Common Knowledge in Conversation of Bilinguals and the Ecology of Pressures. The Complex Processes of Using Language and Learning to Coordinate Actions with Other Speakers

  • Roland TerborgEmail author
  • Virna Velázquez


There seems to be nothing unusual about a conversation between two people who have never been in contact. These people understand each other because they speak the same language. That is commonly believed because the notion of ‘langue’ has always been there when we think about German, Spanish or Catalan languages. The concept seems useful but may be problematic at times. We cannot avoid using this notion to write a language test; nevertheless, the idea limits us, in understanding the process that is taking place in the interaction. The aim of this text is to discuss how individuals develop a physical and social history together with others. By doing it, some pressures involved lead to common actions that modifies the state of the world to which they belong. All the way to seek less effort in their social actions should be coordinated with other actions of the other speakers involved. These pressures are the product of what is called: Upmost Common Routine (UCR) that is in permanent change in relation to the amendments of Direct Common Knowledge (DCK) and Indirect Common Knowledge (ICK). Each common action causes mental changes related, but not identical, to the knowledge of the individuals involved. Their stories are partly shared and partly individual, so a complex network of shared knowledge that gives the illusion that there is a fixed and unchanging knowledge as a real representation of the world is built. These illusions are reinforced by pressures that emerge from the ideologies, values and beliefs.



The article was supported by a research project grant on the vitality of indigenous languages in México (PAPIIT IN404313) Situaciones y prácticas bilingües que contribuyen al mantenimiento-desplazamiento de lenguas. Análisis del ‘conocimiento’ y de la ‘máxima facilidad compartida’ como sistemas complejos funded by the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Department of Applied Linguistics at the Teaching Centre of Foreign Languages (CELE-UNAM).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Escuela Nacional de Lenguas, Lingüística y Traducción, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de MexicoMexico CityMexico
  2. 2.Facultad de LenguasUnivesidad Autónoma del Estado de MexicoTolucaMexico

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