Politeness in Requests: A Cross-cultural Study of Turkish and British Natives

Ebru Melek Koç
Ph.D, Uludag University, Faculty of Education, Bursa-Turkey

Problem Statement: There are few researches investigating pragmatic awareness of Turkish adult EFL learners, and none of them have investigated factors such as social distance, power and degree of imposition that are important in affecting the learners’ preference of request strategies. Therefore, a study focusing on the request strategies of Turkish adult learners of English will fill this gap.
Purpose of Study: This study is a cross-sectional investigation of the request strategies used by Turkish learners of English as a Foreign Language and British native speakers of English. Therefore, the present study aims to shed light on Turkish EFL learners’ request strategies in socially and psychologically distance situations. It also attempts to systemize the various strategies used by Turkish learners for the purpose of analysing the learning requests from a pragmatic point of view.
Methods: Participants of the study are 35 Turkish language learners of English and 21 British natives. A multiple- choice task questionnaire is used to collect data related to the request strategies used by both Turkish learners of English and the British natives. In order to identify the type and frequency of the request strategies made by learners, the data were analyzed and the frequency of occurrence and percentage of each category of strategies were calculated for each group and each situation.
Findings and Results: The prime finding of the study reveals that Turkish learners do not differ from British natives in terms of their strategy preference of requests. Both groups seem to have a tendency toward conventional, direct-request strategies. The results also reveal that Turkish learners are more direct than the English natives.
Conclusions and Recommendations: Suggestions for further research and some recommendations concerning how to develop language learners’ pragmatic awareness are provided.
Keywords: Politeness, requests, social distance, EFL learners.