Negotiating Understanding in "Intercultural Moments" in Immigrant Family Interactions

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21 Scopus citations


This article aims to advance an interactionally sensitive, emic view of intercultural communication by exploring the organization of "intercultural moments" in conversation-moments during which cultural and linguistic differences between people become exposed. Field video recordings of ordinary face-to-face interactions in Russian-American immigrant families are analyzed using the methodology of conversation analysis. The article focuses on sequences in which participants deal with actual or anticipated understanding problems and examines how participants' assumptions about their asymmetric cultural and linguistic expertise are revealed in their actions. Some interactional payoffs in adopting the role of a cultural expert vis-à-vis a novice are described to show how an ostensible non-understanding is both a participants' problem to be solved and a resource for social action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)208-238
Number of pages31
JournalCommunication Monographs
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


  • Conversation Analysis
  • Immigrant Families
  • Intercultural Communication
  • Language and Social Interaction
  • Repair


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