Silja Ang-Tschachtli


Prof. Dr. A. Fischer

Communication in Bilingual and Bicultural Relationships

While communication between people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds has been subject to much research, most studies remain confined to somewhat superficial interactions between people with limited second language competence. Examining conversations between people in intimate relationships may thus yield some insight into how bilingual and bicultural communication works on a more advanced level. In my thesis, I look at bilingual couples consisting of a Swiss German and a native English speaker, who live in Switzerland but mainly communicate in English. Not only do the second language speakers adopt many features from their partners’ speech, but the couples also develop a distinct way of communicating with one another. This is shown in a variety of areas, ranging from prosody and conversational cooperation (turn-taking, involvement strategies such as other-repetition or joint story-telling) to the ways in which they express positive and negative emotions, politeness, or even humor.