Tourists' English Expectations: Discourse Analysis of Attitudes towards Language and Culture on Travel Websites
AuthorTraiger, Cheryl B.
AdvisorWaugh, Linda R.
Committee ChairWaugh, Linda R.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractWhile the importance of English as a lingua franca (ELF) in business and the media is well-studied, little attention has been paid to ELF in tourism. This study analyzes postings on websites such as TripAdvisor (http://www.tripadvisor.com/), which feature non-professional reviews of international travel destinations and services, in order to evaluate the effects of cultural capital, stereotypes and relative power on: expectations of English availability in non-English speaking countries, evaluation of the language spoken by EFL speakers (e.g. hotel clerks, shop owners), and attitudes towards speaking the local language.This study explores the issue of speech accommodation between the tourists and the local hospitality industry workers and other residents (Giles, Taylor, and Bourhis, 1973; Giles, Coupland, and Coupland, 1991; Giles and Powesland, 1997) and the likely factors leading to convergence/divergence as indicated by attitudes towards language choices. Website excerpts will show the circumstances in which travelers expect the locals (who deal with tourists) to speak English as well as how much of the local language the travelers are willing to learn and use.Findings indicate that the tourists' willingness to take responsibility for linguistic accommodation, tolerance for restricted English proficiency levels, and attitudes towards being exposed to the local culture and language differ according to the presumed cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1986, 1991; Hanks, 2005) - often governed by stereotypes - and relative power of the interlocutors, the visited location and the local language. The role of ELF in the tourism sector and attitudes toward the local residents and language(s) are highly relativized, such that the specificity of the local context must be taken into account. Proficiency in the English language itself is, in some locations, the source of presumed higher status and symbolic of luxury. The second important dynamic demonstrated to affect the levels and type of language expectation is the degree to which the traveler desires interaction with and exposure to the local culture, or wants to stay with familiar experiences in an "environmental bubble" (Cohen and Cooper, 1986). The differences in expectation of ELF demonstrate that traveler attitudes towards specific locations are key to determining linguistic needs.
Degree ProgramSecond Language Acquisition & Teaching