The Use of Politeness Strategies in the Realization of the Speech act of Disagreement by EFL Learners

Disagreement, positive politeness, negative politeness, off-record politeness, bald on-record.

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November 1, 2022

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This study aimed to investigate the differences between the politeness strategies used by university EFL learners and American native speakers in making disagreements. Using Brown and Levinson’s (1978) model, the study examined the variables of gender, social status, and social distance. The participants were 63 EFL learners (41 females and 22 males) and 20 native speakers (10 females and 10 males). The EFL learners who took part in this study were EFL learners who were studying in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Bahrain. They were in their fourth, fifth, or sixth year of study. The data was collected using a Discourse Completion Task adopted from a previous study done by Khoirunnisa and Hardjanto (2018) and modified by the researcher to fit the needs of this study. The results of this study showed that the reason why EFL learners seemed more or less polite was that native speakers chose to apply higher or lower percentages of politeness strategies to fit the needs of the different situations, whereas EFL learners used similar percentages of those strategies in most of the situations. This was due to EFL learners’ insufficient competence in the English language. Further, EFL learners were still aware of the necessity of using different politeness strategies in different situations, and thus there were some changes in their use of them depending on the situation. Moreover, the study revealed that female EFL learners used slightly more positive politeness strategies than male EFL learners. In terms of importance, gender was shown to be more important than social status in determining the types of politeness strategies employed by EFL learners.