Oiling the epistemic engine in intercultural L2 talk with short tokens of surprise
The Asian Journal of Applied Linguistics, Volume 7, Issue 1. March 2020.


epistemic stance
conversation analysis
interactional competence
Japanese learners of English
Taiwanese learners of English

How to Cite

Pouromid, S. (2020). Oiling the epistemic engine in intercultural L2 talk with short tokens of surprise. The Asian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 7(1), 130–140. Retrieved from https://caes.hku.hk/ajal/index.php/ajal/article/view/704


The construct of interactional competence has expanded our understanding of competence in an L2 beyond grammatical accuracy prioritizing appropriateness in language use over accuracy. In order to contribute to the existing knowledge around this construct, this study deals with the way L2 learners, without complete mastery over the linguistic system of their second language, may be able to maintain the flow of their intercultural talk through managing their epistemic stance dynamically. Building upon data collected from online video and audio interactions among Japanese and Taiwanese learners of English as a foreign language, the study shows how the utterance of short tokens and expressions of surprise alters a speakers’ epistemic stance towards an emerging intercultural topic, hence allowing the conversation to continue smoothly. The findings also suggest that the participants would determine their epistemic stance on a moment-by-moment basis and without orienting to pre-existing categories such as their nationalities. This study makes use of ethnomethodology and conversation analysis as its framework to unravel how the management of epistemic stance contributes to the maintenance of the flow of talk, subsequently indicating L2 speakers’ interactional competence.


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