Words Are Mightier Than Swords … and Yet Miscommunication Costs Lives!


Stephen Poteet, Jitu Patel, Cheryl Giammanco, Iya Whiteley, Ping Xue & Anne Kao


As part of an exploratory study into linguistic sources of coalition miscommunication, we have interviewed a number of UK and US military and civilian staff. Initial analysis of the data has shown that there are various types of linguistic variations and cultural differences manifested by the US and UK groups. American English and British English differ in complex ways not only in terms of lexical differences but also, perhaps more importantly, in terms of language use due to cultural differences. While this study and analysis are preliminary, the results provide support for our initial hypotheses. Importantly, the current analysis suggests that many relevant issues are largely pragmatic in nature, not just involving lexical and grammatical differences but indicating differences in the way the two cultures use the “common” language.

Publication Date

August, 2008


ACITA 2008.

Published To


Publication Type

ITA Conference paper

ITA Area

Project 11, Technical area 4

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