Internal request modification by first and second language speakers

  • Joy Christine Lwanga-Lumu


Faersch & Kasper (1989) distinguish two main types of internal request modification, namely: syntactic down graders such as interrogative structures and lexical down graders such as the politeness marker please. This study focuses on the question of whether Luganda English speakers would negatively transfer into their English speech the use of syntactic and lexical down graders resulting in pragmatic failure. Data were collected from Luganda and Luganda English speakers by means of a Discourse Completion Test (DCT) containing eight request situations. The analysis followed the speech act analytical framework developed for the Cross-Cultural Speech Act Realisation Patterns (CCSARP) project. Results showed that Luganda English speakers overgeneralized the pragmatic function of please. They inappropriately used it in English as an attention-getter, hence risking situational inappropriateness and pragmatic failure in English. Findings from this study may have theoretical and pedagogical implications for linguists, language teachers, learners, multilingual speech communities, textbook writers, syllabus designers and researchers.

(Journal for Language Teaching: 2002 36(3-4): 289-304)

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eISSN: 0259-9570