană, Teora,
McQuail, D., Windahl, S.(2001). Modele ale comunicării pentru studiul comunicării de masă, comunicare.ro,
The Role of Language in Branding.
The Use of Plain Language as a tool
for Branding
Kelemen Antonia Izabella*
ie Vorteile der einfachen Sprache im Geschäft sind heutzutage ein
immer ausgeprgter betrachtet. Die einfache Sprache bedeutet ein
klares, einfaches Sprechen und Verwendung der einfachen Sprache
auch im Schreiben, dem das Stil aber nicht fehlt. Es wird eine grössere
Wichtigkeit für die Beziehungen mit den Kunden durch dem klaren und
eifachen Sprechen, gewidmet. Da soll man die Nötigkeiten jeder Person
un in der selben Zeit die Qualität der Dienstleistungen betrachten und
evaluieren.. Eine logische und klare Präsentierung der Information,
die richtig strukturiert ist und dabei auch ein geeignetes Format hat
bedeutet mehr als fünfzig Prozent des Erfolges. Die Verwendung einer
originalen Marketing-Forschungs- und Produktevaluierungsmethode
muss von jedem in Betracht genommen werden wenn er Erfolg haben
will. Die einfache Sprache bringt mit sich Vertrauen, Wettbewerblichkeit,
Effizienz der Kosten, eine gut ausgedachte Planung für die Zukunft.
Das Thema hängt mi einer konkreter Kunden-Service Situation
zusammen und zeigt wie die mündliche und schriftliche Sprache in
dem Marktforschungswettbewerb nützlich geworden sind.
Durchsichtlichkeit, Einfachkeit, Marke, Kunden, Partnerschaft,
Verständniss, Geschäft, Nutznehmer.
It is considered that simplicity in general, and plain language in particular,
offer new opportunities for positioning and reinforcing brands. Plain language is not
plain boring, plain brand or plain patronizing. It is a communication style that is
carefully crafted to meet the needs of readers. Plain language documents give clear
and honest information, in a way that’s inviting and easy to read.
Trends towards simplicity and transparency
Plain language says what it means, and means what it says. Because of its simplicity
and transparency, it has attracted the attention of brand practitioners. In Simplicity
Marketing (2001), brand strategists Steven Cristol and Peter Sealey argue that the
more-is-better ideal of consumer society has resulted in information overload.
Consumers are sick and tired of being bombarded with choice. Christol and Sealy
* Babeș-Bolyai University
Lingua A. Linguistics
outline a new opportunity for brands – simplification. They claim that instead of
bewildering arrays of choices, consumers are searching for brands that offer clarity something to hold on to in the chaos of information overload. Successful brands will
be those that are positioned to help reduce consumers’ stress by simplifying their lives.
Do South Africans fit into this profile? ‘Yes’, says Gordon Hooper of Bateleur Research.
‘South African consumers are crying out for simplicity. Brands are increasingly built
on convenience rather than just price or product quality – and simplicity is a key
element of convenience.’ But communicating simply is not just about convenience;
it’s also about honesty. The worldwide trend towards transparency is growing. In The
Naked Corporation (2003), the authors argue that ‘businesses must for the first time
make themselves clearly visible to shareholders, customers, employees, partners,
and society’. The problem is that if communication is not clear, readers may suspect
that the company is not being transparent. In their everyday lives, consumers come
across TLAs (three-letter acronyms) like ACI, ATB, ARB, MSA, DD, USB, PC, XP,
AV, MMS. For many, unclear communications like these are WMDs (weapons of
mass deception): signs that the company is ‘hiding the truth’, and is therefore not
So simplicity and transparency are often two sides of the same coin. A lack of
simplicity also leads to disempowerment and a feeling of alienation from the brand:
A colleague of mine wants to buy a memory stick, but she ‘’doesn’t know how to ask
for one’’. She need not feel alone. According to a poll conducted for Microsoft in late
2000 by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates (Microsoft, 2000):
• 72 percent of women 30 years of age or older find it intimidating to buy
technology products because they feel that advertisements are not written so that the
average person can understand them.
• Of the women 30 years and older who said they frequently feel intimidated by
technology, more than half have been using a computer for at least four years .
It is obvious that in South Africa, with many consumers not receiving business
communications in their mother tongue, it is even more important that language be
plain. However, the value of clear communication extends beyond less literate or less
experienced target audiences. A survey conducted in Australia by the Plain Language
Institute showed that ‘the more experience a person has with business or legal
documents the more likely that person is frustrated and angered by incomprehensible
language’ (as quoted by Stephens, 2003).
‘Using plain English is not just a good intention. It is a business necessity.’
Lord Alexander of Weedon QC, Chairman, NatWest Group
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
Plain language as part of the brand promise
In Simplicity Marketing (Cristol and Sealey, 2001), one of the strategies that the
authors put forward is to use the concept of simplicity as a brand promise.
The most notable examples of this strategy come from those sectors which offer an
intangible product or service, for example, financial or professional services brands.
When Mutual Life of Canada demutualised in 1999, it repositioned itself around
the concept of simplicity. This promise was made upfront in the new name, Clarica.
According to the company website:
‘A new name, Clarica, was chosen to convey the power of clarity in helping customers
make informed decisions about their health insurance, life insurance, and investments.’
(Example from Balmford 2002, page 5)
ANZ, an Australian bank, makes the following promise to its customers: ‘We will
write all letters, brochures, ATM messages and other notices in plain language. In
all our communications we will help you understand what they mean for you’. ANZ
provides ongoing measurement of this promise through customer surveys, and
claims to use the feedback as part of its financial literacy programme. There is perhaps
some correlation between financial literacy programmes and plain language: after all,
both are about empowering customers and shareholders to make informed decisions.
Citibank was one of the first financial services companies to focus on simplification
(this was in the 1970s), and they have developed one of the most substantial financial
literacy programmes in the world. Professional services firms have also latched onto
the brand promise of simplicity. In 2002, KPMG Australia ran an extensive marketing
campaign with the slogan ‘It’s time for clarity’. (Example from Balmford 2002, page
6) Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu has launched a Straight Talk series of booklets – its
website gives the reasons why: ‘For far too long, the consulting industry has been
filled with hyperbole and consulting jargon. Deloitte decided it was time to expose
the truth and begin talking straight about important business and industry issues.’
Although we have yet to see any major South African brands be repositioned around
simplicity, there are some precursors to this. For example, Standard Bank is now
‘Simpler. Better. Faster.’.
Hollard helps you to ‘get sorted’. OUTsurance customers ‘always get something
out’. Both Auto & General and OUTsurance have used plain language in their
advertising: Auto & General boast that they were the first short-term insurer to be
awarded plain language accreditation, and OUTsurance uses the theme of simplicity
in a radio campaign:
Male voice: So you desire to discharge your insurance claim. Kindly put pen to
paper in the general vicinity of these documents and furnish us with your appellation
and domicile. Then we will require you to come forth with the minutiae of the occurance.
Lingua A. Linguistics
Voice-over: Some people just make things complicated for the sake of it. Well
car, household and business insurance needn’t be. At OUTsurance we believe in
Plain language as a part of brand experience
Ongoing ‘functional’ communications (letters, user manuals, statements, bills, and
so on) are often intimidating and packed with complex information – simplifying
them helps readers to use them effectively. It also gives companies an opportunity to
create a worthwhile touchpoint for their brand experience.
Part of your experience of your bank is your monthly statement. Customers of life
insurance will never enjoy the benefits of the product they have bought – often their
single experience of the brand is its letters and policy schedules.
If these documents are clear, well-structured, and free of jargon and small-print
– and if their tone of voice is aligned to brand values – they will help to reinforce the
brand. If not, they cannot help but damage brand perception.
OUTsurance is among the first companies in South Africa to understand the
impact of its functional communications on its brand. Head of Communications,
Trevor Devitt, says that its simplified and redesigned policy document is part of the
‘total package’ customers receive from this short-term insurer: ‘Our policy document
is the first tangible experience customers have with our brand – before receiving it,
they will have had only phone interaction. That’s why it needs to reflect who we are
and what we promise.’’ Devitt believes that the new policy document reflects what
consumers have always wanted, but never thought they would receive. Candice Burt,
a plain language attorney and one of the founders of Simplified, points out another
benefit of simplifying policy documents: ’The more people are able to read and
understand their policies, the more likely they are to understand the terms of their
insurance. A lack of understanding – so prevalent in our insurance industry – often
leads to disappointment when consumers try to claim. At worst, it may even result in
expensive litigation.’’ Other companies who are adding to brand experience through
plain language include Kulula.com, who include plain language terms and conditions
for air tickets, and Woolworths who use plain language throughout their stores.
Making new products into accessible products
Plain language is useful when companies want to widen the target audiences of
brands – especially those involving high-tech products. We have already seen how a
lack of understanding can make consumers feel disempowered and alienated from a
According to the framework set out by Moore in his book, Crossing the Chasm:
‘The point of greatest peril in the development of a high-tech market lies in making
the transition from an early market dominated by a few visionary customers to a
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
mainstream market dominated by a large block of customers who are predominantly
pragmatists in orientation.’ (Moore, 1991) While visionaries may be tolerant – even
appreciative – of complexity, pragmatists probably need simplicity before trying a
new product.
The power of plain language in increasing adoption of technology can be seen in
the way new cellphone functions, like chat and ringtones are marketed. However, it
will be interesting to see at what stage plain language will be used to promote more
complex functions like MMS and wireless features.
Where South Africa stands
Over the last few years, both regulation and legislation have been introduced
to guide financial services companies into using plain language. Consumers, even
outside financial services, have ’wised up’ and are articulating frustrations with ‘small
Although our plain language history is impressive in many areas (the South African
constitution is recognized internationally as a model example of plain English law),
our business communications have trailed behind. This means that there is room in
our market in most industries for brands to differentiate themselves through clarity. If
this happens, it will benefit both businesses, and their customers. Rob Gentle, author
of ‘Read this – business writing that works!’ has worked on many plain language
projects in South Africa. He notes that ‘’while there is still space for companies to
build competitive advantage through simplicity, it’s only a matter of time before plain
language becomes a ‘must-have’ rather than a differentiator’’.
Balmford, C. (2002).”Plain language: beyond a ‘movement’ ” , Presented to the Fourth Biennial Conference of the
PLAIN Language Association, New York.
Cristol, S.- Sealey, P.(2001). Simplicity Marketing: End Brand Complexity, Clutter, and Confusion. N-Y.Simon &
Schuster Inc.
Moore, G. (1991). Crossing the Chasm. Denver. Harper Business Press.
Stephens, C: Plainlanguage.com
Tapscott, D., Ticoll. D.(2003). The Naked Corporation: How the Age of Transparency is Revolutionizing Business, NewYork. Free Press.
Exploiting Pictures in Motion
Kovács Réka, Gabriela Ioana Mocan*
ie Arbeit befasst sich mit der Rolle der visuellen Materialien im
Unterricht. Die statischen und dynamischen Bilder tragen dazu
bei, die produktiven und reproduktiven Fertigkeiten zu üben und zu
entwickeln. Solche Bilder können das Interesse und die Motivation
der Lernenden wecken, außerdem fördern sie ihre kommunikative
Kompetenz. Die dynamischen visuellen Materialien können meisterhaft
bei der Lektion „Werbung” verwendet werden. Verschiedene neue
Themenkreise wie zum Beispiel: traditionelle Werbung, soziale
Werbung, vergleichende Werbung können mittels der dynamischen
Bilder kreativ und inhaltsfärbend eingeleitet und dargestellt werden.
visuelle Materialien, dynamische Bilder, Motivation,
kommunikative Fähigkeiten, Werbung.
“A picture speaks a thousand words” is a saying we are all familiar with. But are we
aware of the merits of a picture, of its ability to replace words or to describe stories,
events, situations, feelings, relationships or concrete things more effectively? Are we
aware of the creativity, the imagination, of the challenges, perspectives and opportunities
a picture may represent and present?
In a visually stimulated culture we can perceive the presence of pictures day by day
and almost everywhere. “Pictures are all around us everyday, in the street, at work, at
home and even in our leisure time… They are enjoyable, they set the scene or context,
they inform us, they interest us, and they are a key resource” (Goodman 2007: 1).
Moreover, they can be the key resources of any classroom activity as well.
Advertisements as a resource for teaching languages
Since the standard classrooms are described as one of the worst possible places
in which to learn a living language, many language teachers try to find solutions to
overcome this problem by resorting to different methods and materials that bring
colour, enjoyment, dynamism, a more personable and natural touch to every activity
that is performed during the lessons. This sense of real world, the taste of real life can
* Babeș-Bolyai University
Lingua A. Linguistics
be provided by a selection of authentic texts as well as by well-chosen visual aids that,
when imaginatively used, may foster creativity and enthusiasm evoking an immediate
response from the students and finally leading to a personal reaction. This personal
response to a topic can be considered as one of the most vital elements of all meaningful
language learning processes.
The use of visuals may have many advantages: they are inexpensive, easily available
in most situations, fresh and different with a variable style, highly flexible and, last but
not least, can be used for almost every aspect of the language teaching, from discussion
to essay writing, from description to games (Hill 1990: 1-5). Visuals – when wisely
selected – may not only be appropriate for just a part of a lesson as a rich base and
stimulus for writing and discussion, but they can also serve as an illustration for
something being read or talked about, that is, as background to a topic. Visuals may
give learners sufficient exposure to new language items, helping the students to develop
their ability to relate to topics, to predict, to deduce and infer, to get meaning from
contexts and also to give meaning to situations. Visuals may increase interest and
motivation, may contribute to a sense of context of the language and can serve as a
specific reference point or stimulus.
Potential uses of advertisements in class
Besides the conventional and objective picture descriptions, visuals may be exploited
in various ways. To name but a few, the students can be introduced to a problem solving
challenge or can be given opportunities to carry out tasks; furthermore, they can be
asked to produce something new and creative in the context of a discussion.
In the first case, the learner’s mind is engaged in a communicative content tailored
to their personal values and imagination. Learners may see and interpret the aspects
of the picture in numerous ways, the power of images and the principle of introducing
a challenge may provoke different reactions, so the students will manage to juggle
with the foreign language, making it a living element. There are many concepts of the
language which focus on in-class activities such as describing, matching, grouping,
sequencing, predicting, analysing, deducing, verifying, differentiating, interpreting,
convincing, evaluating, story telling, answering, etc. All these tasks based on challenges
stimulate the students’ interest and encourage them to develop their spoken or written
communication skills. This element may also create an atmosphere of competition and
the idea of rivalling or striving for accomplishing a task may add at the same time an
extra incentive to a creative and artistic approach.
This aspect of competition may however be reduced when students are provided
with “opportunities”. In such situations they are encouraged to express feelings, ideas, to
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
exchange experience with little emphasis upon right and wrong answers. In a context of
support and confidence, learners may talk about pictures, about themselves or speculate
about other people. By the use of a visual stimulus they may overcome their anxiety of
“getting involved” in the topic or discussion more easily. As a consequence of such
activities and under relaxing and motivating circumstances, the students will manage
to express their views in the form of a free discussion.
To put it simply, visuals offering challenges and opportunities can be the basis of
every lively activity in the teaching and learning process, their role being to encourage
and to motivate the students as well as to contextualise the language (Wright 1989:
As shown above, visuals can often be used to promote productive skills, speaking and
writing, as their primary function is to motivate the students by arousing their interest
and making them take part in activities. Moreover, visuals can contribute to the context
in which the language is used, by bringing reality into the classroom. When language
is contextualised, the learners can use their knowledge of the world to describe what
they see and finally move on to predict, to speculate and to deduce what is implied in a
picture. Therefore, pictures can be described not only in an objective way, but they can
also be interpreted or even responded to subjectively. They can stimulate and provide
information to be referred to in further conversations, discussions, debates, etc. (Wright
1989: 17).
However, visuals may encourage the development of a wider range of receptive
skills. In both reading and listening activities pictures can play a central role. In the
same way visual aids may be added to any stage of reading and listening activities
(pre-reading, pre-listening, while-reading, while-listening, post-reading, post-listening
activities). They can become the mouthpiece of a context, by representing the speakers,
their appearance, the setting and the situation. Additionally, visuals can further a better
understanding of the topic, enabling the learner to focus more on the content, the
atmosphere of the situation or on the mood of the message.
As far as reading and listening activities are concerned, pictures may give extra
information about a topic, allowing the learner to form an opinion also from the hidden
messages of a text. So visuals can be used creatively to provide either the general context
or to illustrate particular points. They may supply a type of non-verbal information
helping the students to predict the content of a text or to respond to the language
appropriately. Visuals may aid in recognizing the implied meanings of a text also by
setting the scene or by introducing the cultural and contextual reference. Consequently,
even cultural awareness may be promoted by the correct choice of visuals; attention
may be drawn to the distinctions between cultures and customs. Thus, a picture may
contribute to making the words more accessible (Wright 1989: 159-161).
Lingua A. Linguistics
In the proper selection of visuals teachers may often apply to dynamic visuals
like animated short films, videos as well as pictures in motion. As compared to the
conventional static pictures and images, these pictures in motion may bring more
colour, change and variety into any language class; their main benefits consist in the
dynamic, sequential and animated characteristics. Such visuals permit teachers to
provide a variety of presentation methods that may be adapted to the learners’ different
needs and expectations.
Dynamic visuals may also offer an enriched learning environment both by affecting
the students’ perception on a topic and by reducing the cognitive load to learn the
materials, as they prove to be an excellent external support for mental simulations.
By watching motion images and pictures, students may explore a new reality, may
combine and connect learned information with new input, and therefore text or topic
comprehension and picture comprehension would complete each other (Schnotz 1996:
Since animated pictures may be best exploited for a variety of teaching purposes
and can be associated with different topics of conversation, they can appeal to many
learners of various ages and at different levels. Provided the teacher’s aim is to motivate
the students, to enhance effective learning processes and to create enjoyment in the
classroom, dynamic visuals can be well implemented in the case of Business English
classes as well. There are strong grounds for believing and supporting the idea that
students need visuals as reference point, as background or as stimulus in all stages of
their activities. For this reason a special selection of dynamic pictures related to the
topic “Advertisements” may be suitable to highlight the idea of how invaluable pictures
may turn out to be and how generously they may act and interact with a topic and also
with the students.
Some sample English classes on Advertising
In order to get a better insight into the topic, the students would need some previous
knowledge about advertising, the discourse of advertising and finally about the types
of advertisements. They need to be made fully aware of the role advertisements play in
our lives and about the impact they exert upon our society.
It is common knowledge that advertisements are the elements of our everyday life,
as they are all around us, and perhaps this fact is one of the reasons why we do not often
think about their nature as a form of discourse or as a system of language or about the
messages they may convey to the consumers.
It is again a widely held view that advertising is just one of the many tools available
to help a firm sell what it has to offer, yet it can be one of the aspects which may
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
enhance the character and reputation of brands. It can, clearly, be a very important
part of reaching to the customer as well as of building the reputation of a product and
company. To a certain extent, advertisements can give information about the product or
service, its characteristics and the markets on which these goods may be found. On the
one hand, ads can aim at establishing new relationships by targeting people who have
never tried those products before; on the other hand, they may keep existing customers
by encouraging customer loyalty. In addition to this, however, advertisements can do
more: they can begin to develop a reputation both for a product and for the company.
This reputation building process can be achieved as long as, by means of effective
advertising, the product is given a reputation of good quality.
Not only is advertising a way of achieving sales, but also a weapon of competition.
This means it can help to distinguish one brand from its competitors by making it stand
out to potential buyers. Although initial advertising – when the product is launched may result in a satisfactory level of awareness, understanding and trial by consumers,
it is not enough when it is about keeping customers. Even in competitive markets,
advertising is used as a way of reminding customers that the brand exists by retaining
their confidence in the product.
In order to increase sales advertising should meet different requirements: first, it
should remind the brand’s users to buy and use the product; second, it should try to
persuade users of competitive brands that the advertised product is better for their
purposes than the product they are using at present; third, it should raise people’s
awareness of the brand existence by informing them about the virtues of the product
and finally encouraging non-users to use the product category (White 1993: 1-23).
It is worth bearing in mind that advertising sells. Apart from that, “advertisements
inform, persuade, remind, influence, change opinions; they even, perhaps, change emotions
and attitudes. Advertising changes society; makes people buy things they do not want…”
(White 1993: 55).
The above quotation could act as a valuable starting point of the English classes
on “Advertising”. In this way students could be properly initiated into the theme and
their curiosity could be aroused, so that they could be led to focus not only on the
main ideas, but also on particular sub-headings, such as advertising and society,
advertising and the law and the role of advertising in educating masses. Assuming that
the presentation of these issues goes together and is highlighted with visual aids, both
static and dynamic pictures, the response of the class could be significantly improved,
interest and enjoyment could be generated and, furthermore, students could be given
the opportunity of experiencing “real life” as well as of interacting with pictures.
Due to the fact that advertisements can be well connected with every part and
aspect of the English class, students can be offered the possibility to practise and use
Lingua A. Linguistics
natural and authentic language. For advertising relies to a large extent on pictorial
imagery, it invites reading, speculations, personal reactions and differences of opinion.
In a nutshell, it leads to discussion. It speaks to our inner voice, and the spoken text
embedded in action can help us to exploit and understand the hidden messages of the
During the English classes held for the second-year students in Economics,
different types of dynamic pictures, animated advertisements, and TV commercials
were presented and exploited in the form of discussions, debates, reading and listening
activities. The main goal of this approach was to familiarise the students with the various
types of advertisements and the messages beyond them, to contextualise language, to
enrich their vocabulary, to help them develop their points of view and perhaps even
their attitudes towards certain advertisements. An additional purpose was to cause an
immediate impact on the students and to stimulate them in order to respond creatively,
emotionally and subjectively to the issue presented. With hindsight, these pictures in
motion proved to be excellent also by providing the students with extra information
about the topic.
In the first instance, the students were shown several traditional advertisements
about a “Dr. Oetker” pudding cream and about the “Grania” flour. Their attention
was drawn to the features and benefits of these products and to the “Unique Selling
Proposition” they develop. Thus, the students could observe which of the so called
conventional methods these ads take advantage of in order to attract the attention of
potential customers, reflecting upon how the interest of the consumers was aroused
in the product. The emphasis was also on the means used to create a desire for the
benefits of these goods and lastly, how the ads encouraged the customers to take prompt
The next advertisements are examples of the so called public interest or public
service advertisements which use strategies and techniques similar to commercial
advertising, yet for non-commercial purposes. Their role is to make the public aware
of certain burning social and global issues, like public health, public safety, diseases,
political ideology, discrimination, energy conservation, deforestation, environmental
problems, etc. Such advertisements can be considered as a powerful educational tool
capable of reaching, teaching and motivating audiences (Wikipedia 2007: para.1). The
ad presented to the students brings into discussion the public’s attention to the disabled,
how they are seen, and in many cases, even misjudged by society. The atmosphere
of this advertisement is created in a masterly manner. The chess champion, who is
admired by everybody, appears on the scene in the blinding flashes of cameras and
plays simultaneous chess with several players and finally is beaten in a game by a boy
with disabilities. The advert depicts the facial expressions of the two characters in a
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
brilliant way. The effect of the ad is thereby shocking; the realization of reality is painful.
The sound effects outline the meaning of the advertisement in an outstanding way, its
messages “Respect yourself and you will respect the others” or “Disinterest is the biggest
handicap” or “Talent knows no handicap” echoing in our souls and deeply moving us.
On viewing these ads, the students reacted with an immediate emotional response.
Moreover, being under the influence of these pictures, they interacted with each other,
showing great sensitivity towards the problems exposed.
The next advertisement shown to the students is a typical example of the so called
contrastive advertisements. In order to reach the button and extract a Pepsi from the
vending machine, the boy in the advertisement steps on a Coca-cola can. As we have
already stated, advertising does not only attempt to sell the goods of companies, but it
is also a powerful competitive weapon. But how far should this competition go? Should
there be a limit, a line drawn between honest, fair and unfair competition? By asking
these questions, the students could be properly introduced into the topic “advertising
and the law”. They could be asked to recall advertisements in which this comparative
reference is expressed.
As advertisers often tend to make specific comparisons between their products and
rival products, viewers – in many cases even unconsciously – locate particular items
in the text and draw them together for comparison on a specified basis. However, the
lack of specific reference to certain products does not stop advertisers from employing
comparative reference. This means that advertisers often leave out the comparative item
while keeping in the basis for comparison. Even though a comparative reference is not
clearly expressed to the viewers, they still decode from the text this “much better” idea
(Goddard 1998: 104).
When referring to the above-mentioned advertisement the students’ attention can
be drawn to advertising regulations, to the legal framework within which advertising
operates, to ethical advertising standards, as well as to laws and rules that control,
constrain and even reprimand inappropriate advertisements. It should be pointed out
to the students that comparative advertisements are interpreted differently and the
rules vary around the world. Thus, in Europe it is illegal to make any comparisons
of a product with a competitor’s in advertising. There are no laws against it in Britain
and in the USA, yet the Code of Advertising Practice lays down some guidelines as to
what is permissible. According to this Code of Practice, all advertisements should be
legal, decent and truthful. They should be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the
consumer and society, and lastly, should conform to the principles of fair competition
generally accepted in business. It should be stressed that the expression of comparative
reference and superiority in advertisements is legal and accepted in certain countries
as long as comparison is not likely to mislead, it complies with the principles of fair
Lingua A. Linguistics
competition and does not tarnish the reputation and image of a company (White 1993:
The other advertisements presented to the students, such as adverts on alcoholic
drinks, tobacco or funny ones proved to be excellent starting points for discussions and
debates. The students engaged in various reading and listening activities and were eager
to interact with each other by using such pictures in motion as a basis for conversation.
In addition to this, the use of such dynamic pictures had a huge impact on them,
generating interest and emotional response to the topic.
These pictures in motion turn out to be a very generous source of discussion,
motivation and enjoyment in class, since they are highly interactive and dynamic. They
create effect, managing to engage the viewer in a dialogue with a text or picture as one
of the interlocutors of it. These adverts have illustrated that images work alongside the
verbal text to create ways of interpretation, to address to the viewer, involving them as
participants in this interaction.
By exerting a huge visual impact and by provoking different reactions, visual
aids, both static and dynamic, can and should play a major part in English classes.
The power of images can be well exploited and connected with different language
learning activities.
Since images can foster great personable and workable opportunities and a
harmonious and stimulating teaching-learning environment, teachers should resort
to such pictures as often as possible in order to maximize the success of the class. All
in all, we should allow pictures to speak a thousand volumes within the English class
for the benefit of the students and the teachers alike.
Goddard, Angela. (1998). The Language of Advertising. Written Texts. London, New York: Routledge.
Goodman, Jennifer. (2007). Picture Stories in the Communicative Classroom. Retrieved from www.teachingenglish.
Hill, David A. (1990). Visual Impact. Creative Language Learning through Pictures. Essex: Longman Group UK
Schnotz, Wolfgang. (2007). Knowledge Acquisition with Static and Animated Pictures in Computer-Based Learning.
Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/Home.portal.
White, Roderick. (1993). Advertising: What It Is and How to Do It. Berkshire: McGRAW-HILL Book Company
Wikipedia (2007). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_service_advertising.
Wright, Andrew. (1989). Pictures for Language Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
II. Varia
“Babeș-Bolyai” University at the
European Universities Debating
Ana Maria Pascu
Three debating teams and two judges represented “Babes-Bolyai” University
at the European Universities Debating Championship, which was hosted by the
University of Newcastle, at the beginning of August (1-5 August 2009). One of
the participating teams represented the Lingua Center Debating Club. It is most
significant that beginner debaters are supported financially by the university and thus
given the chance to participate at important international competitions, which are an
excellent learning opportunity.
After seven preliminary rounds, the selected teams took part in quarters, semifinals
and finals, which took into account the debaters’ level of English. Thus, there were
separate quarters, semifinals and finals for native speakers and for ESL (English as
a second language) debaters. Great judging standards were ensured by judges being
permanently ranked according to their performance by the chairs of each judging
The motions were as follows:
R1: This House would allow the police to use entrapment.
R2: This House would use the education system to instill moral norms in children
beyond mere obedience to the law.
R3: This House would grant citizenship to illegal immigrants who report on workplace exploitation.
R4: This House believes that the gay rights movement should oppose gay
R5: This House believes that western liberal countries have a moral duty to spread
democracy across the world using force where necessary.
R6: This House believes that custody hearings should not take a child’s biological
parentage into account.
R7: This House would allow doctors to actively lie to their patients in order to
create or augment a placebo effect.
ESL QF: This House would allow the police to physically discipline children below
the age of criminal responsibility.
Lingua A. Linguistics
QF: This House would allow political parties to designate certain pre-election
claims as binding promises, the breaking of which would trigger immediate fresh
ESL SF: This House believes that countries where assisted suicide is illegal should
prosecute those who assist others that travel abroad to receive euthanasia.
SF: This House believes that desecration of religious sites is a legitimate tactic of
ESL GF: This House would remove all legal barriers to the genetic enhancement
of humans.
GF: This House would abolish all limits on immigration.
The winners for the ESL section were from The Netherlands, while the native
speaker winners were from Oxford.
Fifth Corpus Linguistics Conference
Adrian Ciupe
Between 20 and 23 July 2009 I took part in the Fifth Corpus Linguistics
Conference hosted by the University of Liverpool, UK, where I presented a paper
entitled Corpora and EFL / ELT: Losses, gains and trends in a computerised world.
My presentation centred on several practical and methodological aspects relating
to the use of proprietor corpora by publishers such as LONGMAN, MACMILLAN,
CAMBRIDGE UP and OXFORD UP in compiling paper and electronic format
dictionaries for advanced learners of English, as well as in producing various ELT
/ EFL course books. Theoretically informed by the Lexical Approach (c.f. Michael
Lewis), my line of argument acknowledged the efforts of current ELT/EFL publishers
but also highlighted their conspicuous shortcomings, eventually suggesting possible
remedial action in designing further such products.
Well-attended (over 300 speakers from around the world) and successfully
organised, with separate sections on language learning, discourse, language software
etc, the Corpus Linguistics 2009 conference was run jointly by the universities of
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
Liverpool, Birmingham and Lancaster, being the fifth biennial conference in the
series of Corpus Linguistics.
The official conference website is: http://www.liv.ac.uk/english/CL2009/index.htm
TBLT 2009 Tasks: Context, Purpose,
and Use.
Veronica Armașu, Ioana Nan
Lancaster, UK
September 2009
The International Conference on Task-based Language Teaching (ICTBLT) was
hosted by Lancaster University, UK, between 13-16 September 2009. It the third
of the series of biennial TBLT conferences inaugurated in 2005 by the Katholieke
Universiteit of Leuven and continued in 2007 under the auspices of the University of
The Lancaster conference brought together a relatively small but enthusiastic
community of EFL, ESP and EAP researchers and teachers, most of them from
universities and colleges in Western Europe, the United States and Japan, whose
interest in task-based learning and assessment was reflected not only in the significant
number and variety of topics presented on each of the three days of colloquia and
workshops, but also in the central issues taken up in the presentations of the four
plenary speakers. Thus, some of the key questions approached were the place of
technology in the context of second-language learning, the use of classroom tasks as
conducive to social, action-oriented practices, the role of motivation in task-based
learning behaviour, as well as the yet unsolved puzzle of task-based assessment in
language learning programmes.
In addition, some of the most interesting aspects debated were: the role of corrective
feedback in task-based learning, the attitude of EAP teachers to CBI (Content-based
Lingua A. Linguistics
Instruction) and the importance of shifting to task-based and project-based learning,
some possible methods of measuring learners’ oral fluency, or the effects of task
complexity and task conditions on oral production.
A special section was dedicated to The TBLT 2009 Student Awards which has
focused on rewarding students who have had outstanding contributions in the field
of task- based learning and research. Thus, the organizers have stated their ongoing
interest in developing further research programmes in the field.
All in all, the Lancaster 2009 TBLT conference emphasized once more, and very
successfully, the need for learning a second or foreign language by performing authentic
communicative tasks whose ultimate purposes are not so much to manipulate form
with utmost accuracy, as much as to convey contextually appropriate meaning in
order to build not only language skills but also relevant, practical, extra-linguistic
skills for life.
The 2009 Lancaster Conference Organising Committee has announced that the
4 Biennial International Conference on Task-Based Language Teaching will take
place between the 17-20 November 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand, bearing the
promising title of ” Crossing Boundaries”.
Official conference website: http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fass/events/tblt2009/
III. Reviews
„Marele Dicţionar Român-Polon”
în contextul dezbaterilor
de lingvistică integrală
Mircea Borcilă*
Există, cred, suficiente şi bine întemeiate motive care ne îndeamnă să
salutăm cu satisfacţie apariţia acestei excepţionale realizări lexicografice – Marele
Dicţionar Român-Polon, în contextul lucrărilor celui dintâi „Congres Internaţional de
Lingvistică Integrală” de la Cluj. Cel mai important dintre aceste motive este, fireşte,
unul mai general, de natură istorică şi culturală, anume faptul binecunoscut că „şcoala
lingvistică din Cluj” se mândreşte cu titlul de a fi conceput şi realizat, în bună măsură,
cel mai important monument lexicografic al culturii române, faimosul Dicţionar al
Academiei, aşa cum e numit acesta în mod curent, în lumea ştiinţifică. Personal,
regret cu toată sinceritatea faptul că cel care conduce, astăzi, şantierul (atât cât a mai
rămas, la Cluj) al lucrărilor la această operă monumentală, directorul Institutului de
Lingvistică al Academiei Române, Ion Mării, nu a putut, din motive de sănătate, să
se adreseze el însuşi Congresului cu această ocazie. În ce mă priveşte, voi încerca să
invoc, foarte sumar, cel puţin trei raţiuni pentru care consider dicţionarul de faţă ca
pe un câştig excepţional şi semnificativ al lexicografiei bilingve interculturale.
În primul rând, mă refer la concepţia lucrării şi îngăduiţi-mi să pornesc, în această
privinţă, de la ideea exprimată aici de eminenta noastră romanistă, Maria Iliescu,
anume aceea că Puşcariu şi, acum, iată şi Coşeriu, trebuie consideraţi drept repere
care au intrat în zodia „clasicităţii”, adică ei reprezintă, pentru noi, valori clasice
care, dincolo de discuţiile şi dezvoltările pe care le putem face, au reuşit să cucerească
ceva definitiv pentru cultura română şi cea europeană. Concepţia acestui dicţionar,
aşa cum a fost schiţată ea, în Cuvântul introductiv, şi prezentată de către una din
cele două merituoase autoare ale lucrării, invitată de onoare a Congresului nostru, se
înscrie, cu claritate, în perspectiva unui asemenea câştig. Profesoara Joanna Porawska
a pomenit faptul că axa principală a noului Mare Dicţionar, spre deosebire de cel din
‘70, este ideea regăsită încă la Hasdeu – eu aş duce-o şi mai departe, la Cipariu – a
* Babeș-Bolyai University
Lingua A. Linguistics
unei „oglinzi” pe care dicţionarul trebuie să o reprezinte în raport cu viaţa istorică
a neamului ce vorbeşte limba respectivă. Să ne amintim că, tocmai, această idee,
preluată chiar de la Cipariu, a fost exact ideea pe care a citat-o, la început, Puşcariu
când a pornit programul Marelui Dicţionar al Academiei Române, i.e. ideea că într-un
dicţionar trebuie să găseşti, „ca într-o oglindă, firea, sufletul şi istoria neamului”. E
vorba, deci, de o fericită reafirmare a unui principiu al lingvisticii, înţeleasă ca ştiinţă a
culturii sau, mai exact, de o reinstaurare a unei concepţii, să-i spunem, cvasispirituale
sau sufleteşti, datorită căreia, prin intermediul Dicţionarului, cunoaştem, desigur, şi
realităţile materiale, dar cunoaştem şi sufletul şi modul de-a simţi, modul de-a gândi,
modul de-a vedea aceste lucruri care se reflectă în cuvintele, în expresiile idiomatice
şi, în general, în sensurile cele mai caracteristice ale unei/unor limbi, pe care şi acest
excelent Dicţionar le scoate în lumină.
Această idee a fost, de fapt, dezvoltată de Puşcariu în elaborările sale teoretice,
aşa cum am încercat să argumentez şi eu în mai multe texte din ultima perioadă. Îmi
amintesc de o întâlnire pe care am avut-o în 2003 cu filologii germani – Deutsche und
rumänische Philologen in der Begegnung – unde acest punct de vedere („ Puşcariu,
un mare precursor al lingvisticii integrale”) a fost prezentat şi argumentat pe larg. S-a
vorbit despre drumul de la Puşcariu până la Coşeriu sau despre rădăcinile româneşti
ale lui Coşeriu în mutaţia conceptuală dinspre pozitivism înspre o altă lingvistică, de
orientare funcţional-culturală, cum a fost cea „clasică” a şcolii clujene. Într-adevăr,
acest principiu este minunat ilustrat şi în concepţia lucrării de faţă. Este vorba de
un dicţionar etnolingvistic, de un „text cultural”, cum l-a numit autoarea, am putea
spune chiar intercultural, în sensul profund al înţelegerii care stă la baza lingvisticii
integrale de astăzi pe plan internaţional.
A doua raţiune pe care aş dori s-o invoc, foarte succint, este strâns legată de prima,
dar vizează, cu precădere, valoarea practică a Dicţionarului. Mă refer, anume, la bogăţia
expresiilor idiomatice pe care o cuprinde această lucrare şi observ că multe dintre
aceste expresii – considerate de noi, până acum, conform tradiţiei consolidate prin
celebra carte a lui Sandfeld, din 1933, ca ţinând de aşa-zisa „comunitate” sau „familie”
de „limbi balcanice” – se regăsesc, ca atare, şi în limba polonă. Acest dicţionar este o
foarte bună cale, sau poate servi în acest sens, pentru explorarea unei idei ştiinţifice
de mare importanţă. Dicţionarul atestă, anume, extrem de multe expresii idiomatice
în care putem traduce cuvânt cu cuvânt din română în poloneză şi invers, fără să
schimbăm sensul figurat al expresiei, în destule cazuri în care aceasta nu se poate
face cu o limbă soră, cum ar fi franceza sau italiana. Este o provocare pe care acest
Dicţionar o lansează, deja, cercetătorilor, anticipată, desigur, de mai mulţi lingvişti –
între care şi profesorul Alexandru Niculescu – şi pentru care lucrarea lexicografică
de faţă poate sluji ca o piatră de temelie sau un foarte bun suport investigaţional.
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
Se poate cerceta, şi pe această temeinică bază, în ce măsură adevărul transmis prin
tradiţia menţionată este doar unul parţial şi în ce măsură putem delimita un „nucleu
comun”, nu doar „balcanic”, ci est-european, cu deosebire tocmai în aria expresiilor
idiomatice, care ilustrează cel mai bine „viziunea” implicită asupra lumii, caracteristică
unei anumite culturi sau unui spaţiu cultural mai cuprinzător.
Şi a treia raţiune, corelată cu cea anterioară: schimbarea lingvistică. Acest
Dicţionar ne demonstrează că, în 40 de ani, limba română s-a schimbat destul de
radical în multe straturi ale semanticii ei lexicale, înţelegând prin această schimbare
o mutaţie în chiar profilul ei lexematic ca entitate istorică, dar şi în dimensiunea
„normei” ei tradiţionale, aşa cum se prezintă aceasta din unghiul discursului repetat,
al frazeologismelor şi al elementelor figurative specifice. Acestea s-au schimbat foarte
mult în ultimii 40 de ani, iar Dicţionarul de faţă reflectă admirabil această schimbare
în perspectivă interlingvistică. Comunicarea revelatoare a profesoarei Porawska,
de astăzi, a fost plină de asemenea ilustrări elocvente. S-a putut întrezări, cred, cu
claritate, însuşi procesul prin care se configurează o nouă „fizionomie” semantică a
limbii noastre, prin comparaţia, „în oglindă”, cu procesul similar care are loc în limba
Cele trei raţiuni invocate ar fi suficiente, cred, pentru a saluta cu satisfacţie, apariţia
acestui volum, în contextul dezbaterilor noastre. Există, însă, desigur, numeroase alte
aspecte pe care specialiştii – lexicografii, în primul rând, semanticienii istorici, cei care
lucrează în domeniul relaţiilor româno-polone – le vor putea fructifica pornind de
la această adevărată capodoperă. Nu-mi rămâne decât să o felicit, din toată inima, pe
profesoara Porawska, în numele dumneavoastră, al tuturor, precum şi pe organizatorii
acestui deosebit moment al Congresului nostru de lingvistică integrală.
Dicţionar contextual de termeni
traductologici – franceză-română
Maria Ţenchea coordonator, Dicţionar contextual de termeni
traductologici – franceză-română, Editura Universităţii de Vest,
Timişoara, 2008
En ordre alphabétique, Diana Andrei, Diana Boca, Ruxandra Filip, Cristina
Georgescu, Andreea Gheorghiu, Ioana Giurgincă, Doina Hebedean, Georgiana
Lungu Badea, Mariana Pitar, Adina Popa, Maria Ţenchea et Diana Voinescu sont les
auteurs de ce dictionnaire contextuel de terme traductologiques, du français vers le
roumain, dont la coordination et la révision appartiennent à Madame le Professeur
Maria Ţenchea. Le dictionnaire a été élaboré grâce à un projet financé par le CNCSIS.
Le directeur du projet No 1441 de 2006 est Maria Ţenchea qui a coordonné l’activité de
l’équipe, ayant à la base une initiative de Madame le Maître de Conférence Georgiana
Lungu Badea.
En plein essor, la traductologie roumaine tend à consolider ses concepts, tout
comme la terminologie utilisée dans ce but. C’est ce qui justifie la nécessité de faire
publier un pareil dictionnaire, un vrai instrument de travail mis à la disposition
des spécialistes, mais aussi des étudiants qui sont en voie de formation, pour ne pas
oublier le public intéressé à ce genre d’activité.
Plus de deux cents termes ou collocations, donnés en français à côté de leur
traduction en roumain, par exemple: Hétéronyme/Heteronim; Compensation/
Compensaţie, Compensare; ou bien Traducteur expert (judiciaire)/Traducător expert
(judiciar); Expression figée, Figement/Expresie fixă, Entitate frazeologică, forment le
fonds de ce dictionnaire qui a pourtant un caractère de nouveauté. Celle-ci réside dans
le fait que les termes ne sont point définis, comme dans un dictionnaire classique,
mais accompagnés d’exemples concrets, d’où la difficulté de l’élaborer.
Lingua A. Linguistics
Les exemples de longueur variable sont présentés dans un ou même dans plusieurs
contextes authentiques qui démontrent leur fonctionnement effectif dans le domaine
de la traductologie. Le choix en est large et les citations offertes provienennt autant
de textes français que de textes rédigés ou simplement traduits en roumain, suivis
de la source respective: Surtraduction/Supratraducere – “On fait de la surtraduction
lorsqu’on explicite abusivement en français ce qu’il convient de garder implicite
en passant d’une langue à l’autre.” (J. Delisle, La Traduction raisonnée, p. 230)
“Supratraducere. Greşeală de traducere care constă în traducerea explicită a unor
elemente din textul sursă ce ar trebui să rămână implicite în textul ţintă.” (J. Delisle,
Terminologia traducerii, p. 128). Certes, le nombre de contextes est dû à l’importance
du terme vedette ou de la collocation en cause, allant de deux ou trois au total, jusqu’à
plusieurs pages, notamment: Traducteur/Traducător, Tălmăcitor (pages 178 à 181).
C’est pourquoi, le dictionnaire devient une sorte d’encyclopédie de la traduction car
il peut servir à étudier la terminologie utilisée dans ce domaine d’importance vitale à
l’époque de la globalisation.
Afin de faciliter son utilisation, les auteurs ont mis à la disposition du lecteur un
index de termes en français et en roumain (pages 239 à 245). Le volume est ouvert par
une liste d’abréviations en français et une autre en roumain, les abréviations les plus
usuelles qui se retrouvent dans les exemples donnés.
Et non pas en dernier lieu, les sources sont offertes (pages 227 à 238) en deux
sous-chapitres: Volumes, études et articles et Sites du web.
Alexandra Viorica Dulău*
* Babeș-Bolyai University
Mariana Istrate,
Numele propriu în textul narativ
Istrate, Mariana, Numele propriu în textul narativ, Napoca Star,
Cluj-Napoca, 2000
he choice of presenting the study of Mariana Istrate is a well
founded one because we deal with one of the few Romanian
works regarding literary onomastics. The author presents the different
onomastic categories to be found in narrative texts, the relationship
between literary onomastics and other linguistic branches, as well as the
so-called “thresholds to interpretation” such as the title, the prefaces etc
literary onomastics, proper name, thresholds to interpretation.
L’interesse di Mariana Istrate per il ricco ma poco esplorato campo
dell’onomastica trova le sue radici nelle ricerche romene benché internazionali
riguardanti quest’ampia tematica. Mariana Istrate svolge la sua attività presso il
dipartimento di Italiano della Facoltà di Lettere dell’Università “Babeş-Bolyai”. La
studiosa si è dedicata al campo dell’onomastica, e all’onomastica letteraria in particolare,
a cominciare con la stesura della tesi per il dottorato. Di conseguenza, ha pubblicato
vari articoli in riviste di prestigio, ha partecipato e ha sostenuto conferenze in Romania
e all’estero. Tra le più recenti rammentiamo una conferenza presso l’Università “La
Sapienza” di Roma dal titolo Finzione e denominazione nel romanzo autobiografico
di Lucian Blaga e Ion Heliade Rădulescu – un romantico romeno italofilo presentata
presso l’Università “Il Bo” di Padova. Per ciò che riguarda i volumi pubblicati si tratta
di: Numele propriu în textul narativ, Napoca Star, Cluj-Napoca, 2000; Scriptor in
fabula, Napoca Star, Cluj-Napoca, 2002; Percorsi del nome, Ezio Parma Editore Napoca
Star, Cluj-Napoca, 2002. Mariana Istrate è membro dell’Accademia di Scienze, Arti e
Letteratura di Oradea e dell’Associazione „Onomastica e Letteratura” di Pisa, Italia.
Lo spunto del presente lavoro è rappresentato dal fatto che è stata l’onomastica
letteraria, dall’ampio campo dell’onomastica in generale, ad aver conosciuto il maggior
Lingua A. Linguistics
sviluppo negli ultimi decenni. Essa postula e sfrutta, allo stesso tempo, il fatto che
il nome proprio nel testo narrativo rappresenta una scelta individuale, consapevole
e, soprattutto, motivata dell’autore. Si deve sottolineare un tratto caratteristico
dell’onomastica letteraria e cioè una maggior libertà nel creare: la denominazione
epica può far uso tanto di nomi ripresi dal corpus onomastico esistente nella lingua,
quanto di nomi creati in conformità con il sistema onomastico in questione. L’uso
selettivo di un certo nome è già un indizio della sua funzione semantica. L’inserimento
di un segno linguistico individuante contribuisce alla generazione ed all’articolazione
del testo, e la sua reiterazione è la garanzia della continuità e coerenza del testo.
Nella prima parte, il lavoro fa l’analisi delle principali categorie onomastiche che
appaiono nel testo per poter vertere, in un secondo momento, su quelle che vengono
usate in quanto “soglie verso il testo” (il nome d’autore, lo pseudonimo in quanto
nome d’autore, il nome del testo). L’ultima parte viene a delineare la ricezione di questi
nomi, suscitando reazioni estetiche, per arrivare alla loro lessicalizzazione attraverso
il complesso processo dell’antonomasia.
Il primo aspetto presentato dalla studiosa è quello della definizione dell’onomastica
del testo letterario (problematica ritrovatasi anche nel titolo del secondo capitolo). Lo
spunto in questo senso è rappresentato dalla prima prova di definire questo concetto
in Romania nell’ambito del Simposio di onomastica del 1987, i cui lavori furono
pubblicati nella rivista “Studii de onomastica”, del 1990. La definizione di Augustin
Pop considera, in linea di ipotesi, che l’onomastica letteraria coinvolga la letteratura,
„nel grado in cui [essa] costituisce l’oggetto della ricerca”, e la linguistica „per ciò
che riguarda il metodo di investigazione”1. Di conseguenza: „l’onomastica letteraria
potrebbe essere quel ramo dell’onomastica che studia l’origine, l’evoluzione e le funzioni
dei nomi propri delle opere letterarie”. Marica Pietreanu viene a completare questa
definizione affermando che l’onomastica letteraria sia: „quel ramo dell’onomastica
il cui oggetto di ricerca sono i nomi propri delle opere letterarie, con un metodo
complesso di interpretazione, in cui si intrecciano l’analisi linguistica e quella
letteraria e artistica”2. Una volta definita l’onomastica letteraria, emerge il problema
delle categorie con cui essa opera – toponimi, antroponimi, zoonimi, astronimi,
anemonimi (nomi di fenomeni meteorologici), ergonomi (nomi di associazioni
umane), crononimi (nomi dei periodi di tempo), ecc.3 Spicca, dunque, il problema
dell’identità tra le categorie dell’onomastica letteraria (OL) e quelle dell’onomatica
generale (O), fatto che verrebbe ad invalidare la teoria secondo la quale l’OL fosse
una suddivisione dell’O. Per trovare una soluzione a questo problema, la ricercatrice
ricorre ad un termine proposto da Augustin Pop – simbonim4 – per tutti i nomi propri
delle opere letterarie. Parte dalle osservazioni di Cesare Bandi e sottolinea il fatto
che, nell’opera letteraria,“il nome acquista un nuovo significato, fondamentalmente
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
diverso da quello anteriore”, “trasformandosi da un realonimo in un simbonimo”5. Di
conseguenza, l’ OL potrebbe essere ridefinita in quanto suddivisione dell’onomastica
che si occupa con lo studio dei simbonimi e studia i mezzi tramite i quali i nomi propri
ottengono, all’interno del testo letterario, la qualità di simbolo letterario.
Un altro argomento analizzato nel secondo capitolo è quello del rapporto tra
l’onomastica letteraria e le altre discipline della linguistica – la lessicologia, la
morfologia, la sintassi ma anche la storia della lingua, la dialettologia e la fonetica.
L’onomastica ha forse il maggior impatto, il più visibile, sulla lessicologia a causa del
passaggio dalla categoria di nome comune a quella di nome proprio e viceversa. Questa
transizione è resa possibile dal “degrado” semantico del nome proprio, processo
che può materializzarsi in un nuovo significato e può avere in quanto conseguenza
l’arricchirsi del vocabolario con nuove parole, nuovi sensi. Un primo passaggio dal
nome proprio al nome comune viene realizzato attraverso la comparazione con la
quale i tratti di un personaggio letterario vengono attribuiti ad una persona reale (si
vedano Don Quijote, Don Juan, Hagi Tufose, ecc. ). Un’altra modalità per cui nuove
parole appaiono è la derivazione di nomi comuni da nomi di scrittori, personaggi
letterari e opere. Il fenomeno è presente nel linguaggio della critica e della storia
letteraria e in seguito ne risultano: aggettivi – barbian, eminescian, hamletian, ecc.,
nomi – formati sia da un nome proprio + suf. –ism: caragialism, faustism, ecc., sia da
un aggettivo onomastico + suf. –ism: argezianism, balzacianism, ecc., oppure verbi.
L’ultima parte del secondo capitolo verte sullo stato attuale delle ricerche nel campo
in questione, avendo come spunto le affermazioni di Garabet Ibrăileanu, fatte nel
1926, nello studio “Numele proprii în opera comică a lui Caragiale” con cui l’autore
fonda un nuovo campo di ricerca, quello dell’onomastica letteraria. Sono rammentati
anche Al. Cristureanu, il quale, nelle sue ricerche, fa un inventario dei nomi ma,
allo stesso tempo, prova a fare anche la loro analisi stilistica; Elena Linţă la quale
spiega che si è fatta meno attenzione agli antroponimi presenti nelle opere letterarie a
causa dell’uso prediletto, nella letteratura, dei nomi propri consueti; Veronica HiceaMocanu la quale si è soffermata sopra i nomi propri dei testi drammatici; Rodica
Marian, Marica Pietreanu e Augustin Pop che si sono dedicati prevalentemente ai
nomi propri presenti nella poesia; Victoria Moldovan nella sua analisi del rapporto
nome-personaggio nell’opera di Sadoveanu.
Lo statuto del nome proprio nel testo narrativo è un aspetto che non può essere
trascurato in uno studio di onomastica letteraria e, di conseguenza, la studiosa ha
dedicato a questa problematica una parte consistente del suo lavoro e ha considerato
come punto di partenza le considerazioni generali sopra il nome proprio. Una
rassegna delle più importanti prospettive riguardanti il nome proprio conduce alla
conclusione che esso sia multivoce (può avere più significati), monovalente (ha un
Lingua A. Linguistics
valore diverso per ogni situazione) e unidimensionale (denomina tanto un oggetto
quanto un insieme di oggetti ma separatamente, non allo stesso tempo). Il famoso
linguista Coşeriu afferma: “Il nome proprio [...] è sempre il nome di un <<singolare>>
(questa A) e mai di un <<particolare>> (una A)”6. Si deve sottolineare il fatto che il
nome proprio non denomina nello stesso piano con il nome comune, classificando la
realtà, ma fa uso di una seconda modalità denominativa la quale individua e unifica.
Soltanto dopo aver tracciato le linee generali riguardanti lo statuto del nome
proprio, la ricercatrice è stata in grado di presentare la problematica del nome proprio
nel testo narrativo rilevando il fatto che, all’interno del testo, il nome non rinvia più
al mondo reale che ci circonda ma ad uno immaginario, creato, appartenente alla
finzione, che nel testo richiama, tuttavia, il primo. I tratti che individuano la letteratura
e, implicitamente, il nome proprio del testo letterario, restano sempre l’unicità e
l’originalità, qualità che suscitano l’interesse del lettore. Dall’altra parte, Eugène
Nicole7 si sofferma sopra l’idea della continuità della referenza nel processo narrativo.
Nella stesura dell’opera, così come nella lettura, ogni nome racchiude in sé una serie di
tratti che vengono attribuiti gradualmente all’individuo che denominano. Si verifica,
dunque, un rinvio speciale che mira ad un modello mentale del referente. Per Gravel
il personaggio significa sia “un nome ricco di qualità”, sia “qualità collegate attraverso
il nome”. In quest’ultimo caso, dal punto di vista narrativo, l’emergere di un nome ed
il suo reiterarsi nel testo “fonda il racconto e orienta la lettura verso l’aspettativa di
un destino”8. Sempre Eugène Nicole accenna alla “caratteristica anaforica” del nome
proprio e Mariana Istrate, a sostegno di quest’affermazione, fa degli esempi ripresi dalla
letteratura romena. È il caso del romanzo classico all’interno del quale la narrazione
e la reiterazione dei nomi sono strettamente collegate, la connessione essendo ovvia
soprattutto nei diversi cicli di romanzi come quelli di Hortensiei Papadat-Bengescu.
La reiterazione del nome che denomina un personaggio porta alla fissazione, nella
mente del lettore, dell’identità onomastica. Si produce, di conseguenza, una sorta di
eco che può condurre, in seguito al processo di ricezione, alla percezione del nome
in quanto simbolo di una qualità o di un’esistenza esemplare. In questo caso, si può
verificare persino il passaggio del nome proprio ad un nome comune.
Un tratto interessante che è stato rilevato nella letteratura dell’ultimo secolo è quello
del passaggio dalla pluridenominazione alla scomparsa del nome proprio nel testo
narrativo. Tranne il classico esempio di Cervantes che usò la pluridenominazione, la
studiosa ci presenta anche quello di Ciuleandra di Rebreanu notando che, solitamente,
quando non si tratta di un personaggio dai tratti fissi, ogni nuova apparizione del
nome porta alla luce una nuova caratteristica della personalità del denotato. Quindi,
Mădălina è la ragazza piena di gioia, esuberante, che balla la danza popolare chiamata
ciuleandra mentre Madeleine è l’affascinante signora Faranga, mite, melanconica, che
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
finirà per essere ammazzata da suo marito. I diversi nomi dati allo stesso personaggio
sono intenti a suggerire il fatto che l’identità del personaggio si perde malgrado le prove
disperate di riacquistarla. È il caso dell’eroe di Pirandello dal romanzo Il fu Mattia
Pascal (1904) il quale „vive e muore, rinasce e muore nuovamente”9, senza ritrovare
se stesso. Mattia Pascal coglie l’occasione di una situazione favorevole per crearsi una
nuova identità. Il „defunto” Mattia Pascal diventa Adriano Meis nella speranza non
solo di vivere una nuova vita ma anche di essere una nuova persona. Però, cambiando
il suo nome non fa altro che abbandonare una maschera per un’altra, il nome essendo
la maschera con cui la persona si fa conosciuta agli altri. In questo riguardo Jean
Starobinski afferma: „In modo simbolico il nome si colloca alla confluenza tra
« l’esistere per se stesso » e « l’esistere per l’altro », esso è veramente intimo ed è un
fatto pubblico. Accettando il mio nome accetto che esso sia un denominatore comune
tra il mio essere profondo e il mio essere sociale”10.
Però, è la rinuncia al nome l’attuale tendenza per ciò che riguarda il romanzo
contemporaneo. La “disgregazione” dell’architettura epica accade nello stesso tempo
con “la morte dell’eroe” e “la scomparsa dell’autore”11. Di conseguenza, si nota un
calo per ciò che riguarda il potere individuante del nome proprio. Faulkner, in L’urlo
e il furore, dà lo stesso nome a due persoanggi centrali, Kafka, nel Castello, chiama
un personaggio con un’unica lettera, K, Vasile Rebreanu, negli Amori del cascatore,
usa, in quanto nomi e cognomi dei personaggi, dei nomi comuni che denominano
la classe a cui essie appartengono. Ai rispettivi nomi e cognomi vengono aggiunte le
iniziali in ordine alfabetico: il ragazzo A, l’alunno B, lo studente C, ecc.
Il capitolo “La letterarietà e la denominazione” verte, in un primo momento, sulla
definizione del primo concetto accennato nel titolo, soprattutto dalla prospettiva
semiologica di Heinrich F. Plett12. Lo studioso definisce un concetto „espressivo” di
letteratura - la quale „rinvia all’emittente”, uno “ricettivo” – che rinvia al ricettore, un
concetto “mimetico” – rivolto al referente, e uno retorico in relazione con il codice
dei segni letterari. L’opera letteraria “crea un mondo”13 imitando un discorso dall’
“intento referenziale”, in base ad una convenzione tramite la quale lo scrittore fa finta
di “fare un’asserzione”, di “fare un rinvio”, e il lettore si mostra d’accordo con questa
“pretesa”14. Dovuto all’uso del nome proprio la referenza “crea il personaggio della
finzione”15. L’affermazione di Searle verrà sostenuta con argomenti dalla ricercatrice
romena che fa l’esempio del racconto Popa Tanda di Ioan Slavici. Dato che condivide
la sopraccennata pretesa dell’autore, il lettore accetta il fatto che esiste, nel villaggio
Butucani, un maestro chiamato Pintilie, personaggio della finzione creato tramite il
rinvio illocutorio. La conclusione della studiosa è che l’istituirsi di questa convenzione
testuale mira allo strutturarsi del nome proprio in quanto l’asse sul quale verrà costruito
il personaggio letterario.
Lingua A. Linguistics
“Le soglie verso il testo” rappresentano un altro concetto su cui verte lo studio
di Mariana Istrate. Così, se il nome di un autore richiama un certo universo
immaginario, i titoli, a loro turno, saranno in grado di rinviare, in vario modo, alla
finzione. I titoli dei capitoli vengono a rafforzare, a loro turno, l’invito di entrare nella
finzione lanciata dal titolo dell’opera così come anche le prefazioni, le postfazioni, i
motti, ecc. Paul Cornea afferma che “tutto è eloquente per coloro che hanno una certa
esperienza”. Di conseguenza, “il lettore avvisato raccoglie” questi elementi “prima di
incominciare la lettura”, in quanto segni esterni che aiutino alla conclusione di un
“contratto di lettura”16. Dunque, la ricercatrice conclude che i nomi hanno “la funzione
di avvertire” l’entrare del lettore in un universo immaginario, ma, allo stesso tempo,
pure una funzione di “segno coesivo” della narrazione e una funzione “psicologica
proiettiva”17. Lo statuto “relazionale” così scoperto progetta il personaggio in uno
spazio che si colloca “al di là del testo”.
Per analizzare l’espressività antroponimica, Mariana Istrate accenna, per primo,
ai nomi reperibili – i quali offrono al discorso epico autenticità e rappresentano
un punto di riferimento per poter collocare l’azione in un certo spazio e momento
storico. In secondo luogo, vengono accennati i nomi attestati – tutti quei nomi i
quali, benché costruiti in conformità con il sistema di denominazione esistente
nella lingua, vengono usati in un’opera letteraria senza che rinviino ad un prototipo
omonimo, oppure dei quali non ci risulta che esisti un tale prototipo, e pure i nomi
inventati – che non si verificano nella realtà, solo nella finzione essendo accettate in
un universo immaginario solamente grazie ad una convenzione. Questi ultimi non
si distinguono, dal punto di vista funzionale, dai nomi dell’onomastica consueta,
ma la loro forza suggestiva è grande. Mariana Istrate accenna anche all’espressività
toponimica, zoonimica ed eufemistica. I toponimi simbonimi possono essere, a loro
turno, reperibili, attestati e inventati mentre “i nomi di animali, nella maggior parte,
tranne quando non rappresentano nomi di persona o di animali ripresi da altre lingue
straniere, sono evoluti fino a questa funzione da aggettivi o appellativi ripresi dalla
lingua comune”18.
Facendo l’analisi degli pseudonimi, la studiosa fa una rassegna delle circostanze
della loro apparizione, le cause e, soprattutto, si nota un interesse particolare per ciò
che riguarda la loro classifica semantica. Dunque, vengono individuati pseudonimi
che rinviano a dei tratti fisici, psichici, pseudonimi che indicano un mestiere, l’origine,
derivati dai nomi di animali oppure quelli che provengono dalle formule onomastiche
di identificazione caratteristiche per il sistema popolare. Dal punto di vista della loro
costruzione si tratta di nomi-sintagma, anagrammi, asteronimi o criptonimi.
Insieme ai nomi d’autore, pure il titolo rappresenta un invito alla lettura. Esso
indica in modo riassuntivo o suggestivo l’essenza di un’opera e, secondo Boris Cazacu,
2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
“il titolo risponde, in un certo modo, alle domande che il giudice romano faceva
durante le inchieste: quis « chi », quomodo « come », quando « quando », quibus
auxiliis « con che mezzi », ubi « dove »”19. La studiosa conclude dunque che, motivato
o arbitrario, il titolo offre al testo individualità, unicità e riconoscibilità.
Un ultimo argomento trattato da Mariana Istrate nel suo studio è la ricezione dei
nomi propri presenti nel testo narrativo. La studiosa si sofferma sopra le affermazioni di
Paul Cornea20 in conformità con le quali la ricezione del messaggio poetico rappresenta
un atto individuale e irripetibile e richiede un’ “interazione comunicativa”21 fondata
su un certo bagaglio di conoscenze dato che ogni testo gode di un “orizzonte d’attesa
adatto o no all’accetto immediato. La ricezione dipende da fattori culturali, ma anche
dalla competenza letteraria del lettore che, a seconda delle informazioni racchiuse
nel testo, realizza una “lettura interpretativa”, fedele per ciò che riguarda le strutture
del testo, oppure una “lettura libera”, per divertirsi e rilassarsi, oppure una “lettura
standard” che porta ad una “comprensione più o meno soddisfacente del testo ed a
una rappresentazione mentale del mondo della finzione”22.
Per ciò che riguarda i meriti del presente lavoro, dobbiamo rammentare, per
primo, il fatto che, secondo Mircea Borcilă, „la presente sintesi si fonda su un grande
numero di opere esaminate, appartenenti non solo alla letteratura romena ma anche
a quella universale, e su una ricca illustrazione degli aspetti di principio sostenuti con
esempi tra i più rilevanti”. Inoltre, l’originalità del lavoro risiede nell’argomentare e
nel sostenere le ipotesi enunciate, personali o appartenenti ad altri autori, attraverso
esempi dalla letteratura romena, tratto che lo colloca tra i pochi lavori di onomastica
letteraria romena. Non può essere trascurata la struttura assai chiara, dettagliata, del
materiale presentato, a cui si deve la logica successione dei capitoli.
1 Pop, Augustin, “Obiectivele onomasticii literare”, în Studii de onomastică, V, 1990, p. 400-408.
2 Pietreanu, Marica, “Probleme de onomastica literară. Cu privire la poezia lui Marin Sorescu”, în Studii de
onomastică, V, 1990, p. 382-400.
3 Ioniţă, Vasile, “Cu privire la categoriile onomastice”, în Studii de onomastică, IV, 1987, p. 39-47.
4 Pop, Augustin, “Obiectivele onomasticii literare”..., p. 406.
5 Bandi, Cesare, Teoria generală a criticii, Bucureşti, Editura Univers, 1985, p.166.
6 Coşeriu, Eugen, Teoria del lenguaje y linguistica general, segunda edicion, Madrid, Editorial Gredos, S.A., 1967.
7 Nicole, Eugène, “L’onomastique littéraire”, în Poétique, 46, avril, 1981, p. 233-252.
8 Nicole, Eugène, “L’onomastique littéraire..., p. 206.
9 Pirandello, Luigi, Răposatul Mattia Pascal, Bucureşti, Editura pentru Literatură Universală, 1968, p. 240.
10 Starobinski, Jean, Textul şi interpretul, Bucureşti, Editura Univers, 1985, p. 358.
11 Jauss, Hans Robert, Experienţă estetică şi hermeneutică literară, Bucureşti, Editura Univers, 1983, p. 296.
12 Plett, Heinrich F., Ştiinţa textului şi analiza de text. Semiotică, lingvistică, retorică, Bucureşti, Editura Univers,
13 Ohmann, Richard, „Actele de vorbire şi definirea literaturii”, în Poetica americană. Orientări actuale, ClujNapoca, Editura Dacia, 1981, p. 179-199.
14 Searle, John R., „Statutul logic al discursului ficţional”, în Poetica americană.Orientări..., p. 221.
Lingua A. Linguistics
15 Ibidem, p. 222.
16 Cornea, Paul, Introducere în teoria literaturii, Bucureşti, Editura Minerva, 1988, p. 153.
17 Muthu, Mircea, „Înţelegerea personajului literar”, în Excelsior, I, 1992, nr. 2, p. 15.
18 Paşca, Ştefan, „Nume de persoane şi nume de animale în Ţara Oltului”, în Academia Română. Studii şi cercetări,
XXVI, 1936.
19 Cazacu, Boris, „De ce lectura modernă a textului narativ? Modalităţi narative şi implicaţii lingvistice”, în Limba
română literară. Probleme teoretice şi intepretări de texte, Bucureşti, Societatea de Ştiinţe Filologice, 1985, p.143.
20 Cornea, Paul, Introducere în teoria lecturii, Bucureşti, Editura Minerva, 1988.
21 Jauss, Hans Robert, Pour une esthétique de la réception, Paris, 1978.
22 Cornea, Paul, Introducere în teoria lecturii... .
Denisa Ionescu*
* Babeș-Bolyai University