Communication Accommodation Theory
A cross-disciplinary discourse-sensitive framework
Until I am free to write bilingually and to switch codes without having always to translate, while I still have to speak
English or Spanish when I would rather speak Spanglish, and as long as I have to accommodate the English speakers rather than having them accommodate me, my tongue will be illegitimate. I will no longer be made to feel ashamed of existing. I will have my voice: Indian, Spanish, white.
I will have my serpent’s tongue - my woman’s voice, my sexual voice, my poet’s voice. I will overcome the tradition of silence.
Gloria E. Anzaldúa
2.1. Communication Accommodation Theory – a perspective on Discourse and Protective Order Interviews
One of the most prominent frameworks in the social psychology of language, Communication Accommodation
Theory (CAT) – developed by Howard Giles, Donald Taylor and
Richard Bouhris – essentially assumes that, in communicative interactions, people use strategic behaviour, mainly based on language, to achieve a desired social distance between themselves and their interlocutors, i.e., to maintain perceived separation or nearness with interlocutors (Giles 1980). In the view of its authors, one advantage of CAT is that it can be applied in almost any situation that involves communication. Language and (speech) behaviour are considered not only as an instrument for communication, but also as a way to regulate social contacts and to mark group membership or personal identity (Giles
1977; Giles, Mulac, Bradac, Johnson 1987; Shepard, Giles, Le
Poire 2001). Apart from being an outstanding framework in the social psychology of language, what makes CAT functional for analyses across disciplines is also its potential to incorporate the tenets of other theoretical frames. Actually, CAT shares politeness and face management with the politeness theory and has proved its efficacy and versatility in a wide