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Differences in the pragmatic competence of Saudi EFL and ESL learners

Altheeby, Muhammed 2018. Differences in the pragmatic competence of Saudi EFL and ESL learners. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Pragmatic competence, the ability to use language effectively in a contextually appropriate fashion, has been a central concern in pragmatic studies for more than four decades. A large number of pragmatic competence studies have examined the pragmatics of native and non-native speakers of English, investigating the significance of the spread of the language across the globe. In the majority of studies, the focus has been on the pragmatic norms of native speakers, the development of English language learners’ pragmatic competence, and the apparent pragmatic differences between native speakers and language learners. However, there is a dearth of studies contrasting the pragmatic competence of EFL and ESL learners. The present study targets this under researched area, by evaluating the pragmatic competence of Saudi EFL learners in Saudi Arabia and Saudi ESL learners in the UK. More specifically, it investigates how EFL and ESL groups perform the speech acts of requests and refusals in English, in contrast with British native speakers of English (NSE) as a point of comparison. The participants in this study are 90 Saudi EFL learners, 90 Saudi ESL learners, and 60 British NSE. The data set, including the utterances of requests and refusals in English, was compiled using two quantitative research methods: (1) a discourse-completion task (DCT) comprising nine request scenarios and nine refusal scenarios, and (2) a role-play task (RPT), involving six request scenarios and nine refusal scenarios. The pragmatic features of the requests were categorised, quantified and analysed using the classifications set out by Blum-Kulka, House, and Kasper (1989), whilst the pragmatic features of refusals were categorised according to the Universal Refusal Strategies Taxonomy of Beebe, Takahashi, and Uliss-Weltz (1990, pp. 72-73). The results indicate notable pragmatic similarities and differences in the requests and refusals across the three groups. To summarise, the ESL and NSE groups’ results showed relatively more similarities when compared with the EFL group, in terms of directness, politeness norms and modifications. The data also revealed that sociological variables (e.g. power, social distance) influence participants’ speech acts, and the length of time spent learning English and the intensity of communication affect the non-native groups’ acquisition of speech acts.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 5 February 2019
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2020 03:14

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