American and Hungarian perceptions of conversational style and the role of the listener in English conversation
The purpose of this study is to investigate how native speakers of American English and Hungarian non-native speakers of English living in Budapest perceive conversational style and the role of the listener in English conversations. Studies have shown that backchanneling behavior differs by culture and language which may have an influence on L2 acquisition and intercultural communication (Maynard, 1986; White, 1989; Stubbe, 1998; Gumperz, 1982, 1992, 1996). This paper reports on the findings of semi-structured interviews conducted with three Hungarian women and three American women, ranging in age from 24-35. Interviews were conducted individually after participation in one of three conversation dyads: 1) American English native speakers 2) Hungarian native speakers 3) mixed. Findings show that participants share similar perceptions of conversational style and the role of the listener. Data suggest, however, that there may be differences in the perception of interruptions and “active listening” between Hungarians and Americans. Furthermore, cultural differences and linguistic proficiency may lead L2 speakers to avoid intercultural communication in the L2 with native speakers.