Language Idiosyncrasies in Second Language Learners’ Use of Communication Strategies

  •  Suryani Awang    
  •  Marlyna Maros    
  •  Noraini Ibrahim    


The term, “language idiosyncrasies” can generally be defined as what an individual typically says that becomespart of his or her personality. In doing so, this language behaviour can either positively or negatively impactcommunication. Based on this premise, the current study sets out to examine the occurrences of languageidiosyncrasies in second language (L2) communication, particularly at the point when communication strategies(CSs) were employed to overcome communication problems. By employing non-participant observations of realuniversity admission interviews, this study departs from the other studies related to CSs which involvednon-authentic, simulated environments. The observed interview sessions were conducted in the English languageinvolving 29 Malay candidates from 20 interview sessions. These sessions were video-recorded before the rawdata were transcribed. The results revealed some occurrences of language idiosyncrasies in candidates’utterances hence, supporting Paribakht’s (1985) research finding that speakers exhibited idiosyncratic patterns inthe realization of communication strategies. The results also concurred with the findings of past studies on theinfluence of speakers’ L2 proficiency level on their use of CSs. As all participants were Malays communicatingin an English speaking context, issues on cultural values added to the richness of the data and will also bediscussed. While the findings may not be generalizable to all populations, it is hoped that this study will informcurriculum developers of language idiosyncrasies of Malay students, who form the bulk of the studentpopulation in Malaysia, so that awareness may be raised and appropriate interventions may be introduced.

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