Attitudes of English speakers towards thanking in Spanish

Carlos de Pablos-Ortega

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to ascertain the attitudes English native speakers have towards the Spanish language and culture, specifically, in relation to the speech act of thanking and in connection with Brown and Levinson’s model of politeness ([1978] 1987). Two sources of data were used: First, a corpus of 64 course books which included 250 situations representing the speech act of thanking and, second, a questionnaire for the teaching of Spanish as a Foreign Language. The situations including the speech act of thanking were analysed and then categorized according to various criteria. The criteria were created by taking into consideration Coulmas’ (1981) proposal for the classification of thanking as well as the components of this specific speech act. The most frequent situations found in the course books were then used to devise the second source of data. The aim of this was to determine the attitudes of 300 participants, divided equally between the nationalities used in the investigation, Spanish, British and American. The questionnaire included 12 scenarios in which the thanking formula was omitted. Participants were prompted to answer questions based on their perceptions and to include other responses whenever they considered them to be appropriate. The main findings provided evidence of different facework values across the three groups of informants for some of the specific scenarios. Both quantitative and qualitative analyses of data showed that some of the responses were connected to the thanking formulae, but others to speech acts such as request formulae.

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