Cross-Cultural Comparisons of English Request Speech Acts in Native Speakers of English and Chinese



This paper aims at comparing the uses of the English request speech acts in native speakers of English and Chinese. An oral discourse completion task (ODCT) was used to collect data and the chi-square analysis method was applied to examine the data. From the results, the comparisons of request strategies and internal modifications between Chinese and English native speakers showed no significant differences; both groups frequently used indirect strategies. However, with regard to the use of alerts and external modifications, significant differences were found between these two groups. Further results also indicated the effects of social status and familiarity on both groups. To interlocutor in higher status, both groups showed significantly different usages of internal and external modifications. As to interlocutors in equal status, they performed different request strategies, alerts and external modifications. In addition, significant differences were found in the use of alerts to interlocutors in lower social status. To familiar interlocutors, both groups showed different usages in alerts and external modifications. To unfamiliar interlocutors, significant differences were also found in the use of alerts and external modifications. At last, Chinese native speakers with high and low proficiency levels showed significantly different usages in alerts.

Key words: English request speech act; Oral discourse completion task; Chi-square analysis; English native speaker; Chinese native speaker


English request speech act; Oral discourse completion task; Chi-square analysis; English native speaker; Chinese native speaker


Austin, J. (1962). How to Do Things with Words. London: Oxford University Press.

Blum-Kulka, S., House, J., & Kasper, G. (1989). Cross-Cultural Pragmatics: Requests and Spologies. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Brown, P., & Levinson, S. (1987). Politeness: Some Universalsin Language Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cenoz, J., & Valencia, J. (1995). Cross-Cultural Communication and Interlanguage Pragmatics: American vs. European Requests. East Lansing, MI: National Center for Research on Teacher Learning.

Chen, S., & Chen, S.E. (2003, June 10-13). A Pilot Study on Chinese EFL Learners’ Perception on English Request Strategies. Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on English Teaching and Learning (pp. 89-102). Taiwan, Taichung.

Gao, H. (1999). Features of Request Strategies in Chinese. In Working Papers (Vol.47, p. 73). Department of Linguistics, Lund University.

Grice, P. (1975). Logic and Conversation. In C. Peter & L. M. Jerry (Eds.), Syntax and Semantics: Speech Act (pp. 41-58). New York: Academic Press.

Lee-Wong, S.M. (1994). Imperatives in Requests: Direct or Impolite Observation from Chinese. Journal of Pragmatics, 4(4), 491.

Li, J. (2001). An Analysis of the Relationship Between the Use of Causative Means and Situations. The Modern Language Journal, 85(4), 359.

Rose, K.R. (2000). An Exploratory Cross-Sectional Study of Interlanguage Pragmatic Development. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 22(2), 27-67.

Rose, K.R. (2009). Interlanguage Pragmatic Development in Hong Kong: Phase 2. Journal of Pragmatics, 41(11), 2345-2364.

Sangpil, B.A. (2004). Sociopragmatic Analysis of Korean Requests: Pedagogical Settings. Journal of Pragmatics, 36(9), 1673-1704.

Searle, J.R. (1969). Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language. London: Cambridge University Press.

Searle, J.R. (1979). A Taxonomy of Illocutionary Acts. In J. R. Searle (Ed.), Expression and Meaning (pp. 1-29). Cambridge University Press.

Yang, Xianju (2008). A Cross-Sectional Study of Chinese Learners’ Acquisition of English Requests. CELEA Journal, 31(6), 31-43.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2012 Wei HUANGFU

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Share us to:   


  • How to do online submission to another Journal?
  • If you have already registered in Journal A, then how can you submit another article to Journal B? It takes two steps to make it happen:

1. Register yourself in Journal B as an Author

  • Find the journal you want to submit to in CATEGORIES, click on “VIEW JOURNAL”, “Online Submissions”, “GO TO LOGIN” and “Edit My Profile”. Check “Author” on the “Edit Profile” page, then “Save”.

2. Submission

Online Submission:

  • Go to “User Home”, and click on “Author” under the name of Journal B. You may start a New Submission by clicking on “CLICK HERE”.
  • We only use four mailboxes as follows to deal with issues about paper acceptance, payment and submission of electronic versions of our journals to databases:;;;

 Articles published in Cross-Cultural Communication are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY).


Address: 1055 Rue Lucien-L'Allier, Unit #772, Montreal, QC H3G 3C4, Canada.
Telephone: 1-514-558 6138 
Website: Http://; Http://;

Copyright © Canadian Academy of Oriental and Occidental Culture