Refusal and politeness strategies favoured among Iraqi and Malaysian learners in marriage proposals

Discourse and Interaction


The study targets exploring the similarities and differences between Iraqi and Malaysian learners of English in refusing marriage proposals. Also, it examines the favored politeness strategies that learners use to protect their interlocutors’ face, heeding both their social distance and status. Data were gathered by a Discourse Completion Task (DCT) which contained six marriage situations. Responses were analyzed based on Beebe et al.’s (1990) refusal taxonomy and Scollon et al.’s (2012) politeness system. The findings indicated that both the Iraqi and Malaysian learners preferred the indirect refusal strategies in marriage proposals, as well as the hierarchical politeness in the form of independence strategies regardless of the social status and distance between interlocutors. However, they differed in the sort of indirect strategies most frequently utilized. The Iraqi learners favored reason, regret, and non-performative statements, whilst the Malaysian learners preferred regret, non-performative statements, and reason.

politeness, refusal, social distance, social status, marriage proposals
Author biographies

Ali Qassim Tabarek

Tabarek Ali Qassim is an instructor and the chief of foreign public relations and missions at the College of Law at the University of Baghdad in Iraq. She got her MA in English Language and Linguistics in 2021 from the Department of English, College of Education for Women, The University of Baghdad. Her major is pragmatics and sociolinguistics, and she is also interested in several other fields within linguistics including applied linguistics, semantics, and (critical) discourse analysis.

Abbas Nawal Fadhel

Nawal Fadhil Abbas got her PhD in English Language and Linguistics in 2014 from the School of Humanities, Universiti Sains Malaysia. Now she is a professor teaching at the College of Education for Women, The University of Baghdad. Her field of study is semantics and pragmatics. Other fields of interest include critical discourse analysis, critical stylistics, and corpus linguistics.

Mei Hooi Chee

Hooi Chee Mei got her PhD from Universiti Putra Malaysia. Now, she is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Creative Industries, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman. Her fields of interest are linguistic typology, syntax, and pragmatics, in addition to other interests such as academic writing, academic journals, qualitative analysis, teaching, intercultural communication, argumentation, essay writing, scientific writing, and writing processes.


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