settings to help develop learners’ pragmatic ability.
2.5 Cross-cultural pragmatics
Researchers within cross-cultural pragmatics believe that the culture we live in influences our everyday life and world knowledge. Moreover, they claim that culture has an effect on the way we speak and use speech acts, implicates or politeness conventions. In fact, according to Yule (1996) from the basic experiences and life knowledge we have, we create a cultural schema which helps us make sense of the world. Every culture creates different cultural formworks and this leads to cross-cultural variation. Varying cultural schemata can indeed cause difficulties and misunderstandings when visiting foreign countries, since cultural schemata vary from culture to culture, it is common that foreign people seem to behave and speak differently from what the visitor is used to in the home country. Cross-cultural pragmatics is “the study of differences in expectations based on cultural schemata” (Yule 1996). Cross-cultural pragmatics examines how speakers from different cultures construct meaning. It studies different cultural ways of speaking or pragmatic accents (Yule, 1996). Research within this field suggests that in cross-cultural communication, it is important to understand and pay attention to the pragmatic accents of others.
2.6 Factors Influencing L2 Learners, pragmatic Acquisition
The acquisition of pragmatic competence by L2 learners is significantly influenced by linguistic competence, length of residence in a target country, exposure to authentic input, and pragmatic awareness (Hicks, 1992; Harlig, 1999; Kasper & Rose, 2002; Rasekh, 2005). This section will provide brief review of existing literature concerning these factors.
2.6.1 Linguistic competence
Linguistic competence of a target language has received great attention as a factor affecting pragmatic competence. It has been extensively studied to prove whether learners with high language proficiency will possess relatively high level of pragmatic competence. Examples of this studies include Hoffman and Hicks (1992), Bardovi and Harlig (1999), and Li (2007).
Hoffman and Hicks (1992), for example, examined the relationship between linguistic and pragmatic competence. Three tests (a standardized multiple-choice test of French, a role-play question, and a discourse completion test) were employed in the study. The results from the study showed that linguistic competence was essential for pragmatic development. It was a means that allowed the learners to express their pragmatic knowledge. Hoffman and Hicks also posited that linguistic competence does not guarantee pragmatic competence. In other words, the level of linguistic competence needed for adequate communication in given language use situations does not necessarily assure learners of social cultural appropriateness in the contexts. In reviewing previous research , Brasov and Harlig (1999) found that in comparison to low language proficiency learners , high proficient learners seemed to possess higher level of pragmatic competence (e.g. Scarcella, (1979); Blum & Kulka, and Olshtain, (1986). However, these studies showed that even advanced learners did not mastered some basic pragmatics. In some pragmatic aspects, they still performed differently from native speakers.
Further, Li (2007) carried out a study to investigate the relationship between the learners, linguistic proficiency and pragmatic ability. Forty two non- English major students at Beijing University were the participants. A Chinese English test of the year (2004) was used to test the participants, linguistic competence while the tests made by the researcher (multiple choice discourse completion test and true or false test) were used to examine their pragmatic competence. The second. The finding showed a positive relationship between the two kinds of competence, but at very weak level. Therefore, Li (2007) concluded that linguistic competence was necessary but not sufficient for pragmatic development.
In conclusion, previous studies have proven that linguistic competence is a necessary tool for pragmatic acquisition. However, it does not guarantee the high level of pragmatic ability.
2.6.2 Length of Residence in a target Country
In addition to linguistic competence, the length of residence in a target Country is admitted beneficial to L2 learners’ pragmatic development. Harlig (1999) posits that the length of residence in a target country has a great influence on the acquisition of pragmatic competence. Kulaka and Olshtain (1985, cited in Harlig, 1999) find out from their study that an acceptance of direct request strategies by nonnative speaker of Hebrew increase as their length of stay increases.
Sasaki and Beamer (2002) compared the transfer of learners’ perceptions of refusal speech act from their first language to their length of residence in the target language environment. Data were collected from three different groups with a total of 16 Japanese native speakers living in Japan, 32 Japanese learner of English living in USA, and 17 American English native speakers. The data obtained from Japanese EFL learners were then compared to those from Japanese living in Japan and from Americans to investigate the L1 effect. This study provided evidence for the pragmatic transfer of refusal strategies with respect to length of residence in a target language environment, which indicates that length of residence does mitigate negative transfer of refusal strategies among Japanese learners of English.
2.7 Speech acts
One of the key areas of pragmatics is speech acts which refer to the acts a speaker performs when making utterances (Levinson, 1983). The concept of speech act theory first appeared in the work of Austin (1962). According to Austin, utterances are made to perform three kinds of acts: locutionary, illocutionary, and perlocutionary. The locutionary act is an act when something is said. The illocutionary is an act of doing something by using the locutionary act performed by the speaker, and the perlocutionary act is a subsequent effect on the hearer’s action that the speaker makes by saying something. Among these, the illocutionary act is regarded as the central component of language function because it is the action actually performed by the speaker to convey his/her purpose (Austin, 1962). Considering its importance, Searle (1969) argued that the illocutionary act is the basic linguistic communication unit.
Searle divided the illocutionary act into five major classes: 1) Representatives, which commit the speaker to assert something to be true by using verbs as ‘suggest’ , ‘report’ ,’believe’ , and ‘conclude’, 2) Directives, which try to make the hearer perform an action by employing verbs as ‘order’ , ‘request’, ‘invite’, and ‘beg’, 3) Commissives, which commit the speaker to doing something in the future with different verbs as ‘promise’, ‘plan’, ‘vow’, and ‘oppose’, 4 ) Expressives , which express how the speaker feels about the situation. The verbs used are such as ‘thank’, ‘apologize’, ‘welcome”, ‘deplore’, and 5) Declarations, which change the state of the word in an immediate way by making an utterance like “I name this baby Sofia.”
All languages have similar sets of speech acts but the relations and contexts of these acts differ between cultures. For example, some speech acts are more common than others, some are used in particular situations and similarly, some may be only used by a certain speech group. On the one hand, speaker has the choice to use whatever from they want but on the other hand, these choices are based on social conventions (Kasper & Rose 2002). In other to use different aspects of pragmatics such as speech acts appropriately in the target language, L2 learners need to process knowledge of these different social conventions. Learner’s knowledge and ability to use speech acts have gained interest among various researchers. In fact there is more L2 pragmatics research on speech acts than on any other aspect of pragmatics (Kasper & Rose, 2002). Research suggests, for instance, that L2 learners have a tendency to use more direct speech acts than native speakers (Kasper & Rose 2002).
2.8 On heretical frameworks related to L2 pragmatic development
The noticing hypothesis, the output hypothesis, the interaction hypothesis, and sociocultural theory are the frameworks relevant to L2 pragmatic development. Schmidt’s (1990) Noticing Hypothesis argues that pragmatic knowledge can be achieved by conscious processing. Schmidt differentiates between understanding and noticing: the concept of noticing refers to linguistic material stored in memory, presupposing allocation of attention to some stimulus, while the concept of understanding involves recognition of rules, principles and patterns. Understanding is the process in which linguistic material is organized into a linguistic system. In this context, Schmidt argues that, in the case of the learning of pragmatics in a second language, noticing is necessary whereas understanding is helpful.
Swain’s Output Hypothesis (1985) suggests that output practice can facilitate acquisition if it allows for cognitive processes such as noticing, hypothesis testing, syntactic processing and metalinguistic reflection. Swain states that learners’ output plays three roles in acquisition. The first role leads to more noticing. The second permits the learners to engage in hypothesis testing so that if the hypothesis works, they will continue using it. Finally, output allows the use of metatalk that is
settings to help develop learners’ pragmatic ability.