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Language and Apology

  • Date Submitted: 11/01/2012 08:45 PM
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Apology strategies in Persian

1. Introduction
Different areas of use and interpretation of language, with regard to meaning and pragmatic functions, are studied under the general headings of semantics and pragmatics. However despite many attempts to draw a distinction between semantics and pragmatics, there seems to be no general agreement as to what the distinction really amounts to. While a sharp distinction between these two areas seems very difficult to make, most of the topics investigated in these areas are categorized under pragmatics. Communicative acts or simply speech acts have proved to be one of the attractive areas in pragmatics and sociolinguistics. With a more inclusive view of speech as a form of communication, one may start with the analysis of speech act in terms of its components or the functions. This can, partially, make up for basic limitations of theoretical linguists of the past who considered sentence as the largest unit of analysis, and referential meaning as the only relevant sort of meaning. However, while speech acts operate by universal pragmatic principles (Austin, 1962; Searle, 1969, 1975; Leech, 1983), they vary in conceptualization and verbalization across cultures and languages (Green, 1975; Wierzbicka, 1985). Thus, to establish universal features of speech acts, it seems necessary to investigate their typical realization pattern within many languages. The rationale is confirmed in the following quotation: ‘‘If claims for the pragmatic universality are to approximate any type of validity, they should be based on the empirical investigation of many more and diverse languages’’ (Blum-Kulka et al., 1989:8). The present study is, hence, an attempt to explore the realization of apology speech act, which tends to be more situation dependent and less frequent than other speech acts (Overfield, 1995). It is also to examine the frequency, combination, and
Journal of Pragmatics 42 (2010) 1689–1699


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