ELF used in immigration domains typically reflects the different cognitive and communicative processes as well as the power/status asymmetries involved in cross-cultural situations of unequal encounters between non-western supplicants (i.e., African immigrants and asylum seekers) and western (Italian) experts in authority. Such situations will be here explored with reference to institutional contexts where the conditions for achieving successful communication through the use of ELF variations are biased against the participants’ different native linguacultural backgrounds from which they appropriate English without conforming to native speaker norms of usage. A number of case studies will illustrate the extent to which features of ELF usages may be perceived as formally deviating and socio-pragmatically inappropriate in intercultural communication – this being due to the participants’ lack of acknowledgement of each other’s ELF variations – thus giving rise to misunderstandings that often raise social and ethical issues about inequality and social justice. More specifically, the case studies will enquire, on the one hand, into the processes by which ELF users transfer typological, textual, lexical and logical features of their native languages and cultures to the domain-specific communication they are involved in, thus affecting their pragmalinguistic behaviours and interpretative strategies, leading ultimately to communication failure. On the other hand, some case studies will enquire into possible ‘hybridization strategies’ of written reformulation aimed at making ELF discourse conceptually accessible and socio-pragmatically acceptable to immigrants and refugees involved in the interaction, by making it conform to their different native linguacultural backgrounds, with the ultimate purpose of achieving a ‘mutual accommodation’ of ELF variations in order to promote the social inclusion of marginalized immigrants as well as raise awareness among intercultural mediators operating in such situations of power asymmetry of the possible discourse strategies that can improve mutual intelligibility through ELF.
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