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Title:Achieving cross-cultural equivalence in a study of American and Taiwanese requests
Author(s):Huang, Mei-Chen
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):McClure, Erica F.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Language, Linguistics
Speech Communication
Abstract:This study is an effort to develop a cross-culturally comparable elicitation instrument both to investigate similarities and differences in the realization patterns of request speech acts between native speakers of Taiwanese Mandarin and American English, and to examine the claim of universality in Brown and Levinson's (1987) politeness theory.
In the study, the development of a cross-culturally comparable written questionnaire involved several stages. The process took into consideration the potential difference between the investigator and the subjects, and between or among different cultural groups in their perception of social variables (social power, social distance and imposition of the act) in the contexts to which the subjects were asked to respond. This written questionnaire was further used to elicit request responses from 160 native speakers of American English and of Taiwanese Mandarin.
The findings indicated that although members of both cultures share a similar repertoire of linguistic strategies for making requests, they applied specific linguistic devices according to their individual cultural values and unique linguistic systems. In regard to request strategy types, Taiwanese Mandarin speakers were more direct and used significantly more alerters and supportive moves in comparison to American English speakers. The results also showed that Brown and Levinson's claims regarding universality of politeness are not completely warranted. The correlation between face-threat and choice of politeness strategies is not nearly as high as predicted, and the three social variables which Brown and Levinson argued can subsume all others in determining politeness were not found to be valid. In addition to these three social factors, other types of communication variables such as linguistic conventions, cultural attitudes, and social norms intervene in determining the relative politeness in social interaction.
Issue Date:1996
Rights Information:Copyright 1996 Huang, Mei-Chen
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9712316
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9712316

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