Inexplicitness: What is it and should we be teaching it?

Winnie Cheng, Martin John Warren

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


An invaluable resource to a speaker is the context in which he/she is speaking and failure to utilize it fully will result in the conversation displaying an unnecessary and inappropriate level of explicitness, or failing to reach an adequate level of intelligibility. Using a corpus of native speaker and non-native speaker conversations, it is shown that a characteristic of non-native speakers' spoken language is the inappropriate level of inexplicitness used and the ways in which inexplicitness is manifested in the discourse. Additional factors such as repetition, linguistic competence, cultural schemata, and L1 transfer also contribute to the different levels of inexplicitness in non-native conversational utterances. Suggestions are made as to how we might help our students to acquire and practise the skills and techniques required to achieve a more appropriate level of inexplicitness in their spoken English.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-315
Number of pages23
JournalApplied Linguistics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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