Was Malinowski Norwegian? Norwegian Interpretations of Phatic Talk

Kristin Rygg (1)
(1) Department of Professional and Intercultural Communication Norwegian School of Economics, Norway


From time to time, there is a public debate in Norway about Norwegian lack of politeness. The most recent debate started with a female Norwegian-American reader’s letter to a Norwegian newspaper. Her critique especially targeted Norwegian lack of phatic talk (greetings and small talk) towards strangers; something that she thought was both arrogant and impolite. The corpus in this article is based on responses from the Norwegian public and social media. A qualitative content analysis of their metapragmatic comments gives clues into two different views on phatic talk and why some Americans and Norwegians, or even fellow Norwegians, may misunderstand each other’s intent on this account.

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The Corpus

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Kristin Rygg
kristin.rygg@nhh.no (Primary Contact)
Author Biography

Kristin Rygg, Department of Professional and Intercultural Communication Norwegian School of Economics

Kristin Rygg is Associate Professor at the Norwegian School of Economics, department of Professional and Intercultural Communication. She specializes in intercultural communication and linguistics with special attention to socio-pragmatics and has worked mostly on topics regarding Nordic and East-Asian communication and issues concerning intercultural training in business schools.

Rygg, K. (2016). Was Malinowski Norwegian? Norwegian Interpretations of Phatic Talk. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 16(1), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.36923/jicc.v16i1.713

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