A cross-cultural study of politeness strategies in requests and refusals of requests
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This study is a cross-cultural comparative/contrastive analysis of the politeness strategies used in the realization patterns of two speech acts: requests and refusals to requests in British English and Algerian Arabic. Relying on the theory of linguistic politeness proposed by Brown and Levinson (1987), this research aims to find out the possible similarities and/or differences in the performance of these two speech acts by Algerian Arabic natives and British natives. Furthermore, it aims to test the different politeness strategies chosen by the speakers of both languages according to the particular social variables of social power, social distance and ranking of imposition. The hypothesis made is that different considerations of distance, power, and rank of imposition by the two types of investigated speakers with different linguistic and cultural backgrounds would result in different politeness strategies in the realization of requests and refusals to requests. The data of this research are elicited via a Discourse Completion Task. The obtained data are analysed quantitatively and qualitatively. The results reveal that both respondent groups use the same range of politeness strategies. However, while the native speakers of British English prefer negative politeness strategies, the native speakers of Algerian Arabic prefer positive politeness. The latter group has also proved to be more direct in making requests and refusals than the first one. Moreover, whereas social power seems to count most in British English, considerations of social distance are of more importance in Algerian Arabic. In addition, not only are the Algerian requests and refusals influenced by socio-cultural conventions but also by religious beliefs. These findings are a contribution to the studies on cross-cultural communication, which strive to find solutions to possible communication breakdowns with regards to polite language, an important element in human interaction.
- Doctorat langue Anglaise