Iranian EFL Learners’ Awareness of (Im)politeness Strategies in English

Document Type : Research Article


Yazd University


The present study examined the different levels of (im)politeness strategies in expressing request, apology, and refusal speech acts across intermediate and advanced Iranian EFL learners to identify their attitudinal ratings of their produced structures in terms of pragmatic success and (im)politeness mannerism. A discourse completion test including 2 Likert scales on attitudinal appropriateness and an(im)politeness mannerism test for every item was distributed among 110 participants (10 native and 100 nonnative English speakers), engaging them in addressing the speech acts to interlocutors of lower, equal, and higher social statuses with intimate or strange distance. Results indicated that despite having a high command of English, the learners showed deficiencies in the use of (im)politenessstrategies that may call for the inclusion of such strategies in EFL instruction programs.


Ahmadi, M., Kargar, A. A., & Rostampour, M. (2014). Investigating the role of gender, proficiency level and L1 on Iranian EFL learners’ production of suggestion speech act. International Journal of Language Learning and Applied Linguistics World, 6(3), 163-180.
Allami, H. (2012). A sociopragmatic study of offer speech act in Persian. RALs, 3(1), 110-129.
Allami, H., & Naeimi, A. (2010). A cross-linguistic study of refusals: An analysis of pragmatic competence development in Iranian EFL learners. Journal of Pragmatics, 43(1), 385-406.
Bachman, L. F. (1990). Fundamental considerations in language testing. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bardovi-Harling, K. (2001). Evaluating the empirical evidence: Grounds for instruction in pragmatics? In K. Rose & G. Kasper (Eds.), Pragmatics in language teaching (pp. 13-32). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Beebe, L., Takahashi, T., & Uliss-Weltz, R. (1990). Pragmatic transfer in ESL refusals. In R. Scarcella, E. Anderson, & S. Krashen (Eds.), Developing communication competence in a second language (pp. 55-73). New York: Newbury House.
Blum-Kulka, S., & Olshtain, E. (1984). Requests and apologies: A cross-cultural study of speech act realization patterns (CCSARP). Applied Linguistics, 5(3), 196-213.
Blum-Kulka, S., House, J., & Kasper, G. (1989). Cross-cultural pragmatics: Requests and apologies. Norwood: Ablex Publications.
Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C. (1987). Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Buchbinder, M., Wilbur, R., McLean, S., & Sleath, B. (2015). “Is there any way I can get something for my pain?” Patient strategies for requesting analgesics. Patient Education and Counseling, 98(2), 137-143.
Culpeper, J. (2005). Impoliteness and entertainment in the television quiz show: The weakest Link. Journal of Politeness Research: Language, Behavior, Culture, 1(1), 35-72.
Culpeper, J., Bousfield, D., & Wichmann, A. (2003). Impoliteness revisited: With special reference to dynamic and prosodic aspects. Journal of Pragmatics, 35(10), 1545-1579.
Eelen, G. (2001). A critique of politeness theories. Manchester: St. Jermone Publishing.
Eslami-Rasekh, A., & Mardani, M. (2010). Investigating the effects of teaching apology speech act, with a focus on intensifying strategies, on pragmatic development of EFL learners: The Iranian context. The International Journal of Language Society and Culture, 30(1), 96-103.
Isurin, L., Furman, M., & White, K. (2015). Talking to a stranger: Linguistic and nonlinguistic behavior of Russian immigrants during 2010 US Census. Language and Communication, 40, 38-51.
Jalilifar, A. (2009). Request strategies: Cross-sectional study of Iranian EFL learners and Australian native speakers. English Language Teaching, 2(1), 46-61.
Kádár, D. Z., & Haugh, M. (2015). Understanding politeness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kasper, G. (1992). Pragmatic transfer. Second Language Research, 8(3), 203-231.
Kasper, G. (2000). Data collection in pragmatics research. In H. Spencer-Oatey (Ed.), Culturally speaking (pp. 316- 341). London and New York: Continuum.
Kuhi, D., & Jadidi, M. (2012). A study of Iranian EFL learners’ understanding and production of politeness in three speech acts: Request, refusal, and apology. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 2(12), 2624-2633.
Lakoff, R. T. (1973). The logic of politeness or minding your p’s and q’s. Chicago Linguistics Society, 9, 292-305.
Leech, G. N. (1983). Principles of pragmatics: New York: Longman.
Mills, S. (2003). Gender and politeness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Salmani-Nodoushan, M. A. S., & Allami, H. (2011). Supportive discourse moves in Persian requests. International Journal of Language Studies (IJLS), 5(2), 205-234.
Spencer-Oatey, H. (2005). (Im) politeness, face, and perceptions of rapport: unpackaging their bases and interrelationships. Journal of Politeness Research: Language, Behavior, Culture, 1(1), 95-119.
Spencer-Oatey, H. (2008). Culturally speaking: Managing rapport through talk across cultures. London and New York: Continuum.
Taguchi, N. (2015). Contextually speaking: A survey of pragmatic learning abroad, in class, and online. System, 48, 3-20.
Tajeddin, Z., & Pirhoseinloo, M. (2012). Production of apologies in English: Variation by L2 proficiency and apology situations. Journal of Teaching English Language, 6(2), 129-160.
Thomas, J. (1983). Cross-cultural pragmatic failure. Applied Linguistic, 4,91-112.
Watts, R. J. (2003). Politeness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.