This book contains the description of the research project in which the English-speaking author asks the question why she, an advanced learner of Italian, is unable to use Italian convincingly in public service encounters in the Naples area. What, she asks, does she need to know in terms of appropriate discourse patterns and in terms of more general knowledge about the practices and roles of interaction in this region of Italy? In order to answer these questions, the author proposes a reconciliation between the speech act theorist’s introspections about the rules of language use and the empirical discourse analyst’s descriptions of locally situated text. In an interplay between her introspections which emerge in interviews, the author shows the ways in which scholars’ generalisations are frequently nourished by local world-views, and presents some of the complexity of gaining access to social realities different from one’s own.
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