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A Cross-Cultural Approach to Courtesy: A Sociolinguistic Study of Differences between Native and Non-Native Speakers of English

Dr. Salih Mahdi Adai AlMamoory & Omar Ali Wally Atatfa,

University of Babylon & College of Arts & Sciences University of New Haven, Iraq

Courtesy is a matter of significant importance in the study of the different cultures, and how to be courteous in a certain culture depends, to a great extent, on the social norms and behaviours of that culture (or a social group). Therefore, what could be taken as ‘courteous’ in one society may be frowned upon as ‘discourteous’ in another. The current study approaches this topic in a twofold way: on the one hand, it highlights the erroneous uses of courtesy by Iraqi students of English as a Foreign Language (henceforth, EFL) as compared to courtesy norms adhered to by the native speakers of English, as well as draw a dividing line between the ways in which courtesy is used by female and male students of EFL in Iraq. It is hypothesized that there are remarkable differences between the courtesy rules by the native speakers of English and those of the non-native; and, that there are differences between male and female non-native speakers of English for the favour of the females. To achieve its purpose, the current study relies on sociolinguistic concepts, such as Cultural Knowledge, Gender Differences, Variance, etc. It also depends on a questionnaire which is distributed to Iraq EFL students at the University of Babylon to test the proposed hypotheses. The study finds out that, due to the transfer from their first language’s cultural norms, the non-native speakers of English use the courtesy norms of English erroneously; and that female non-native EFL speakers rely more on courteous norms than males do.

The above abstract is a part of the article which was accepted at The Third International Conference on Current Issues of Languages, Dialects and Linguistics (WWW.LLLD.IR), 31 January-1February 2019 , Iran-Ahwaz.