In this paper I report on a study into how care is interactionally managed by black nurses in charge of white residents in a nursing home in Cape Town, South Africa. The focus is on compliance- gaining strategies employed by the nurses when carrying out their routine activities of bathing, feeding, administering drugs to the residents, etc. I try to demonstrate how such strategies can be potentially problematic because of limited linguistic and cultural common ground between the nurses and the residents. Most nurses in this study have an African language as a mother tongue and limited proficiency in English as a second language, while the residents in the nursing home are dementing mother tongue speakers of English. I also examine the possible effects of the environment on the interaction. In this study environment is construed to include how architectural design orients nurses to residents in specific ways. I conclude the paper by outlining a sociolinguistic model for intervening in a medical enterprise. The model is based on the argument that, on the one hand, if it is the environment which is impaired, then any successful intervention has to raise management's awareness of possible effects of the environment on the nature of intercultural communication. At the same time, I argue that in intercultural contexts it is important to enhance nurses' capacity to pragmatically 'notice gaps' in intercultural communication and how to repair them.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics
- Linguistics and Language