Comparison of Politeness and Acceptability Perceptions of Request Strategies between Chinese Learners of English and Native English Speakers

Yu-Cheng Lee


The politeness issue has received much attention in China in recent years. In regard to Chinese learners of English however, there is still a large gap between politeness displayed and what is felt in western cultures as politeness appropriate. This leads to the unfortunate labeling of Chinese learners of English as “impolite”. While the author does not feel this is necessarily so, the fact remains that language production by Chinese learners and the language expectations by native English speakers show great gaps. This article attempts to identify the factors which affect Chinese English learners’ perceptions of degree of politeness needed in differing situations, and also to study these learners’ perceptions of how much politeness is shown by differing request strategies. After comparing these results with native English speakers, discrepancies between the two groups are analyzed, and an explanation is ventured.

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Asian Social Science   ISSN 1911-2017 (Print)   ISSN 1911-2025 (Online)    Email: 

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