Social beliefs for the realization of the speech acts of apology and complaint as defined in Ciluba, French, and English

Kashama Mulamba

Most cross-linguistic studies of speech acts have dealt mainly with two languages, a native language and a second or foreign language (Carrell and Konneker 1981; Castello 1981; Blum-Kulka 1982; Daikuhura 1986; Eisenstein 1986; Wieland 1989; Chen Rong 1993, 2001; Sifianou 2001; Lee 2004, 2005). Neither have they dealt with an African language as the first language. The present study investigates a multilingual situation where the native speakers of Ciluba, French, and English are compared to the trilingual speakers of the three languages in terms of the realization of the speech acts of apologizing and complaining. It considers the social beliefs of the subjects of the four language groups for the realization of the two speech acts. The study is part of a larger study that was designed to discover the norms of the three languages under investigation and to see how people speaking a second and a foreign language, with different levels of fluency in each, can participate in the activity of the speech communities of the two languages without violating their socio-cultural norms, and what impact, if any, their knowledge of these languages has on each of the languages they speak. Data for the larger study was collected by means of a written questionnaire, role plays, and direct observation. The data and results presented and discussed in this paper come from the written questionnaire administered to the monolingual English and French speakers and trilingual speakers native in Ciluba; and from the same version of the questionnaire administered orally to the monolingual Ciluba speakers. It was found that for the realization of the speech acts of apologizing and complaining, Luba socio-cultural beliefs were different from those of English and French, which are similar. In contrast to French and English, in Ciluba social distance and relative power between the participants play an important role in deciding whether the speech acts can be performed or not. The results also revealed that, despite the difference which exists between Ciluba and the other two languages, i.e., French and English, some subjects from the group of Ciluba monolingual subjects showed some similarities with the groups of French and English monolingual subjects in their responses to some items in the questionnaire. This deviation of some of the native speakers of Ciluba from their social beliefs was hypothesized to be a result of their contact with an urban environment and its mixed culture.

Quick links
A browser-friendly version of this article is not yet available. View PDF
Blum-Kulka, S
(1982) Learning how to say what you mean in a second language. A study of the speech act performance of learners of Hebrew as a second language. Applied Linguistics 3: 29-59. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Blum-Kulka, S., J. House, and G. Kasper
(eds.) (1989) Investigating cross-cultural pragmatics: An introductory overview. Cross-cultural pragmatics: Requests and apologies. Vol. XXXI. Norwood, New Jersey: Ablex, pp. 1-34.Google Scholar
Brown, P., and S. Levinson
(1978) Universals in language usage: Politeness phenomena. In E.N. Goody (ed.), Questions and politeness: Strategies in social interaction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
(1987) Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Carrell, P.L., and B.H. Konneker
(1981) Politeness: Comparing native and non-native judgments. Language learning 31.1: 17-30. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Castello, K
(1981) Contrastive analysis; speech acts: Apologies. Los Angeles: ESL Section, Department of English, UCLA.Google Scholar
Chen, Rong
(1993) Responding to compliments: A contrastive study of politeness strategies between American English and Chinese speakers. Journal of Pragmatics 20: 49-75. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
(2001) Self-politeness: A proposal. Journal of Pragmatics 33: 87-106. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Daikuhara, Midori
(1986) A study of compliments from a cross-cultural perspective: Japanese vs. American English. The PENN working papers in educational linguistics. Fall 1986: 103-134.Google Scholar
D’Amico-Reisner, L
(1983) An analysis of the surface structure of disapproval exchanges. In N. Wolfson and E. Judd (eds.), Sociolinguistics and Language Acquisition. Rowley, Mass.: Newbury House.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Davies, E.E
(1987) A contrastive approach to the analysis of politeness formulas. Applied Linguistics 8.1: 75-88. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Eisenstein, M., and J.W. Bodman
(1986) ‘I very appreciate’: Expressions of gratitude by native and non-native speakers of American English. Applied linguistics7.2: 167-185. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Fishman, Joshua
(1965) Who speaks what language to whom and when? La linguistique 2: 67-88.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Goffman, E
(1971) Relations in public: Microstudies of public order. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Holmes, Janet
(1989) Sex differences and apologies: One aspect of communicative competence. Applied Linguistics 10.2: 194-213. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Hymes, D
(1977) Foundations in sociolinguistics. London: Longman.Google Scholar
Kuper, Hilda
(1975) Kinship among the Swazi. In A.R. Radcliffe-Brown and D. Forde (eds.), African systems of kinship and marriage. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 86-110.Google Scholar
Labov, W
(1972) Sociolinguistic patterns. Oxford, England: Basil Blackwell.  BoPGoogle Scholar
., and D. Fanshel (1977) Therapeutic discourse: Psychotherapy as a convention. New York: Academic Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Lafage, Suzanne
(1986) Outline of practical frame of reference for sociolinguistic analysis in an African context. In G. Huttar and K. Gregerson (eds.), Pragmatics in non-Western perspective. Summer Institute of Linguistics Publications in Linguistics. Texas: The Summer Institute of Linguistics and the University of Texas at Arlington 73: 143-159.Google Scholar
Lee, Cynthia
(2004) Written requests in e-mails sent by adult Chinese users of English. Language culture and curriculum 17.1:58-72. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
(2005) A cross-linguistic study on the linguistic expressions of Cantonese and English requests. Pragmatics15.4: 395-422.  BoP DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Leech, G.N
(1983) Principles of pragmatics. London: Longman.Google Scholar
Naden, Anthony J
(1986) Social context and Mampruli greetings. In G. Huttar and K. Gregerson (eds.), Pragmatics in non-Western perspective. Summer Institute in linguistics publications in Linguistics. Texas: The Summer Institute of Linguistics and the University of Texas at Arlington 73: 161-199.Google Scholar
Penalosa, Fernando
(1981) Introduction to the sociology of language. Rowley, Mass. : Newbury House.Google Scholar
Radcliffe-Brow, A.R., and D. Forde
(eds.) (1957) African Systems of Kinship and Marriage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Rubin, J
(1983) How to tell when someone is saying “no” revisited. In N. Wolfson and E. Judd (eds.), Sociolinguistics and language acquisition. Rowley, Mass.: Newbury House.Google Scholar
Sifianou, Maria
(2001) “Oh, how appropriate” compliments and politeness. In A. Bayraktaroglu and M. Sifianou (eds.), Linguistic politeness across boundaries: The case of Greek and Turkish. Amsterdam/New York: John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. 391-430. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Wieland, Molly
(1989) Polite turn-taking in French/American cross-cultural conversation. Paper delivered at the 31st annual meeting of the Midwest Modern Language Association. November 2-3, 1989 at the University of Minnesota/Twin Cities.