Refusals of Requests and Offers in Iraqi Arabic And British English

  • Mohammed Jasim

Student thesis: Phd


This study investigates refusals of requests and offers utilised by speakers of Iraqi Arabic and British English, as well as by Iraqi learners of English. It aims to identify the strategies of refusal employed by these three groups of speakers, as well as any differences between them. 60 subjects participated in this study. 20 Iraqi Arabic Speakers (IAs), 20 Iraqi Learners of English (ILEs), and 20 British English Speakers (BEs). The elicitation method adopted for the data collection consisted of a discourse completion test (DCT) and a series of open-ended role plays. In both cases, the scenarios employed varied systematically along the following parameters: social status, social distance, rank of imposition and gender.The data obtained by both methods were categorised into a number of strategies. An attempt was made to provide a comprehensive description of the nature of refusal strategies used by the subjects. The strategies identified were categorised following the Beebe et al (1990) scheme of refusals. In addition, they were classified according to the (im)politeness superstrategies posited by Brown and Levinson (1987) and Culpeper (1996). The results indicate that the choice of refusal strategies reflects characteristics of Iraqi versus British English culture. These results are as follows: 1. Although both groups of subjects displayed sensitivity to the social factors referred to above, the relative influence of each factor differed from one group to another. Thus, Iraqi Arabic Speakers (IAs) and Iraqi Learners of English (ILEs) varied their refusal strategies mainly according to status and distance, while British English Speakers (BEs) did so mainly according to status and gender. Besides, the responses of the three groups were influenced by the degree of imposition.2. The application of refusals employed by the three groups differed according to the eliciting method, namely, the DCT and the Role-Play. Consequently, various refusal strategies collected via the Role Play did not appear in the data collected by the DCT and vice versa. 3. Certain strategies employed by Iraqi speakers of Arabic were nonexistent in the data of British English speakers and vice versa. 4. The study of the interlanguage of Iraqi learners of English as a foreign language also confirmed the hypothesis that there is evidence for pragmatic transfer in the order, the frequency and the content of semantic formulae used.
Date of Award1 Aug 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMaj-Britt Mosegaard Hansen (Supervisor) & Yaron Matras (Supervisor)


  • Refusals, Requests, Offers, (im)politeness, Cross Cultural Pragmatics

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