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Pragmatic Competence

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Successful communication entails knowledge of grammar and text organization as well as pragmatic aspects of a second language (L2). Pragmatic competence is specifically defined by Koike (1989) as "the speaker's knowledge and use of rules of appropriateness and politeness which dictate the way the speaker will understand and formulate speech acts" (p. 279).
Austin (1962) defines speech acts as acts performed by utterances such as giving order, making promises, complaining, requesting, among others. When we utter a sentence or a phrase, we are performing an act to which we expect our listeners to react with verbal or nonverbal behavior (p. 65). According to Kasper (1984), what L2 learners must know for successful speech act performance has been …show more content…
Considering Searle's (1969) classification of illocutionary acts (i.e., representatives, directives, expressives, commissives, and declarations), L2 researchers let requests fall under the second category, that of directives, which have been regarded as "an attempt to get hearer to do an act which speaker wants hearer to do, and which it is not obvious that hearer will do in the normal course of events or of hearer's own accord" (p. 66).
Based on Brown and Levinson's (1987) politeness theory, requests are Face Threatening Acts (FTAs) since a speaker is imposing her/his will on the hearer (p. 65). Brown and Levinson (1987) propose that when confronted with the need to perform a FTA, the individual must choose between performing the FTA in the most direct and efficient manner or attempting to mitigate the effect of the FTA on the hearer's face. The strategy an individual chooses to employ depends upon the weightiness or seriousness of FTA. Weightiness is an assessment of the social situation calculated by the speaker (p. 76).
The speaker considers three variables when assessing weightiness. First, the speaker appraises the degree …show more content…
Blum-Kulka et al. (1989 cited in Francis, 1997, p. 28) summarize a combination of level of directness and strategy types in Cross Cultural Speech Act Realization Project (CCSARP) as follows:
a. Direct level
1. Mood derivable: Utterances in which the grammatical mood of the verb signals illocutionary force (e.g., "Leave me alone.").
2. Performatives: Utterances in which the illocutionary force is explicitly named (e.g., "I tell you to leave me alone.").
3. Hedged performatives: Utterances in which naming of the illocutionary force is modified by hedging expressions (e.g., "I would like to ask you to leave me alone.").
4. Obligation statements: Utterances which state the obligation of the hearer to carry out the act (e.g., "Sir, you'll have to move your car.").
5. Want statements: Utterances which state the speaker's desire that the hearer carries out the act (e.g., "I want you to move your car.").
b. Conventionally indirect level
6. Suggestory formulae: Utterances which contain a suggestion to do something (e.g., "How about cleaning

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