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What are contextualization cues?

Question:

Write a literary review on any topic in Discourse Analysis.

The contextualization cues refer to the signals, which are used by the speakers to indicate their meaning or put more emphasis on them. The use and the interpretation of the contextualization cues are developed as a result of cultural background of the individuals. The non-verbal cues, such as utterance of words and pitch deeply influence the meaning of the speech. The use and interpretation of contextualization cues are shaped by the cultural background of an individual. The contextualization of cues encompasses different elements of linguistic structure, words and syntax which are embedded with the language. There are also other paralinguistic features, such as pitch, tempo and laughter and they are omnipresent in the human interaction. The term contextualization of the cues was coined by John Gumperz, who used the term in the conversational inference and states that mutual understanding can be achieved by social interaction (Levinson, 2003).

The word “discourse Analysis” is polysemic as it refers to the close linguistic study of different perspectives, which are using the same texts. Along with it, it also refers to the socially shared habits, in which thoughts, perception ad behavior belonging to different genres are shared with each other. The contextualization of cues is a term associated with intercultural communication. The contextualization cue is the central communication component upon which communication and miscommunication rests. It is the central piece in the human interaction, which adds meaning to the shared understanding and meaning-making. If all the people interpret the information correctly, it goes unnoticed; however, if the participants do not interpret the meaning correctly, it can misled the communication. The contextualization of cues exists in all form of communication. In the present times, emoticons which are commonly used in the text messages can be used to understand the contextualization cues. If these cues are not interpreted correctly, they can create challenges in the communication. The contextualization cues are an important part of communication, as they change the meaning of the discourse. In the sociolinguistics, contextualization of cues refers to the use of language and discourse to indicate interactional or communicative situation (Scollon & Scollon, 2001). There are certain contextualization cues such as intonation which allow the language users to infer adequate meaning of discourse. In this essence, the present literature review will discuss the meaning and the theories associated with the contextual cues. The literature review will synthesize and present information discussed by the eminent authors.

The importance of contextualization cues in communication

In the perception of Eerdmans, Prevignano & Thibault (2003), the contextual cues are the pure indexicals, which include symbolic lexical and grammatical signs. They do not have any propositional content and they cannot be assigned context-free meaning. The contextualization cues provide interpretive background for the propositional meaning.

The contextual cues assist in the delineation of the context as the meaning of the text changes. The contextualization cues changes the context or meaning of the text.  In other words, it can channel or guide interpretation and giving additional meaning to the statements in the conversation. The contextual cues assist people to provide meaning in the interaction. The meaning of the contextual cues is dependent upon the kind of activity the people are engaged in, the real meaning of the statements and the before and the after statements of the people.

According to Wilson (2004), the contextual cues have a significant impact in the interpretation of meaning of the conversation. In conversations, a contextual cue has the effect of providing an advanced message about the message, the intention of the message, and provides information about the people interaction in a message. The contextual cue is a meta-message, which provides information about the message.

In the perspective of Couper-Kuhlen (2015), the contextual cues refer to the signals, which refers to phonetic, lexical or the syntactic expressions used in the conversation. It may include dialect, register, or any other kind of information. The contextual cues indicate a marked choice. While choosing a conventional cue, the speaker uses different forms of expressions for making a statement.

In the views of Zheng (2016) all the choices made in the conversation have an important discourse functions. They also have a micro linguistic function or meaning. The meaning of the contextualization cues is implicit and can be interpreted through the text message. It means that they do not have an independent meaning. The people outside the cultural context or outsider to a specific conversation will not be able to recognize the contextualization cues used in the conversation. These cues will not be noticeable to them and they will not be able to interpret them as marked choice. Similarly, in order to interpret the contextualization cue, the person should be tied to the conversation. Therefore, people, who are outside to a particular conversation will not be able to understand a particular conversation.

According to Levinson (2015) when contextual cues are used, the people suppose that the knowledge and understanding are shared with each other. The knowledge and the understanding of the conversation and the contextual cues are developed in the conversation itself. These contextual cues are carried from the previous conversations and the meaning is obtained from the shared setting, previous interaction or some other platform, in which the information is shared.

Theories and perspectives on contextualization cues

In the perspective of Hamilton & Schiffrin (2015), in the conversation, the contextual cue is a feature of the linguistic form, which contributes to the contextual presupposition. These cues may have different interpretations, depending upon the situation and the past history of the participants in the conversation. These cues have different linguistic realization in different conversations. The linguistic cues carry specific information and the meanings are conveyed through an interactive process. In a conversation, the cues carry different information and the meaning is conveyed as a part of the interactive process. The words are discussed out of context; however, meaning of the contextual cues is implicit.

In the perspective of Gordon (2015) the contextual cues refer to the verbal, nonverbal and prosodic signals, which give meaning to the conversation. The identification of the contextual cues in a conversation segment is challenging. Moreover, the identification of the contextual cue does not shed light on understanding the meaning of the cue or speaker’s intention or the interpretation of the listener’s. The meaning or the function of the contextualization cue depends on several factors, which includes the shared understanding of the social context, which includes the understanding of the social context, the aim and the purpose of the event, an event, anticipation of the event, and the explicit and tacit conventions used in the conversation.


According to Crawford, Candlin, & Roger (2017), the contextual cues are part of the act or performance that the people make towards each other. The actions and the reactions provide a material basis for the situation and the people involved in the situation. Therefore, in a social setting, there should be some actions or reactions and the people must have some action. When a person reacts to the situation, they have previous acts, which involve the contextualization cues. The reaction of the people involves the understanding of these contextual cues and their understanding of these contextual cues. Therefore, the contextual cues must be visible and understandable for all the involved people. However, the meaning of the cues is dependent upon the actions and the reactions of other people, who are involved in the conversation. They are the material basis of the understanding of an event.

It can be critiqued that the language is a material response to express oneself. It is not the response to the past statements and actions but also to the future events. The contextual cues become an important source of information in these conversations. These cues provide a level of objectivity in the conversation and provide means to identify range of behaviors which can later assist in the decision making. It is also beneficial in identifying the variables, which can help others in validating their findings (Duff, 2007).

Understanding the use of contextualization cues

In the views of Bruna & Vann (2007) the contextual cues are fundamental in understanding the transmission of the meaning of the communication. The context-specific behavior also has an impact on the participation and the evaluation. Another important feature of contextual cues is that their use is below the level of consciousness; it means that the people are unaware even when they are using it. The people are unaware of the changes in the intonation patterns or the postural figures and their effect on the contextual meaning. Moreover, most of the times, there is no need of explicit awareness of these cues. It is because their use is shared with the people interacting with these cues. It means that in the normal conversations, people are not explicitly aware of the contextual cues; however, they are used and the people are aware of their implied meaning. The difference in the intonation pattern and the rhythm of stresses can be used to understand changes in courtesy and politeness. A specific pattern in intonation can be used to understand courtesy and politeness. The stress on specific words can be used as a signal of people understanding each other or working together. However, our awareness of the contextual cues is below the surface of awareness; therefore, if there are any changes or personal manifestations in the use of contextual cues, then it will create comprehension issues in understanding these cues.

The people’s understanding of the cultural cues is also dependent upon their cultural background. It means that the use and the meaning of the cultural cues are dependent upon the cultural background and upbringing of the individual. If the people are interacting with the people of the same culture, there are chances that there will be good interpretation of the contextual cues. However, if people of different culture are interacting with one another, the use of the contextual cues may differ. For example, the rising intonation might be perceived as significance in some culture, whereas in other cultures, it may be perceived as arrogance. Furthermore, if the participants of the communication are not aware of the contextualization cues, then there are chances of misinterpretation and people can assign negative attributes to one another (Bloome, Carter, Christian, Otto, Shuart-Faris, 2004).

According to Menard-Warwick (2008) the interpretation of the contextual cues is important in the cross-cultural settings. The cross-cultural difference impacts the coherence within a narrative. The use of the contextual cues in the conversation is not fixed. The people shift their codes or cues such that it becomes appropriate for the situation. They also try to meaningfully engage in the cross-cultural behavior.

Cultural background and contextualization cues


Although Liebscher, G., & Dailey–o'cain (2005), the contextual cues are dependent upon the theory id speech acts and are rooted on the notion of the situated meaning. The situated meaning of the contextual cue is dependent upon the speaker’s intent in a specific situation. The context might include the perception of the speaker in a social setting, their social relations, type of social activity and the utterance of speaker’s perception regarding the social situation. The understanding of the meaning is dependent upon several variables such as the literal content of the speech and the metacommunication cues. The contextualization cues indicate the meaning of the literal speech in a specific social situation. All across the globe, the contextual cues include several aspects such as changes in intonation, code switching, utterance-sequence strategy, stress, rhythm and choice of lexical items. Therefore, effective communication involves interpretation of meaning of messages, which is eventually dependent upon the interpretation of the contextual cues and the literal meaning of the text. The communication strategies used to deliver the meaning of the context is dependent upon thee social convention. The shared communication background experience determines the communication strategy and the interpretation of the communication cues. The conventions which determine the meaning or the interpretation of the communication cues are not directly or overtly spoken, these cues must be learned indirectly by maintaining direct and regular connections with the use of these verbal cues.

In the views of Harman & Varga-Dobai, (2012) the understanding or the comprehension of the communication cues is a factor of shared background and the past communication experience and values. If there are communication differences or cultural differences, there will be difference in the communication strategies and the interpretation of the meaning of the passages. In the intercultural setting, it could result in the misinterpretation of meaning from different culture groups. Therefore, the cultural difference can cause issue of miscommunication.

There are some typical contextualization cues such as the increase in the loudness, changes in the code, aversion in the gaze or stare, which does not have an independent meaning; however, provide meaning to the literary speech. The contextual cues cannot be constructed through the memory of the people using it. They are not considered as the competence of the speech community and are difficult to record in the manual data.

According to Mooney, & Sullivan (2015) the contextual cues can be defined as the relationship between the speaker, a context, spoken words and the contextualization cues. The context here is a specific frame or situation in which the conversation or the communication is taking place. The contextual cues are used by the users by adding a meaning to the interpretation of the whole speech. There are several distinctions which give suggestions. The contextualization process uses a specific cue and different contextualization is different processes which can be distinguished by the context schema and the utterance of the words. There are several types of contexts, which can be developed through the process of contextualization cues. The reflexive notion of context states that it is not worthwhile to discuss independent aspects of context individually. It also involves the amount of context required in the interaction.

As per the discussion of Oliveira (2017) the contextual cue is the feature of linguistic form, which indicates the contextual presuppositions. These cues have different meanings and linguistic realization, which depends on the past history of the conversation between the participants. There are several factors such as the code, dialect, switching process and the lexical or formulaic options, which gives unique meaning to the literary test. Other than that, opening of the conversation closing and the sequence strategies also impact on the contextualization functions. Contextualization cues are quite different from the conversational inference. The conversational inference refers to the process of interpretation, which is based on the ability of the participants to assess the intention of other participants and their responses. The participants of the conversation make several predictions about the line of predictions, which is based on the previous experience of interaction or communication.

In the views of Khan, Buriro & Abdullah, (2017) the contextualization cues and the conversational inference are connected as the contextualization cues and the accuracy of the inference affect the conversation. The contextualization cues refer to the strategies, which can be used to imply the act of the speaker and the communication intention of the people. The contextualization cues are the strategies which imply the context dependent meaning to the people. The learner’s realization and the response to the contextual cues are important in the social interaction. The contextual cues can be linguistic or paralinguistic in nature. However, if the listener is not able to understand or has some misunderstanding then it will lead to failure in communication. The skills and the ability of the human to understand and respond to the human interaction depend on the cultural and the historic conventions, which crate significant issues in the intercultural communication. Therefore, the contextualization cues refer to the conventional subconscious or unconscious feature of the linguistic form which assists in the interpretation of the meaning of the individuals. The contextual cues states that there are several features which are considered as marginal such as intonation which are needed to be separated from core such syntax or marginal. However, both of these features are not inseparable. These signals are of high importance is communicating the meaning of the text.

In the perspective of Kouega & Aseh (2017), most of the linguistic theories focus on three dimensions: (a) different aspects of context used in the language analysis (b) according to the aspects of a context-bound interpretation and finally, and (c) according to the type of relationships between the communication. These three dimensions are independent from each other; however, have an independent impact of relationship between the linguistics.


In the views of Guimarães & Moita-Lopes (2018) links between linguistic symbols and similar contextual features are essential in establishing textual cohesion. In the comprehension, anaphoric features play a decisive role. Another fundamental contextual feature encompasses the textual features is the conversation activities. Research in linguistic analysis has shown that the changes in the conversational activities activity selection impacts on the meaning of the conversation. In the conversation, different linguistic pairs denote a sequential link which can be understood by the people of same cultural background. Whilst researchers have arrived at a single view which can be stated as unifying discourse evaluation and intercultural conversation is quite challenging due to differences in the perception. The point of interest has shifted faraway to the difference between cultures or between people shows in different aspects of conversation. With this variation of consciousness, there have been several assumptions for the effect of contextual cues on the conversation. The tradition and culture impacts the contextual cues.

The contextualization refers to the ability of speakers to listen or speak with the use of verbal and nonverbal signal to relate them with the past experiences and the acquired knowledge. It is important to maintain the involvement in the conversation and asses the involvement of the contextual cues on the interpretation of the text. There are several elements in the contextualization such as prosody, paralinguistic signs, code choice, choice of lexical forms and formulaic expressions. The prosody includes the intonation, stress or accent or pitch of the people. The paralinguistic signs refer to the tempo, pause, hesitation or tone of expressive voice. The code choice refers to the phonetic, phonological or morpho-syntactic expressions. The lexical forms encompass the closing or opening routines of the speech. In the speech or communication, the contextualization cues works to highlight, make foreground or make phonological or lexical strings in a conversation. However, they cannot be assigned context-independent and core lexical meanings.

The discourse structures are affected by gender, technology, career, corporate or institutional placement, and they are strongly impacted by the ethnic identities. Each of the discourse structures is manifested in a complex environment of discourse, socialization patterns, face relationships and ideologies, and identification which creates internal (to the person) and outside contradictions. It is apprehended that any individuals as placed as culturally or ethnically develops his own set of comprehension cues. An interdiscursive technique in intercultural communique has assisted in understanding the difference between discourse in different culture or languages. This technique to intercultural conversation as discourse evaluation has led to mediated discourse. A mediated discourse shifts from a focal point of subject to their interpersonal or intercultural or even interdiscursive courting.

A multi-cultural technique might begin with the trouble for example when a German speaks with a Chinese. Both the communities have different style of communication and use different gestures to indicate different things. Therefore, it can create conflicts or challenges between both the communities. A bias can also be probably derived due to commercial enterprise or diplomatic issues at the theoretical aspect. In both cases, one may use the experimentally designed research or quantitative survey studies to take a look at variations in values, perceptions, and standard structure of genres, prices of speaking and of taking turning over turns, gestural and other nonverbal conversation structures, or of worldwide view and beliefs.

In the views of Aakur de Souza & Sarkar (2017), the intercultural or interactional sociolinguistic technique discovers people from these unique groups who are in social interconnection with each other. The close analysis of the discourse states that interpreter could first become aware of breakdowns in conversation, try and find the sources of the breakdowns inside the language used which leads to the misinterpretation of contextualization cues. Differences between the contributors would be high in all likelihood and develop from socialization and contextualization cues within the actual situation of speaking with each other. A mediated discourse method might begin trouble became posed in the first area as a problem in verbal exchange between participants of various cultural or different discourse-based totally businesses. This issue with social action could create issues with the group identities of the members to the extent that it will hamper the productivity of the communication

References

Aakur, S. N., de Souza, F. D., & Sarkar, S. (2017). Exploiting Semantic Contextualization for Interpretation of Human Activity in Videos. arXiv preprint arXiv:1708.03725.

Akiyama, Y. (2016, November). 33Vicious cycles of turn negotiation in video-mediated telecollaboration: interactional sociolinguistics perspective. In New directions in telecollaborative research and practice: selected papers from the second conference on telecollaboration in higher education (p. 277). Research-publishing. net.

Bloome, D., Carter, S.P., Christian, B.M., Otto, S., Shuart-Faris, N. (2004). Discourse Analysis and the Study of Classroom Language and Literacy Events: A Microethnographic Perspective. Routledge.

Bruna, K. R., & Vann, R. (2007). On pigs and packers: Radically contextualizing a practice of science with Mexican immigrant students. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 2(1), 19.

Couper-Kuhlen, E. (2015). Intonation and discourse. The Handbook of Discourse Analysis, 2, 82-104.

Crawford, T., Candlin, S., & Roger, P. (2017). New perspectives on understanding cultural diversity in nurse–patient communication. Collegian, 24(1), 63-69.

Duff, P. A. (2007). Second language socialization as sociocultural theory: Insights and issues. Language teaching, 40(4), 309-319.

Eerdmans, S., Prevignano, C., & Thibault, P.J. (2003). Language and Interaction: Discussions with John J. Gumperz. John Benjamins Publishing.

Gordon, C. (2015). 15 Framing and Positioning. The handbook of discourse analysis, 324.

Guimarães, T. F., & Moita-Lopes, L. P. (2018). Creative entextualizations of discourses about race in multi-sited discursive practices in the Brazilian ‘periphery’. AILA Review, 30(1), 27-49.

Hamilton, H. E., & Schiffrin, D. (2015). The handbook of discourse analysis. John Wiley & Sons.

Harman, R., & Varga-Dobai, K. (2012). Critical performative pedagogy: Emergent bilingual learners challenge local immigration issues. International Journal of Multicultural Education, 14(2).

Khan, F. R., Buriro, G. A., & Abdullah, M. (2017). A Study Of Motivational Factors For Code Switching In Glamour Discourse. Grassroots, 51(1).

Kouega, J. P., & Aseh, M. (2017). Pidgin in creative works in English in Cameroon. Sustainable Multilingualism, 10(1), 98-120.

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Levinson, S. C. (2015). John Joseph Gumperz (1922–2013). American Anthropologist, 117(1), 212-215.

Liebscher, G., & Dailey–o'cain, Jennifer (2005). Learner code?switching in the content?based foreign language classroom. The Modern Language Journal, 89(2), 234-247.

Menard-Warwick, J. (2008). ‘Because she made beds. Every day’. Social positioning, classroom discourse, and language learning. Applied Linguistics, 29(2), 267-289.

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Oliveira, M. M. D. (2017). Sociopragmatic failure revisited: the case of intercultural communication between Brazilians and Americans. Revista Brasileira de Linguística Aplicada, (AHEAD), 0-0.

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Wilson, A. (2004). When contextualization cues mislead: Misunderstanding, mutual knowledge, and non-verbal gestures. California linguistic notes, 29(1), 1-4.

Zheng, B. (2016). Listening to Contextualization Cues: Co-constructed Power, Identity, and Learning Between a NNEST and Adult Immigrant Learners. Working Papers in Educational Linguistics (WPEL), 31(2), 4

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