Cultural Influence: Arab vs. English Communication Styles

4001 Words Jan 6th, 2018 16 Pages
English Communication Styles
According to Joanna Jaworowska a speech act is simply " a minimal functional unit in human communication." Fundamentally, a speech act is the smallest form of communication. According to Austin's theory (1962), any given speech act has three possible meanings: the propositional meaning, the illocutionary meaning, and the perlocutionary meaning (Jaworowska). For instance, the literal meaning might be: it's cold in here. The illocutionary meaning of a given speech act refers to the social function of what is said; thus, it's cold in here, might be an indirect plea for someone to close the window, an indirect refusal to open the window or a complaint which implies that someone should have known better than to keep the windows open when expressed emphatically.
The speech act of making a request is one of the most widely scrutinized speech acts in both cultural and linguistic studies because of the fact that it is made up primarily of an illocutionary act, where the speaker is asking the listener to perform a given act (Beltran et al.). "Therefore, this speech act has been regarded as one of the most threatening speech acts, since it intrinsically threatens the hearer's face (Brown and Levinson 1987)" (Beltran et al). Given the intrusive nature of a speech act, the speaker has the opportunity to attempt to modify the speech act by engaging in a range of modification devices, internal or external ones (Beltran et al).…