This paper provides an analysis concerned with a cross-cultural investigation of speech act realization patterns. The purpose of the paper is to discuss a conversation about apologies in cross-communication, and based on that, to analyze the aspects of apology speech act in each of languages within the study. Accordingly, the organization of this paper will be structured into three main parts. The first part will identify and discuss the relevant literature review, and the second part aims to analyze the data selected in the conversation. The final part will illustrate the procedures for analysis giving discussion from the data in some of the languages studied. Last but not least, a conclusion is also offered for the suggestions for further research and teaching implications.
I. LITERATURE REVIEW
1.1 Apology Speech Act
Speech Act Theory aims to explain language exchange in terms of the effects on listeners and speakers. Kasanga et.al (2007) suggested speech act theory by claiming that constatives and performatives are the two main acts of speech. Constatives are statements that can be judged in terms of truth. Constatives in that sense are statements that do not cause actions. On the other hand, performatives are statements that can be evaluated in terms of felicity, or in terms of their actions. Olshtain (1991) had a systematic approach and classified speech acts under five main categories:
• Assertive – Expressing a belief, committing the speaker to truth of what is asserted directives, commisives, expressives, and declarations.
• Directives – Expressing a wish, making an attempt to get to hearer to do something.
• Commisives – Expressing an intention, commitment for the speaker to engage in a future action
• Expressives – Expressing a variety of psychological states.
• Declarations – Bring about a change via words.
Under the category of expressives, apology speech acts hold an important place in human communication as a face saving act of speech. Cohen & Olshtain (1983) explains apologies as a speech act occurring between two participants in which one of the participants expects or perceives oneself deserving a compensation or explanation because of an offense committed by the other. In that situation, one participant has a choice to apologize or deny the responsibility or the severity of the action. Thus, an apology in that sense plays a role as a politeness strategy. Apology speech strategies are classified by the seminal work of Cohen & Olshtain (1983), which has been mainly used by other researchers as formulaic expressions which are also can be referred as direct apologies, or indirect apologies which include an explanation or account, acknowledgement of responsibility, offer of repair, promise of forbearance.
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• Direct apologies
According to Cohen & Olshtain (1983), an expression of apology mostly includes explicit illocutionary force indicating devices (IFID), which are utterances or formulaic expressions which convey the meaning of apology or regret. These formulaic expressions include performatives verbs such as “be sorry,” “apologize,” or “excuse.” Since this type of apology includes direct utterances of regret and apology, they are considered to be direct apologies.
• Indirect apologies
Apologies do not always include a per formative verb or an IFID. A variety of verbs or statements can be used to convey the meaning of a speech act. In the case of apologies, indirect apologies can be provided in different manners. Cohen & Olshtain (1983) categorized the indirect apologies in the following ways: providing an explanation, an acknowledgement of responsibility, an offer of repair, a promise of forbearance.
1.2 Apology strategy types
The linguistic realization of the act of apologizing can take one of two basic forms, or a combination of both:
The most direct realization of an apology is done via an explicit illocutionary force indicating device (IFID), which selects a routinized, formulaic expression of regret (a performative verb) such as: (be) sorry; apologize, regret; excuse, etc. The IFID fulfills the function of signaling regret (on the S’s part) for X (the violation), and thus is intended to placate the H. Our earlier work on apologies (Olshtain and Cohen, in press; and Olshtain and Blum-Kulka, 1983) seems to indicate that for each language there is a scale of conventionality-of IFID realizations. Thus, in English, the most common form is (be) sorry, while in Hebrew the word slixa, which means literally forgiveness is the most conventional realization of an apology.
Another way in which one can perform an apology (with or without an IFID) is to use an utterance which contains reference to one or more elements from a closed set of specified propositions. The semantic content of these propositions relates to the preconditions (mentioned earlier) which must hold true for the apology act to take place. Thus, an utterance which relates to: (a) the cause for X; (b) S’s responsibility for X; (c) S’s willingness to offer repairs for X or promise forbearance (that X will never happen again) can serve as an apology.
1.3 Apologies strategies in different languages
Mostly based on the universal apology strategies and classifications researchers have been conducting, previous research studies have tried to identify the differences in apology strategies in many languages (Bataineh & Bataineh, 2008; Chamani & Zareipur, 2010; Kasanga & Lwanga-Lumu, 2007). Bataineh & Bataineh (2008) analyzed apology strategies used by American English speakers and Jordanian Arabic speakers. Data from the study revealed that there are differences such as, Jordanian speakers are more manifesting than American speakers, which means that Jordanian Arabic speakers used a combination of many strategies at the same time. Chamani & Zareipur (2010) investigated the differences in apology strategies between British English and Persian by analyzing data collected from naturally reoccurring situations from two different corpora. Results suggested that British speakers used only one IFID in many situations while Persians used an explicit apology accompanying other strategies. Both of the studies show that there are differences in the two languages compared to English in terms of manifestation of apologies. As all the research reports, there have been differences in apology strategies used in different languages. It can be inferred from the fact that languages differ in apology strategies in language learning that teachers should be aware of the differences to be able to ignore miscommunication caused by pragmatic competence. Besides, individuals within the same society might differ in their apology speech act depending on personal variables such as sex, age, or level of education (Shardakova, 2005). In order to investigate the nature of variability on each of these dimensions, and in order to be able to determine their relative role as compared to each other, we need to study apology speech act in cross-culturally comparable ways, across similar situations, preferably involving different types of individuals.
II. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS
2.1 Data collection
In order to ensure cross-cultural comparability, it was decided to obtain the data by the use of a controlled elicitation procedure. The instrument used is a discourse completion test, originally developed for comparing apology speech act of native speakers and learners (Blum-Kulka, 1982). The test consists of incomplete discourse sequences that represent socially differentiated situations. Informants are asked to complete the dialogue, thereby providing the speech act aimed at in the given context.
The conversation selected in this study aims to investigate apology strategies in Turkish and English. The participants will be required to provide apologies as closest respond as possible to their natural spoken respond to the scenario. In this case, the situation occurs at the professor’s office with the conversation between a student and her teacher. The teacher promised to return a student’s essay today but he hasn’t finished reading it. The student showed up and asked for the essay.
Miriam: Teacher, I hope you will return my essay in few days.
Miriam: Thank you very much.
2.2 Data analysis
The data analysis of the current study is based on the classification of apologies suggested by Cohen et al. (1983). The raw data were analyzed and classified according to the semantic formulas included in the each response. The classifications are as follows:
Five apology strategies:
• Direct apology (IFIDs): “sorry,” “excuse,” “forgive,” etc.
• Explanation: nonspecific (There has been a lot going on in my life), and specific (I could not catch the bus.)
• Responsibility: implicit (I was sure I did it right.), lack of intent (I did not mean to.), self-deficiency (How could I be so blind.), and self-blame (It is my fault.)
• Repair: unspecified (How can I fix that?), and specified (Let me buy a new computer for you.)
• Promise of forbearance: such as, “It won’t happen again.”
Combination or absence of apology strategies:
• Combination of the strategies
• Absence of the strategies
Modification of apology strategies:
• Intensity of apology: “really,” “very,” “terribly,” etc.
• Minimizing responsibility: “I told you not to do that.”
• Denial of responsibility: denial of fault (It is not my fault.), and blaming the
• Hearer (It is your fault.)
• Emotionals: interjection (Oh, ooops), invocation (God!), or curse (Damn)
• Minimizing the offense: (No harm done.).
• Comments: about self, about others, and about the situation.
III. FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION
In the above situation, there is a high-low power relationship between the communicators. The person who is apologizing is the professor so the higher power in the situation is the offender. In Turkish culture, power relationships are considered very strict, such that it might be considered in this situation that the professor does not need to offer an explicit apology for the offense. In American culture where the power relationship is more flexible, the apologies can differ. The offense can be considered as not severe. The most preferred expressive for IFIDs by the American participants was “Sorry,” or “I am sorry,” whereas Turkish monolinguals used, “Kusura bakma” which means “excuse me” as an expressive. The choice of explanation is very different: NSE participants preferred specific explanations such as “my wife was sick” or “I had to give grades on exams,” while Turkish participants preferred non-specific explanations for the offense by mostly stating that they were busy
According to the findings so it can be inferred that American-English speakers preferred direct apologies more than Turkish speakers, also Americans seemed more eager to offer a repair for the offense than Turkish. Also, in the detailed analysis it was found that both of the groups preferred combinations of strategies. Both groups mostly employed the combination of IFID and usage of offering a repair or IFID and usage of explanation. Turkish participants preferred usage of explanation and IFID while Americas used IFID and usage of explanation. It might be because in Turkish the main meaning is generally provided at the end of a sentence or a paragraph.
The current study aims to bring light to the differences of Turkish language and American English in order to provide a better chance to instruct students and help them improve their pragmatic skills. The current study specifically investigates how apologies differ in Turkish and American English, and also how English learners in Turkey use apologies in English. The significance of the study is to create a comparison between Turkish and English apologies so that the pragmatic norms of each language can be identified and compared. Second, it is important to understand if learners of English in Turkey use American English apology strategies because misuse of pragmatic norms might cause communication problems. Given the importance of English as a lingua franca and the fact that it is the prominent foreign language taught in Turkey, it is crucial to identify the differences in pragmatics of these two languages to be able to reach better language instruction.
Bataineh, F. R. & Bataineh, F. R. (2008). A cross-cultural comparison of apologies by native speakers of American English and Jordanian Arabic. Journal of Pragmatics, 40,792-821.
Blum-Kulka, S. & Olshtain, E. (1984). Request and apologies: A cross-cultural study of speech act realization patterns (CCSARP). Applied Linguistics, 3, 196-213.
Chamani, F. & Zareipur, P. (2010) A cross cultural study of apologies in British English and Persian. Concentric: Studies in Linguistics, 36, 133-153.
Cohen, A. & Olshtain, E. (1983). Apology: A speech act set. In Wolfson & E. Judd (Eds.), Sociolinguistics and Language Acquisition (18-35). Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
Cohen, A. & Shively, L. R. (2007). Acquisition of requests and apologies in Spanish and French: Impact of study abroad and strategy-building intervention. The Modern Language Journal, 91, 190-212.
Cohen A. D. (1996a). Speech Acts. In S. L. McKay & N. H. Hornberger (Ed.), Sociolinguistics and Language Teaching pp. (383-400). Hillside, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Kasanga, L. A. & Lwanga-Lumu, J. (2007). Cross-cultural linguistic realization of politeness: A study of apologies in English and Setswana. Journal of Politeness Research, 3, 65-92.
Olshtain, E. (1991). Apologies across languages. Papers in Applied Linguistics, 20-30.
Shardakova, M. (2005). Intercultural pragmatics in the speech of American L2 learners of Russian: Apologies offered by Americans in Russian. Intercultural Pragmatics, 2, 423-451
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