2012 Volume 14 Issue 1 Pages 51-62
The present study attempts to explore how L1 sociopragmatic knowledge and pragmalinguistic selection influence the Japanese and Chinese EFL learners' interlanguage (IL) requests in terms of syntactic and lexical downgraders in English. Forty-eight Japanese and fifty-four Chinese English-major university students participated in the experiments. Their use of syntactic and lexical downgraders as internal downgraders in their L1 and IL requests was analyzed and compared. Thirteen English native speakers' responses were also taken as the baseline data in order to make the analysis more objective. The data were collected by means of an open Discourse Complete Test (DCT) with four academic situations in their campus life which were different in terms of Power factor including 'make a request to a friend' (-P situation) and 'make a request to a professor' (+P situation). A two-way ANOVA was employed to examine if Power difference factor and Language difference factor influenced their IL requests significantly. The results showed that different from the Japanese EFL learners and English native speakers, Chinese EFL learners tended to use strong hints instead of internal downgraders when they made a request to a professor in their IL English requests, suggesting the possible failure caused by L1 influence in cross-cultural communications.