Journal of Intercultural Communication, Issue 22, January, 2010

Janet Holmes and Nicky Riddiford

Professional and personal identity at work: achieving a synthesis through intercultural workplace talks


This paper analyses the ways in which professional migrants from different cultural backgrounds, using English as an Additional Language, manage the demands of constructing a positive professional identity while also negotiating the complex relational aspects of workplace talk. The well-established methodology of the Wellington Language in the Workplace Project was used to collect relevant data from migrant workers interacting in professional New Zealand organisations. The analysis focuses on the socio-pragmatic strategies used by two skilled migrants to manage identity construction through social and transactional aspects of workplace interaction. The implications of their different approaches to the challenge are discussed.

Key words: workplace discourse, intercultural interaction, socio-pragmatic competence, professional identity, relational talk.

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