“Wallah! I Beg Your Pardon...”: A Cross-cultural Study of Apology Speech Acts

Hamdallah Abdulkarim Alhusban (1), Norah Alshehri (2)
(1) Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, Building 450, West Campus, King Faisal Coastal Road, 34221 Dammam, Saudi Arabia., Saudi Arabia,
(2) College English and General Studies Unit, Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia


This study explores the cross-cultural pragmatic features of apology speech acts generated by Arabic native speakers, English native speakers and advanced Saudi learners of English. The instrument employed for this study was a discourse completion task (DCT). The DCT included eight situations that elicited apologetic responses from 69 participants. Results revealed that Arabic native speakers and Saudi learners of English use apology strategies following a similar order of frequency that differs than English native speakers. Saudis frequently use oaths and use sarcasm instead of apology, or accompanied by apology, in their responses. Saudi learners of English are influenced by their Arabic culture, which leads to efficient communication at times while interfering with it at others.

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Hamdallah Abdulkarim Alhusban
halhusban@iau.edu.sa (Primary Contact)
Norah Alshehri
Author Biographies

Hamdallah Abdulkarim Alhusban, Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, Building 450, West Campus, King Faisal Coastal Road, 34221 Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

Hamdallah Alhusban has an MPhil in English and applied linguistics from the University of Cambridge and an MA (Hons) in translation and interpreting from Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh. Hamdallah has taught English in the UK and EFL in Saudi Arabia and Oman. His primary research interests are EFL speech production and perception, corpus linguistics and English-Arabic simultaneous interpretation.

Norah Alshehri, College English and General Studies Unit, Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia

Norah Alshehri has a BA in English language and literature from Imam Abdulrahaman Bin Faisal University and an MA in applied linguistics and TESOL from Anglia Ruskin University in the UK. Currently, she works as English language trainer in the College English and General Studies Unit of Saudi Aramco.

Alhusban, H. A., & Alshehri, N. (2022). “Wallah! I Beg Your Pardon.”: A Cross-cultural Study of Apology Speech Acts. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 22(1), 69–80. https://doi.org/10.36923/jicc.v22i1.28

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