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A Research of the Internet Communication Speech Act of Thanking in Chinese and Pedagogical Applications -- A Case Study of American Students
JO YU CHAO
gratitude expression speech act
cross-cultural internet communication
Cross-cultural network communication has become increasingly frequent and has also developed a different pragmatic culture from the traditional mode; however, existing Chinese language teaching materials and methods intended to develop students "cross-cultural communication competence" are still insufficient. This study focuses on the Chinese language Internet Thanks Speech Act and aims to investigate the similarities and differences between Chinese native speakers, English native speakers and American learners of Chinese by comparing a corpus of each. Furthermore, this study examines the factors that lead to pragmatic failures by American learners of Chinese. At the end of this study, the author provides a teaching plan based on the synthesis of language forms and language functions that is intended to improve learners’ communicative ability when expressing gratitude via the Internet in Chinese. This study utilizes the research framework created by Li (2004b), and takes into account the politeness principles proposed by Leech (1983) and Que (1999). The author collected and compared corpora through electronic questionnaires, the Taiwanese Bulletin Board System (BBS) and personal interviews of Chinese native speakers, English native speakers and American learners of Chinese. This study takes into account social factors like “gender”, “social power” and “social distance”, with the goals of: 1. Finding the common language forms and strategies that Chinese native speakers would use to express gratitude in varying situations via the Internet. 2. Understanding the difficulty and pragmatic failures of American learners of Chinese to express gratitude in Chinese. 3. Suggesting a teaching plan to improve this situation. The results of this study show that pragmatic negative transfer, pragmatic overgeneralization and teaching-induced errors are the main reasons for American learners of Chinese’ pragmatic failures. Chinese Internet users, whose culture is defined by being indirect and paying more attention to “social power “, still prefer using the "apology" method with multi-supporting strategies to express their gratitude to people who have higher social status. While American learners of Chinese, whose culture thinks highly of “equal rights” and “sincerity”, have an inability to understand, acquire or tend to avoid using some specific language forms and supporting strategies, which caused some pragmatic failures. This study also showed that in the three groups, of the variables "gender gap", "social power" and "social distance" , only "social power" significantly affected strategy selection: most American learners of Chinese had pragmatic failures in expressing gratitude to people who were of a higher social status. In addition, due to the Internet culture and Westernization impact, "direct" and "varied supplementary policies" have become the predominant choice among Chinese native speakers when expressing thanks online in Chinese. This is in stark contrast with the past, where the tradition of "indirectness" reigned supreme. Such a change reveals the rise of virtual society, which has contributed to the evolution of the human speech model. However, with the lack of up-to-date teaching materials and the old fashion concepts instructors teach, learners have little chance of developing cross-cultural network communication capabilities. This paper ends with a teaching plan based on the author’s research. By applying Walker’s (2001) two principles: “remembering the future” and “practice by playing”, the author proposes a teaching method that contains “skit observation”, “culture discussion” and “role-playing” to develop and improve learners’ pragmatic competence in a cross-cultural network communication.
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