The Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Momentum Interaction Rites Research Group at the Research Institute for Linguistics, which belongs to the Eötvös Loránd Research Network, has produced two monographs that report a scientific breakthrough in the research of the relationship between language use and culture. The volumes are being published by the prestigious Cambridge University Press. 

The word ‘culture’ is often used in general terms. As a result, it is a concept that is difficult to interpret from the point of view of systematic research. At the same time, for linguists, the systematic research of language and culture is extremely important, especially in the field of pragmatics, which examines language usage. This is particularly true in today’s globalised world, where language users belonging to various different cultures come into contact with each other almost constantly. Research in this field is not just of theoretical importance; analysis here can have highly effective applications in many fields, such as language learning and tourism.

For a long time, one fundamental problem was that language usage and its relationship to culture was primarily approached through cultural models, yet models based on language usage are able to carry out this work in a much more systematic way. This gap has been filled by the two monograph studies. Of the two books, the first, Intercultural Politeness – Relating Across Cultures, was co-written by the research group director Zoltán Dániel Kádár and University of Warwick professor Helen Spencer-Oatey.

The book, which is scheduled for publication in December 2020, examines language use and its relationship to culture from the perspective of intercultural communication (intercultural pragmatics), so it models situations where language usage from different cultures come into contact with each other. The book is based on interdisciplinary collaboration: the development of intercultural pragmatic theory through a combination of social psychology and pragmatics. In addition to English, often used in research, Chinese and Hungarian are also actively present among the language data examined.

The other monograph was written by the director of the research group together with Juliane House (University of Hamburg), a visiting professor at the Institute of Linguistics, who is one of the most internationally known experts in pragmatics. Their jointly written book – Cross-Cultural Pragmatics – will be published in 2021. The volume approaches the relationship between language use and culture from the perspective of cross-cultural pragmatics, developing a systematic comparison of data from different languages and cultures. The framework of the approach offered by the book is a true breakthrough, as it systematizes the relationship between language use and culture only with the help of linguistic (pragmatic) concepts. The monograph examines data from numerous languages, including Hungarian, German, English, Chinese and Japanese.