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Journal of Pragmatics



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This paper investigates interactional challenges experienced in calls to emergency services with native English speaking (NS) call takers and non-native speaking (NNS) callers. Case studies of three problematic NNS/NS calls from a collection of emergency service calls were conducted using a conversation analytic approach. These calls were selected from publicly available recordings which were made by callers who were hearably NNS of English. The analysis shows how accents, grammatical and other linguistic choices led to related challenges in the pragmatics of communication (including procedures for sequential organization such as adjacency pairs, repair initiation, confirmation requests, presequences and story solicits). Routine procedures for repair or confirmation can produce hidden disjunctures and/or inaccurate or missing information as a result of the NNS/NS issues in the interaction. These challenges may contribute to failures of intersubjective understanding in the calls, affect the accuracy of information obtained, and extend the length of the call, which may impact the successful provision of emergency services to NNS callers.