Exploring Intercultural Interaction: The Use of Semiotic Resources in Meaning-Making Process

Authors: Nur Nabilah Abdullah, Rafidah Sahar (Kulliyyah of Languages and Management, International Islamic University Malaysia, Malaysia)
Speakers: Nur Nabilah Abdullah, Rafidah Sahar
Topic: Nonverbal Semiotics
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2020 General Session


Intercultural communication refers to interaction between speakers of different backgrounds such as different linguistic and cultural origins (De Fina, 2015; Kim 2001). Interaction in face-to face situations has demonstrated that the spoken language involves both verbal and an array of semiotic resources for social action. Semiotic resources that include the use of talk, gestures, eye gaze and other nonverbal cues can convey semantic content and can be a crucial point in a conversation (Hazel et al., 2014). Drawing from conversation analytic (CA) approach, we explored how participants employed semiotic resources in word searches activity in intercultural context. Word searches are moments in interaction when a speaker’s turn is temporarily ceased because the speaker displays difficulty searching for the appropriate linguistics items in formulating the talk (Schegloff et al., 1977). In this research, naturally occurring interactions in a multilingual setting were video recorded. The participants were Asian university students who have different first language backgrounds. The findings suggested that multilingual participants mutually collaborate together by utilizing talk, gaze, gestures and other nonverbal cues as useful semiotic resources in meaning-making process to resolve word searches and to achieve mutual understanding in intercultural interaction.

Keywords: Semiotic resources, intercultural interaction, word search, conversation analysis, meaning-making