Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Second Language Acquisition
The present study is an exploratory cross-sectional study of interlanguage pragmatic development of expressions of gratitude, specifically, gratitude after receiving a favor. Expressing gratitude is a speech act that is taught at an early age and is commonly performed by native speakers of most languages. It is, thus, often assumed that learners can successfully say thank you in the target language. However, studies show that even advanced learners have difficulty adequately expressing gratitude.
The objectives of the present study are: (a) to investigate how native speakers of Chinese and native speakers of English express gratitude as defined by length of speech and use of strategies; (b) to examine whether there is evidence of pragmatic development in the speech act behavior of expressions of gratitude among Chinese learners of English with the increase of the length of residence in the United States; and (c) to examine whether there is evidence of pragmatic influence from L1 Chinese in English expressions of gratitude among Chinese learners of English.
The data were collected through a discourse completion task questionnaire. Subjects' responses were classified into eight thanking strategies. Descriptive and t-test analyses were conducted to identify the pragmatic differences that distinguished the behavior of the three English learner groups, which varied according to their length of stay in the United States, from that of Chinese and English native speakers.
The results show that Chinese and English native speakers have different preferences for thanking strategies in the eight situations. They are significantly different in the length of speech and use of strategies. In addition, there is a positive effect of the length of residence in the United States on English learners' pragmatic development. The results also show evidence of pragmatic influence from L1 Chinese. Moreover, contextual variables, social status, familiarity and imposition, have a significant influence on the length of speech and the use of strategies for all subject groups.
speech acts, pragmatic development, expressions of gratitude, Chinese
Copyright 2005 Stephanie Weijung Cheng