Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Comparing the Use of Persuasive Speech Act by Iranian Efl Learners' at Two Different Levels of Language Proficiency

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Comparing the Use of Persuasive Speech Act by Iranian Efl Learners' at Two Different Levels of Language Proficiency

Article excerpt


Interacting with speakers of other languages and cultures needs linguistic or grammatical competence as well as pragmatic competence or knowledge, this is considered as one of the indispensible parts of language competence. Sociocultural norms and constraints influence individuals' speaking in their first or second language as well as the way of interaction with others. Rizk (2003) cauti ons the issue of appropriateness of the utterances and asserts that what is perceived as an appropriate utterance or response in one language or culture may not be the exact case in another culture or vice versa. This highlights the pragmatic dimension of the language competence which is perceived as an essential element of communicative competence (Farashaiyan & Hua, 2012). This study compares the pragmatic competence in performing speech act of persuasion.

The modern study of speech acts begins with Austin's (1962) engaging monograph How to Do Things with Words . This widely cited work starts with the observation that certain sorts of sentences, e.g., I christen this ship the Joseph Stalin; I now pronounce you man and wife; and the like, seem designed to do something, here to christen and wed, respectively, rather than merely to say something. Such sentences Austin dubbed 'performatives' , in contrast to what he called 'constatives', the descriptive sentences that seem, to be employed mainly for saying something rather than doing something. While the distinction between performatives and constatives is often invoked in work on the law, in literary criticism, in political analysis, and in other areas, it is a distinction that Austin argued was not ultimat ely defensible. The point of Austin's lectures was, in fact, that every normal utterance has both a descriptive and an effective aspect: that saying something is also doing something (Sadock, 2012).

Searle (1969) presents a theory which is a development of the account presented in Austin (1962). Searle claims that four acts are characteristically performed in the utterance of a sentence (p. 24):

a. Uttering words (morphemes, sentences) = performing utterance acts

b. Referring and predicating = performing propositional acts

c. Stating, questioning, commanding, promising etc. = performing illocutionary acts

d. perlocutionary act.

Correlated with the notion of illocutionary act is the notion of the consequences or effects such acts have on the actions, thoughts or beliefs of hearers. For example, by arguing I may persuade or convince someone; by warning him I may scare or alarm him; by making a request I may get him to do something; by informing him I may convince him, or inspire him.

Today, successful presentation of the speech acts, as an important part of pragmatic competence, in a language demands not only the speaker's linguistic proficiency, but also his/her socio -pragmatic perception of speech acts. However, to perform the speech acts appropriately in both first and second language is very challenging, and the challenges not only stem from the linguistics variations between the languages, but also the variations between cultures (Hassani, Mardani, &Vahid Dastjerdi, 2011).

In intercultural communication, foreign language speakers not only should acquire grammatical competence to achieve linguistic accuracy, but also need to internalize sociolinguistic rules to help them use appropriate linguistic forms (Yi Shih, 2006). Students, as foreign language speakers, must be able to carry out some communicative tasks to progressively develop their communicative competence. These form a set of actions that have a concrete communicative purpose within a specific scope. For their accomplishment, different linguistic and discursive skills are used in contexts.

Robin Lakoff (1982) defined persuasion as the 'attempt or intention of one party to change the behavior, feelings, intentions, or viewpoint of another by communicative means' (p. …

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