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A cross-linguistic study of requestive speech acts in email communication

By Bager Yaghoobi

Abstract

The study investigated the formulations of requesting strategies in writing by ESL PhD students. The aim was to discover the extent to which their performance converged or differed from that of English Ll participants. Furthermore, in order to account for the ESL participants' possible differential performance from that of native speakers of British English, the study also examined how the candidates'\ud formulations related to their perceptions of two controlled contextual constraints, namely, status and distance. Data for this study were obtained from three groups including Farsi L1, ESL, and English L1 participants.\ud \ud The main research instrument was a set of four discourse production tasks. The tasks, which comprised prompts depicting four problem situations in which the contextual constraints of status and distance were systematically varied, were designed to elicit the speech act of requesting. In addition to the first instrument, a\ud metapragmatic questionnaire was also constructed to assess the cross-cultural suitability of the situations, and to further examine the participants' awareness of\ud the contextual constraints, and their reported perceptions of the effect of the constraints on their request formulations.\ud \ud The data obtained from the groups was analyzed according to the CCSARP coding scheme with modifications at the level of the query preparatory. The analyses of the speech act comprised four dimensions: strategies, perspective\ud orientations, internal modifiers, and external modifiers, which in turn involved further sub-types.\ud \ud The results of the analysis of the discourse production data suggested that though the ESL group's performance was very similar to that of native speakers of British\ud English at the main level, their performance differed from the English LI participants at sub-types. The differences were mostly not traceable to Ll transfer. The ESL group also showed substantial differences from both native groups\ud particularly in their use of requesting strategy sub-types, perspective orientations, and internal modifiers.\ud \ud The results of the analysis of the questionnaire data, as well as the discourse production data for contextual constraints, suggest that the ESL group's sensitivity to the controlled contextual constraints in terms of their awareness and in terms of their perceptions of the effect of the constraints was different from those of native speakers of British English. The difference was partly suggested to be related to the ESL participants' Li-related perception. The study concludes that the ESL participants' overall formulations of requests or interlanguage request\ud schema are affected by their formal interlanguage stage as well as their L 1-related sociocultural conceptualisation of contextual constraint

Publisher: School of Education (Leeds)
Year: 2002
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.whiterose.ac.uk:833

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