A cross-sectional study of request perspective use among Iranian EFL learners

2014 IJRSLL – Volume 3 Issue 5


Tamimi Sa’d, Seyyed Hatam*
Urmia University, Iran (Shtamimi90@gmail.com)

Mohammadi, Mohammad
Urmia University, Iran (Mohammadi680@yahoo.co.uk)


One of the key aspects in the use of the speech act of request as proposed by Blum-Kulka and Olshtain (1984) in their CCSARP study is the perspective in which requests can be encoded. Motivated by the dearth of literature on this point, this study set out to investigate the request perspectives of a sample of 61 request utterances elicited through a discourse completion task (DCT) from 30 Iranian MA EFL learners. The DCT included 6 situations, 2 situations for each social status or relative power (P) level (i.e., +P, -P or =P). The results showed that overall, Iranian EFL learners favored the hearer-oriented perspective most and the speaker-hearer oriented perspective least. The results also indicated that while in +P situations, the most frequent perspective was the impersonal perspective, the dominant perspective in both -P and =P situations was hearer oriented. Since, when requesting, any avoidance of naming the addressee can serve as a strategy for the speaker to sound polite, Iranian EFL learners’ frequent use of the hearer oriented request perspective can be interpreted as evidence of impoliteness or the potential to be so. The participants were found to follow routine ways of performing the speech act of request traceable to their early stages of language learning of high school and pragmatic transfer from their L1. In conclusion, the study highlighted the fact that Iranian EFL learners are not fully aware of the power dynamics in interactions and that they are therefore in need of instructional intervention in pragmatics in language learning.

Keywords: impoliteness; politeness; relative power; request; request perspective


DOI: https://doi.org/10.5861/ijrsll.2014.656

*Corresponding Author