“Your English is so good”

What would be the conditions for it to be OK to congratulate someone on their English on first encounter? I don’t somehow think it’s enough that they might be just someone one meets in a country where English isn’t … and as soon as I begin to write this sentence …

Explaining things

This blog is partly from the common memory of what happens so often in doctoral vivas, when examiners say ‘why didn’t you explain that in your thesis?’ But it also comes from lots of situations when people just don’t tell you what you need to know. I was talking to …

How to write about data

Following my last blog, how should we write about data? There’s a chapter on this in my qualitative research book, plus another chapter on writer voice. Here though are some thoughts about basic principles. I’m writing about qualitative data; but I have also heard examiners make it clear that they …

Getting the data chapters written

Getting writing done seems often to be a major problem for postgraduate researchers. A common scenario is that half way through the programme excellent progress has been made – large parts of literature review and methodology chapters written, most of the data collected and analysed, and perhaps a third of …

The man in the café

An interesting example of what we might call ‘cultural difference’ is the man coming into the café where I am sitting in Canterbury who orders an espresso at the counter, stirs in the sugar with particular panache and then drinks the coffee there and then without sitting down, and leaves. …

Cultural rhythms

I recently went to a conference in Venice. Walking through the narrow streets for the business of getting to and from the conference site drew my attention again to walking rhythms. Where they were major routes for tourists I found I was bumping into people, they were stopping in front …

Achieving interculturality

This is the last section, page 179, from the new edition of my book, Understanding intercultural communication: negotiating a grammar of culture. It should be coming out in the New Year. Safa is a character from one of my reconstructed ethnographic narratives; and I think that what she has been …

Being focused

The space in the morning is such an important thing to have. It used to be the case that I could just get up and write for half an hour, and that set me up for the day. These days it seems more complex. And for a while I’ve understood …