This paper introduces a cross-cultural view of pragmatic markedness accounting for the different ways in which non-native speakers of ‘lingua franca’ English (ELF) interpret a specialized communicative situation they participate in. The assumption is that interpretative differences are due to the participants’ divergent schematic representations of the same situation, informed by their different native pragmalinguistic and socio-cultural backgrounds, which eventually come into collision during the interaction. The pragmatic outcome is often misunderstanding that, in this paper, is specifically explored with reference to two situations of legal and medical advice offered by Western ELF-speaking specialists to Pidgin-English-speaking African immigrants. The objective is to show evidence of the process by which each participant transfers native pragmalinguistic features to his/her use of ELF that is perceived as ‘deviant’ and ‘marked’ by the other participants in the same specialized interactions. Pragmatic markedness is thus investigated at the following levels of lexical-syntactic, discursive and schematic deviation.
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