Non-native Accent and the Realization of Request Speech Act

Farshad Mahmoodzadeh, Parisa Abdolrezapour


This research aims to study politeness levels and the probability of compliance by non-native speakers as perceived and judged by American native speakers. The focus of this study is on how speakers’ accent affects interlocutors’ perception of the request politeness, their compliance with the request and the possible role of speaker’s gender on such perception. Based on the role-plays performed by participants, a questionnaire of politeness and compliance was constructed containing three different situations (i.e., job leave, restaurant and borrow a car). Each participant was asked to rank each request on a range of 5 levels of politeness and determine the probability of compliance with the request speech act. The subjects’ perceptions of politeness were compared based on their native language. Data collected from 15 non-native students and 15 native students showed that there were differences in perception of politeness and compliance between the two groups and that native speakers were perceived as more polite and received more compliance by American native interlocutors. Subjects’ gender did not have any significant relationship with how the participants assessed the politeness degree and their compliance with the request speech act. 


compliance; request; non-native accent; politeness; speech act

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