The Role of Pragmatic Transfer on L2 Speech Acts Production: A Comparative Study of Iraqi FL Learners’ Performance in both Iraqi and American Apologies

Abstract

ABSTRACTContrastive studies in interlanguage pragmatics investigating cross-cultural differences of many speech act realizations have highlighted the existence of pragmatic transfer (PT) during second language (L2) learners’ process of acquiring these speech acts. The speech act of apology, in particular, has much been researched since L2 learners face greater difficulties and risk of miscommunication in apologizing. Hence, to empirically examining and proving the role of PT in L2 apology performance, a qualitative and quantitative study have been conducted on 24 Iraqi foreign language (FL) learners of English. Two Discourse Completion Tests (DCTs), viz. one in Arabic and another in English containing 11 identical situations respectively, have been manifested. The data collected were coded and then analyzed on Excel 0.7 program to find answers to the four questions being raised by the present study. The results elicited revealed that PT, in both its instances, really exists due to both speech act universality and metapragmatic cultural-specific. Besides, most of the participants’ apologies in English were a mere literal translation of their corresponding Arabic apologies. This, in turn, denoted the role of negative PT on one hand, and the lack of the L2 metapragmatic knowledge especially the case with the low proficiency group, on the other. Nevertheless, high proficiency participants outperformed in their L2 apology performance their corresponding low proficiency group because of their L2 linguistic repertoire.