An Investigation of Refusal Strategies as Used by Bahdini Kurdish and Syriac Aramaic Speakers

Dilgash M.Shareef, Marina Isteefan Qyrio, Chiman Nadheer Ali


For the purpose of achieving a successful communication, issues such as the appropriateness of speech acts and face saving become essential. Therefore, it is very important to achieve a high level of pragmatic competence in speech acts. Bearing this in mind, this study was conducted to investigate the preferred refusal strategies Kurdish and Syriac native speakers use when faced with offers and requests from equal status interlocutors.  The current study has used a modified Written Discourse Completion Test (WDCT) consisting of six situations (three of which elicit refusals to offerings and the other three to requests). Forty subjects participated in this study: 20 native speakers of the Kurdish language (10 male and 10 female students) and 20 native speakers of Syriac language (10 male and 10 female students). All participants are currently pre-graduate students attending Zakho University. The participants were asked to provide written data that express their refusals to these situations. The data collected have then been analyzed descriptively according to frequency and number of occurrences of semantic formulas used by Beebe et al (1990).  The results showed that a) the Syriac Native Participants (SNP)s frequently preferred indirect and adjunct strategies for refusals rather than direct ones, b) the Kurdish Native Participants (KNP)s often preferred direct and indirect strategies more than adjunct ones, c) the results also revealed that gender has a great influence on the use of refusal strategies in various ways. Finally, this study concludes that both KNPs and SNPs tended to use more strategies when refusing requests than offers whereas gender has shown to play a significant role in the choice and number of the refusal strategies used by both groups of participants.


Refusal, Kurmanji Kurdish, Sryriac Aramaic. Speech Acts, Requests, Semantic Formulas, Discourse Completion Task (DCT)

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