The Art of Mitigation: How EFL Learners Do It

Kusevska, Marija (2014) The Art of Mitigation: How EFL Learners Do It. Journal of Foreign Language Teaching and Applied Linguisticss (J-FLTAL), 1. ISSN 2303-5528

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"The principal motivation of this study is to investigate how Macedonian learners of English mitigate their disagreement. It is a follow-up of a much broader study in the field of cross-cultural pragmatics focusing on disagreement in Macedonian and American English (Kusevska, 2012). Our cross-cultural analysis reveals that Macedonian and American native speakers show preference for different types of disagreement, the major difference being the frequency of mitigation as well as the linguistic means used for its realization. For the purpose of this study, we have accepted the definition that mitigation is linguistic communicative strategy of softening an utterance, reducing the impact of an utterance, or limiting the face loss associated with a message (Fraser, 1980; Caffi, 1999, 2007; Martinovski, 2006; Clemen, 2010; Czerwionka, 2012). As mitigation in disagreement is closely connected with politeness, we have also relied on the model of politeness and the strategies for FTA realization proposed by Brown & Levinson (1978/1987). We have looked at lexical and syntactic devices such as modal auxiliaries (e.g., can/could; may/might), hedges (kind of, sort of), discourse markers (well, but, look), verbs expressing uncertainty (I think, I don’t think), verbs expressing vagueness (seem, assume, guess), conditionals etc., that learners use to mitigate their utterances. The research described in this paper was based on the following hypotheses: 1. Macedonian learners of English do not mitigate their disagreement as frequently as native speakers of English do; 2. They use different linguistic means to mitigate their disagreement; 3. The linguistic means are differently distributed in the speech act; 4. The motivation for mitigating their disagreement and the linguistic means that Macedonian learners use are at least partly influenced by their native language and culture; and 5. Macedonian learners of English do not have enough pragmalinguistic knowledge that would enable them to make the right choice.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Humanities > Languages and literature
Divisions: Faculty of Philology
Depositing User: Marija Kusevska
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2015 15:01
Last Modified: 22 Jan 2015 15:01

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