Requests at the University of Nizwa

Hessenauer, Perry Ross (2014-04)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study focuses on the requestive behaviour, including perceptions of politeness and directness, of Omani second language (L2) English students at Nizwa University in Oman as revealed by their written responses to real life scenarios. The study is an attempt to improve linguistic understanding of pragmatic differences, with reference to the similarities and differences between Omani L2 English students and L1 English speakers’ communicative proficiency, in order to contribute to improved language teaching curricula. The research design consisted of an initial series of two questionnaires which required that the participants rate given responses based on their perceptions of ‘politeness’ and ‘indirectness’; a third discourse completion test (DCT) that required participants to respond in writing in the form of a request to five real life scenarios; and a fourth questionnaire that required teachers to judge the written responses of the DCT according to five criteria. Additionally, the Omani-speaking teachers of L2 English were interviewed and asked questions relating to their responses from a sociopragmatic/ cultural perspective. The Omani teachers’ responses were then used to assist in the analysis of the written response data. The four instruments above thus used both quantitative and qualitative research methods. The results of the data analysis showed that (1) the query preparatory is considered by both groups to be the most polite request strategy and is used to mitigate imposition; (2) Omani L2 English students consider the words should and must to be most impolite in contrast with the L1 English speakers who consider the mood derivable to be the most impolite request strategy; (3) mild hints are considered far more polite by L1 English speakers than by Omani L2 English students; (4) politeness is influenced by differences in perceptions of social variables such as social distance, social power and degree of imposition; (5) direct strategies are not considered impolite and are used six times more frequently by Omani L2 English students than by L1 English speakers in low-imposition contextual situations; and (6) positive transfer and conventionalisation of the time intensifier has been produced and the strategy is used more than twice as much by the Omani L2 English students than by the L1 English speakers. In contrast, the L1 English speakers use the preparator 11 times more frequently than the Omani L2 English students who predominantly have no pragmalinguistic knowledge of this tactic. The study highlights the need for pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic training of students in the classroom and for pragmatics to be included in the material and curriculum design of English language learning programmes.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie fokus op hoe versoeke, insluitend die persepsies van beleefdheid en direktheid, van tweede taal (T2) Omani studente aan die Universiteit van Nizwa in Oman geformuleer word soos geopenbaar deur hulle skriftelike reaksies op realistiese lewenscenarios tydens vraagstelling. Die studie is ‘n poging om taalkundige begrip van pragmatiese verskille te verbeter, met verwysing na die ooreenkomste en verskille tussen Omani T2 Engelssprekendes en L1 Engelssprekendes se kommunikatiewe vaardighede, ten einde by te dra tot die verbetering van taalonderrig leerplanne. Die navorsing het bestaan uit ‘n aanvanklike reeks van twee vraelyste wat vereis dat deelnemers antwoorde gee op grond van hulle persepsies van beleefdheid en indirektheid; ‘n derde diskoers voltooiings toets (DVT) wat vereis dat deelnemers skriftelik reageer op versoeke in vyf realistiese lewenscenarios; en ‘n vierde vraelys wat vereis dat onderwysers die skriftelike reaksies op die DVT in vyf areas beoordeel. Daarbenewens is die T2 Omani onderwysers ondervra met betrekking tot hulle antwoorde vanuit ‘n sosio-pragmatiese perspektief. Die Omani onderwysers se antwoorde is vervolgens gebruik om die ontleding van die skriftelike response te doen. Die bogenoemde vier instrumente gebruik dus beide kwalitatiewe en kwantitatiewe navorsingsmetodes. Die resultate van die data-analise toon dat (1) die “query preparatory” deur beide groepe as die mees beleefde vraag-strategie beskou word en gebruik word om taakoplegging te versag; (2) T2 sprekers beskou die woorde moet en behoort meestal as onbeskof, in teenstelling met die T1 Engelssprekendes, wat die “mood derivable” as die mees onbeskofte vraag-strategie ervaar; (3) die “mild hint” word as baie meer beleefd deur L1 Engelssprekendes as deur T2-sprekers ervaar; (4) beleefdheid word beinvloed deur verskille in persepsies van sosiale faktore soos sosiale afstand en –druk, en die graad van oplegging; (5) direktheid word nie as onbeskof gesien nie, en kom ses keer meer voor by T2 sprekers in laer taalvaardigheid situasies; en (6) positiewe oordrag en vaslegging van tyd as ‘n drukkrag het voorgekom, en die taktiek word meer as twee keer soveel deur die T2 sprekers as deur die T1 Engelssprekendes gebruik. In teenstelling gebruik die T1 Engelssprekendes die “preparatory” 11 keer meer as die T2 sprekers, wat meestal geen pragma-linguistiese kennis van hierdie tegniek het nie. Die studie beklemtoon die noodsaaklikheid van pragma-linguistiese en sosio-linguistiese opleiding in die klaskamer, en dat pragmatika in materiaal en kurrikulumontwerp vir Engelse taalleer programme ingesluit word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/86681
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