A Cross-Cultural Comparative Study of Apology Strategies Employed by Iranian EFL Learners and English Native Speakers

Elham Abedi


The development of speech-act theory has provided the hearers with a better understanding of what speakers intend to perform in the act of communication. One type of speech act is apologizing. When an action or utterance has resulted in an offense, the offender needs to apologize. In the present study, an attempt was made to compare the apology strategies employed by Iranian EFL learners and those of English native speakers in order to find out the possible differences and similarities. To this end, a discourse completion test (DCT) was given to 100 male and female Iranian EFL learners and English native speakers. The respondents were supposed to complete the DCTs based on nine situations, which varied in terms of power between the interlocutors and level of imposition. This study employed Cohen and Olshtain's (1981) model to classify various types of apology strategies. The obtained results revealed some similarities along with some (statistically insignificant) differences between EFL learners and American English speakers in terms of their use of apology strategies. Furthermore, it was found that the illocutionary force indicating devices (IFIDs), such as request for forgiveness and an offer of apology were the strategies mostly employed by the Iranian EFL learners while taking on responsibility such as explicit self-blame, and expression of self-deficiency were found to be the strategies mostly used by English native speakers. In terms of gender, the male and female respondents more or less used the same apology strategies in response to the situations. The findings of the present research can be used by language teachers as well as sociolinguists.

Keywords: Speech act theory, Speech act of apology, Apology strategies, Iranian EFL learners, English Native speakers, Gender

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