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Too Many Words: Length of Utterance and Pragmatic Failure

  • Shoshana Blum-Kulka (a1) and Elite Olshtain (a2)

This paper investigates the theoretical and applied domains of pragmatic failure. With respect to theory, it further clarifies pragmatic failure both in native and non-native speech, and with respect to the applied domain compares request realizations of native and non-native speakers in terms of length of utterance. In discussing the results of this comparison, a number of hypotheses are put forward concerning the ways in which deviation from native norms of utterance length might be a potential cause for pragmatic failure.

The data were collected within the CCSARP (Cross-Cultural Speech Act Realization Pattern) project involving seven different languages and dialects (Blum-Kulka & Olshtain, 1984). The data were collected from both native and non-native speakers of each of the languages. The analysis of responses across several languages revealed a systematic difference in length of utterance used to realize speech acts by non-native speakers as compared to native speakers. The types of pragmatic failure that might be linked to being a non-native speaker are examined, thus continuing a line of research focusing on the pragmatic aspects of interlanguage (Blum-Kulka, 1982; Thomas, 1983; Edmondson et al., 1984).

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Studies in Second Language Acquisition
  • ISSN: 0272-2631
  • EISSN: 1470-1545
  • URL: /core/journals/studies-in-second-language-acquisition
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