Pragmalinguistic and Sociopragmatic Variation: Refusing among Spanish Heritage speakers

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Vanessa Elias


Few researchers have examined the pragmatic competence of Spanish heritage speakers (e.g. Pinto & Raschio, 2008; Valdés, 1981; Walters, 1979; Zentella, 1997). The present study investigates the strategies that Spanish heritage speakers use when giving a refusal, as well as how they perceive insistence. The data from the study come from nine Spanish heritage speakers that interacted with another Spanish heritage speaker. The participants and interlocutor engaged in four different role-play situations that included two refusals to an invitation and two refusals to a suggestion. Afterwards the participants completed a retrospective verbal report with the researcher (Cohen, 2012). The results from the study show that the participants preferred the use of indirect refusal strategies, such as giving a reason or explanation or an indefinite reply, which demonstrates the participant’s willingness to engage with the interlocutor despite giving a refusal. The results from the retrospective verbal report reveal that heritage speakers are aware of cultural differences and in some cases are susceptible to these differences. This study demonstrates that these Spanish heritage speakers possess the pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic knowledge of Spanish.


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