Russian and Spanish Apologies: A Contrastive Pragmalinguistic Study

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Valentyna Filimonova


The present study offers a pragmalinguistic analysis of Russian and Spanish apologies, both languages associated with positive-politeness cultures and orientation toward the hearer. While apologies are among the most studied speech acts (e.g. Blum-Kulka, House, & Kasper, 1989; Holmes, 1989; Ogiermann, 2008, 2009; Shardakova, 2005), cross-cultural research mostly focuses on opposite-politeness cultures with English often providing the point of comparison (e.g. Ogiermann, 2008; Márquez Reiter, 2000). This study attempts to expand the field of cross-cultural pragmatics by exploring a yet unexamined pair of languages, Russian and Spanish. This selection is also advantageous by providing an additional control for the type of culture and thus creating greater opportunity to identify social factors behind variation. Nineteen Mexican and nineteen Russian-Ukrainian university students and young professionals completed a written discourse completion task (DCT) consisting of eight apologies. The analysis of linguistic and social factors, following Blum-Kulka et al. (1989), allows to describe and to explain the results of the comparison. In general, the two varieties show high pragmalinguistic similarity with a few significant differences due to gender. From the politeness standpoint, the found differences suggest that Russian-Ukrainians exhibit a slightly higher index of positive politeness than Mexicans.


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