Date of Award

9-16-2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Dan J. Tannacito, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Jean Nienkamp, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Michael M. Williamson, Ph.D.

Abstract

This study contributes to the existing literature on teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) by investigating advanced Jordanian EFL learners’ request speech act realization compared to that of native American English speakers, as well as the influence of Arabic, the learners’ native language (L1), on learner realization. The study considered the two primary aspects of pragmatic competence: performance (pragmalinguistic knowledge) and perception (sociopragmatic knowledge). A multimethod data collection approach – (a) a discourse completion task (DCT) and (b) a scaled-response questionnaire (SRQ) – was employed to elicit performance and perception data from 132 participants divided into three groups: (a) 44 native speakers of Jordanian Arabic (JA), (b) 44 native speakers of American English (AE), and (c) 44 Jordanian EFL (JEFL) learners. Results showed that although the JEFL study participants demonstrated a developmental pattern towards the use of American English norms of speech, they continued to be significantly influenced by their L1. On the pragmalinguistic level, the JEFL participants, following L1 pragmatic norms, were systematically more direct than were the AE participants. The JEFL participants also demonstrated negative pragmatic transfer in their choice of perspective and their limited use of conventions of means and form within their employment of conventional indirectness. The JEFL participants’ use of supportive moves and internal modifications showed completely opposite patterns; that is, whereas the JEFL participants’ demonstrated excessive verbosity by using supportive moves significantly more than did the AE participants, they significantly underused internal modifications such as consultative devices, downtoners/hedges, and understaters compared to the AE participants. On the sociopragmatic level, the JEFL and AE participants differed in regards to 4 of the 5 contextual variables that were investigated. The JEFL participants’ negative pragmatic transfer was most evident in their perception of the variable of the speaker’s right to make the request. Furthermore, the JEFL participants tended to assess variables differently than did both groups of native speakers, indicating that their sociopragmatic knowledge is still at the developmental stage. Based on the findings, the study concludes with some pedagogical implications that could be implemented in the EFL context.

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