Document Type

Article

Publication Date

12-2009

Scholarship Domain(s)

Scholarship of Discovery

Abstract

Most cross-linguistic studies of speech acts have dealt mainly with two languages, a native language and a second or foreign language. The present study investigates a multilingual situation where the native speakers of Ciluba, French, and English are compared to the trilingual speakers of the three languages in terms of the realization of the speech acts of apologizing and complaining. It considers the social beliefs of the subjects of the four language groups for the realization of the two speech acts. The study is part of a larger study that was designed to discover the norms of the three languages under investigation and to see how people speaking a second and a foreign language, with different levels of fluency in each, can participate in the activity of the speech communities of the two languages without violating their socio-cultural norms, and what impact, if any, their knowledge of these languages has on each of the languages they speak. It was found that for the realization of the speech acts of apologizing and complaining, Ciluba socio-cultural beliefs were different from those of English and French, which are similar. In contrast to French and English, in Ciluba social distance and relative power between the participants play an important role in deciding whether the speech acts can be performed or not. The results also revealed that, despite the difference which exists between Ciluba and the other two languages, i.e., French and English, some subjects from the group of Ciluba monolingual subjects showed some similarities with the groups of French and English monolingual subjects in their responses to some items in the questionnaire. This deviation of some of the native speakers of Ciluba from their social beliefs was hypothesized to be a result of their contact with an urban environment and its mixed culture.