Requests and Linguistic Politeness Strategies: A Case Study of Igbo English Speakers in Nigeria

Chinomso P. Dozie, Chioma N. Chinedu-Oko, Patricia N. Anyanwu, Favour O. Egwim, Emeka J. Otagburuagu


This article examined the Igbo native speakers’ perception of request act as well as the linguistic politeness strategies used to achieve this communicative intention in their conversational English as bilinguals. The study participants were 2748 undergraduate Igbo native speakers purposively selected from different Federal and State Universities in the core Igbo-speaking states of South-east/South-south Nigeria. To elicit data, a 10-item discourse completion task (DCT) with guided options written in English and designed to evoke politeness strategies in request discourse projecting hypothetical situations was administered to the participants. The results showed that the study samples brought to fore their sociocultural expectations as Igbo by adopting principally the directness strategy in performing the request act. Also, findings revealed that the participants paid attention to certain sociolinguistic variables such as hierarchy, extent of familiarity, which contributed to the variance, observed in their choice of strategies in some contexts. Furthermore, the study noted a measure of linguistic transfer of a tinge of the native language to the target language (English language) as participants tried to fulfill the communicative goals of the request act in the target language. Notably, the findings demonstrated the possibility of communication breakdowns arising from grammatically correct but pragmatically inappropriate utterances from learners hence the need to further emphasize pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic consciousness - the dearth of which has been implicated in the study.


Requests, Linguistic Politeness Strategies, Igbo Native Speakers, Cultural Norms, Conversational English, Nigeria

Full Text:



Blum-Kulka, S. (1989). Playing it safe: The role of conventionality in indirectness. In Blum-Kulka, S. House, J. and Kasper, G. (Ed.) Cross-cultural pragmatics: Requests and apologies. (pp. 37-70). Norwood: Ablex Publishing.

Brown, P., & Levinson, S., (1987). Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from>books

Dozie, C. P (2017). Politeness Forms and Hedging Strategies in English among Igbo bilinguals. Nigeria: University of Nigeria, Nsukka Doctoral dissertation.

Dozie, C.P & Otagburuagu, E.J. (2020). Apology and Linguistic Politeness Strategies in English among Igbo native speakers in Nigeria: an Inter-language study. Advances in Language and Literary Studies 10(5) 1-9

Felix-Brasdefer, J.C (2005) Indirectness and politeness in Mexican requests. In Eddington, D. Selected proceedings of the 7th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium. Cascadilla Proceeding Project,Somerville, MA. Google Scholar

Fishman, P. (1978). “Interaction: The Work Women Do”. Social Problems 25. 4, 397-406. Retrieved from>bibtex>browser>author.

Fishman, P. (1980). Conversational insecurity. In Howard G., Peter R. and Philip S. (Ed) Language: Social Psychological Perspectives. Oxford: Pergamon press. Retrieved from>PDF>Fishman.

Garcia, C. (1993) Making a request and responding to it: A case study of Peruvian Spanish speakers. Journal of Pragmatics 19, 127-152

Hilbig, I. (2009). Request strategies and politeness in Lithunian and British English. Retrieved from Google Scholar

Jalilifar, A. (2009) Request strategies: Cross-sectional study of Iranian EFL learners and Australian native speakers. English Language Teaching. 2 (1) 46-61.

Lakoff, R., (1975). Language and women’s place. New York: Harper and Row.

Leech, G. (1983). Principles of politeness. London, England: Longman.

Memarian, p. (2012). The use of request strategies in English by Iranian graduate students: A case study. (MA. Dissertation) Eastern Mediterranean University, Gazimagusa, North Cyprus.

Nwoye, O., (1989). Linguistic politeness in Igbo. Multilingua. 8, 259-275.

Nwoye, O., (1992). Linguistic politeness and socio-cultural variations of the notion of face. Journal of Pragmatics. 18, 309-328.

Searle, J. R (1969). Speech Acts: An essay in the philosophy of language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Searle, J. R. (1975). A taxonomy of illocutionary acts. In Gunderson, K. (Ed.), Language, mind and knowledge (pp. 344-369). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Shahidi-Tabar, M. (2012). Cross-cultural Speech act realization: The case of requests in the Persian and Turkish speech of Iranian Speakers. International Journal of Business and Social Science. 3 (13) 237-243.

Takezewa, Chieko. Politeness and the speech act of requesting in Japanese as a second language. Diss. U of British Columbia, 1995. Columbia LINK DE-6. Web. 12 May 2015.

Umar, A. M. (2004). Request strategies as used by advanced Arab learners of English as a foreign language. Zul-Qu’da 1424, 16 (1), 42-87. Google Scholar

Yazdanfar, S. & Bonyadi, A. (2016). Request strategies in everyday interactions of Persian and English speakers. Retrieved from



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2010-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

Advances in Language and Literary Studies

You may require to add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.