Persian favor asking in formal and informal academic contexts: The impact of gender and academic status

Hooman Saeli

Abstract

The investigation of speech acts has been of interest, especially in cross-cultural pragmatics, to many L1/L2 researchers for many years (Blum-Kulka, House and Kasper 1989). Favor-asking, as an important speech act, is centered upon having the other party of conversation do a specific act (Goldschmidt 1999). Although some research has been done on favor-asking in different contexts, studies on this speech act are still scarce, if any, in Persian settings. The main thrust of the current study was to investigate favor-asking among a sample of 20 native speakers of Persian (10 women and 10 men). The participants were selected from graduate students, since the employed oral DCT scenarios were designed to elicit favors asked from three different academic statuses: Higher, equal, and lower (professors, peers, and students, respectively). A total of 240 responses were then analyzed to identify the recurring patterns under the three open-coded categories of pre-favor, favor, and post-favor. The examination of the responses illustrated some variation triggered by gender and academic status differences, namely, the length of favors, frequency of some (sub)themes, and formality degree. Additionally, some relevant syntactic issues were explored (e.g. plural/singular pronouns/verbs), which contributed to the formality/informality of the favors, depending upon the contexts in which they were incorporated. Finally, some insights into Persian sociocultural interactions, favor-asking in particular, were provided.

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