Politeness Strategies in Remindings A Cross-cultural Study of Iranian EFL learners and Americans

Maryam Farnia (1) , Elham Yazdani (2)
(1) Payame Noor University, Iran , Iran, Islamic Republic of
(2) Islamic Azad University, Khorasgan branch, Iran , Iran, Islamic Republic of


This cross-cultural study examines the speech act of reminding by Iranian English learners and American English native speakers. The primary objective is to study how Iranian EFL learners perform much understudied speech act of reminding in English. To this end, the participants are selected from Iranian learners of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and American English native speakers through an open-ended questionnaire in the form of a Discourse Completion Task (DCT).The collected data are then analyzed based on a framework adopted from Peterson’s (2012) study of speech act of reminding. The findings show that whereas English native speakers utilize more indirect strategies in reminding their interlocutors to cope with the required activity, EFL learners tend to use direct strategies more frequently.

Full text article

Generated from XML file


Alcón, E. (2001). Developing pragmatic competence in the academic setting: The case of suggestions in NS/NNS advising sessions. In S. Posteguillo, I. Fortanet, and J. C. Palmer (Eds.), Methodology and new technologies in language for specific purposes, 79-86. Castelló: Servei de Publicacions de la UniversitatJaume I.

Allami, H.,andNaeimi, A. (2010). A cross-linguistic study of refusals: An analysis of pragmatic competence development in Iranian EFL learners. Journal of Pragmatics, 43(1), 385-406. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2010.07.010

Austin, J. L. (1962). How to Do Things with Words, Clarendon, Oxford.

Barron, A. (2003). Acquisition in interlanguage pragmatics: learning how to do things with words in a sudy abroad context. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.108

Beeman, W. O. (1988). Affectivity in Persian language use.Culture, Medicine andPsychiatry, 12, 9-30. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00047036

Blum-Kulka, S. (1987). Indirectness and Politeness in requests: Same or different? Journal of Pragmatics, 11, 131-146. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(87)90192-5

Blum-Kulka, S., House, J., and Kasper, G. (1989). (Eds.). Cross-cultural pragmatics: Requests and apologies. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Brown, P. (2001). Politeness and language. In N. J. Smelser, and P. B. Baltes (Eds.), International encyclopedia of the social and behavioral sciences (Vol. 17, 11620-11624). Amsterdam: Elsevier. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/B0-08-043076-7/03044-8

Brown, P., and Levinson, S. C. (1978). Universals in language usage: Politeness phenomena.in E. N. Goody, (Ed.). Questions and politeness, 56-310, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Brown, P. and Levinson, S. C. (1987).Politeness: Some Universal in Language Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511813085

Brown, P. and Levinson, S. C. (1999).‘Politeness’ in N. Couplandand A. Jaworski, (eds.), the Discourse Reader,Routledge.

Crystal, David. 2003. A dictionary of linguistics and phonetics, 5th edn. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Delen, B. (2010). Evaluation of four course books in terms of three speech acts: Requests, refusals and complaints. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 9, 692-697. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.12.219

Ellis, R. (2008). The study of second language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Eslami-rasekh, Z. (1993). A cross-cultural comparison of requestive speech act realization patterns in Persian and American English. In L. Boutonand Y. Kachru (Eds.), Pragmatics and Language Learning, Monograph Series, Volume 4, 75-90. Urbana: IL: Division of English as an International Language, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Eslami-Rasekh, A., andMardani, M. (2010).Investigating the effects of teaching apology speech act, with a focus on intensifying strategies, on pragmatic development of EFL learners: The Iranian context.The International Journal of Language Society and Culture, 30, 95-103.

Farnia, M., Sohrabie, A. & Abdul Sattar, H. Q. (2014). A pragmatic analysis of speech act of suggestion among Iranian native speakers of Farsi. Journal of ELT and Applied linguistics, 2(2), 48-61.

Farnia, M. and Raja Rozina (2009). An interlanguage pragmatic study of expressions of gratitude by Iranian EFL learners: A pilot study. Malaysian Journal of ELT Research. 5, 108-140

Farnia, M and Abdul Sattar, H. Q. (2015).A Cross-Cultural Study of Iranians’ and Malays’ Expressions of Gratitude. Journal of Intercultural Commutation. 37, 1-20. DOI: https://doi.org/10.36923/jicc.v15i1.685

Grainger, K. and Mills, S. (2016). Introduction: Language, culture, (im)politeness and (in)directness. In Grainger, K. and Mills, S. (Eds). Directness and Indirectnessacross Cultures, pp1-33, Palgrave Macmillan: UK. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137340399_1

Grainger, K., Kerkham, Z., Mansor, F. and Mills, S. (2015) ‘Offering and Hospitality in Arabic and English’, Journal of Politeness Research, 11 (1), 41–70. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/pr-2015-0003

Guerra, A. F., and Martinez-Flor, A. (2006). Is teaching how to suggest a good suggestion? An empirical study based on EFL learners' accuracy and appropriateness when making suggestions. PortaLinguarum, 5, 91-108.

Gumperz, J. (1990). Interview with John Gumperz.In J. Twitchin 1990.Crosstalk: An introduction to cross- cultural communication. London: BBC. 46-55.

Hashemian, M. (2014).A Pragmatic Study of Requestive Speech Act by Iranian EFL Learners and Canadian Native Speakers in Hotels.Journal of Teaching Language Skills (JTLS). 6 (2), 1-25.

Ishihara, N. (2010). Instructional Pragmatics: Bridging teaching, research and teacher education. Language and Linguistic Compass, 4(10), 938-953. Doi: 10.1111/j.1749-818x.2010.00242.x DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-818X.2010.00242.x

Jalilifar, A. (2009). Request strategies: Cross- sectional study of Iranian EFL learners and Australian native speakers. English Language Teaching, 2(1), 46-61. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5539/elt.v2n1p46

Jiang, X. (2006). Suggestions: What should ESL students know? Elsevier, 34(1), 36-54. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2005.02.003

Kadar, D. and Mills, S. (eds.) (2011). Politeness in East Asia, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511977886

Kasper, G. (1992). Pragmatic transfer.Second Language Research, 8,203-231. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/026765839200800303

Kasper, G. (2000) Data collection in pragmatics research.In H. Spencer-Oatey (ed.), Culturally Speaking. London: Continuum, pp. 316-341. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5040/9781350934085.ch-014

Kasper, G., & Roever, C. (2005). Pragmatics in second language learning. In E. Hinkel (Ed.), Handbook of research in second language teaching and learning (pp. 317-334). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Kerkam, Z. (forthcoming) Indirectness and Directness in English and Arabic, PhD thesis, Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University.

Kim, D., and Hall, J. K. (2002).The role of an interactive book reading program in the development of second language pragmatic competence. Modern Language Journal, 86, 332-348. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1540-4781.00153

Koutlaki, S. A. (2002). Offers and expressions of thanks as face enhancing acts: tæ’arof in Persian. Journal of pragmatics, 34, 1733-1756. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-2166(01)00055-8

Kumar, R. (2014). Politeness in Hindi online texts: Pragmatics and computational aspect.Unpublished PhD thesis.School of language, literature and culture studies.Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Le Pair, R. (1996). Spanish request strategies: A cross-cultural analysis from an intercultural perspective. Language Sciences, 18(3-4), 651-670. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0388-0001(96)00040-X

Li, E. S. H. (2010). Making suggestions: A contrastive study of young Hong Kong and Australian students Journal of Pragmatics, 42,598-616. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2009.07.014. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2009.07.014

Linde, A. (2009). How polite can you get?: A comparative analysis of interlanguage pragmatic knowledge in Spanish and Moroccan EFL university students. PortaLinguarum, 12, 133-147. DOI: https://doi.org/10.30827/Digibug.31876

LoCastro, V. (2003).An introduction to pragmatics: social action for language teachers. Ann Arbor, MI: The University ofMichigan Press.

Marcjanik, M. (1997). Polska Grzecznos´c´ Je˛zykowa. Kielce: WSP.

Márquez Reiter, R. (2000). Linguistic Politeness in Britain and Uruguay: A Contrastive Study of Requests and Apologies. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Benjamins. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.83

Matínez-Flor, A. (2004). The effect of insturction on the development of pragmtic competence in the English as a Foreign Language context: a Study based on Suggestions. Unpublished PhD Disseration.UniversitatJaume I, Department d'estudisAnglesos.

Matsumoto, Y (1989) Politeness as Conversational Universals: Observations from Japanese’, Multilingua, 8 (2–3), 207–21. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mult.1989.8.2-3.207

Mey, J. L. (1993). Pragmatics: an Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10350339309384418

Mir, M. (1993). Direct requests can also be polite. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Conference on Pragmatics and Language Learning (Champaign, IL, April 1-3).

Mirzaei, A., Roohani, A. andEsmaeili, M. A. (2012).Exploring pragmalinguisticandsociopragmatic variability in speech act production of L2 learners and native speakers.The Journal of Teaching Language Skills (JTLS). 4(3), 79-102.

Mitchell, R., Myles, F., & Marsden, E. (2013).Second lan­guage learning theories. New York: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203770795

Murray, N. (2010). Pragmatics, awareness raising, and the cooperative principle. English Language Teaching Journal, 64(3): 293–301. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/elt/ccp056

Nelson, G. L., Carson, J., Al Batal, M., & El Bakary, W. (2002). Cross-Cultural Pragmatics: Strategy Use in Egyptian Arabic and American English Refusals. Applied Linguistics, 23(2), 163-189.Doi: 10.1093/applin/23.2.163 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/23.2.163

Ogiermann, E. (2009a) On Apologising in Negative and Positive Politeness Cultures. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.191

Ogiermann, E. (2009b). Politeness and in-directness across cultures: A comparison of English, German, Polish and Russian requests. Journal of Politeness Research 5, 189-216. DOI 10.1515/JPLR.2009.011 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/JPLR.2009.011

Petersen, A. L. H. (2012). ‘Ehm…excuse me, but...have you forgotten to remember?’ – Politeness Strategies in Remindings: A Study of the Pragmatic Competence of Danish Advanced Learners of English. The University of Oslo.

Pishghadam, R., and Sharafadini, M. (2011). A Contrastive Study into the Realization of Suggestion Speech Act: Persian vs. English. Canadian Social Science, 7(4), 230-239.

Rakowicz, A. (2009). Ambigous invitations: The intrelanguage pragmatics of Polish English language learners. Unpublished doctoral thesis. Steinhardt school of culture, education, and humand development, New York University.

Rose, K.R. and Kasper, G. (2001), Pragmatics in Language Teaching. New York: CambridgeUniversity Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139524797

Sahragard, R. andJavanmardi, F. (2011).English speech act realization of refusals among Iranian EFL learners.Cross-cultural Communication. 7(2), 181-198.

Searle, J. R. (1969). Speech Acts.An Essay in the Philosophy of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139173438

Searle, J. R. (1979). Expression and meaning, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Sharifian, F. (2008). Cultural schemas in L1 and L2 compliment responses: A study of Persian-speaking learners of English. Journal of Politeness Research. Language, Behaviour, Culture, 4 (1), 55-80. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/PR.2008.003

Shively, R.L. (2008). Politeness and social interaction in study abroad: Service encounters in L2 Spanish. PhD dissertation, The faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Minnesota.

Siegel, J. (2015). Using Speech Act Sets to Inform Study Abroad Instruction. The Language Teacher Online, 39 (6), 3-9. DOI: https://doi.org/10.37546/JALTTLT39.6-1

Tabatabaee, S. and Farnia, M. (2015). Learner’s English Proficiency and their Pragmatic Competence of Refusal Speech Acts. Beyond Words. 3(1), 53-77

Tawalbeh, A. & Al-Oqaily, E. (2012). In-directness and Politeness in American English and Saudi Arabic Requests: A Cross-Cultural Comparison. Asian Social Science, 8(10), 85-98. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5539/ass.v8n10p85

Tanaka, K. (1997). Developing pragmatic competence: A learners-as-researchers approach. TESOL Journal, 6(3), 14-18.

Trosborg, A. (1995). Interlanguage pragmatics: requests, complaints and apologies.Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110885286

Uso-Juan, E. (2007). The presentation and practice of the communicative act of requesting in textbooks: Focusing on modifiers. In Soler, E. A. and Jorda,M. P. S. (Eds.) Intercultural language use and language learning. Netherlands: Springer.

Wierzbicka, A. (1991). Cross-cultural pragmatics. The semantics of human interaction. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783112329764

Yu, M. (2011). Learning how to read situations and know what is the right thing to say or do in an L2: A study of socio-cultural competence and language transfer. Journal of Pragmatics, 43, 1127-1147. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2009.09.025

Yuan, X. (2012). Politeness and Audience Response in Chinese-English Subtitling. Oxford: Peterlang.

Yule, G.(1996). Pragmatics. Oxford introductions to language study. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Zarei, G.R. and Mohammadi, M. (2012). E-politeness in Iranian English Electronic requests to the Faculty. RALS, 3(1), 3-24.


Maryam Farnia
mfarnia@nj.isfpnu.ac.ir (Primary Contact)
Elham Yazdani
Author Biographies

Maryam Farnia, Payame Noor University, Iran

Maryam Farniais assistant professor of Applied Linguistics at the department of Foreign Languages and Linguistics, Payame Noor Univerasity, Najafabad, Iran. Her areas of research are intercultural pragmatics, interlanguage pragmatics, discourse analysis and im/politness.

Elham Yazdani, Islamic Azad University, Khorasgan branch, Iran

Elham Yazdani, is MA student of English Language Teaching at the department of Foreign languages at Khorasgan (Isfahan) Branch, Islamic Azad University, Isfahan, Iran. Her areas of interest are speech acts and language teaching.

Farnia, M., & Yazdani, E. (2018). Politeness Strategies in Remindings A Cross-cultural Study of Iranian EFL learners and Americans. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 18(1), 1–17. https://doi.org/10.36923/jicc.v18i1.752

Article Details

Smart Citations via scite_