Language as a site of search for common ground and power positioning in Chinese-Finnish negotiation

Santa Stopniece (1)
(1) University of Jyväskylä, Finland , Finland


This paper explores some language-related aspects in investment negotiation between Finnish and Chinese partners, such as language choices, the role of interpreters, and overcoming misunderstandings. These are seen as sites of both search for common ground in terms of positive politeness (affiliation) and power positioning in terms of negative politeness (autonomy) (Brown and Levinson 1987). This study is based on data obtained by interviewing individuals who work for state investment attraction agency and local governments in Finland and observation in delegation meetings. While misunderstandings occur, overcoming linguistic, contextual and cultural differences in understanding is possible. Common ground is more easily achieved when using English, however changing power relations with China render the use of the Mandarin Chinese necessary as well.

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Santa Stopniece (Primary Contact)
Author Biography

Santa Stopniece, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

Santa Stopniece acquired her PhD Candidate of Intercultural Communication at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Her research interests focus on business communication in multicultural workplaces, and her dissertation work extends her previous exposure to Chinese investment initiatives in the Baltic Sea region into more detailed examination of the intercultural communication in this context. She is based in Suzhou, China and is a is a full time business lecturer at Global Institute of Software Technology, a program associated with Staffordshire University, UK.

Stopniece, S. (2019). Language as a site of search for common ground and power positioning in Chinese-Finnish negotiation. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 19(1), 1–14.

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