Pragmatic Difficulties in the Production of the Speech Act of Apology by Iraqi EFL Learners

Mehdi Falih Al-Ghazalli, Mohanad A. Amert Al-Shammary


The purpose of this paper is to investigate the pragmatic difficulties encountered by Iraqi EFL university students in producing the speech act of apology. Although the act of apology is easy to recognize or use by native speakers of English, non-native speakers generally encounter difficulties in discriminating one speech act from another. The problem can be attributed to two factors: pragma-linguistic and socio-pragmatic knowledge.

The aim of this study is(1)to evaluate the socio-pragmatic level of interpreting apologies as understood and used by Iraqi EFL university learners, (2) find out the level of difficulty they experience in producing apologies and(3) detect the reasons behind such misinterpretations and misuses. It is hypothesized that the socio-pragmatic interpretation of apology tends to play a crucial role in comprehending what is intended by the speaker. However, cultural gaps can be the main reason behind the EFL learners' inaccurate production of the act of apology.

To verify the aforementioned hypotheses, a test has been constructed and administered to a sample of 70 fourth-year Iraqi EFL university learners, morning classes. The subjects' responses have been collected and linguistically analyzed in the light of an eclectic model based on Deutschmann (2003) and Lazare (2004). It has been concluded that the misinterpretation or difficulty Iraqi EFL students have faced is mainly attributed to their lack of socio-pragmatic knowledge. The interference of the learnersʹ first language culture has led to non-native productions of speech act of apology.

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