Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Study of Cross-Cultural Differences and Pragmatic Transfer in English and Persian Compliments

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Study of Cross-Cultural Differences and Pragmatic Transfer in English and Persian Compliments

Article excerpt

1.Introduction

Successful communication has recently become the predominant objective underlying any L2 teaching and learning endeavor. Achievements tend to be mainly assessed in terms of the ability to appropriately produce and comprehend the L2 in interactional situations. Earlier beliefs, concerning the effectiveness of purely syntactic, phonological, and morphological instructions, are further accompanied by the belief on the effectiveness of teaching the "rules of speaking" (Hymes, 1972, p. 46) to improve L2 ability to sustain communication. The notion of communicative competence (Hymes, 1971) was first sustained in second language acquisition (SLA) to refer to the native speakers' (NSs) ability to use their language in the way that are not only linguistically accurate but also socially appropriate. Hymes (1971) stated that Chomsky's (1965) idea of competence did not account for the social and functional use of language. He considered Chomsky's monolithic, idealized notion of linguistic competence inadequate and introduced a broader, more elaborated, and extensive concept of communicative competence, which includes both linguistic competence and contextual or sociolinguistic knowledge of the rules of L2 use in context. Therefore, a new paradigm began to develop based on which L2 learners not only should have mastery over linguistic rules but also they need to master the sociocultural rules of speaking. That is, they need to acquire competence as to when to speak, what to talk about with whom, where, and in what manner in order to use the L2 appropriately. So, pragmatics that studies the relation between language contexts and users as well as the resulting grammatical forms is a central element of communicative competence. Pragmatics claims that there is an association between grammar and context, that is, according to the context in which the speaker is, he or she chooses different structures to mean what he or she wants. Growing interest in L2 learners' pragmatic knowledge and development has given rise to a new area of research known as interlanguage pragmatics (ILP), which mainly deals with the study of nonnative speakers' (NNSs) use and acquisition of linguistic action patterns in an L2 (Kasper & Blum-Kulka, 1993) and has expanded its scope to include the study of the emergence of intercultural styles and the use of L2 communication strategies. One of the most frequently addressed issues in ILP (Kasper & Rose, 1999) refers to the impact of pragmatic transfer, which is described as the way am L2 learner's pragmatic knowledge of his or her own L1 and culture influences his or her understanding, use, and learning of L2 pragmatic information (Kasper, 1992; Thomas, 1983). According to Wolfson (1989), an error in grammar or pronunciation may be easily forgiven by the NSs of a language; yet, a pragmatic one can cause offence. Ostensibly, lack of the necessary pragmatic knowledge in a given situation would leave L2 learners helpless, forcing them to resort to the patterns and norms of their own L1. This sort of pragmatic transfer may result in pragmatic failure, which means not understanding the illocutionary force of an utterance and/ or the speaker's intention (Thomas, 1983). L2 learners may fail to repair the interaction as a result of their inadequate pragmatic knowledge (Blum-Kulka & Olshtain, 1986). In fact, pragmatic failure can result in not only NSs' misinterpretation or misunderstanding of NNSs' linguistic behavior, but also their disappointment and culture shock in the L2 culture or society. Therefore, as Kasper (1992) remarked, "in the real world, pragmatic transfer matters more, or at least more obviously, than transfer of relative clause or word order" (p. 205). It is also in pragmatics that the influence of the speaker's cultural and social background largely reflects itself. Moreover, L2 learners' pragmatic knowledge of the L2 sociocultural and linguistic norms in language use does not automatically increase in accordance with their L2 grammatical competence (Kasper, 2001). …

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