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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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