Studying Apologies: A Comparison of DCT and Role-play Data

by Tsai, I-ting

Abstract (Summary)
The validity of the speech act data obtained from different types of elicitation instruments has been widely debated in the Interlanguage Pragmatics literature. This study compared the use of apology strategies and modality markers from apology speech act data collected from two most popular speech act elicitation tasks, namely, Discourse Completion Task (DCT) and role plays. Sixty native speakers of Chinese (NS-C) and sixty EFL learners responded to DCT. Twenty four NS-C and forty EFL learners participated in role plays. Results show that subjects tended to use Direct Expression of Apology, Acknowledge Responsibility and Offer of Repairs as their main strategies in apology situations both on DCT and in role plays. In addition, participants tended to exploit MAXIMIZERs more than MINIMIZERs in both methods. However, differences between two approaches were revealed when frequencies and distributions of apology strategies and modality markers were examined. Role plays elicited overall more apology strategies and modality markers than DCT did. Participants were also found to employ a narrower range of strategies and modality markers on DCT. Because of the feeling of insecurity in face-to-face encounters (Rintell and Mitchell, 1989), EFL-L exhibited more ¡¥play-it-safe¡¦ strategies (Faerch and Kasper, 1989; Trosborg, 1987) by giving more direct apologies, and exploiting more MAXIMIZERs than MINIMIZERs across four situations. When dividing NS-C into two separate groups: English majors (NS-C-EM) and non-English (NS-C-NEM), some in-group differences were revealed. For instance, in role-play data, the preference order for apology strategy choice was different between NS-C-EM and NS-C-NEM. Also, NS-C-EM tended to exploit overall more Chinese particles, a, ba, and ne, than their NS-C-NEM counterparts. The finding suggests that it is necessary to divide NS-C into different groups based on their educational background such as English majors and non-English majors. The present study also pointed out that traditional categorization of apology internal modification which was based on the language system of English may fail to fully capture Chinese apology behaviors. Chinese modal particles which have no English equivalent (Tang and Tang, 1997) have been ignored in the categorization of apology internal modifications in the literature. Thus, a modified coding system which included Chinese particles, namely, ¡§A¡¨ (°Ú), ¡§BA¡¨ (§a), and ¡§NE¡¨ (©O), was proposed based on traditional categorization of apology internal modification developed in the previous studies (Blum-Kulka & Kasper, 1989; Lin and Ho, 2006; Trosborg, 1995). The result indicates that while the previous study (Lin and Ho, 2006) on apology internal modification which excluded Chinese particles has revealed that NS-C exploited less modality markers than their native speakers of English (NS-E) counterparts, the result in the present showed an opposite pattern in that by tagging Chinese particles at the end of the utterances, NS-C were found to modulate their tone more often than NS-E. This might imply the importance of the Chinese particles for NS-C in conveying attitude. Finally, in order to increase the validity of data elicitation methods, further studies addressed to the methodological issue should include the analysis of the responses obtained from naturally occurring data and examine whether both data obtained from DCT and role plays are representative of ¡¥natural speech¡¦ . Also, in order to have cross-cultural and cross-linguistic comparison, speech acts data produced by NS-E, NS-C, and EFL learners collected through DCT, role plays, and naturally occurring data are needed for future researches.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Tsai-Ling Liang; Yuh-Huey Lin; Syu-Ing Shyu

School:National Sun Yat-Sen University

School Location:China - Taiwan

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:internal modification role play dct apology strategy speech act


Date of Publication:09/03/2007

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