Investigating cross-linguistic differences in refusal speech act among native Persian and English speakers

Mohammad Ghazanfari, Alireza Bonyadi, Shirin Malekzadeh


The aim of this study was to investigate the speech act of refusal performed by native Persian and English speakers with respect to linguistic devices. The study was conducted in two phases. In the first phase, refusal utterances were analyzed with respect to semantic formulas - that is words, phrases, or sentences meeting a particular semantic criterion to perform an act of eliciting. In the second phase, gender differences were examined, as well. One hundred movies (50 in Persian, 50 in English) were used as instruments for gathering the data. The movies were watched closely, and the utterances native speakers employed in their refusals were transcribed and analyzed. Persian speakers used excuse more than English speakers; however, they applied strategies such as regret, non-performative statements, and lack of enthusiasm less frequently than English speakers. The Chi-square (χ²) formula was then conducted to find out whether there were any significant differences in performing refusal speech act among the speakers of the two languages. The results showed that there were some differences between the two languages with regard to refusal utterances and gender. Finally, pedagogical implications of study for language learning and teaching have been enumerated.

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