Refusal Strategies in L1 and L2 by Native Speakers of Thai

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Rotubon Weerachairattana
Anchalee Wannaruk


L1 culture has been regarded as one of the major defining factors affecting the production of L2. As a result, it is likely that English used by non-native speakers will reflect their own social and cultural norms and values. This study investigated strategies employed by native speakers of Thai in making refusals in Thai (L1) and in English (L2) to invitations, requests, offers, and suggestions. The participants were 60 Thai graduate students, 30 of whom responded in Thai (TTs) and 30 in English (TEs). Data were collected using a Discourse Completion Task (DCT) and a follow-up
interview. The DCT included situations related to the participants’ academic life. Data were coded based on the classification of refusals formulated by Beebe, Takahashi, and Uliss-Weltz (1990) and analyzed in terms of frequency. The findings indicated that
there were similarities in the choice, content, and order of refusal strategies used by TTs and those used by TEs. These were motivated by their sensitivity to a person of higher status and the Thai values of being caring and considerate, showing gratitude,
and being modest. TEs, however, differed significantly from TTs noticeably in their use of direct strategies. The nature of the situations was another crucial factor influencing their strategy use. The pedagogical implications were also suggested.


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