Exploring Pragmalinguistic and Sociopragmatic Variability in Speech Act Production of L2 Learners and Native Speakers

Document Type: Research Paper


1 Assistant Professor Shahrekord University

2 Assistant Professor Shahrekord University

3 M.A., TEFL Shahrekord University


The pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic aspects of language use vary across different situations, languages, and cultures. The separation of these two facets of language use can help to map out the socio-cultural norms and conventions as well as the linguistic forms and strategies that underlie the pragmatic performance of different language speakers in a variety of target language use situations. This study explored the sociopragmatic and pragmalinguistic variations in the expression and realization of three speech acts of apology, request, and refusal by American native speakers and Iranian EFL learners. The participants were 100 graduate and undergraduate Iranian students and 50 American native speakers. A written discourse completion test (WDCT) was developed through a bottom-up procedure and used for collecting the data. The results showed that considerable variations emerged in the semantic formulae, sociopragmatic content, and pragmalinguistic forms the participants employed in realizing the speech acts in relation to the contextual variables and individual differences. The American participants employed more (pragmalinguistic) formulaic strategies and were generally more direct than the Iranian L2 learners. Further variability was also noticeable in the participants’ choice of sociopragmatic appropriacy formulae in order to mitigate their speech acts and avoid offending their interlocutors. The findings indicated that there is an intricate reciprocity between the sociopragmatic values and the variant forms or strategies that language users employ on the pragmalinguistic level of language use. It is then suggested that pragmatic variation be traced and probed on the two pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic planes of language use in real-life (or simulated) contexts.