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Speech Acts Across Cultures

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Studies on Language Acquisition 11

Editor

Peter Jordens

Mouton de Gruyter

Berlin

New York

Susan M. Gass and Joyce Neu

(Editors)

Speech Acts Across Cultures

Challenges to Communication in a Second Language

Mouton de Gruyter

Berlin

New York

1996

Mouton de Gruyter (formerly Mouton, The Hague) is a Division of Walter de Gruyter & Co., Berlin.

The series Studies on Language Acquisition was formerly published by Foris Publications, Holland.

@ Printed on acid-free paper which falls within the guidelines of the ANSI to ensure permanence and durability.

The Library of Congress lists the hardcover edition as follows:

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Speech acts across cultures ; challenges to communication in a second language / Susan M. Gass and Joyce Neu (editors).

p. em.

-

(Studies on language acquisition; 11)

Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 3-11-014082-9 (alk. paper) ISBN 978-3-11-019125-7

1. Second language acquisition. 2. Speech acts (Linguistics) 3. Intercultural communication. I. Gass, Susan M. II. Neu, Joyce, 1950- III. Series. PI18.2.S67 1995

303.48'2-dc20

95-40820

CIP

© Copyright 1995 by Walter de Gruyter & Co., D-I0785 Berlin All rights reserved, including those of translation into foreign languages. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Printed in Germany.

Contents

Susan M. Gass Introduction .

Part I Methodological issues

Andrew Cohen

Investigating the production of speech act sets.

Noel Houck -

Non-native refusals: A methodological perspective.

Susan M. Gass

Leslie M. Beebe -

Natural speech act data versus written questionnaire data:

How data collection method affects speech act performance .

Martha Clark Cummings

Part II Speech acts in a second language

Initiating and maintaining solidarity

Miriam Eistenstein Ebsworth -

Mary ~arpenter

Jean "W: Bodman -

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Cross-cultural realization of greetings in American English.

 

89

Gayle L. Nelson -

 

Waguida El Bakary -

 

Mahmoud Al Batal

 

Egyptian and American compliments: Focus on second language

 

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109

Michael L. Geis -

Linda L. Harlow

 

Politeness strategies in French and English

 

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129

VI

Contents

Naoko Maeshiba - Steven Ross

Naoko Yoshinaga -

Gabriele Kasper -

Transfer and proficiency in interlanguage apologizing

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155

Face-threatening acts

 

Beth Murphy -

Joyce Neu

 

My grade's too low: The speech act set of complaining.

 

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191

Diana Boxer

Ethnographic interviewing as a research tool in speech act analysis:

 

The case of complaints".

 

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217

Myra Goldschmidt

 

From the addressee's perspective: Imposition in favor-asking.

 

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241

Dale April Koike

Transfer of pragmatic competence and suggestions in Spanish foreign language learning.

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257

Part III

Applications

Richard Schmidt - Hy-sook Jeong

Akihiko Shimura -

Zhigang Wang -

 

Suggestions to buy: Television commercials from the U. S., Japan,

 

China and Korea.

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285

John L. Graham

Culture, negotiations and international cooperative ventures.

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317

Subject index .

343

Author index .

347

Introduction

Susan M. Gass

1. Introduction

This book investigates the notion speech act from a cross-cultural pers- pective. That is, the starting point for this book is the assumption that speech acts are realized from culture to culture in different ways and that these differences may result in communication difficulties that range from the humorous to the serious. Early studies in speech acts stem from the field of philosophy (e. g., Austin 1962; Grice 1957, 1975; Habermas 1979, 1991 and Searle 1969, 1975, 1979, 1983, 1986, 1991) and have been extended and amplified on by scholars from a number of different fields (e. g., linguistics - Sadock 1974; anthropology - Hymes 1974; Gumperz 1982; child language - Ochs - Schiefflin 1979). What these studies have in common is the assumption that fundamental to human communication is the notion of a speech act, that is, the performance of a certain act through words (e. g., requesting something, refusing, thanking, greeting someone, compliment- ing, complaining)l. Not only does the linguistic realization of the same speech act differ, but the force of a speech act might differ. For example, in some cultures to refuse an offer of something may necessitate much "hedging" or "beating around the bush" before an actual refusal might be made. In other cultures, a refusal may not necessitate as much mitiga- tion. The result may, in some cases, be a misinterpretation of whether or not an actual refusal has been made, but may also be a misunderstanding of the intentionality of the refuser. In these latter instances, an individual may be labelled as "rude", not because of the fact of refusal, but because of the way the refusal was executed. Olshtain and Cohen cite the follow- ing example of a misunderstanding due to the realization of the speech act of apology:

One morning, Mrs. G, a native speaker of English now living in Israel, was doing her daily shopping at the local supermarket. As she was pushing her shopping cart she unintentially bumped into Mr. Y, a native Israeli. Her

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Susan M. Gass

natural reaction was to say "I'm sorry" (in Hebrew). Mr. Y turned to her and said, "Lady, you could at least apologize." On another occasion the very same Mr. Y arrived late for a meeting conducted by Mr. W (a native speaker of English) in English. As he walked into the room he said, "The bus was late," and sat down. Mr. W, obviously annoyed, muttered to him- self, "These Israelis, why don't they ever apologize!" (Olshtain - Cohen

1989:53)

In other instances, cross-cultural differences (and cross-gender differences - cf., Tannen 1982, 1986, 1990) may reflect the degree of indirectness (cf., Brown - Levinson 1978). For example, when some- one says "I'm hungry", it often means something more than a mere statement of fact. It can serve as a suggestion (let's go get something to eat); or it can serve as an exultation (hurry up and finish so we can eat); it can serve as a request for information (when will dinner be ready, I'm hungry). While it may be the case that all languages/cultures have the means to express a suggestion, an exultation or a request for information, it is not necessarily the case that a statement of fact such as "I'm hungry" will serve all of these functions. This book is dedicated to the empirical study of a variety of speech acts in diverse cultural settings and to the implications and applications of empirical speech act data. In this book we deal with three major areas of Speech Act research: 1) Methodological Issues, 2) Speech Acts in an L2, and 3) Applications. In the first section we deal with issues of methodology. As in any field and clearly in all areas of second language research, issues of methodology are central to an understanding of the phenomenon in question. A major question is: to what extent can different methodologies contribute to differential results? As Tarone - Gass - Cohen (1994: xiii) state: "The validity of any discipline is predicated on the assumption that the research methods used to gather data are sufficiently understood and agreed upon." Speech act research is no exception, as all three chapters in this section aptly illustrate. Human behavior and human interaction are complex phenomena and are subject to many intervening variables. Hence, any attempt to examine data and draw conclusions has to do so fully aware of the multi-faceted nature of the data.

Introduction

3

2. Section One

Leading off in this section, Cohen considers both theoretical and applied aspects of speech act research. He notes that a first step in speech act research is a description of the sociocultural and sociolinguistic abilities needed to produce a given speech act. A second step is the determination of the research methodology. A third area that needs to be addressed (in those instances when the data are from non-native speakers) is the identification of interlanguage features in the data. Most relevant to this section is his discussion of research methodology. Many earlier discussions of various approaches to research methods have focused on the advantages and/or disadvantages of one method over another. Cohen argues against this approach and in favor of one that combines different research methods. He argues that research methods play different roles in the cycle of generating hypotheses, manipulating variables, determining the range of speech acts and validation. For example, ethnographic data are most important in generating initial hypotheses; they are also useful when dealing with some speech acts, particularly those that occur naturally in discourse. Ethnographic data are less useful when investigating speech acts that do not occur frequently and/or that are so sensitive to sociocultural constraints that the cons- training variables could not be controlled. Similarly, role-plays, written tests, verbal report data are all relevant, but all come with their own baggage of advantages/disadvantages and appropriate and inappropriate uses. In addition to his discussion of theoretical issues surrounding the use of various methods, Cohen considers more practical applications of various methodologies drawn from his own data based on role plays and follow-up interviews (using videos of the role play) of apologies, complaints and requests. He makes the important point that particularly when dealing with non-native speakers, as he was, it is crucial to separate a learner's adeptness with the situation from his/her adeptness with the language. For example, it may be the case in a role-play situation, that the situation itself is foreign to the subject, making the linguistic production more "unnatural" than it would be in a situation in which the learner felt comfortable. In his chapter, Cohen discusses some of the pros and cons of his particular methodology. In addition, he focuses on a number of aspects of the retrospective comments of his subjects. He points out that through these comments we are able to gain additional information

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on what learners are doing when confronted with producing speech acts in a second language. Among the issues discussed are the "din in the head" phenomenon, self-debate, afterthoughts, formulaic speech, omission, avoidance and simplification. It is through verbal self-report data that we are able to learn about the options available to learners and about the choices they make. However researchers select methodology, Cohen reminds us that it is through triangulation that a more comprehen- sive picture is able to emerge. In Chapter Three, Houck and Gass respond to the fact that a signi- ficant amount of research into speech acts performed by non-native speakers uses discourse completion tests as a means of data elicitation. They point out the well-known limitations of this methodology. Primary among the limitations is the fact that the format used on discourse completion tests constrains the type and amount of talk. A second approach to the investigation of speech acts has been ethnographic in nature. Within this framework, data are collected in naturally occurring situations. This methodology, while alleviating certain problems that have been apparent in discourse completion methodology, brings with it other problems, namely the difficulty in controlling contextual variables and the unpredictability of the occurrence of a particular speech act. In their chapter they consider speech act research from a method- ological and substantive perspective. In particularly, they focus on the question of an adequate methodology for eliciting spoken speech acts and provide detail on the ways in which research results may be dependent on data collection procedures. The specific area of focus is refusals. Refusals are a highly complex speech act primarily because they may involve lengthy negotiations as well as face-saving maneuvers. Because refusals normally function as second pair parts, they preclude extensive planning on the part of the refuser. Following the work of Beebe - Takahashi - Uliss-Weltz (1990), they investigate refusals to 1) invi- tations, 2) suggestions, 3) offers and 4) requests. They depart from previous work on speech acts in two important ways: 1) by using video- taped data and 2) by basing their eliciting instrument on Scarcella's conceptualization of socio-dramas (1978). Thus, the responses that are given are not confined by either the printed page (e. g., the amount of space provided on the page, the number of turns that the respondent is expected to take) or by the closing response of the initiator of the inter- action which, in many discourse completion tests, directs the refusal by "sandwiching" it between a given opening remark and the subsequent closing comment.

Introduction

5

The data-base consists of English responses by native speakers of Japanese to 8 situations designed to evoke refusals. The subjects of the study were given the contextual information surrounding each situation. Following this introduction, each subject role-played the part with a native speaker who had been instructed not to give up too easily in cases in which the non-native speaker initially refused. What resulted were often lengthy discussions in which each person negotiated his/her way through to a final resolution. The analysis of the data focuses on such aspects of the discourse as 1) semantic tactics (sequencing and range), 2) turn length, 3) quantity and quality of negotiations needed to effect the refusal or to abandon the attempt to refuse, 4) amount of elaboration and repetition and 5) non- verbal elements such as laughter and pausing. Their data· reveal the existence of a richer variety of semantic and pragmatic maneuvers than has been documented in previous literature. Not only is there a difference in maneuver types, but the methodology used allows for an analysis of the discourse structure given the extensive negotiation which takes place. Their chapter deals with substantive findings as well as the method- ological implications of the differing results. In a similar vein to that taken in the Houck and Gass article, Beebe and Cummings question the use of more traditional speech act elicitation (Discourse Completion Test) by comparing the results of speech act data based on two different methodologies. They are quick to point out, as have the authors of the other two chapters in this section, that each methodology brings with it advantages and disadvantages in terms of the actual collection of data and in the analysis of those data. For example, naturalistic data or "notebook data" are valuable in that none of the artificial constraints of data collection are present, but the data that result are unconstrained in terms of the many variables that are known to affect speech acts, such as status, socioeconomic background, age and so forth. In a particularly ingenious design, Beebe and Cummings set out to directly compare comparable refusal data from Discourse Completion Tests with those from naturally occurring recorded data. All subjects were English as a Second Language teachers and were presented with the same situation. The annual TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of other Languages) conference was about to be held in New York City, where all of the teachers worked. Because it was anticipated that the conference turnout would be large, there was a need to get as many volunteers as possible to help with local arrangements. Each participant

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was given either a written version of the request or was called on the telephone. The analysis of the data centers around word-counts as well as semantic formulas. What they find is that the amount of talk is far greater in the spoken refusals than in the written responses. Furthermore, in the oral data, there is a greater display of elaboration on an excuse (a typical part of a refusal). In face-to-face interactions, or, as in this case, telephone interactions, it is sociolinguistically inappropriate to flatly refuse without offering some sort of excuse. The written data do not display elabora- tions in the same way as the oral data. Furthermore, the oral data allow for learners to "negotiate" their way to the end of a refusal, rather than "packing" their responses into the first turn after the request. The results are related to Wolfson's "bulge theory". The responses were less typical of strangers (even though in the case of the telephone conversations, they were strangers) since both the requester and the re- fuser shared a common profession and were members of the same pro- fessional organization. Interestingly, while the oral data reveal longer, more repetitive, and more elaborated responses, the content of the semantic formulas used was surprisingly similar (e. g., excuses, negative ability/willingness, apologies). Thus, the value of Discourse Completion Tests in speech act research can be validated. Nonetheless, Beebe and Cummings are quick to point out that they are not a substitute for naturally occurring data.

3. Section Two

The first chapter in Section Two deals with greetings. Eisenstein Ebsworth, Bodman and Carpenter point out the importance of greetings, both in terms of the sociocultural significance as well as their timing in most language classes. Despite their deceptive simplicity, they are complex speech acts. Following the discussion in Cohen concerning the need for multiple measures, Eisenstein Ebsworth, Bodman and Carpenter collect data on greetings in more than one way. They begin through observation of greetings by both native and non-native speakers of English in naturally occurring situation, noting the kinds of greetings that occurred in these situations. The observational data led to the creation of a questionnaire to elicit data. As in the Beebe and Cummings chapter, they find that while the data elicited from the questionnaire were more

Introduction

7

limited, they were similar in many respects to the naturally occurring data. The data base for their study is rich both quantitatively and qualitatively. Their subject pool consisted of 50 native speakers of American English and 100 non-native speakers of American English. This latter group represented a wide range of native languages. All subjects created dialogues for pre-specified greeting situations. The non-native speakers created dialogues for the same situations in their native languages. A second type of data came from (videotaped) role-plays of the same situations. Finally, a subset of the subjects participated in open- ended interviews following the role-plays. In their chapter, Eisenstein Ebsworth, Bodman and Carpenter challenge existing interpretations of greetings (in particular, the lack of sincerity noted by Searle and others). They categorize and exemplify greetings by native speakers into various types (greetings on the run, speedy greetings, long greetings, intimate greetings, all-business greetings, introductory greetings and re-greetings). Through a comparison of the data gathered from non-native speakers in English with that of the same speakers in their native language, many instances of native language influences can be found. Not only can the native language influences be noted from word-by-word translations of greetings (e.g., incorrect/ inappropriate use of titles, incorrect word choice, incorrect prosody), but also from an understanding of the cultural norms or the context of the greeting. Further, the authors discuss particular greeting types that are problematic for learners and the resultant feelings and interpretations that come from the different cultural backgrounds of speakers. The authors also include in their discussion comments about pedagogical issues and in particular make a plea for the inclusion of this complex speech act in teaching materials. Another speech act that indicates solidarity is that of compliments. This is the focus of Chapter Six by Nelson, El Bakary and Al Batal. Compliments vary considerably cross-culturally, not only in the words chosen, but also in the context and frequency with which they are offered. In fact, Nelson, El Bakary and Al Batal note that Egyptians are often uncomfortable and embarrassed by the frequency with which compliments are given in English. As an example, they note the im- portance of the concept of the "evil eye" in Arabic, a concept that relates to envy and potential harm coming to the individual whose person or property is the object of the compliment. The study reported on in this chapter considers American and Egyptian compliments focusing on the

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form of the compliment, the object of the compliment, the gender of the compliment giver and the frequency with which compliments are given. The data come from 20 American university students and 20 Egyptian university students. Each was interviewed and asked to tell the most recent compliment they had given, the most recent compliment that they had received and the most recent compliment that they had observed. The resulting analysis revealed a number of differences including length of compliments (American compliments are considerably shorter) and the use of comparatives (Egyptians use more similes and metaphors). The syntactic patterns are limited in both American and Egyptian compliments although the patterns are not identical. The analysis also considers the different attributes that are complimented and the relationship of the compliment giver in terms of gender to the attributes they compliment. A discussion of the implications of this study for classroom practices is included. Because the differences between the com- pliments of the two cultures studied are slight and because the differences may cause embarrassment and discomfort, it is crucial that the dif- ferences be presented to learners. Chapter Seven, the third chapter in the section on solidarity, by Geis and Harlow, is concerned with the use of politeness strategies in a second language. As in many other chapters in this volume, the authors point out the importance of learning sociocultural aspects of language along with linguistic ones. Their chapter investigates the pragmatic conditions (with particular focus on politeness conditions) affecting how requests and offers are communicated in French and English with a view to formulat- ing these conditions in such a way as to allow them to be taught explicitly to learners of French. Geis and Harlow's proposals are based on experimental determination of how native English and French speakers accomplish requests and offers and how these are done by learners of French. Drawing from previous work by Geis and his colleagues, the authors note that information exchange in conversation occurs, not at the level of literal meaning, but at the level of "gist" (which consists primarily of the illocutionary force of an utterance). The form an utterance communicat- ing a particular gist will take (i. e., syntax, morphology, etc.) is then deter- mined by discourse context and by register, style, and politeness features. The study consists of paired oral interactions - paired interactions between native French speakers, paired interactions between native English speakers, and paired interactions between English-speaking learners of French. The 2 subjects in each experiment had to solve simple

Introduction

9

children's jigsaw puzzles for which each subject controlled pieces of his/her partner's puzzle, necessitating verbal interaction to secure needed puzzle parts. The authors were able to elicit natural language use in the experiments, and argue that the insights gained from this experimental context are generalizable to natural speech contexts. The data indicate that native speakers of French and English tend to frame requests somewhat differently, and that English-speaking learners of French tend to fall somewhere in between, favoring pragmatic strategies in their native language. With a focus on politeness, Geis and Harlow present and defend a theory of the politeness features for the English language and French language cultures, show what the syntactic, morphological, and prosodic consequences of these features are for the two languages and then discuss how non-native speakers might be taught to communicate requests both as and when French speakers do. Yet another means of maintaining solidarity is through apologies. This is the subject of Chapter Eight by Maeshiba, Yoshinaga, Kasper and Ross. Non-native speakers have been noted to produce second pair parts that lack coherence and/or cohesion with preceding first pair parts. While lack of cohesion manifests itself in the choice of textually inappropriate utterance structures, failure to establish coherence may affect the propos- itional content, the illocutionary force, the politeness value of the responding act, or a combination of the above (cf., Kasper 1984). The realization patterns of the speech acts studied so far in inter- language pragmatics, notably requests, apologies, complaints, refusals, compliments, and expressions of gratitude, have been shown to depend on such extralinguistic contextual factors as social distance and dominance, and on factors pertaining to the act itself, for instance the degree of imposition or offense involved in the act (e. g., Brown - Levinson 1978/1987, Blum-Kulka - House - Kasper 1989). While all of these factors will also determine the structure of responding acts, the properties of the initiating act must be assumed to exert further constraints on the function and form of the responding act. Chapter Eight investigates responses to apologies, a speech act that has been particularly well researched by scholars such as Cohen (Olshtain - Cohen 1983), Olshtain (1983, 1989) and Holmes (1989). Specifically, the way chosen apology patterns condition the functional and formal properties of the responses is examined. The empirical material for this chapter consists of responses to a Dialog Construction Questionnaire by two groups of Japanese learners of English (intermediate and advanced)

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compared to responses by native speakers of English and Japanese. In addition, information was gathered from the native speaker groups on the likelihood of an apology being necessary and the likelihood of an apology being accepted. Their results suggest that as a function of proficiency, learners are less likely to rely on their native speaker "guidelines" for transfer. However, when faced with situations or circumstances with which they have little experience, the advanced learners tend not to rely on their native strategies, thereby supporting contentions by Kellerman (1979) regarding language distance and the use of first language forms and/or functions. The study of apologies, because they are a remedial verbal action to a threatening (face or bodily) act serve as an appropriate bridge to the following section which deals with face-threatening acts. The first two chapters in this section by Murphy and Neu and by Boxer deal with complaints. Murphy and Neu have a double purpose to their study. The first, is to determine how native speakers of English and Korean learners of English produce complaints and the second is to understand how native speakers judge the speech act set of complaints. Data were collected from native speakers of American English and Korean learners of English through an oral Discourse Completion Task. Subjects were asked to imagine themselves in a situation in which they had to complain about a grade to a professor. First, the non-native speakers of English were tape-recorded giving their response to the situation. When these data were analyzed, Murphy and Neu discovered that most of the Korean learners of English were producing criticisms rather than complaints. To investigate the salience of these different types or response, twenty-seven native speakers of American English were asked to listen to a sample of the complaint and of the criticism speech act produced by the non-native speakers and evaluate the content of the response. The Americans judged the "criticizer" to be aggressive, dis- respectful, and lacking credibility. The "complainer" was judged to be respectful, credible, and not aggressive. This perception, that Korean learners of English are placing the blame for a bad grade on the shoulders of their professor, is certain to complicate the academic lives of Korean non-native speakers of English. The finding that non-native speakers of English may construct a speech act so incorrectly that it becomes another speech act intirely may help us gain a clearer handle on the distinctive features of a speech act. Boxer, in her chapter, uses ethnographic interviews as a means of corroborating data elicited through observation. She is concerned with

Introduction

11

indirect complaints as opposed to direct complaints. In her analysis, Boxer argues that while complaints may be viewed as face-threatening acts, indirect complaints may at times be a form of solidarity and may involve rapport-building. Boxer leads the reader through an open and frank discussion of ethno- graphic interview techniques and provides specific suggestions as to how interviews of this sort may result in a productive use of researchers' and informants' times. Her informants provided remarkably similar percep- tions of the differences between direct and indirect complaints. However, gender differences did emerge when dealing with responses to indirect complaints: men tend to offer advice, women tend to commiserate. In addition, Boxer focuses on ethnic issues noting that within Jewish culture, complaining appears to be widespread, particularly indirect com- plaining. As in other chapters in this volume, Boxer makes the important point that accurate descriptions and functions of speech acts are crucial as a basis for providing information (in the form of pedagogical interven- tion) to language learners. Boxer aptly shows that complaints are not necessarily what they seem to be on the surface. They serve an important social function. It is therefore crucial that non-native speakers learn what that social function is and how to interpret and respond to indirect com- plaints. The next chapter by Goldschmidt investigates the variables that deter- mine how people ask favors of each other. Goldschmidt further attempts to ascertain if the asking of favors in American English is a strategy- dominated speech act that manifests the social structure of relationships. In particular, she addresses the metalanguage used in favor-asking since this speech act is often counter-intuitive, functioning either as a request or as a directive. Asking a favor of someone is a potential imposition depending crucially on the relationship of the asker and the asked. Variables such as gender, interpersonal relationships, age, status and degree of imposition are all important to an understanding of how people respond to favor-asking. The data for Goldschmidt's chapter come from a survey administered to 200 people, varying in age, status (student vs. non-student) and gender. The survey consisted of five favor situations. Subjects were asked to rate each of these as to the degree of imposition involved. Her results suggest that imposition is perceived to be great in instances when family privacy is compromised and in situations in which a great deal of time and/or effort may be involved. On the other hand, all participants

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(whether student or non-student, whether male or female and regardless of age) similarly perceived the degree of imposition in the various situa- tions. A recurring theme in this volume has to do with the need to verify the form, the function and the constraining variables of speech acts as a pre- requisite for dealing with them in the classroom. It is not enough to provide practice on "complaining" in a language classroom if we do not have appropriate and accurate baseline data on which to base our descriptions. Goldschmidt continues this line of argument by uncovering the rules, patterns, and strategies of favor-asking and by arguing that this is essential before we can teach non-native speakers to perform in the target culture. The final chapter in this section on face-threatening acts is by Koike who investigates the speech act of suggesting by English speakers learning Spanish. In particular, Koike questions 1) the extent to which suggestions are understood as suggestions by learners at different levels of proficiency, 2) the potential for misunderstanding and the resultant possibility of negative reaction toward the suggester, 3) the types of responses made to suggestions and 4) the degree of understanding of a suggestion as a function of proficiency level. The data for Koike's study come from responses by three groups of learners of Spanish (native speakers of English) ranging from beginning to advanced. Each subject was presented with a context and then watched a videotape of a native speaker making a suggestion. The task was to 1) respond to the suggestion as if the suggestion was being addressed toward them, 2) identify the type of speech act and 3) evaluate the speakers on a variety of personal characteristics. In general, Koike found that speakers did rely on native language speech act patterns in interpreting second language speech acts. For example, when the form of an L2 speech act was similar to the form of the same speech act in the L1, learners were more likely to understand the speech act. It was also noted that misunderstandings frequently resulted in negative reactions. Interestingly, negative elements in the form of the suggestion often yielded a negative interpretation. Responses were given to suggestions by many of the students even in those instances in which misinterpretation had occurred. Even when confronted with a negative linguistic element or with a misinterpretation, learners did not respond in a negative manner. The fact that responses were given and the fact that those responses were not negative leads to speculation that through responses and continued negotiation learners will eventually work out the intended meaning. This

Introduction

13

study provides evidence, then, of the considerable use of the native language in interpreting and responding to speech acts in a second language. This chapter leads into the following section, the first chapter of which also deals with suggestions, albeit suggestions of a different sort.

4. Section Three

The last section of this volume deals with applications of speech acts. In particular, the chapter by Schmidt, Shimura, Wang and Jeong illustrates the way suggestions are made in different cultures in terms of TV commercials. Graham similarly takes us into the business world by considering international cooperative ventures. Schmidt, Shimura, Wang and Jeong consider TV commercials within the category of suggestions - that is, suggestions to viewers to buy a particular product. Their rich data base comes from four countries:

United States, Japan, The People's Republic of China and South Korea, all of which view the purpose of commercials in a slightly different way. They found that suggestions were more frequent in American televi- sion commercials than in the other countries and that the preferred linguistic mode of making a suggestion was the imperative. This was the case more in American commercials than in the commercials of other countries. Thus, American commercials tend to be more overtly suggestive than those in the three Asian countries under investigation. What is interesting is the difference among the three Asian countries. Japanese and American advertising appear to be the most divergent with Korean and Chinese commercials somewhere in the middle. By considering the speech act of suggestion in commercial settings, Schmidt, Shimura, Wang and Jeong propose that the language of adver- tising is a result of a number of factors, among them are universal pragmatic principles, cultural norms, market economy, and arbitrary conventions established by the advertising industry. Other factors (such as the use of comparative advertising) are determined by government regulation. The cross-cultural study of commercials is thus a complex endeavor. As Schmidt, Shimura, Wang and Jeong point out, it is perhaps best to view the TV commercial not as containing the pure speech act of a suggestion, but as being a hybrid of requests and suggestions. This

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chapter clearly shows that the production of speech acts in some instances takes the perspective of the hearer into account to an even greater extent than the perspective of the speaker. Graham, in the final chapter, looks at cultural differences in business relationships, considering in particular how cultural differences can cause serious difficulties between or among participants. Graham's specific focus is the investigation of differences in cultural styles of business negotiations. His data base comes from videotaped simulated intra- cultural negotiations involving business people from thirteen countries. As in the study by Schmidt, Shimura, Wang and Jeong, Graham notes differences in the negotiation behavior among the Asian countries in his study. Differences can be found in the amount of use of "no", "you", silent periods, interruptions and so forth. As has been pointed out earlier in this chapter, baseline data are important before designing and implementing pedagogical programs. Similar comments are made by Graham although the context is different. Before being able to design a program for training business people on the differences in negotiation styles, one must first have accurate and detailed descriptions of negotiations styles in the respective cultures.

5. Conclusion

Through data from a wide range of languages and through a wide range of speech acts, this volume has set out to describe the ways in which speech acts are similar and differ across languages and across cultures. While this goal has been accomplished, there are a number of contexts in which this work can be and needs to be extended. In particular, we hope that the work presented herein will provide the impetus for pedagogical materials and for training within different contexts.

Notes

1. In this introduction we do not deal with the issue of intentionality and its relationship to the speech act itself (cf., Apel 1991, DeMulder 1993, Habermas 1991, Leilich 1993 and Searle 1991). We refer the reader to the works cited here for further elaboration on the theoretical underpinnings of this issue.

Introduction

15

References

Apel, Karl-Otto

1991 "Is intentionality more basic than linguistic meaning?", in: Ernest

Lepore - Robert Van Gulick (eds.), 31-55.

Austin, John

1962 How to do things with words. Oxford, England: Calderon Press.

Bauman, Richard -

Joel Sherzer (eds.)

1974 Explorations in the ethnography of speaking. New York: Cambridge

University Press. Beebe, Leslie - Tomoko Takahashi - Robin Uliss-Weltz.

1990 "Pragmatic transfer in ESL refusals", in: Robin Scarcella -

Andersen -

Stephen Krashen (eds.), 55-73.

Elaine'

Blum-Kulka, Shoshana - Juliane House - Gabriele Kasper (eds.)

1989 Cross-cultural pragmatics: Requests and apologies. Norwood, NJ:

Ablex. Brown, Penelope -

Stephen Levinson

1978 "Universals of language usage: Politeness phenomena", in: Esther Goody (ed.), 56-324.

Brown, Penelope -

Stephen Levinson

1978/87

Politeness:

Some

universals

Cole, Peter -

Cambridge University Press. Jerry Morgan (eds.)

in

language

usage.

Cambridge:

1975 Syntax and Semantics 3: Speech Acts. New York: Academic Press.

Dechert, Hans -

Manfred Raupach (eds.)

1989 Transfer in production. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

De Mulder, Walter

1993 "Intentionality and meaning: A reaction to Leilich's 'intentionality,

speech acts and communicative action"', Pragmatics 3: 171-

180.

Gass, Susan -

Larry Selinker (eds.)

1983 Language transfer in language learning.

House. Goody, Esther (ed.)

Rowley,

MA:

Newbury

1979 Questions and politeness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Grandy, Richard E. -

Richard Warner

1986 Philosophical grounds of rationality. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Grice, H. Paul

1957 "Meaning", Philosophical Review 66: 377-388.

Grice, H. Paul

1975 "Logic and conversation", in: Peter Cole and Jerry Morgan (eds.),

41-58.

Gumperz, John

1982 Discourse strategies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Habermas,Jurgen

1979 Communication

Press.

and

the

evolution

of society.

Boston:

Beacon

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lIabermas, Jurgen

1991 "Comments on John Searle: 'Meaning, communication, and repre- sentation''', in: Ernest Lepore - Robert Van Gulick (eds.), 17-29.

lIolmes, Janet

1989 "Sex differences and apologies: One aspect of communicative

competence", Applied Linguistics 10: 194-213.

IIymes, Dell

1974 "Ways of speaking", in: Richard Bauman - Joel Sherzer (eds.),

433-451.

Kasper, Gabriele

1984 "Pragmatic comprehension in learner-native speaker discourse",

Language Learning 34: 1-20.

Leilich, Joachim

1993 "Intentionality, speech acts and communicative action: A defense of

J. lIabermas' &

155-170.

K. o. Apel's criticism of Searle", Pragmatics 3:

Lepore, Ernest -

Robert Van Gulick (eds.)

1991 John Searle and his Critics. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Gumperz, John

1982 Language and Social Identity.

Press.

Ochs, Elinor -

Bambi Schiefflin (eds.)

Cambridge: Cambridge University

1979 Developmental Pragmatics. New York: Academic Press.

Olshtain, Elite

1983 "Sociocultural competence and language transfer: The case of

apology", in: Susan Gass - Larry Selinker (eds.), 232-249. Olshtain, Elite

1989 "Apologies across languages", in: Shoshana Blum-Kulka - Juliane lIouse - Gabriele Kasper (eds.), 155 -173.

Olshtain, Elite -

Andrew Cohen

1983 "Apology: A speech act set", in: Nessa Wolfson - Elliot Judd (eds.),

18-35.

Olshtain, Elite -

Andrew Cohen

1989 "Speech act behavior across languages", in: lIans Dechert - Manfred Raupach (eds), 53-67.

Sadock, Jerrold

1974 Toward a linguistic theory of speech acts. New York: Academic

Press.

Scarcella, Robin

1978 "Socio-drama for social interaction", TESOL Quarterly 12: 41-46.

Searle, John

1969 Speech Acts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Searle, John

1975 "Indirect speech acts", in: Peter Cole -

Jerry Morgan (eds.), 59-82.

Searle, John

1979 Expression and meaning: Studies

in

the theory of speech acts.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Introduction

17

Searle, John

1983 Intentionality: An essay in the philosophy of mind.

Cambridge University Press.

Searle, John

Cambridge:

1986 "Meaning, communication and representation", In: Richard E. Grandy - Richard Warner (eds.), 209-226.

Searle, John

1991 "Response: meaning, intentionality, and speech acts", In: Ernest

Lepore - Tannen, Deborah

Robert Van Gulick (eds.), 81-102.

1982 "Ethnic style in male-female conversation", in: John Gumperz (ed.),

217-231.

Tannen, Deborah

1986 That's not what I meant!: How conversational style makes or breaks

relationships. New York: Ballantine Books. Tannen, Deborah

1990 You just don't understand. New York: Ballantine Books.

Tarone, Elaine -

Susan Gass -

Andrew Cohen (eds.)

1994 Research methodology in second language acquisition. Hillsdale, NJ:

Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Elliot Judd (eds.)

Wolfson, Nessa -

1983 Sociolinguistics and language acquisition. Rowley, MA: Newbury.

Part I

Methodological Issues

Investigating the production of speech act sets 1

Andrew Cohen

This chapter will discuss both theoretical and applied issues regarding the researching of speech acts, drawing in part from a recent research effort to describe the processes involved in producing speech act utterances (Cohen - Olshtain 1993). The chapter will end with some illustrative findings from that study.

1. Theoretical issues

Speech acts have been investigated and described from a variety of perspectives: Philosophical, social, linguistic and cultural. An effort has been made to identify universal norms of speech behavior and to dis- tinguish these from language-specific norms in order to better understand and evaluate interlanguage behavior. Given a speech act such as apologizing, requesting, complimenting, or complaining, the first concern of the researcher is to arrive at the set of potentially universal realization patterns, anyone of which would be recognized as the speech act in question, when uttered in the appropriate context. We have referred to this set of strategies as the speech act set of the specific speech act (Olshtain - Cohen 1983). In order to arrive at the speech act set, it is necessary to define the goals of the speech act in question and to identify performative and semantic prerequisites for the realization of these goals. As an example, consider the speech act of requesting. It was necessary to present a scale of impositives (i. e., degree of imposition; Olshtain - Blum-Kulka 1984; Blum-Kulka 1989; Weizman 1989), moving from the most direct to the most indirect request. For apologies, it was necessary to separate the performative verbs from other semantic preconditions that could result in acceptable apology realizations, such as an explana- tion and justification for the offense, an offer of repair, and so forth.

22

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Hence, each speech act presents its unique set of preconditions and inter- actional goals which have to be addressed in the realization patterns that can act as the materialization of the speech act. As of the 1980s it became clear that in order to adequately define and describe such speech act sets, considerable empirical investigation both within and across languages would be needed. Fortunately, over the last decade there has been a wide range of empirical studies on speech act behavior. One of the most comprehensive empirical studies of speech act behavior, both for its breadth and depth, has been that of the Cross- Cultural Speech Act Research Project (CCSARP) (Blum-Kulka - House

- Kasper 1989), which compared speech act behavior of native speakers

of a number of different languages with the behavior of learners of those

languages. The CCSARP project also produced useful instruments for data collection and a coding scheme that has been widely replicated in other speech act studies. Along with the empirical studies, several excellent surveys of the research literature have appeared which help to define and shape the field of investigation with respect to speech act research (e.g., Wolfson 1989; Kasper - Dahl 1991). In this first section, let us consider three theoretical areas of concern with regard to speech act research. The first concerns the description of the sociocultural and sociolinguistic abilities needed to perform a given speech act. The second concerns the selection of research method for use in gathering the speech act data. And in cases where the respondents are non-natives, there is also a need to deal with the interlanguage features present in the speech act data.

1.1. Sociocultural and sociolinguistic abilities

What has emerged both from the large-scale empirical studies and from the comprehensive reviews of the literature is that successful planning and production of speech act utterances depend on the sociocultural and sociolinguistic abilities of the speaker. Speakers and hearers are successful speech act users when they have control over the speech act sets for a given speech act in the language in which they converse. Such control calls for the ability to provide both socioculturally and sociolinguistically appropriate behavior. Sociocultural ability refers to the respondents' skill at selecting speech act strategies which are appropriate given (1) the culture involved, (2) the age and sex of the speakers, (3) their social class and occupations, and (4)

Investigating the production of speech act sets

23

their roles and status in the interaction. For example, in some cultures (such as in the United States) it may be appropriate for speakers to use a repair strategy by suggesting to the boss when to reschedule a meeting that they had missed through their own negligence; however, in other cultures (such as Israel), a repair strategy might be considered out of place in that it would most likely be the boss who determines what happens next. Thus, the sociocultural ability is what determines whether a speech act set is used and which members of the set are selected for use. Sociolinguistic ability refers to the respondents' skill at selecting appropriate linguistic forms to express the particular strategy used to realize the speech act (e.g., expression of regret in an apology, registra- tion of a grievance in a complaint, specification of the objective of a request, or the refusal of an invitation). Sociolinguistic ability is the speakers' control over the actual language forms used to realize the speech act (e. g., "sorry" vs. "excuse me", "really sorry" vs. "very sorry"), as well as their control over register or formality of the utterance from most intimate to most formal language. For example, when students are asked to dinner by their professor and they cannot make it, the reply "No way!" would be a phrase for use with an appropriate semantic for- mula, namely, refusal. The problem is that sociolinguistically, this phrase would constitute an inappropriate refusal, unless the students had an especially close relationship with their professor and the utterance were made in jest.

1.2. Research methodology relating to speech act description and strategy selection

The complexity of speech act realization and of strategy selection requires careful development of research methodology in this area. Rather than choosing between ethnographic and elicited data methods, the combining of different approaches to studying the same speech act may best enable the researcher to reach useful and reliable descriptions of speech act behavior. An ideal cycle of data collection could be perceived of as following the different collection techniques presented in Olshtain and Blum-Kulka (1985). The researchers would start with the generation of initial hypotheses based on ethnographic data collection of natural speech. Then they would continue to simulate speech such as role-plays which can serve to test the initial hypotheses. From there, they could go to a paper-and-

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pencil written completion test in order to focus on specific realizations and manipulate the social and situational variables. If they are concerned with the effect of the speech act on the listener, they might want to use acceptability tests in order to validate the range of acceptability within a speech community. Finally, it is advisable to validate findings by means of further ethnographic data.

~

acceptability ~

ethnographic

-----

role-play

written completion .-----------

Each of these data collection techniques has its own merits but it is the use of more than one that provides us with important triangulation. Ethnographic observation involves the collecting of naturally occurring data. This method has proven effective in collecting data on certain speech acts, such as compliments (see, for example, Wolfson 1989). Yet for other speech acts, such as apologizing, it may be extremely time-consuming and not very productive. Aguilar Murillo, Aguilar, and Meditz (1991), for example, found that even when they planted someone crouched behind a door and videotaped the door being opened and the person getting whacked by the door, the apology events were limited and the data themselves not very useful. When comparing native and non-native apologies, complaints or other complex speech acts across a variety of situations, it would be exceedingly time-consuming to gather natural data in all the desired categories. It would also be virtually impossible to control all the variables that role-play and written completion tasks can build into their design - e. g., severity of the offense, familiarity/age/relative status/sex of interlocutors, and so forth. If a role-play situation is acted out theatrically (e. g., the respondent bumps into another person), this would constitute genuine role-play. Another, more popular format is that of a role-play interview in which the respondents are requested to respond as they would in the given situation, without acting it out. These two versions of role-play have been referred to as semi-ethnographic in that they require the participants to take on roles that are not always their own (Olshtain - Blum-Kulka 1985). If the interlocutor involved is not aware that the event has been contrived for the purposes of collecting data or is aware and agrees to cooperate (e.g., the actual owner of a store hearing a complaint about merchandise from a subject in a study), then the situation would be called real-play.

Investigating the production of speech act sets

25

Such role-play would most likely be audio- or video-taped. The taping itself may introduce problems, depending on how intrusively it is done. Even if the taping is relatively unobtrusive, it may still make some respondents uncomfortable, at least for the first few minutes. Such taping may even engender certain reactive effects; Stubbs (1983: 225) has suggested that respondents might develop special verbal strategies for dealing with tape-recorders. The role-play may consist of a description of the situation, written in the native or target language and/or read aloud, a prompt by the inter- locutor (depending on the situation), and then the response. It can also be specified that the interlocutor is to provide one or more rejoinders, to turn the role-play into an interactive event. There are two options for a written completion task. In both cases, a situation is briefly described in writing, either in the target language or in the native language. In the first type, that of open-ended elicitations, there is a written prompt followed by a space for the respondent to provide a written response. The second option is for what has been referred to as the Discourse Completion Test (DCT) (Blum-Kulka 1982), whereby the discourse is structured - part of it left open and part closed, providing both for the speech act and a rejoinder. In fact, the rejoinder helps to cue the respondent as to the appropriate nature of the speech act realiza- tion - i. e., the level of formality, and a description of the roles and relationships of the interlocutors. The written approaches save enumerable time in data collection and have been seen to provide reasonable projective measures of the same kinds of data collected from oral role-play (Beebe - Cummings, this volume; Cohen - Olshtain - Rosenstein 1986). In comparing talk over the telephone to written questionnaire responses, Beebe and Cummings (this volume) found there was four times as much spoken output as than written. All the same, the results indicated that discourse completion tests are an effective means of gathering a large amount of data quickly, creating an initial classification of semantic formulas, and ascertaining the structure of speech act(s) under consideration. A problem with written responses is that certain kinds of information are not collected this way, such as the prosodic and nonverbal features of oral interaction. Furthermore, the respondent usually has more time to respond when doing so in writing than when doing so orally. Also, the very act of responding in writing as if speaking may inhibit the respondent, producing a shorter response than would be the case in speaking. One advantage of the discourse completion test over the open-

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Andrew Cohen

ended format is that the former indicates the expected length of the utterances while the latter does not. Acceptability ratings as another means of testing for control of speech act behavior involves the obtaining of respondents' judgments as

to how appropriate certain responses are for a given situation (Olshtain

- Blum-Kulka 1985). In this technique, a series of possible responses

are presented and the respondent has to select the most appropriate of them for the given situation. Usually the responses are scaled on a continuum according to some dimension. In the case of apology research, the scale could go from the least intensified to the most intensified apology. In addition to the above-mentioned techniques which are useful for the description of speech act behavior within a group, we can use research techniques such as verbal report to give us insights regarding the choices made by individuals in their speech behavior. By now it has been clearly demonstrated that verbal report is not one measure, but rather encom- passes a variety of measures, intended to provide mentalistic, data regarding cognitive processing (Afflerbach - Johnston 1984; Olson - Duffy - Mack 1984; Faerch - Kasper 1987). Such verbal reports in- clude data that reflect self-report (learners' descriptions of what they do, characterized by generalized statements about learning behavior), self- observation (the inspection of specific, not generalized language behavior introspectively or retrospectively), self-revelation (think-aloud, stream-of- consciousness disclosure of thought processes while the information is being attended to), or some combination of these (Cohen - Hosenfeld 1981; Cohen 1987). Given the intrusive nature of verbal report techniques, it would be unreasonable to ask speakers to provide such data while they are engaged in the communicative act. 2 Yet once the interaction is over, subjects may not be able to retrospect fully as to the strategy selection that they carried out a few minutes prior to the intervention. For this reason, in the Cohen and Olshtain study (1993), subjects were videotaped interacting in role- play situations and then viewed the videotapes (one or more times) as a means of jogging their memory as to their thought processes during the interactions. Some illustrative findings from the study will be presented later in the chapter.

Investigating the production of speech act sets

27

1.3. The study of speech act interlanguage

In second-language acquisition research, there is a concern for the way in which learners learn and produce speech acts as part of the sociolinguistic component of their communicative competence. It has been established in previous studies that in speech act behavior, as in other language areas, there is a discrepancy between a learner's receptive and productive abilities. Thus, in a study done with immigrants in Israel, it was found that while it might take as long as eight years to acquire native-like recep- tion of speech acts, one may never truly acquire native-like production (Olshtain - Blum-Kulka 1985). When dealing with the production of speech acts the immediate problem is the evaluation of interlanguage speech act behavior. The questions that could be asked with regard to interlanguage features include the following:

a. To what extent have learners acquired the sociocultural and socio- linguistic abilities needed to realize the particular speech act?

b. To what extent is the learner's speech act behavior similar to or different from a native speaker's behavior under the same circums- tances?

c. What compensation strategies do learners use when their language is inadequate?

d. What is the learners' selection route and decision making process with respect to strategy preference, modification preference, content limit- ation, and illocutionary intent?

While the first two questions relate to the evaluation of product, the last two are concerned with process and require introspection and reflection. There is a need to probe the actual decision-making and selection process that learners at different levels of proficiency go through in order to identify strategies that lead to the successful production of speech acts in the target language.

2. Research design issues

Now that we have discussed some basic theoretical issues, let us look at specific issues in research design. For the most part, the discussion will be

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Andrew Cohen

based on issues that came up in the design and execution of the Cohen and Olshtain (1993) study of speech act production. The study sought to describe ways in which non-native speakers plan and execute speech act utterances, and the relationship between choice of processing strategies and successful execution of the utterance. The subjects were fifteen advanced English foreign-language learners, all Hebrew University undergraduates, eleven of whom were native speakers of Hebrew and the remaining four advanced non-natives - native speakers of French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic. The subjects were given six speech act situations (two apologies, two complaints, and two requests) in which they were to role play along with a native speaker. The interactions were videotaped, and after each set of two situations of the same type, the tape was played back and the respondents were asked both fixed and probing questions regarding the factors contributing to the production of their response to that situation. The subjects were interviewed in three sessions - after the apology, com- plaint, and request situations respectively - instead of waiting until after all six speech act situations, in order to obtain a more accurate retrospective report of behavior. It was feared that the delaying of the verbal report would reduce the reliability of the protocols, even using the videotaped behavior as a memory aid.

2.1. The role-play interview as a research tool

The first issue to consider is the use of a semi-oral, role-play interview (i. e., written situation and then role-play) as a simulation of actual behavior. The question is whether such an elicitation technique is really semi-ethnographic, as suggested in Olshtain and Blum-Kulka (1985). What is the effect of having respondents take on a role they would not assume in real life? In some instances in the Cohen and Olshtain study (1993), respondents remarked that a given situation happened to them all the time. In several cases, the respondents commented that they had performed that speech act the previous day - e. g., requesting a neighbor to turn down loud music late at night. In other cases, respondents made it clear that it never happened to them. In instances where the respondent had never had to react in such a situation (e.g., apologizing for keeping a classmate's book two weeks beyond the agreed date), it could be argued that the instrument forces unnatural behavior and that if the respondent were not a good actor, the

Investigating the production of speech act sets

29

results might be problematic. The researcher's task would be to distinguish respondents' language proficiency from their situational adeptness. In the research study under discussion, the respondents were not given the choice to opt out of the speech act. If they deflected the stimulus, the interlocutor pursued the issue. This is not necessarily the case in the real world, where a person may opt not to apologize, com- plain, or request something (Bonikowska 1988). Another effect of the situation might be the degree of planning it activates in the speaker. In other words, the situation itself may have properties that stimulate planning more than do other situations, regard- less of the personal characteristics of the speaker. So, for example, if the respondents feel that they are in the right, as in a complaint situation, they may not plan as much as if they feel the need to, say, make amends, as in an apology situation. This observation was made by several of the respondents in the Cohen and Olshtain study. Furthermore, an assumption was made in the Cohen and Olshtain study that a sampling of three speech acts (apology, complaint, request) in six situations could give a fair idea of how non-natives prepare and execute utterances. It is possible that this was too small a sampling of speech act production behavior through role-play. The study also revealed that the speech act behavior was conditioned by the nature of the situation. For example, a student's asking his/her teacher for a lift home - where the inequality of status was found to play an important role in the mind of the respondent - usually prompted a style shift, at least after the interlocutor, playing the role of the teacher, replied, "What?" in response to the student's initial request. In addition, whereas an effort was made to select situations that were cross-culturally appropriate - i. e., that had the same cultural weight in different cultures (such as a neighbor playing loud music late at night), it is possible that one or another of the situations could still have been viewed by a respondent as not constituting an infraction. For example, the situation of "being half an hour late to meet a friend to study for an exam" may not be considered a serious offense in Latin America, and, in fact, one of the respondents was originally from Argentina. In this case, however, the respondent had lived most of her life in Israel. Finally, the situations were written in the foreign language, English, which thus provided clues for how to respond - for those respondents who picked up on this. From time to time respondents lifted language forms out of the text which described the situation - language forms that were only partially or not at all in their productive knowledge. For

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Andrew Cohen

example, in the "lift" situation, a respondent named Hava noted that she lifted "my bus has just left" out of the text. Also, whereas she would simply say "token," she requested a "phone token" in the "token" situation because that was written in the text. Wassim also indicated taking the expression "phone token" from the text. In that same situa- tion, Yaakov said he had used the word "urgent" because the word appeared in the description of the situation - that he would not have used it otherwise. Likewise, Shlomit said she also used "urgent" because "it was included in the situation." Finally, there was an instance of the respondent's combining his own material with that contained in the text. So, in the "lift" situation, Yaakov described how he arrived at asking Debbie, "Can I come by your car?":

First I thought "with your car, with you" and that I would not mention the car because I didn't know how to indicate hamixonit she/ax 'your car.' I worried that she would think I wanted to go for a ride with her. "To get a ride with you" would be an expression I wouldn't know how to use. "Can I come" are words that I know how to use. After I heard Debbie read "by car," I said "by your car."

The reverse was also true. There were numerous cases where respondents did not make use of clues that were in the written descriptions of the situation. For example, in the situation calling for a request from the teacher for a "lift" home, there were respondents who disregarded this clue and had difficulties finding a word in English for this request. The Semi-Direct Oral Proficiency Interview (SOPI) (Stansfield - Kenyon - Paiva - Doyle - DIsh - Cowles 1990), for example, gives the prompts in English L1 rather than in the foreign language being assessed. This way no clues are given concerning the response.

2.2. The role-play interview: Data collection issues

There are variables operating in the collection of role-play interview data that can have considerable bearing on the reliability and validity of the results. We will use the Cohen and Olshtain study (1993) to help illus- trate these variables, the choices that were made, and the possible or probable effects of these choices. In administering the role-play interview in that study, it was decided that the interlocutor would give the respondents an opportunity to read the descriptions of two brief role-play situations at a time (two apologies, two complaints, and two requests in all). Then she slowly read each situ-

Investigating the production of speech act sets

31

ation out loud to the respondents, giving them time to think of a response, and then gave her opener and had the respondent role-play with her. The interaction was videotaped and audiotaped as well. The native English-speaking interlocutor determined whether the interaction had reached its natural and logical end - usually after four or five exchanges. Thus, in this case, flexible structuring of the role-play was used. In a previous study that had been recorded only on audiotape, the structure had been fixed - i. e., an opener was followed by a single response from the respondent (Cohen - Olshtain 1981). It was felt that this earlier approach put limitations on the depth and breadth of the data available for analysis purposes. However, a problem that arose in the use of flexibly structured role-play was that the interlocutor was not neces- sarily consistent from one respondent to the next. During the pilot sessions and in one or two instances at the beginning of the data collection, the role-play interlocutor was perhaps too easy on the respondent. For example, when the respondent was slow at making the request for a ride explicit, the interlocutor offered, "Yeah, do you want a lift?" At other times, the interlocutor was perhaps too tough on the respondents. They would apologize, for instance, and she would not accept their apology. Perhaps it could be argued that in one or two of these cases a native speaker in a natural setting would accept the apology more readily. The probing interviews conducted in this study were designed to obtain retrospective self-observational data about the cognitive processes involved in the production of speech act realizations. The interviewer's probes were conducted in what was the native language for eleven of the respondents, and a language of greater proficiency than English for the other four respondents. Effort was made to have the respondents be precise, and to give examples where possible. When the respondents were not sure as to what they did and why, the interviewers played the relevant portion of the videotaped session a second or even a third time. This usually helped to jog the respondent's memory. In working with verbal report, there is always the danger that if the interviewers suggest too much, the respondents may fabricate inaccurate descriptions of what they did to produce utterances. Another problem associated with the power of suggestion in verbal report is that continued mention of a particular behavior may do more than simply heighten awareness regarding it. Such mention may actually cause the behavior to take place. It is possible, for example, that when respondents were asked to indicate the language in which they were thinking, it may have stimulated them - especially the trilingual ones - to think in a language in which

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they had not been thinking. The question is the extent to which an effort to heighten awareness about behavior that is taking place but is not attended to, may inadvertently trigger that behavior. The Cohen and Olshtain (1993) study seemed to reveal the three most common patterns for language of thought in planning and responding to be "planning in English and responding in English," "planning in Hebrew and translating from Hebrew to English in the response," and "planning in Hebrew with the response in English." Furthermore, whereas the French, Portuguese, and Arabic speakers reported that they tended to think in Hebrew rather than in their native language, they indicated that they thought in their native language in one or two situations: The French speaker for planning and producing his request to his teacher for a lift home, the Portuguese speaker for planning an apology after forgetting to return a book to a classmate and a com- plaint after a peer's refusal to let her use her notes, and the Arabic speaker for planning in the same "notes" situation. In the case of the Spanish speaker whose English was weak, the patterns were reported to be most complex, involving planning in Hebrew and Spanish simultaneously or in a staggered fashion, and then translating from Spanish and/or Hebrew to English. In reporting these cases of language choice, the researcher must bear in mind the possible intrusive effects of the verbal report method here. There is always the danger that if interviewers make leading sug- gestions in their efforts to elicit verbal report, the respondents may fabricate inaccurate descriptions of what they did to produce utterances (Cohen 1991). In addition, there is the possibility that the interviewer might make false assumptions based on intuitions regarding the verbal report and might put words in the respondent's mouth, as in the follow- ing case from Cohen and Olshtain (1993): "I could see you were focusing on grammar." In this instance, the informant indicated that he was not doing so. On the plus side, verbal report interviews provide feedback from respondents regarding aspects of their behavior that would other- wise be left to the intuitions and speculations of the investigator. Then there is still the issue as to the relationship between the reported behavior and actual behavior. The use of immediate retrospection (imme- diate playback of the tape after two situations) was intended to diminish the likelihood of the retrospections being fabricated, but the possibility still exists. No effort was made to investigate the relationship between the respondents' report of planning and actual evidence of their planning (e.g., pauses in delivery).

Investigating the production of speech act sets

33

In this study the respondent informants were not trained in giving verbal report nor in the dynamics of speech act production. They were thus naive informants - at least at the outset. It is likely that some, if not many of them, became more aware of the phenomena being investigated as they progressed from the first response session to the second and the third. Hence, it is possible that our data were impaired by a lack of training. Had we taken the measures of speech act production on which we wanted verbal report and trained the respondents to pay particular attention to them, perhaps the results would have been more informative. Of course, there is then the risk that the training itself will implant certain notions about "appropriate" behavior in the heads of the respondents such that they no longer behave the way that they would have.

2.3. The use of multiple measures of speech act production

In the field of language assessment, there is a current emphasis on the multi-method approach. The attitude is that anyone method would not be assessing the entirety of the behavior in question. Would this also be true with respect to determining speech act production behavior in oral communication? The ethnographic approach would be difficult to employ, unless respondents were somehow to record their production strategies (e.g., in a journal) just after performing speech acts. Likewise, a written discourse completion task would be at best a projective measure of speaking. 3 It would be possible to gather acceptability data, both from non-native peers and from natives. Such ratings could help to determine the extent to which the speech act utterances themselves are appropriate fOf the given situations.

3. Search, retrieval, and selection of language forms

Let us now take a look at some of the data produced by respondents in the Cohen and Olshtain study, bearing in mind the methodological problems raised regarding the collection of such data. We will consider communication strategies and the concerns that one or more speakers reported in searching for, retrieving, or selecting language forms to use in their speech act utterances. These examples represent all the instances

34

Andrew Cohen

that were identified in the analysis of the verbal protocols for these fifteen speakers. Eight of the categories reflect areas that have been much dis- cussed in the communication strategy literature: din in the head, monitor, use of formulaic speech, message omission or abandonment, lexical avoidance or simplification, and approximation. The other four catego- ries reflect insights gained from the use of verbal report protocols: Self- debate, afterthoughts, partial delivery of a thought, and delivery of a different thought.

3.1. Retrieval process -

"din in the head"

Ricki noted after completing the first two situations that she had difficulty in speaking English because of a long period of non-use: "When I start speaking English after not speaking it for a long time, my vocabulary is weak and it is hard to retrieve words from memory." Krashen (1985:

40-41) has called attention to the "din in the head" phenomenon where- by the "din," or sense of having the language available for use, may take anywhere from one to two hours of good input and may wear off after a few days. In certain oral elicitation tasks, there may be a warm-up period, but often this period is not long enough to activate the din in the head.

3.2. Self-debate before selection

In the "lift" situation, Hava debated between "to get a ride" and "to give a lift," and finally asked whether she "could get a lift." Shalom debated among "drive," "come," and "go," .and ended up with, "Can I come with you?" Galit wanted to make a polite request and was uncertain as to whether she could ask, "Do you have any room in the car?" As she put it: "It has a lot of meanings and I wasn't sure that it was correct, so I changed my tactic, and decided she would understand better if I said, 'I want to drive with you.' I thought of 'lift,' but didn't know how to use it in a sentence so I left it out." In the same situation, Lily debated among three expressions, "in the same neighborhood/your same neighborhood/in your neighborhood." She was translating from Spanish and felt that the result was not good. Also with regard to the "lift" situ- ation, Yaakov debated how to address Debbie - "Debbie," "Teacher," "Gveret ('lady')," or "Gveret Teacher." He decided to address her the way he would in a high school class in Israel.

Investigating the production of speech act sets

35

3.3. Afterthoughts

In the "meeting" situation, Ricki used "very" as the intensifier in her expression of apology, "very sorry," but reported thinking to herself afterwards that she could have said "terribly sorry." She also used "stopped" in that situation ("I'm very sorry, but I-I met some friends

and they stopped me and I couldn't go on

it wasn't the correct word but I was already in the middle of things." Sometimes the afterthoughts respondents have during a given speaking task can, in fact, cause later communicative failure in that their minds still engaged in some previous language form while they are being called upon to perform a new task.

") and, as she put it, "I knew

3.4. Awareness of using the monitor

Four of the respondents referred to their use or nonuse of monitoring. With regard to the "meeting" situation, Lily commented, "I always think about grammar and so my pace is so slow. I think about how to structure the sentence correctly, verb tenses and other aspects. E. g., 'I haven't sleep good' ~ 'I didn't sleep good.' I thought the first form wasn't correct." In the "music" situation, Lily erroneously said, "you have listened to the music very loud last night" and noted, "With this confusion, I wondered whether to continue with the mistake or correct myself. I decided that it was important to correct myself because if I am aware of an error and it is possible to correct it, I want to do it." Ricki could also be viewed as a consistent monitor user. With respect to the "music" situation, she

commented, "I am always thinking about grammar

problems like 'not/don't,' I correct them. 'I was yesterday awake -' just came out that way and I noted that it was not correct." Hagar on the other hand would be viewed as an underuser of the monitor. With regard to the same situation, she remarked, "I don't effort at grammar. I am aware that it is bad. I focus on the idea, the message. Grammar gets me stuck. I prefer not to know how grarpmatical I sound. I depend on the listeners to see if they understand me, using facial expres- sions and letting them complete my sentences for me." Wassim only thought about grammar extensively in the "notes" situation in which it was not spontaneous in that he was translating from Arabic. In the "meeting" and the "book" situations, he reported: "When I first read the situations, I thought that it would be good to think about my grammar,

When I have

36

Andrew Cohen

but I then forgot about it because it was more important for me that Debbie understand me."

3.5. Use of formulaic speech

In the "lift" situation, Nogah used "I would love to-" in requesting a ride, which sounded peculiar for the requesting party to use. Nogah noted that she had heard this expression a lot and that is why it popped up in her utterance. Although this was the only reported instance of an unanalyzed phrase appearing in the respondent's data, it is likely that such formulaic speech occurs with some regularity in the output of non- natives (Ellis 1985).

3.6. Omission, avoidance, or simplification

There were also examples of respondents not saying what was intended for lack of the appropriate forms or lack of certainty about them.

3.6.1. Omission

Two cases of omission of an utterance occurred in the data. In the "meeting" situation, Lily thought of saying that she was late because of a problem at home, but decided that it would be too difficult for her to say it in English. Instead she chose to say that she usually comes late. She also indicated that in general she chooses the easiest utterance - the one for which she knows the verbs and the sentence structure, and can say it directly "without having to express it in a round-about way." In the "lift" situation, Shlomit debated whether she should address her teacher by name, and then chose instead to say, "Excuse me, are you going home?" because, as she put it, "it was a bit more formal - in general, when I address a lecturer in Hebrew, I do it this way."

3.6.2. Abandoning a word or expression

Five instances of breakdown were identified in the data. In the "meeting" situation, Galit said, "I really don't have any exc-" and stopped there. She

Investigating the production of speech act sets

37

said she got stuck because of the x. In the "book" situation, Shalom asked, "Anything I can do to comp - something?" He said that he sort of knew the word "compensate" receptively. In the "music" situation, Hagar started the utterance, "Can't you just -" and stopped. She felt that what she was starting to say was inappropriate and did not know how to convey the correct message in English. In the same situation, Lily produced, "I want you to - that -" and, in explanation, noted, "I wanted to say that I didn't want that to happen again but stopped in the middle because it was too complicated for me." In the "notes" situation, Nogah wanted to indicate that she always gave her friend class notes if she wanted them, but did not know how to say it: "I debated between 'often' and 'always' and I couldn't remember it, so I let it go." She simply said, "When you need things I al - I give you" and made no further attempt to supply the adverb.

3.6.3. Partial delivery of a thought

Two instances of partial delivery of an utterance were identified. In the "notes" situation, Hagar was not sure whether she should just continue requesting the notes or whether she should simply say that she did not need any favors from her friend and thank her anyway. She chose to be angry but commented that "anger doesn't come out well in English." As she put it, "I started and got stuck because of my English and so I chose a compromise." Her compromise was to be sarcastic: "Well, you're very kind to me. I mean I gave you in the past things and it's - uhm - alright, no thank you." In the same situation, Nogah wanted to use strong language but did not know how to say it in English in a way that would not sound too exaggerated, so instead of saying the English equivalent of tov lada'at 'it's good to know' or ani ezkor 'et ze 'I'll remember this,' she simply said, "I need them too."

3.6.4. Delivery of a different thought

There were two examples found of a different thought being delivered. 4 In the "meeting" situation, Hava wanted to indicate that the bus did not come, but she reported that she did not find the words in English, so instead she said, "I missed the bus." Galit, in looking for a reason that

38

Andrew Cohen

she needed a ride, said, "My bus is very late," which she saw right away to be incorrect. As she explained it, "I meant that it wouldn't be leaving until later in the evening, but grammatically the sentence was OK so I left it. I let it go because it wasn't so bad - she would understand what I meant."

3.6.5. Lexical avoidance or simplification

There was one identifiable instance of lexical avoidance and one of simplification in the data. In the "music" situation, Shlomit wanted to say that her neighbor's music was "too loud" but avoided the equivalent English forms by saying, "Your music is - uhm - and I can't sleep with your music." In the "notes" situation, Yaakov simplified his utterance in order to execute it, "I really don't like - this." He explained as follows:

"I searched for something else like, "the way you act/your behavior," but it didn't come to mind when I was answering. I used the easiest way out at the moment."

3.6.6. Approximation

In five instances the word search ended in an approximation as the speaker felt or knew the word was incorrect but could not come up with an alternative. In the "book" situation, Jackie was looking for a word to indicate repair but did not find it. He said, "I'm shocked, I'm sorry," but he was looking for lefatsot 'to compensate' and, in his words, "had a blackout." Also in the "book" situation, Galit wanted to say the English equivalent of xomer 'material,' and could not find a word like "notebook," so she said "stuff": "I didn't find the - stuff." In the "music" situation, she asked the neighbor to "reduce" the volume. Her retrospective comment was as follows: "I had my doubts about the word 'reduce'; it seemed like a literary word to me." When it was noted that the interlocutor (Debbie) had in fact supplied the phrase when she said, "I would have turned it down," Galit replied, "I was more into my own words than into listening to Debbie's." In the same situ- ation, Jackie wanted to ask that the neighbor "turn it down," and instead he got stuck with "put it lower." Finally, in the "token" situation, Ricki said she used "Listen -" as an opener "because I didn't have anything else to use."

Investigating the production of speech act sets

39

4. Discussion and Conclusions

This chapter has covered both theoretical and applied issues with regard to researching the production of speech act behavior. The chapter began by calling attention to the sociocultural and sociolinguistic abilities neces- sary for the production of speech acts. It was noted that the selection of the appropriate speech act strategy is conditioned by a host of social, cultural, situational, and personal factors. Then, the research cycle of ethnography, role-play research, written completion tests, and accept- ability checks was presented. It was indicated that each of these data collection techniques has its own merits, but that it is the use of more than one that provides us with important triangulation. It was suggested that in addition to considering the above-mentioned techniques which are useful for the description of speech act behavior within a group, the researcher of speech act behavior also needs to better understand the choices made by individuals and that here is where verbal reports can be most valuable. Next, there was discussion of research design issues relating to the role-play interview as a research tool and to specific data collection issues. Then some findings generated by speech act production research were presented. These related to the language of thought and to the search, retrieval, and selection of language forms. Perhaps two of these areas, namely, the debate before selection and afterthoughts, warrant extra comment in that they especially provide us with a window into the speech act production process. The debate that goes on in the speaker's mind before selection, which emerged from the verbal report data, seems to suggest that when faced with role-play situations - and by extension, in the real world as well - learners have their own individual spectrum of options from which to choose. Some of these options relate to semantic elements, some to grammatical features, and others to illocutionary intent. Among these learner options, some would lead to appropriate responses while others may lead to inappropriate ones. Learners make decisions based on those options available to them at the moment, without knowing which may lead to inappropriate results, while the native speaker makes choices based only on acceptable realizations. It is only through verbal report that we are able to tap these kinds of decision-making processes. With regard to afterthoughts, it became apparent through the verbal report protocols in the Cohen and Olshtain study that after completing a speech act situation, learners continued to think about the degree to which they were successful in their performance in that situation. Often

40

Andrew Cohen

these afterthoughts can lead to selfawareness and may affect future inter- actions both for better and for worse. Furthermore, the verbal report process itself can unintentionally trigger learners' awareness as to their speech act performance. Whereas learners may be mistaken in how they assess their speech act behavior, this extra awareness may, in fact, direct them to proper use as well. Clearly more work will need to be done to better understand the reactive effects of verbal report techniques in speech production research.

5. Implications for the language learner and the language classroom

At a time when teachers have been encouraged to give attention in their instruction to communicative language which includes speech acts, there is evidence that learners of a language may lack even partial mastery of these speech acts and that this lack of mastery may cause breakdowns in communication, much to the consternation of the speaker and hearer (Wolfson 1989). The role of the researcher can be to determine the degree of control that learners have over different speech acts through the multiple measures suggested above - ethnography, role play, written completion, and acceptability ratings. They can couple with this informa- tion verbal report data which add insights regarding the cognitive processes and conscious strategies used to interpret their role in an inter- action and to produce appropriate speech act utterances. Ideally, this information could then be used to prepare a course of instruction that would teach to the gaps in language knowledge, and also give tips as to strategies that may be useful for producing utterances. At present there are only a few published studies dealing with the teaching of speech act behavior, but the findings seem promising. For example, a study of advanced English as a Foreign Language learners in Israel would suggest that the fine points of speech act behavior such as (1) types of intensification and downgrading, (2) subtle differences between speech act strategy realizations, and (3) consideration of situational features, can be taught in the foreign-language classroom (Olshtain - Cohen 1990;

1991).

Likewise, a study by Billmyer (1990) found that tutored English as a Second Language learners produced a greater number of norm-appro- priate compliments, produced spontaneous compliments (which the un-

Investigating the production of speech act sets

41

tutored group did not), used a more extensive repertoire of semantically positive adjectives, and deflected many more compliments in their reply than did untutored learners. Her conclusion was that formal instruction concerning the social rules of language use given in the classroom can assist learners in communicating more appropriately with natives outside of the classroom.

Notes

1.

Parts of this chapter are based on Cohen and Olshtain 1993.

2.

On the other hand, verbal report data have been collected while informants have been engaged in the other language skills - reading, writing, and listening.

3.

Robinson (1991) had twelve native Japanese speakers fill out a discourse completion test of the ability to refuse requests or invitations, and had them think aloud while they were doing so. She then played back their think aloud data in an interview to get them to explain retrospectively their thoughts at the time of completing the task. The verbal report was conducted in the target language, English, and not in their native language. Although this study had some innovative methods in it, such as having the respondents write down their reactions to each situation at the time of the response, the language- related data were somewhat limited. Respondents had more to say about personality matters and about reactions to the given situations.

4.

Note that this is more than simply omission because an alternate thought is supplied.

References

Afflerbach, Peter -

Peter Johnston

1984 "On the use of verbal reports In reading research" , Journal of Reading Behavior 16: 307-322.

Aguilar Murillo, Evelyn -

1991 "Teaching speech act behavior through video: Apologies", Athens, OH: Linguistics Department, Ohio University. (Paper presented at the Ohio TESOL Fall Conference, Ohio University, Athens, OH, November 8-9, 1991.)

Billmyer, Kristine

1990 "'I really like your lifestyle', ESL learners learning how to compli-

ment", Penn Working Papers in Educational Linguistics 6.2: 31-48. Blum-Kulka, Shoshana

1982 "Learning to say what you mean in a second language: A study of the speech act performance of learners of Hebrew as a second language", Applied Linguistics 3: 29-59.

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1989 "Playing it safe: The role of conventionality in indirectness", in:

Shoshana Blum-Kulka - Juliana House - Gabriele Kasper (eds.),

37-70.

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Ablex. Bonikowska, Malgorzata P.

1988 "The choice of opting out", Applied Linguistics 9: 169-181.

Celce Murcia, Marianne (ed.)

1991 An introduction to teaching English as a second or foreign language.

2nd ed. Cambridge, MA: Newbury House/HarperCollins. Cohen, Andrew D.

1987 "Using verbal reports in research on language learning", in: Claus

Faerch - Cohen, Andrew D.

Gabriele Kasper (eds.), 82-95.

1991 "Feedback on writing: The use of verbal report", Studies in Second

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International Journal of the Sociology of Language 62: 51-74.

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1993 "The production of speech acts by EFL learners", TESOL Quarterly 27: 33-56.

Cohen, Andrew D. -

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Gabriele Kasper

1987 "From product to process-introspective methods in second language research", in: Claus Faerch - Gabriele Kasper (eds.),

5-23.

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Language Acquisition 13: 215-247.

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Kieras, David E. -

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1984 Languages across cultures. Dublin: Irish Association for Applied Linguistics.

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18-35.

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1984 "Cross-linguistic speech act studies: Theoretical and empirical

issues", in: Liam Mac Mathuna - David Singleton (eds.), 235-248.

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1985 "Crosscultural pragmatics and the testing of communicative competence", Language Testing 2: 16-30.

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1990 "The learning of complex speech act behavior", TESL Canada Journal 7: 45-65.

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1991 "Teaching speech act behavior to nonnative speakers", in: Marianne Celce Murcia (ed.), 154-165.

Olson, Gary M. -

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1984 "Thinking-out-Ioud as a method for studying real-time comprehen- sion processes", in: David E. Kieras - Marcel A. Just (eds.),

253-286.

Robinson, Mary

1991 "Introspective methodology in interlanguage pragmatics research", in: Gabriele Kasper (ed.), 29-84.

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NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Weizman, Elda

1989 "Requestive hints", in: Shoshana Blum-Kulka - Juliane House - Gabriele Kasper (eds.), 71-95.

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Non-native refusals: A methodological perspective~1-

Noel Houck -

1. Introduction

Susan M. Gass

Much research in recent years has been carried out in the area of inter- language pragmatics. In this chapter we focus on one area of this research domain, that of refusals, in the hopes of elucidating methodological issues in non-native speech act research. A number of papers in this area emphasize the point, with which we concur, that methodological issues cannot be ignored, for it is not clear to what extent differences in methodology yield differences in results (see, for example, Cohen this volume; Cohen - Olshtain 1994). Wolfson (1981) and Wolfson, Marmor and Jones (1989) have argued that ethnographic data collection is the most reliable means of learning about the social and linguistic constraints on a particular speech act. This methodology allows for observation of naturally occurring speech events with precise recording about the social setting, location, and the parti- cipants, thereby providing information about the linguistic and social constraints on the use of a given speech act (cf., Watson-Gegeo 1988 for a discussion of methodological issues).1 However, as has been pointed out by a number of researchers (e.g., Rintell - Mitchell 1989; Kasper - Dahl 1991), there are limitations. Not only can contextual variables not be controlled, but also the occur- rence of a particular speech act cannot be predicted. If one is truly to understand a given speech act, many occurrences are needed; this, of course, is difficult when one must rely on instances when a particular speech act is used by speakers who are unaware of being observed. 2 In the most detailed treatment to date on the issue of methodology in second language speech act research, Kasper and Dahl (1991) review 39 studies of interlanguage pragmatics. They characterize the methods used along two dimensions: 1) By the constraints each imposes on the data and 2) By the degree to which production or comprehension is studied. For our purposes, we focus only on production data, although we bear in

46

Noel Houck -

Susan M. Gass

mind Kasper's (1984) caution that many apparent production problems are a result of a non-native speaker's inadequate comprehension of pre- vious parts of the discourse. Focussing on production data, Kasper and Dahl describe two major data elicitation measures, discourse completion and role-play. Discourse Completion Tests are written questionnaires consisting of a brief descrip- tion of a situation followed by dialogue with a blank line where the sub- ject is to put in what s/he believes to be an appropriate response. The other major type of production data comes from role-play, both open and closed. An example of a closed role-play comes from Rintell and Mitchell (1989), in which subjects were given an oral version of the Discourse Completion Test. In open role-plays, on the other hand, an entire dialo- gue is observed and recorded.

1.1. Discourse completion tests

There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these types of data collection. With regard to the Discourse Completion Test, perhaps the most widely used methodology in interlanguage pragmatics, the advant- ages are clear: Large amounts of data can be collected in a relatively short amount of time. Furthermore, because of the consistency of the situation, responses can be compared along a number of dimensions (e. g., age, gender, ethnicity). On the other hand, there is the question of the extent to which the data collected are a reflection of the sociolinguistic constraints that operate on the speech act in question. This is similarly argued by Wolfson, Marmor and Jones (1989), who point out that "short decontextualized written segments" may not be comparable to what takes place in actual interaction. In fact, recent research on the comparability of Discourse Completion Test data with data collected using other techniques has revealed some important differences. Rose (1992) has shown that the frequency of different types of response varies with the instrument. Rose compared requests elicited by a Discourse Completion Test with responses to a multiple choice questionnaire, both of which were administered in English to native speakers of English and in Japanese to native speakers of Japanese. He reports that while the most frequent response to all situations on the Discourse Completion Test was conventionally indirect requests, responses to the multiple choice questionnaire exhibited more contextual variation, with respondents often choosing to opt out or to hint.

Non-native refusals

47

The richness of naturally occurring refusals cannot be adequately captured with a formalized structure such as that represented by the Discourse Completion Test. As we will show below, refusals are very often filled with multi-turn responses involving negotiation, hedging and even reversal. This has been further pointed out by Bardovi-Harlig and Hartford (1990) and Hartford and Bardovi-Harlig (1992). Their work, based on naturalistic data, focussed on rejections of advice in academic advising sessions. In their data they found different strategies for refusals/ rejections than had been found in the Beebe, Takahashi, and Uliss-Weltz (1990) study. For example, in Bardovi-Harlig and Hartford's data, the subjects exhibited what they called verbal avoidance, evidenced in the form of postponement ("Can I think about it?"), requests for repetition, or requests for additional information. Hartford and Bardovi-Harlig (1992) concluded that the Discourse Completion Test results in limited data; specifically, their results show a more limited range of semantic for- mulas, fewer status-preserving strategies, and none of the extended nego- tiations which occurred in the natural data. Clearly, written responses, especially those that are "sandwiched" between an opening statement and a follow-up statement (as in Discourse Completion Tests), do not allow a speaker to exhibit the strategies found in naturalistic data.

1.2. Role-play

Role-plays have the advantage of providing data in an oral mode rather than a written mode (although below we will deal with differences in these two channels). In a closed role-play (e.g., Walters 1980), subjects are given a situation and are asked how they would respond. In Walters' study children were asked to make a request to a puppet. These puppets varied in age, sex, and race. However, as pointed out above, any type of data that is "closed", in that it does not allow a free range of answers, will suffer from the possibility of non-symmetry with naturally occurring data. Of the common data elicitation methods, open role-plays are the closest to what we might expect to reflect naturally occurring speech events. They have the advantage of allowing the researcher to set up situations in which the occurrence of a particular speech act is likely in circumstances in which the occurrence can be recorded and/or video- taped, thus making possible the close analysis of long interaction sequences of comparable data.

48

Noel Houck -

Susan M. Gass

However, they are not problem free. They are cumbersome to administer and time-consuming in both their administration and analysis. Furthermore, role-plays are just that, role-plays, so again we are left with the question of the degree to which they mirror the lingu- istic behavior of individuals in the particular setting established by the researcher. With these caveats in mind, in this study we have adopted open role- plays in order to study refusals. We have done this fully aware of the dis- advantages, but also aware of the advantages particularly with regard to refusals. As Edmondson (1981 cited in Beebe - Cummings 1985) points out, "some speech acts are the result not of a single utterance but of a negotiation, a cooperative achievement, or a conversational outcome between two speakers." It is clear that to see this type of negotiation in refusals, we must use an open format to elicit data.

2. Background

2.1. Methodological issues

We turn now to a discussion of the literature in which methodology is the focus. In addition to Kasper and Dahl (1991), who present a survey on methodological issues, there are two notable papers that present results based on a comparison of methodologies. One is by Rintell and Mitchell (1989) and the other by Beebe and Cummings (1985; this volume). Rintell and Mitchell used written and oral versions of a Discourse Completion Test (eliciting apologies and requests) that were given to low advanced learners of English and to native English speakers. They were formulated as role-plays with a variety of social roles and situations represented. Clearly some differences did exist between the two modal-

ities of elicitation. In particular, for the second language speakers, the oral data were longer than the written data. This difference was not apparent in the native speaker responses, leading the authors to conclude that it was not so much the methodology that resulted in different responses, but rather the way in which the two groups approached the tasks. In

general they found that the "language elicited

collected in written or oral form" (1989: 270). They argue that the

is very similar whether

Non-native refusals

49

Discourse Completion Test is in actuality a role-play. That is, both the written and spoken forms provide data that resemble spoken language rather than written language. Beebe and Cummings (1985; this volume) study refusals using two types of data for their analysis: The Discourse Completion Test and tele- phone requests. The data they collected were only from native speakers of English. In both the written and the oral tasks, subjects were asked if they would be willing to help with the local arrangements for the TESOL convention in New York. What they found was that in the oral data, there was more elaboration

of the refusal; in the written data, the layout on the page allowed for only

a minimum amount of data to be produced. Elaborations come as a result

of the "requester's" response. If the requester, upon hearing a refusal, responds "all right, thank you" and then hangs up, there will be no further need for elaboration. But if, on the other hand, there is silence or

some other attempt to keep the conversation going, the refuser will feel a need to elaborate so as not to be offensive to the requester. Goffman (1971) points out that the offending person (in this case the refuser) needs to receive reassurance from the addressee that his/her offending remark is not taken as a serious offense. Elaboration is what restores the offender to his/her proper place in the eyes of the addressee. Beebe and Cummings point out that the written test biases "the response toward less negotia- tion, less hedging, less repetition, less elaboration, less variety and ultimately less talk" (this volume: 71). Beebe and Cummings analyzed the written and oral data in terms of the types of responses given, finding that the written data reflect the content of oral data (e.g., the use of "I'm sorry"; the frequency with which excuses were offered; the frequency with which willingness or ability was offered). Where the two modes differed was in what they call the "psychosocial" domain. That is, when one refuses, one needs to take

a cue from the requester as to how offensive or how important the refusal

is. This will then dictate the degree to which further elaboration, hedging, or apologizing is necessary.

2.2. Refusals

Refusals are a highly complex speech act primarily because they often involve lengthy negotiations as well as face-saving maneuvers to accom- modate the noncompliant nature of the speech act. Because refusals

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normally function as second pair parts, they preclude extensive planning on the part of the refuser.

2.3. Second language refusals

Two studies on second language refusals are relevant for our purposes. The first is a study by Beebe, Takahashi and Uliss-Weltz (1990) in which the major concern was the existence of pragmatic transfer. Four groups of native speakers of Japanese and English (two native speaker controls and two second language groups) filled out a Discourse Completion Test involving twelve situations including refusals of requests, refusals of invitations, refusals of suggestions and refusals of offers. Each situation involved an initial segment of written speech followed by a blank and then followed by a rejoinder that forced the subjects to write a refusal in the preceding blank. In analyzing the results, the authors considered the order of semantic formulas. Their preliminary conclusions suggest evidence of pragmatic transfer although they are quick to caution us regarding the limitations of the data elicitation methods used. The second study we mention is that of Kinjo (1987), who examined refusals to invitations and requests in English and Japanese. Data were collected orally, with subjects responding to a taped invitation or request. In her analysis, Kinjo considered the degree to which mitigators played a role and the degree to which directness/indirectness reflected the stereotypical notions one has of these two cultures. As with the Beebe et al. study, Kinjo warns that the results that come about as a result of this modified role-play method may not reflect naturally occurring speech.

3. The study

In our attempt to investigate interlanguage refusals, we were primarily concerned with the interaction involved in the refusal itself. Refusals are played out events, rather than instances characterized by a brief exchange or single utterance. That is, we begin with the notion that the modified role-play, a typical means of gathering data, is insufficient to an under- standing of the complete speech event of refusing.

Non-native refusals

51

3.1. Method

Following the work of Beebe et aI., we investigate refusals to four types of situations: 1) Suggestions, 2) Offers, 3) Invitations and 4) Requests. We depart from previous studies of refusals in two ways: 1) We use video- taped data, and 2) We use full role-play situations rather than modified role-plays, with the eliciting instrument based on Scarcella's (1978) conceptualization of socio-drama. This allows participants to carry out the refusal to its logical conclusion. Thus, the responses that are given are not confined by either the printed page (e.g., the amount of space provided on the page, the number of turns that the respondent is expected to take) or by the closing response of the initiator of the interaction which, in many Discourse Completion Tests, directs the refusal by "sand- wiching" it between a given opening remark and the subsequent closing comment. Two situations requiring refusals were created for each of the four refusal types so that in all eight situations existed (see Appendix). The setting for each was the home of an American host family who asked the guest to do something undesirable and quite unusual, such as 1) get a strange haircut, 2) pierce their ears, 3) go skydiving, or 4) give a speech at church. 3

3.2. Subjects

Our data-base consists of an interaction involving a native speaker of English who was the person making the request, invitation, suggestion, or offer and Japanese English as a second language (ESL) students at two levels of proficiency. The subjects of the study were given the contextual information surrounding each situation. Following this introduction, each subject "role-played" the part with a native speaker who had been instructed not to give up too easily in cases in which the non-native speaker initially refused. We made certain that each subject understood the situation before the session began. All sessions were videotaped and a subset was transcribed. For each of the eight situations, data from four non-native speaker-native speaker (two lower-level proficiency and two higher-level proficiency) pairs were gathered. In analyzing the results for this study, we focussed on a subset of the data collected. 4 In Houck and Gass (in press) other data are analyzed from the perspective of non-verbal communication.

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4. Findings

Data collected using an open role-play differ from data collected using a written or tape-recorded elicitation instrument in a number of significant ways. The most obvious is that a real face-to-face encounter results in a dynamic interaction. It is one thing to formulate a refusal on paper; it is quite another to deliver that refusal to a person who will respond to it. Not once in our data did the refusal interaction terminate with the subject's initial response. 5 The role-plays resulted in what were often lengthy interactions in which the participants negotiated their way to a resolution. During this time, speakers hemmed and hawed, cut each other off, requested clarification, self corrected, modified and elaborated their positions, and generally became involved in negotiating semantic, pragmatic, and social meaning. 6 Thus, our role-play data differ from other data on refusals both quantitatively and q uali ta ti vel y.

4.1. Quantitative analysis

One quantitative consequence of using an open role-play is that the data consist not of one response, but rather of a series of turns. To obtain a quantitative measure of the data, we considered not only turn length, but also the number of turns. Turn length often varied according to level of English ability (Blum-Kulka - Olshtain 1986). In our data as well, less proficient subjects had shorter turns. After eliminating back channels, such as "mm" and "oh", and pause fillers, such as "uh", we found that subjects with lower English proficiency averaged 3.5 words per turn. Higher proficiency subjects were much more prolific, averaging 10.7 words per turn. The total number of turns from the triggering speech act to the end of the role-play varied from 7 to 18. On the average, subjects required 9.8 turns at talk to reach a resolution.7 As might be expected with real negotiations, the outcomes differed considerably. Resolution was achieved when the participants reached agreement, and: 1) The native speaker accepted the non-native's refusal; 2) The native speaker and non- native speaker reached a compromise; or 3) The non-native speaker accepted the native speaker's offer, request, invitation, or suggestion, and the role play ended with a few final comments or plans.

Non-native refusals

53

4.2. Qualitative analysis: Classifying the data

We also analyzed the refusal sequences, categorizing the responses made by the non-native speakers. As a starting point, we applied a comprehens- ive classification system of refusals, developed by Beebe, Takahashi and Uliss-Weltz (1990) to each non-native speaker response. Several categories in this system accounted for approximately 2/3 of the re- sponses.

- Conventional nonperformative refusals (e. g., "I can't" "No")

- Statements of regret (e.g., "I'm sorry")

- Excuses/reasons/ explanations (e.g., "But 1 don't know yoU")8

- Proposals of alternatives (e.g., "Please wait in your car if you want to meet him")

These responses also predominate in data from other research on refusals, such as Kinjo (1987) and Bardovi-Harlig and Hartford (1990). However, our data also contained non-native speaker responses that did not correspond neatly with Beebe et al.'s classes. Three of these

were linguistic responses:

Confirmations,

information and agreements. An additional category we labelled non-

verbal responses.

requests

for

clarification/

4.2.1. Confirmations

Confirmations occurred frequently in the conversations of lower- proficiency non-native speakers. When a non-native speaker began groping for words or exhibiting signs of linguistic distress, the native speaker often leapt in, checking assumptions and elaborating on minimal utterances. The non-native speaker could then respond with a single word, indicating that the native speaker was correct. The non-native speaker was thus able to get away with a minimum of speech, as in (1) where he is a guest at a weekend homestay. At breakfast, the native speaker is inviting him to go skydiving with the family that day.

(1) Confirmation (skydiving)

1. NS:

2. NNS:

Do you like to skydive?

No

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Noel Houck -

Susan M. Gass

4.

~ NNS:

((nods)) Yes

5.

NS: Why

 

6.

NNS: Vh, I head(eh) headek headache

7.

NS:

Y, have

headache?

8.

~ NNS: Headache

9.

NS: Oh you have a headache oh no he has a headache

10.

~ NNS:

Headache

In line 2 the non-native speaker indicates his lack of interest in skydiving, and in line 4 he confirms it with a single word ("Yes") and no explan- ation. It is the native speaker who requests an explanation (line 5) and, having received one (line 6), repeats the non-native speaker's explanation (lines 7 and 9), to which the non-native speaker offers little support (a confirmatory repetition of his excuse in lines 8 and 10). While this segment can be seen as an instance of negotiated meaning, it also provides opportunities for the non-native speaker to elaborate on his excuse or to add an apology. The non-native speaker seems to re- cognize that a contribution is called for, but limits it to the single-word repetitions in lines 8 and 10; the native speaker interprets the minimal responses and adopts an appropriate attitude (line 9, "Oh no he has a headache"). In this exchange, the native speaker and non-native speaker work out the non-native speaker's excuse together, with the native speaker asking questions and reacting to the information provided, while the non-native speaker provides minimal answers and confirms the native speaker's restatements.

4.2.2. Request for clarification

On the other hand, some non-native speakers formulated their own requests for clarification, as in example (2).

(2)

Request for information/clarification (skydiving)

1.

~ NNS:

What means

2.

NS:

What is skydiving

In this example the non-native speaker has just been informed that she will be going skydiving with the host family that day; she requests an explanation of the term "skydiving" ("what means").

Non-native refusals

55

Thus, non-native speakers in these open role plays often spend some

of their time ostensibly in the negotiation of meaning - with confirma-

tions and requests for information, although it is likely that the clarifica-

tion requests were actually serving the function of verbal avoidance as discussed by Bardovi-Harlig and Hartford (1990).

4.2.3. J\greennent

A third response type that differed from responses in most previous

studies of refusals is agreement. While Imai (1981), Rubin (1983) and Beebe et al. mention general or unenthusiastic acceptance as types of re- fusals, acceptances that evolve from initial refusals are not discussed. In several of the role plays, when faced with a persistent native speaker, the non-native speaker abandoned her attempt to refuse and accepted. In example (3), the non-native speaker's hostess at a weekend homestay has offered to give the non-native speaker a punk-style haircut like her children's. This interaction occurs after the non-native speaker has given two explicit refusals and a reason (only his barber, who is a hair specialist, can cut his hair):

(3)

Agreement (haircut)

1.

NNS:

Ummmm ((laugh)) I like this barber

2.

NS:

Uhhuh

3.

NNS:

Yeah

4.

NS:

But but you like my children's haircuts, right?

5.

NNS:

Ummm

6.

NS:

So I c'n I can cut your hair and you can feel

7. ~NNS:

comfortable and cool? Yeah please

In line 7, the non-native speaker abruptly changes his stance and agrees

to let the native speaker cut his hair. When asked afterwards if they would really have agreed to having their hair cut, approximately half the non-native speakers polled said that they would, because she was their hostess.

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4.2.4. Nonverbal responses

In addition to those responses in which the non-native speaker used, if not propositions, at least lexical items from which a reasonable propos- ition could be inferred, non-native speakers expressed their reactions and responses through nonverbal signals. We contend that these nonverbal signs often performed the same functions as turns with recoverable propositions. In fact, they were often used to confirm a native speaker statement or to request clarification or information. Our transcripts contain a number of non-native speaker nonverbal signals, such as the nod in (4) and raised eyebrows in (5), which clearly carry intended communicative content. And, indeed, they can function by themselves as a turn, performing an interactive function.

(4)

Nonverbal: Confirmation (skydiving)

The non-native speaker has expressed fear of skydiving.

1.

NS:

((to others )) She's afraid

2.

NNS:

((nodding)) Mm

3.

NS:

But you're sure you don't want to go skydiving

4.

~ NNS:

((nods))

In line 1, the native speaker informs others that the non-native speaker is afraid; and in line 2 the non-native speaker confirms this with an "Mm" accompanied by nods. In line 3, the native speaker states an implication of the non-native speaker's fear, i. e., that she does not wish to skydive, as a request for confirmation. The non-native speaker confirms the native speaker's understanding with a (nonverbal) nod (line 4). Thus, in line 4 the nod signals confirmation. In example (5), as in example (4), the native speaker attempts a resta- tement of the non-native speaker's previous statement, but in this case she misinterprets the non-native speaker's meaning.

(5)

Nonverbal:

Request

for

information/clarification

(speech

at

church)

As the host family and the non-native speaker prepare to go to church, the non-native speaker is informed that she has been requested to give a talk about herself and her life at the university.

Non-native refusals

57

1.

NS:

they want you to give a speech to everybody in

2.

NNS:

the church. Is that OK? Urn urn it's it's very short time for (me)

3.

NS:

Oh OK you do not want to give a long speech

4. ~NNS:

((raises eyebrows))

In this interaction, the non-native speaker apparently intended the utterance in line 2 ("it's it's a very short time for (me)") to mean that she would not have enough time to prepare a speech. However, the native speaker understands her to be saying that she is willing to give a speech if it is a short one (line 3). Thus, the native speaker's paraphrase does not correspond to the non-native speaker's intentions.' The non-native speaker's turn in line 4 is an opportunity to confirm or disconfirm the native speaker's interpretation. Her raised eyebrows convey her un- certainty and function as a question/request for further clarification. Thus, in face-to-face interactions, non-native speakers may call on a number of resources in negotiating refusals. And they may employ these resources to convey different meanings, depending on the context.

5. Discussion and conclusion

To summarize, the use of open role plays illustrates that refusals often require a number of turns to effect a response. The number of turns required may reflect the natural need for conversationalists to interact to solve a problem - e. g., through negotiation and elaboration of meaning. The negotiation/elaboration may necessitate a greater number of turns when a non-native speaker is involved than when only native speakers are conversing. Or, it may indicate the persistence or stubbornness of the individual native speaker interlocutor and the non-native speaker respondent. A non-native speaker may also need to tryout more ploys to resolve disharmony (see Bardovi-Harlig - Hartford 1990). The use of open role plays has also shown that the performance of acts such as refusals involves the use of resources not required or even appro- priate in noninteractional role play. Thus, we identified three acts - confirmation, request for clarification, and agreement - which have not been included in most previous classification schemes. These new classes of acts are special in that, unlike the acts convent- ionally associated with refusals, they are characteristic of dynamic inter-

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action in general. However, their occurrence in stressful negotiations is especially appropriate and plays a crucial role in the non-native speaker's negotiation of a response. Additionally, these three classes are particularly effective because in addition to their obvious speech act function, individual instances of the acts can represent a discourse tactic or social maneuver designed to soften the unpleasantness of a refusal. For instance, a refusal that develops into a series of non-native speaker confirmations, as in example (1), may allow the non-native speaker to build up solidarity with the native speaker in a face-threatening situation. It is to be further noted that a request for information or clarification may function as an avoidance tactic. Bardovi-Harlig and Hartford (1990) have pointed out that requests for information are employed by non- native speakers as an indirect means of avoiding a refusal, in their case a refusal of a suggestion. The interaction in example (2) took place after the meaning of skydiving had been carefully explained and after a previous role play on skydiving had been acted out in front of this particular non- native speaker. Interestingly, another subject, who had observed two skydiving role plays also requested an explanation of the term "skydiving" during his own skydiving role play, supporting the contention that these requests for clarification may reflect the speaker's wish to avoid direct refusal rather than a real need to negotiate meaning. Finally, the fact that a change of heart took place and agreement ultimately occurred in a number of cases represents the ultimate in refusal alleviation. The fact that agreement occurred in refusal negotiations, all of which began with a non-native speaker's clear disinclination to comply, points to the interesting question of which contextual factors facilitate agreement and which mitigate against it. Under certain condi- tions, non-native speakers gave up refusing in favor of agreement; under other conditions, non-native speakers were unmovable. For instance, in those situations in which the offer or request was not dangerous or poten- tially painful, or when subjects might be seen as disappointing their hostess if they refused, they often eventually agreed. However, if a posi- tive response meant that the subject or the host or host's family might be put in a dangerous situation, the subject continued to refuse, no matter how tricky a linguistic feat, and even at the risk of appearing ungracious and impolite. Thus, the inclusion of confirmations, requests for clarification and agreements in a classification system of refusals is indicated as soon as we

Non-native refusals

59

consider a refusal not as a simple response to a static situation but as a dynamic negotiated achievement. A third practical methodological implication resulted from our use of videotapes, which enabled us to capture the use of nonverbal resources to negotiate meaning. Most importantly, under the appropriate circum- stances a head movement or a raised eyebrow can clearly perform the same function as a verbal "yes" or "oh?" (see Houck - Gass in press for further discussion). And yet these gestures are available for incorporation into analyses of speech act performance only when the researcher is dealing with observed interactions. By including nonverbal signals as intentional speech act moves, we recognize the wide range of resources available for communicating a message. Our data reveal the existence of a richer variety of meaningful resources and maneuvers than has generally been documented in discus- sions of non-native refusals. The negotiations we have described go far beyond the notion of a simple response consisting of linguistically analyz- able units. They involve art interaction not only between what the non- native speaker wants to say and what her interlocutor wants her to say, but how to say it - what grammar, gesture and discourse tactics to use to carry out both her social obligations and her personal wishes effectively in a particular situation. Important work has been done collecting data on the selection and realization of linguistic acts across cultures using written discourse completion tests and closed role plays. The addition of interactional data from open role plays can only enrich our understanding of speech acts.

Appendix

Situations used

1. You are ready to leave the house to go to a party with the children of your host family - Nathan, age 21, and Jennifer, age 23. They are telling you about their friends and the things they usually do at parties. The more they talk, the more you realize that everyone at the party will be using dangerous drugs. Nathan picks up his car keys and starts for the door. [Invitation]

2. You are at your host family's home. Your host family, the Quentins, has gone to a neighbor's house to discuss a business matter. They have left you at home with specific instructions not to let anyone in the house, no matter what they say. It could be dangerous. About 5 minutes after they leave, the doorbell

60

Noel Houck -

Susan M. Gass

rings. It's a woman who says that she is Mr. Quentin's cousin from Detroit. She is just passing through Lansing and says, "Can I come in and wait?" [Request]

3. It is Saturday morning at your host family's home. At breakfast the family tells you that they have made reservations at the airport for all of you to go sky- diving this morning. The whole family - Mr. and Mrs. Cousins, Meg, and Tim - are all getting ready to go. They ask you if you have ever gone skydiving before. When you say no, they say, "Don't worry! It's easy!" [Invitation]

4. It is Sunday morning and you have agreed to attend church services with your host family, the Jarvises. As you are getting ready to leave the house for church, Mrs. Jarvis informs you that there are plans for you to give a short speech about university life in Japan after the services. She says, "I hope you won't mind." [Request]

5. It is 11 :OOam Saturday morning at the home of your host family, the Larsons. You arrived at the Larsons' home last night at about 8:00pm. You thought that you would be having dinner with them, but they thought you had eaten, so you had no dinner. This morning you had only a piece of toast and coffee. You are now very hungry. Mrs. Larson walks into the room and tells you that you will be going to an early barbecue for dinner. She suggests that because you will be eating at about 5:00pm, you skip lunch today. But you are really hungry. [Suggestion]

6. You are at the home of your host family, the Sumners. Both the children, Charlie and Karen Sumner, have short, very ugly haircuts. At one point, they ask you how you like their hair. You answer politely that it looks very cool and comfortable. Mrs. Sumner announces proudly that she cuts their hair herself. And because you like the style, she will be glad to cut your hair to look like

theirs. "Now where are my scissors

?", she asks. [Offer]

7. You are watching MTV with your host family on Saturday. You notice that both men and women rock stars have at least 4 earrings in their ears. You comment that this style is very interesting. Your host family's son Bob, age 22, says, "Oh, I'm glad you like it. My girlfriend pierced my ears. Why don't you get yours done, too? I'll call her right now, and she can be here in 20 minutes to pierce your ears." Bob goes to the telephone to call. [Suggestion]

8. You are at your host family's home. Your host mother, Mrs. Boulware, is

admiring the expensive new pen that your family gave you before you left Japan. Mrs. Boulware sets the pen down on a low table, and you and she go into the backyard to look at her flowers. When you return to the room, the Boulware's pet dog, Ruffy, is happily chewing on your pen. When Mrs. Boulware gets the pen out of Ruffy's mouth, it is ruined. Mrs. Boulware says, "Oh, I am so sorry. I'll buy you a new one." [Offer]

Notes

* We are grateful to Joyce Neu for helpful comments on an earlier version of this chapter. We also thank the panelists and participants of the TESOL Sociolinguistics Colloquium (1991), where these data were originally present- ed, for their comments and suggestions.

Non-native refusals

61

1.

An alternative to detailed ethnographic data is what Beebe (1993) refers to as "notebook data". This data type consists of memorizing the core act (e. g., refusal) when it occurs, as well as any supporting moves that the researcher can commit to memory; writing down immediately everything that she can remember precisely, as well as any partially recalled speech or additional information that may be relevant to a description of the interaction; and marking notes ruthlessly to reflect which dialogue was recalled verbatim and which was reconstructed. Although it is limited to capturing short inter- actions, the method allows an alert observer to gather large amounts of data on particuar types of acts in relatively short spans of time.

2.

Bardovi-Harlig - Hartford (1992) analyze the advantages and limitations of naturally occurring data collected in an institutional setting, in which the interactants and situations are relatively invariant, and in which the interactions are videotaped (and participants are aware of being observ- ed).

3.

One could argue that it is highly unlikely that a non-native speaker would encounter situations such as the ones used in this study. However, that appears not to be the case. The data for this study were collected immediately follow- ing a home-stay weekend in which these students had visited an American family. Some of these situations had quite coincidentally been encountered as had even more bizarre ones, such as a suggestion to go to the morgue to see a dead body. What is interesting and what will be discussed later in this chapter is the extent to which the non-native speakers gave in to a request. This appeared to be in large part determined by the extent to which the guest could comply with the native speaker's request, offer, suggestion, or invitation with- out putting herself at risk.

4.

For the lower proficiency students we analysed the data from two of the sky- diving situations, two of the speech at church situations and two of the hair- cut situations. For the higher proficiency students, we analysed data from two of the visiting cousin situations.

5.

This may, of course, be due to the instructions given to them, but it also may be a result of the methodology used, which did not allow for a comfortable closure early on in the interaction.

6.

The result is, of course, messy. In our data, the researcher determined the

nature of the initiating speech act, but had no real effect on the remaining speech; in pure observational research, the researcher, of course, controls even less (cf., Beebe 1993). 7. In addition to the native speaker's persistence, it might be expected that the amount of negotiation reflected a japanese reluctance to refuse directly. However, a look at the non-native speakers' use of the most direct linguistic refusal "no" indicates that they were often willing to state refusals directly. (In five of the eight role plays, the japanese subjects indicated refusal at least once with "No.") This is corroborated by the data from Kinjo, who found that her japanese subjects were more open and direct than her American subjects. The data from this study give a preliminary indication that japanese subjects will give direct negative responses, at least in some situations. However, a

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Noel Houck -

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study of the factors responsible for determining the level of directness was not within the scope of this project. 8. As Joyce Neu points out, there are other interpretations possible to a phrase, such as "But I don't know you." For example, it may be a challenge to the speaker's right to ask the hearer to do X. While this might be the case in inter- actions between two native speakers, we are confident that in our data, given the participants, given the intonation and given the body and facial expres- sions, these are truly expressions of refusal.

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Wolfson - Scarcella, Robin

Elliot Judd (eds.), 10-17.

1978 "Socio-drama for social interaction", TESOL Quarterly 12.1:

41-46.

Scarcella, Robin - Elaine Andersen - Stephen Krashen (eds.)

1990 Developing communicative competence in a second language. NY:

Newbury House. Tarone, Elaine - Susan Gass - Andrew Cohen (eds.)

1994 Research methodology in second-language acquisition. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Walters, Joel

1980 "Grammar, meaning and sociocultural appropriateness in second language acquisition", Canadian Journal of Psychology 34:

337-345.

Watson-Gegeo, Karen Ann

1988 "Ethnography in ESL: Defining the essentials", TESOL Quarterly

22.4: 575-592.

64

Noel Houck -

Susan M. Gass

Wolfson, Nessa

1981

"Compliments

in

cross-cultural

perspective",

TESOL

Quarterly

15.2: 117-124.

Wolfson, Nessa -

Elliot Judd (eds.)

1983

Sociolinguistics

and

language

acquisition.

Cambridge,

MA:

Newbury House.

Wolfson, Nessa -

Thomas Marmor -

Steve Jones

1989 "Problems in the comparison of speech acts across cultures", in:

Shoshana Blum-Kulka - Juliane House - Gabriele Kasper (eds.),

174-196.

Natural speech act data versus written questionnaire data: How data collection method affects speech act performance ~~

Leslie M. Beebe -

1. Introduction

Martha Clark Cummings

In the early 1980's, when cross-cultural speech act research was beginning to take hold (see Kasper 1992 for a complete review of this literature), there was a debate raging about the preferred way to collect data on speech acts. Manes and Wolfson (1980) claimed that the best

approach was to collect samples of spontaneous speech in natural settings where none of the participants was aware of being observed or studied. However, written role play questionnaires (called Discourse Completion Tests) had been and continue to be used extensively to elicit speech act data across different languages (e.g., Blum-Kulka 1982; Olshtain 1983; Olshtain - Cohen 1983; Blum-Kulka - House - Kasper 1989; Beebe

- Takahashi -

Uliss-Weltz 1990).

Since the present study was first presented in 1985, studies of cross- cultural speech act realization, also known as interlanguage pragmatics

(Kasper - Dahl 1991), have still relied heavily on Discourse Completion Tests to collect data. Kasper and Dahl rate discourse completion on the lower end of production tasks used to collect such data, pointing out that they are "a much used and much criticized elicitation format in cross- cultural and IL [interlanguage] pragmatics" (1991: 221). Nevertheless, they have been used exclusively to collect data in ten studies mentioned in the Kasper and Dahl (1991) review, to wit: studies of requests (Blum- Kulka 1982; Blum-Kulka - Olshtain 1986; House - Kasper 1987; Faerch - Kasper 1989), complaints (Olshtain - Weinbach 1987), refusals (Takahashi - Beebe 1987; Beebe - Takahashi - Uliss-Weltz 1990), corrections (Takahashi - Beebe 1993) and suggestions (Banerjee

- Carrell 1988). As Kasper and Dahl (1991) point out, up to now, few attempts have been made to compare data collection techniques. Rintell and Mitchell (1989) compared data collected with Discourse Completion Tests and closed role plays and found that they yielded very similar data. Kasper

66

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and Dahl (1991) suggest that this is because neither data collection procedure is interactive. Bodman and Eisenstein (1988) compared data collected through Discourse Completion Tests, open-ended role plays and field notes on naturalistic data. The data differed in length and complexity, with Discourse Completion Tests being shortest and least complex and naturalistic data most complex. Beebe and Takahashi (1989a; 1989b) used natural data as a supple- ment to written discourse completion data in discussing performance of face threatening acts between interlocutors of different status: disagree- ment, chastisement, and giving embarrassing information, such as telling others they have spinach in their teeth. In an effort to establish the reliability of Discourse Completion Tests, Rose (1992a) compared Discourse Completion Tests with multiple choice questionnaire data and found significantly fewer hints on the Discourse Completion Tests than on the Multiple Choice Questionnaires. He did not compare questionnaire data and natural data. In a second study, Rose (1992b) collected data using two types of Discourse Completion Tests. "One form included hearer response, while the other form did not. The two forms were identical in all other respects. The results showed that although responses on the No Hearer Response Discourse Completion Test tended to be slightly longer and use slightly more supportive moves and downgraders, inclusion of hearer response did not have a significant effect on requests elicited" (1992 b: 49). Finally, Dahl (in progress) compared authentic discussions with open- ended role plays and found, as reported in Kasper - Dahl (1991:

244):

The most important features that distinguished between authentic and role play productions across discourse types were amount of talk and directness in the performance of face-threatening acts. Amount of talk also distinguished the two types of role plays from each other, with the inter- active role plays producing less talk and the monologic role plays more talk than their authentic counterparts. As amount of talk typically distinguishes between different interlocutor relationships (cf., Wolfson's [1989] bulge hypothesis), and directness inter- acts with contextual factors in conveying politeness (see Kasper 1990, for an overview), the discomforting conclusion suggested by Dahl's study is that role plays are not representative of authentic interaction on these measures. However, Dahl emphasized that the way the role plays were elicited implied a number of constraints that might have seriously reduced the generalizability of her study. Moreover, she warned that the circumstances

Natural speech act data versus written questionnaire data

67

of the data collection might have introduced some extraneous factors that could have impaired the validity of the role plays.

This brief review of the literature to date indicates that the debate continues over the reliability and validity of Discourse Completion Test data and that oral role plays, closed or open, do not solve all the problems inherent in the collection of speech act data. We present our study in support, with certain caveats, of the continuation of Discourse Completion Test data collection. We support the continuation of Discourse Completion Test data collection, while in fact, we have reservations about all the methods that have been used to collect data on speech act performance. As we see it, each approach to data collection has strengths and weaknesses. Since there have been concerns about the naturalness of discourse completion data, we offer this chapter as a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the differences between written Discourse Completion Test data and natural spoken data from telephone conversations. In the end, we would like to suggest that naturalness is only one of many criteria for good data and that other approaches featuring natural data have drawbacks of other kinds. Beebe (1992) discusses the strengths and weaknesses of natural data ("ethnographic" and "notebook" data) in a paper on "questionable questions" - expressions which are syntactically yes-no questions but which function as criticisms, topic nominations, complaints, compliment responses, suggestions, etc. Beebe argues that the weaknesses of written questionnaire data have been widely discussed, but that less attention has been paid to the problems that exist with "ethnographic" data. Ethnographic data may be natural, and natural data may be good in that they represent spontaneous natural speech as it really is. But ethno- graphic data and notebook data are often unsystematic. The social characteristics (e. g., age, socioeconomic status, ethnic group) of the in- formants are frequently unreported and often unknown. There are vastly different numbers of informants in each social category. The data are unsystematically collected as well. Most, but not all, examples tend to come from an undefined target population, and the sample population as well, is often undefined. The stated goal of ethnographic research on speech act performance and social rules of speaking is to characterize the sociolinguistic norms of a "speech community" (in the sense of Hymes 1972a; 1972b; e.g., in Wolfson 1983; Daikuhara 1986). However, the family, colleagues, friends, and acquaintances, not to mention the associated strangers,

68

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Martha Clark Cummings

around a researcher are not necessarily a "speech community." In a large urban center, the population tends to be very mobile - geographically and socially - and the circle of friends and colleagues of the researcher will not necessarily share a speech variety. Furthermore, when the researcher's graduate students participate in the data collection (e.g., Manes - Wolfson 1981; Holmes 1988), the target and sample populations can become even more problematic to define. It is circular to argue that a group is a speech community because it shares a linguistic variety, and it shares a linguistic variety because it is a speech community. This concern is voiced in addition to the criticism that the so-called "ethnographic" data, though natural, are not truly ethnographic and that in the field of sociolinguistics, we have only begun to investigate the social rules of speaking in their societal context. In our field, researchers are currently studying spoken data and speculating about the ways they reflect societal values, but we are not really investigating societal values as anthropologists might. To add to these difficulties, there are problems with tape-recording. What can be taped with approval is a biased subset of the natural speech that is spoken. Writing down data in a notebook solves these dilemmas to some extent, but presents accuracy problems. Reconstructed dialog and even memorized or immediately recalled data are more likely to be accurately recorded in terms of pragmatic force than in terms of actual linguistic structure. At best, with training and practice we can memorize the core speech act and perhaps a few supporting expressions. The larger linguistic context must be reconstructed approximately. (See Beebe 1994 for a complete discussion of this data collection method.)

2. Method

2.1. Data collection procedures

In the present study, our purpose was to compare data from written Discourse Completion Tests and telephone conversation data tape- recorded and transcribed with permission from the respondents. Once the data were collected, we counted the number of words used by respon- dents filling out two-turn Discourse Completion Tests and talking on the telephone, then identified the semantic formulas they used according to the categories developed in Beebe, Takahashi, and Uliss-Weltz (1990).

Natural speech act data versus written questionnaire data

69

2.2. Subjects

There were 22 subjects in the sample reported here. Eleven native English-speaking teachers of English as a second language (ESL) in the TESOL Program at Teachers College, Columbia University were approached individually and asked to fill out a single written discourse completion item. Eleven other native English-speaking teachers of English as a second language, all members of New York State TESOL, were called on the telephone and asked the same question. Some of these, it turned out, were also students at Teachers College. All 22 subjects were female and American.

2.3. The request

In both the Discourse Completion Test and the telephone call, the requester asked the ESL teacher if she would be willing to help out at the TESOL '85 convention in New York. On the Discourse Completion Test, the hypothetical request read:

My name is Susan Miller. I'm calling on behalf of Jim Jenkins and the Local

and we're really sort of desperate for volun-

teers to help out on-site at the convention here in New York. I was wondering, if you haven't already volunteered, if you would like to now

Committee for TESOL '85

?

On the telephone, the requester said the same thing, using her own name and the name of Jim Lydon, the Local Committee Chair. If the recipient of the call volunteered (approximately twenty did), Cummings gave their names and phone numbers to the TESOL '85 Local Committee. If the recipient of the call refused, the requester informed her that she had tape- recorded the call for TESOL study and a asked permission to use the data. The requester continued to make telephone calls until 11 refusals were collected. All eleven refusers gave their permission.

3. Results

3.1. Amount of talk

Table 1 indicates the differences in the amount of talk between the written role plays and spoken responses. (See Appendix for classification

70

Leslie M. Beebe -

Martha Clark Cummings

Table 1. Amount of talk in female TESOL '85

native speakers' refusals to volunteer at

Context of Request

Characteristics

Discourse Completion Test (Written) n= 11

Telephone Con-

of Refusals

versation (Oral)

n =11

Total Frequency words sentences semantic formulas semantic repetitions semantic elaborations turns

611

2719

60

229

61

103

1

31

1

19

20

85

Frequency in First Turn words sentences semantic formulas semantic repetitions semantic elaborations

497

386

39

26

42

25

1

3

0

3

Average Frequency per Refusal words sentences semantic formulas semantic repetitions semantic elaborations turns

55.54

247.18

5.45

20.87

5.54

9.36

0.09

2.81

0.09

1.72

1.81

7.72

of refusals). On every measure the total amount of talk on the telephone far exceeded the amount on the questionnaire. There were more than four times as many words spoken, 3.8 times as many sentences spoken, almost twice as many semantic formulas used, and more than four times as many turns taken. A semantic formula, described by Fraser (1980) and cited by Olshtain and Cohen (1983: 20) "consists of a word, phrase or sentence which meets a particular semantic criterion or strategy,

can be used to perform the act in question." Whereas repetitions

and elaborations were extremely infrequent in the written data (one

and

each), they were very common on the telephone (31 repetitions and elaborations).

Natural speech act data versus written questionnaire data

71

One speaker, for instance, began by saying that the only reason she couldn't help out was that she had made other plans. On her next turn she said that the convention was scheduled at a bad time. Finally she indi- cated that the organization might be at fault, scheduling conferences when certain members were celebrating their religious holidays. There were no such elaborations on excuses in the written data. On the Discourse Completion Test, the layout of the written questionnaire encouraged the respondents to imagine a conversation in which they would have only two turns. Therefore, it was necessary to include every- thing of importance they had to say on the imaginary "first turn." Teachers filling out the questionnaire used more words, sentences, and semantic formulas on turn one than did those responding over the telephone. It could be argued that the lower overall amount of talk is a function of the smaller number of turns and that if there were an equal number of turns, there would be more comparable levels of talk. On the other hand, it could be argued that the Discourse Completion Test not only biases the respondent toward packing the whole refusal into the first turn, but also that the written nature of the task, plus the

fact that it is test-like, and the fact that it is imagined, biases respondents toward an answer that summarizes rather than elaborates and that

the

key formulas that are needed to fill the social requirements of the parti- cipants are generally stated at once in the Discourse Completion Test response. There is evidence to suggest that the second analysis is the correct one. Written role plays bias the response toward less negotiation, less hedging, less repetition, less elaboration, less variety and ultimately

responds definitively rather than hedges and

negotiates.

_Thus,

less talk. For one thing, the amount of talk (measured in number of words, sentences, and formulas) sharply fell off in the second turn of the Discourse Completion Test. There were no repetitions. Only one elaboration occurred. And, out of the average of 55.5 words total per refusal, an average of 45.1 of them were used in the first turn. The evidence seems to point toward the testing instrument as a biasing factor. Only one of the eleven Discourse Completion Test respondents used all of the space provided on the questionnaire. This Teachers College student might have been eliminated from the sample since she was a close personal friend of the data collector and knew that the telephone study was being conducted. She was kept in the study because she had not seen or heard the data, nor was she acquainted with the classification of

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Martha Clark Cummings

semantic formulas. Interestingly, however, her response was both the only questionnaire to use up all the space and the only one to use a joke for avoidance. (The requester's second turn reads: "Oh, OK. I understand. Well, thanks anyway. Maybe another time." To which the friend replied:

"Another time? Hmm. When is the next TESOL in New York? Will I have reached retirement?") The friend's response was the only one to request empathy from the hypothetical caller, and it was the only one to repeat the requester's words as an avoidance strategy. Thus, it seems that knowing the data collector and knowing the hypothetical item on the questionnaire was in fact a real question being asked on the telephone by her friend on behalf of the TESOL '85 Committee, the subject made a more realistic response. This leads us to discuss the Discourse Completion Test in terms of what Wolfson (1981; 1985) called her "extremes follow similar pattern" theory or her "bulge theory." Wolfson (1983: 125-126) (using the terms of Brown and Gilman 1960) in her study of invitations, found that "power, on the one hand, or inequality of status, favors direct invitations and disfavors attempts at negotiation or expressions of good intent." She had "no examples at all of ambiguous invitations given to a superior." Her data showed that "solidarity which leads to reciprocity is, indeed, a prerequisite to the initiation of invitation negotiations." She found that another dimension - intimacy - was also important. For example, "in cases where participants are intimates who share the same social status, fear of rejection is minimized, and as a consequence, negotiation is often unnecessary." Finally, it is with "nonintimates of approximately equal social status" - exactly our situation on the telephone - that most negotiation takes place. Wolfson (1983; 1985; 1988) claimed that in- timates and strangers pattern similarly in all of her work on speech acts between native speakers of English. Our field notes on naturally occurring data support Wolfson's hypothesis. Strangers are brief. If they want to say "no," they do so. Intimates are also brief. It is friends and other acquaintances who are most likely to get involved in long negotiations with multiple repetitions, extensive elaborations, and a wide variety of semantic formulas. In the telephone conversations reported here, although the interlocutors were strangers, there was not one "no" refusal. Only one occurred in the questionnaire data for the same request. We would contend they were not strangers in the usual sense, because they shared what Goffman (1967: 109) calls "equal and joint membership in a large organization".

Natural speech act data versus written questionnaire data

73

With regard to our data (see Table 1), we wish to make three claims:

1) The discourse Completion Test as a data collection method disfavors the long negotiated sequences which occur in natural conversation. 2) Common membership in a known social network (such as New York State TESOL) reduces social distance and lends the type of instability to the relationship that acquaintances have. It thereby leads them in natural conversation to negotiate in a long sequence of turns and to talk the way they would in conversation with friends and other acquaintances. 3) If subjects filling out a Discourse Completion Test substitute in their imagination a known interlocutor for the stranger in the test situation (as did the data collector's friend [see pages 71-72]), this will affect the length, tone, and other features of the response.

Tables 2 and 3 lead us to further generalizations about the content and tone of refusals in questionnaire versus telephone conversation data. Analyzing the number of subjects who resorted to each formula (or strategy), we see from Table 2 that the similarities are in many ways more striking than the differences. No one used the performative "I refuse," and this, by the way, mirrors our natural participant observation data where the performative verb, "refuse", is rare. In addition, there was only one instance of a direct "no" in the entire corpus. The adjunct of positive feeling, the expression of regret, the statement of negative ability or willingness, and the excuse were the four formulas that both groups used four or more times. A very brief response using all four of these formulas would be, "I'd really love to help out [adjunct] but I'm sorry [regret] I can't [negative ability] because my family and I are going upstate the week of the convention [excuse]." These formulas seem to fulfill the stereotypical American requirements for politeness and clarity in situa- tions where specificity is needed and one wants to establish or maintain some level of rapport. And, these four categories are the ones that are relatively frequent (used by 1/3 or more of the subjects) for both questionnaire and telephone conversations. Thus, the similarities between natural spoken refusals and written questionnaire refusals are quite strong - strong enough to suggest that Discourse Completion Tests are a good way to discover what semantic formulas are frequently used (or expected) in performance of a speech act. Table 2 also leads us to see differences between questionnaire and natural responses to a request, however. From the complete list of semantic formulas, thirteen were never used by a single subject in writing;

74

Leslie M. Beebe -

Martha Clark Cummings

Table 2.

Number of female native speakers using semantic formulas in refusals to

volunteer at TESOL '85

Context of Request

Semantic Formulas and Strategies for Refusal

Discourse Completion Test (Written) n = 11

Telephone Con-

versations

(Oral)

 

n= 11

Direct performative verb no negative ability/willingness

0

0

1

0

9

8

Indirect

regret

8

4

wish

0

2

excuse/reason

11

9

alternative offer alternative suggest alternative condition for acceptance promise principle philosophy

attempt to dissuade guilt trip criticism request for empathy

avoidance nonverbal avoidance topic switch joke for avoidance repetition of request postponement hedging

0

1

1

2

2

3

1

0

0

2

0

1

0

1

0

3

1

4

0

1

0

0

1

0

1

0

1

2

0

7

Adjuncts to Refusals positive feeling/opinion empathy gratitude self-defense

6

5

0

2

1

0

1

1

Natural speech act data versus written questionnaire data

75

only eight were never used by a subject on the telephone. Thus telephone responses were not only longer, more repetitive, and more elaborated, they were more varied in terms of the number of different formulas and strategies resorted to. Houck and Gass (this volume) similarly found that oral role plays of refusals showed more complex responses than Discourse Completion Test data. Whereas Table 2 gives us the number of subjects who resorted to using a formula, Table 3 indicates the number of times each formula was used by the eleven subjects in both the written role play and the actual telephone conversation settings. Again as in Table 2, the similarities are reassuring for researchers who use Discourse Completion Tests. The frequency counts for all formulas or strategies, with all the subcategories included, were very similar. That is, in only 5 out of 27 formulas, strategies, or even sub- categories was there a difference of three or more tokens. This shows us that in many respects, written questionnaires accurately reflect the content expressed in natural speech. Questionnaires yielded 17 excuses; telephone conversations contained 16. Questionnaires had 12 statements of negative ability/willingness; telephone conversations contained 14. Questionnaires said "I'm sorry" 11 times; telephone responses used it 9 times. The content was in many important ways very similar. We would like to argue that these findings legitimize the use of Discourse Completion Test data for certain purposes in sociolinguistic research. They indicate that native speakers of a language are in fact able to write stereotypical responses that reflect the values of the native culture. They write refusals which contain an almost formulaic core of semantic content that meets the basic social requirements of politeness and clarity. Tannen (1982: 9), in her comparison of recorded spontaneous conversation and transcribed narratives, also found that spoken narrative was more elaborated, giving more background information, and that "the most striking difference is the increased integration or compactness of the written text". Furthermore she found that the spoken versions showed the speaker's attitude, not explicitly but through paralinguistic cues and repetition, whereas the written texts tended to remain uneval- uated and content-focused. This was also true in our data. Speakers tended to repeat the same phrase four or five times, such as "That's the only problem," or "I don't even know if I'll be here" whereas in writing, each idea was stated only once. We are not claiming, however, that Discourse Completion Test data are in any way a substitute for data on natural speech. They are not the same.

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Leslie M. Beebe -

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Table 3. Total frequencya of semantic formulas used by female native speakers in refusals to volunteer at TESOL '85

Context of Request

Semantic Formulas and Strategies for Refusal

Discourse Completion Test (Written) n =11

Telephone Con-

versations (Oral)

 

n =11

Direct performative verb no negative ability/willingness

0

0

1

0

12

14

Indirect

regret

11

9

wish

0

2

excuse/reason

17

16

alternative offer alternative suggest alternative condition for acceptance promise principle philosophy

0

1

1

3

2

3

1

0

0

2

0

1

attempt to dissuade guilt trip criticism request for empathy

avoidance nonverbal avoidance topic switch joke for avoidance repetition of request postponement hedging

Adjuncts to Refusals positive feeling/opinion empathy gratitude self-defense

0

1

0

6

1

6

0

1

0

1

2

0

1

0

2

3

0

15

7

12

0

3

1

0

1

1

a Elaborations and repetitions excluded because there were none in the written data.

Natural speech act data versus written questionnaire data

77

Nor are oral role plays or even spontaneous responses to a preplanned question exactly the same. We must consider the psychological domain in addition to the strictly social or situational setting. It is particularly in the psychological domain where the results of this study show differences between written questionnaire and telephone data. Analysis of Table 3 indicated that although most categories of refusal had very similar frequency counts, there were five categories where the questionnaire group versus tele- phone group displayed a difference in frequency of three to fifteen tokens:

1) Avoidance by hedging (15 telephone/ 0 Discourse Completion Test) Example: "I don't know what you mean by volunteering." 2) Request for empathy (6 telephone/ 1 Discourse Completion Test) Example: "I'm very, very tired. I really, really am. I drink a gallon of orange juice a day, I get so thirsty from saying, 'This is a book! This is a book!'" 3) Expression of empathy (3 telephone/ 1 Discourse Completion Test) Example: "This makes your job twice as hard." 4) Expression of positive feeling (12 telephone/ 7 Discourse Completion Test) Example: "I am a gung-ho proponent of ESL." 5) Criticism (6 telephone/ 0 Discourse Completion Test) Example: "It seems to me we're dealing with so many different cultures but we're really overlooking our own."

The differences are admittedly small (except in the case of hedging), but the findings seem important for other reasons. They reflect the psycho- logical (as opposed to the social or situational) domain. That is, they are closely related to feelings. We would like to claim that the main reason the spoken data are different from the Discourse Completion Test data is that the Discourse Completion Test, a written hypothetical exercise, does not bring out the "psycho-social" dynamics of an interaction between members of a group. The literature on apologies and remedial exchanges (e.g., Goffman 1971; Olshtain 1983; Owen 1983; Olshtain - Blum-Kulka 1985; Tros- borg 1987; House 1988; Olshtain - Cohen 1989; Rintell - Mitchell 1989; Bergman - Kasper 1993) shows us that the refusals we collected from the telephone were also examples of what Goffman (1971: 139) calls "remedial work," "transforming what could be seen as offensive into what can be seen as acceptable". As Goffman (1971: 119) puts it:

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"When the individual provides an account or makes an apology, he becomes needful of the addressee's providing a comment of some kind in return; for only in this way can he be sure that his corrective message has been received and that it has been deemed sufficient to re-establish him as a proper person." Let us look more closely at the categories that were used primarily in the telephone conversations as opposed to the questionnaires. First of all, hedging - a type of verbal avoidance - occurred 15 times on the telephone, but never once on the questionnaire. In our data, hedging appeared to be an avoidance of saying "I don't want to" or "I can't." Seven teachers hedged, most claiming they didn't know where they would be. The expression of empathy occurred six times in the telephone data. As one subject said, "Oh, Martha, I really appreciate your fix! (laughs) I really do!" Then she proceeded to request empathy by saying she was "over her head" in two similar situations. Later she expressed more empathy, "I don't envy your task. I commiserate with you." Colorful language, such as "I really appreciate your fix," is typical of real inter- action. Only one person expressed empathy on the Discourse Completion Test and that was the data collector's close friend. It wasn't seen as neces- sary to express empathy toward a fictional character on paper. However, the more formulaic expressions of positive opinion do occur, particularly compliments about how wonderful other conventions were. These ex- pressions are also more frequent with real interlocutors where the psychological dynamics make the refuser want to re-establish rapport. Although positive feelings seemed appropriate for both questionnaire and real settings, criticism and "guilt tripping" (Example: "You caught me at a bad time. It's Saturday night, you know. I'm trying to get ready to go out.") occurred only in spontaneous telephone responses. Goffman (1967) points out that when remedial work is attempted and no acknow- ledgement seems to be forthcoming, the guilty party has no alternative but to express indignation. One teacher, after insisting three times that her only problem was that she had already made plans to go upstate, decided to let out her real feelings. She argued for approximately six minutes that TESOL had been insensitive in the scheduling of state and national events on Jewish holidays. In one short excerpt from her criticism, she said:

I think it's disgusting. I really do. I mean it's supposed to be this united

It's alienating a whole

part of its constituency. I think that's sad. I really do. I, for one, am turned

organization and it's turning

Whatchamacallit

Natural speech act data versus written questionnaire data

79

off by it myself and I'm not very religious, but I feel for my friends who are, who are constantly being discriminated against. And I'll tell you I think I would be more active myself if it wasn't for the way I'm feeling. I just have this really indifferent feeling now and it's sad.

It is extremely unlikely that a hypothetical situation could evoke such strong emotion as the actual scheduling of TESOL during Passover in

1985.

Finally, we feel that the telephone conversation data may have inadver- tently been biased by us. At the outset of the study we decided to remain neutral by interacting as little as possible with the telephone respondents, giving only the minimal responses of "mm hm," "uh-huh," etc. However, this was not the expected response in a remedial exchange. Owen (1983:

57) found that "if one speaker merely acknowledges that remedial work

has been performed, rather than accepting it, it

ing' further remedial work," which he refers to as "elaborations" or "recyclings." Schegloff (1982: 74), too, points out that if we make the sounds "uh huh" and "mm hm," commonly referred to as "accompaniment signals" or "backchannel actions" which he calls "continuers," the speaker understands that we expect her to go on. Not only that, but "in passing the opportunity to do a fuller turn," we are also "passing the opportunity to do something in particular - the opportunity to do whatever might have been relevantly done at that point" (1982: 87). Tannen's (1982) investigations of different conversational styles further support the notion that by saying "uh-huh" instead of some alter- native, expected response, such as "Oh, that's OK," or "That's all right," or "It's not your fault," we may have inadvertently indicated that we were not satisfied with the remedial work and wanted more - more excuses, more hedging, more elaboration and justification. As Owen (1983: 104) puts it, a pause immediately following an apology or excuse leads the listener to feel "that an acknowledgement or acceptance is being withheld, and the inference may be drawn that the remedial work offered is being rejected." Our telephone respondents, then, may have spoken for an unnaturally long time, or may have used a wider array of excuses than would have been necessary had they received the expected response to their remedial work.

has the effect of 'elicit-

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Leslie M. Beebe -

Martha Clark Cummings

4.

Conclusions

Returning to our original research questions, we asked whether question- naire data were an accurate reflection of spoken data or a useful research method in other respects. In this chapter we argue that Discourse Completion Tests are a highly effective research tool as a means of:

1) Gathering a large amount of data quickly; 2) Creating an initial classification of semantic formulas and strategies .that will likely occur in natural speech; 3) Studying the stereotypical, perceived requirements for a socially appropriate response; 4) Gaining insight into social and psychological factors that are likely to affect speech and performance; and 5) Ascertaining the canonical shape of speech acts in the minds of speakers of that language.

However, they are not intended to give us natural speech and they do not "accurately reflect natural speech or even unselfconscious, elicited speech with respect to:

1) Actual wording used in real interaction; 2) The range of formulas and strategies used (some, like avoidance, tend to be left out); 3) The length of response or the number of turns it takes to fulfill the function; 4) The depth of emotion that in turn qualitatively affects the tone, content, and form of linguistic performance; 5) The number of repetitions and elaborations that occur; 6) The actual rate of occurrence of a speech act - e. g., whether or not someone would refuse at all in a given situation.

Thus, we support the continued use of Discourse Completion Tests, while acknowledging their many weaknesses. They do not give us natural speech, nor do they claim to do so. To date, however, many studies of natural speech have not given us scientifically collected speech samples that represent the speech of any identifiable group of speakers. They do not give us situational control, despite the fact that situation is known to be one of the most influential variables in speech act performance. Discourse Completion Test data do not have the repetitions, the number of turns, the length of responses, the emotional depth, or other features of natural speech, but they do seem to give us a good idea of the stereo-

Natural speech act data versus written questionnaire data

81

typical shape of the speech act - at least in this case of refusals. Since the data from speech act studies are generally used by teachers and researchers in TESOL and, more generally, cross-cultural communica- tion, we believe that native speaker perceptions of what constitutes an appropriate refusal, apology, or request is valuable information. We did not discover a single semantic formula to amplify the classification of semantic formulas as a result of collecting natural data. All the semantic formulas had been found in earlier questionnaire data, though not all were found in the questionnaire data for this study. In the end, we advocate the comparison of data collected by different data collection procedures, and we urge researchers of interlanguage and native speaker pragmatics to gather data through multiple approaches since each approach has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Appendix

Classification of refusals

I.

Direct

A.

Performative (e.g., "I refuse")

B.

Non-performative statement 1. "No"

2.

Negative willingness/ability ("I can't." "I won't." "I don't think so.")

II.

Indirect

A.

Statement of regret (e. g., "I'm sorry "; "I feel terrible

")

B.

Wish (e.g., "I wish I could help you ")

C. Excuse, reason, explanation (e.g., "My children will be home that night."; "I

have a headache

")

D. Statement of alternative

1. I can do X instead of Y (e.g., "I'd rather

" "I'd prefer

")

2. Why don't you do X instead of Y (e.g., "Why don't you ask someone else?")

E. Set condition for future or past acceptance (e. g., "If you had asked me earlier, I

would have

")

F. Promise of future acceptance (e.g., "I'll do it next time"; "I promise I'll

"Next time I'll

" -using "will" of promise or "promise")

" or

G. Statement of principle (e.g., "I never do business with friends.")

H. Statement of philosophy (e.g., "One can't be too careful.")

I. Attempt to dissuade interlocutor

1. threat or statement of negative consequences to the requester (e. g., "I won't be any fun tonight" to refuse an invitation)

2. guilt trip (e.g., waitress to customers who want to sit a while -"I can't make a living off people who just order coffee.")

82

Leslie M. Beebe -

Martha Clark Cummings

4. request for help, empathy, and assistance by dropping or holding the request

5. let interlocutor off the hook (e. g., "Don't worry about it." "That's okay." "You don't have to.")

6. self defense (e.g., "I'm trying my best." "I'm doing all 1 can do. " "1 no do nutting wrong."

J. Acceptance which functions as a refusal

1. unspecific or indefinite reply

2. lack of enthusiasm

K. Avoidance

1. nonverbal

a. silence

b. hesitation

c. do nothing

d. physical departure

2. verbal

a.

topic switch

b.

joke

. c.

repetition of part of request, etc. ("Monday?")

d.

postponement (e.g., "I'll think about it.")

e.

hedging (e.g., "Gee, 1 don't know." "I'm not sure.")

Adjuncts to refusals

1.

Statement of positive opinion/feeling or agreement ("That's a good idea

"; "I'd

love to

")

2.

Statement of empathy (e. g., "I realize you are in a difficult situation.")

 

,3.

Pause fillers (e.g., "uhh"; "well"; "oh"; "uhm")

Note: This appendix was originally Appendix C in Beebe, L. M., T. Takahashi and

R.

Uliss-Weltz, 1990. "Pragmatic transfer in ESL refusals". In Scarcella, R. C.,

E.

Andersen, and S. C. Krashen (eds.), Developing Communicative Competence in

a Second Language.

Rowley, MA:

Newbury House Publishers, Inc.

Notes

* The authors gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Frances Williams, a student at Teachers College Columbia University, who helped us with the tabulation of the data, and Ximena Waissbluth, a student at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and Naomi Fujita, a student at Teachers Columbia University, who helped us with the preparation of the final draft of the manuscript. We also thank Heinle and Heinle for their permission to use the classification of semantic formulas first published as Appendix C in Beebe, L.M., T. Takahashi, and R. Uliss-Weltz, 1990, "Pragmatic transfer in ESL refu- sals", in Scarcella, R. C., E. Andersen and S. C. Krashen, (eds.), Developing Communicative Competence in a Second Language. Finally, we thank Tomoko Takahashi and Robin Uliss-Weltz who contributed to the development of a system of classification of semantic formulas for refusals.

Natural speech act data versus written questionnaire data

83

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