The pragmatics of refusing a request in Italian and American English: A comparative study Cover Image

The pragmatics of refusing a request in Italian and American English: A comparative study
The pragmatics of refusing a request in Italian and American English: A comparative study

Author(s): Massimo Verzella, Laura Tommaso
Subject(s): Pragmatics
Published by: Masarykova univerzita
Keywords: cross-cultural pragmatics; politeness; refusing; guided conversation; American English; Italian

Summary/Abstract: This study falls in the area of cross-cultural pragmatics because it compares how speakers of American English and speakers of Italian refuse a request. We used a guided conversation protocol to elicit refusals to a request. The results show marked differences between the two groups. Speakers of American English tend to rely on Positive face strategies (praise, encouragement) to mitigate their refusals. In contrast, speakers of Italian tend to use Negative face strategies: lengthy explanations combined with apologies. Both groups used avoidance strategies, but speakers of American English were less likely to offer detailed explanations that require the disclosure of personal information. These findings show that pragmatic strategies to perform speech acts might vary significantly even when we compare groups from two different Western countries.

  • Issue Year: 13/2020
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 92-112
  • Page Count: 21
  • Language: English, Italian