An Exploration of Upper-intermediate Iranian EFL learners’ Perception of Politeness Strategies and Power Relation in Disagreement

Masoumeh Niroomand


The present study was designed to examine the ways power relations influence politeness strategies in disagreement. The study was an attempt to find out whether different power status of people influencethe the choice of appropriate politeness strategies and speech act of disagreement by Iranian EFL learners, in a university setting. A Discourse Completion Test (DCT) was utilized to elicit the required data. The sample included 20 Iranian upper-intermediate EFL learners who were selected based on their scores on a proficiency test. The DTC consists of five scenarios in which the subjects are expected to disagree with two higher statuses and two with peers and one with a lower status. Selection of disagreement situations in DCT was based on relative power and status of people. The main frameworks used for analyzing data were the taxonomy from Muntigl and Turnbull (1995) for counting and analyzing the utterances of disagreement and Brown and Levinson’ (1987) theory of politeness. It was found that EFL learners employ different kind of politeness strategies in performing this face threatening speech act. When performing the speech act of disagreement, they used more direct and bald on record strategies. The findings of this study provide some evidences for the relation between the type and frequency of disagreement and choice of politeness strategies associated with people with different power status.

It concludes by arguing that the results can be closely related with learning contexts and textbook contents and some suggestions were put forward regarding the issue.It is also hoped that the findings of this study will provide some worthwhile knowledge into the teaching and training of communication skills in EFL courses. Furthermore, this study may reveal some cultural differences between Iranian societies and others.

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English Language Teaching       ISSN 1916-4742 (Print)   ISSN  1916-4750 (Online)

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