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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: Culture-Specific Differences in Polite Speech Acts in Ukrainian and American English: Wishes, greetings and complaints Add Dissertation
Author: Iryna Prykarpatska Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Jagiellonian University, The Institute of English Philology
Completed in: 2010
Linguistic Subfield(s): Applied Linguistics; Pragmatics;
Subject Language(s): English
Director(s): Anna Lubecka

Abstract: Taking for granted the cultural relativity of language and communication
and also viewing human language as a series of acts performed according to
socio-cultural conventions, the present thesis has a dual objective.
Primarily, it aims at identifying culture-specific differences in verbal
realizations of the chosen polite speech acts of wishes, greetings and
complaints in face-to-face interactions by Ukrainians and Americans who are
both native speakers of their respective languages as well as native users
of Ukrainian and American cultures. Secondarily, its objective is to relate
the existing differences to American and Ukrainian culture-specific system
of values which play the role of their explanatory frame.

Our research is based on two hypotheses. Firstly, the differences that
exist in the way American and Ukrainian native speakers verbally realize
their communicative intentions are mainly caused by specific features of
their respective cultures. Secondly, since politeness is the most important
universal determinant of interpersonal interactions we also assume that
culture-specific differences will be the most conspicuous in this area.
Hence polite speech acts are the object of our analysis.

The scope of the present research has been limited to the polite speech
acts of wishes, greetings, and complaints. Contrastive research on polite
speech acts is rather scarce in American–Slavic cross–cultural studies in
particular in the American–Ukrainian ones. Thus the present research aims
at filling up the gap in cross-cultural pragmalinguistics, which also means
that it faces all the challenges of a pioneering study. It has been
inspired by practical needs since Ukrainian–American interpersonal
contacts, which are getting more and more frequent due to the deep
political and economic changes in Ukrainian social life, require some
cultural knowledge for the communication to be successful in different
areas which include business, education, tourism, private life as well as
other domains. My personal experience sensitized me to the above issues as
I spent a year in the USA when I participated in the whole range of
communication situations where my American interlocutors behaved
differently from my expectations as a native Ukrainian and a speaker of
English as a foreign language.

The present thesis draws on the empirical material whose collection
involved a use of different methods widely applied in social sciences,
psychology, cultural anthropology and cross-cultural communication studies.
Natural observation and participant observation, which are widely used in
cultural anthropology, helped us define the communicative situations that
trigger a culture-specific performance of the researched speech acts. On
their basis we have constructed an open-ended questionnaire, which is a
widely used tool in sociology, to survey a larger number of respondents
(the total of 94 Americans and Ukrainians for each type of speech act). It
provided us with comparable quantifiable data and allowed to define
Ukrainian and American verbal behaviours in identical situations. For the
analysis of verbal data both qualitative and quantitative methods have been
used. However, our research is rather qualitative than quantitative, which
results from its objective consisting in finding out what is the role
played by American and Ukrainian cultures in the performance of the speech
acts of wishes, greetings and complaints.