Degree Date



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




This study investigates the cross cultural realization of request patterns. The goal of the study is to compare the realization of requests produced by adult American English speaking learners of Russian (NNS) to that of native speakers of Russian and native speakers of English to identify the similarities and differences between native and non-native speakers’ request realization patterns. Speech production is investigated in conjunction with each speaker group’s perceptions of social (i.e., social power, relevant distance, and a degree of imposition) and contextual factors (i.e., right to ask and obligation to comply).

On the background of this analysis, the pragmatic development of the target language of a group of English-speaking learners of Russian enrolled in a summer immersion program is analyzed. Oral data from 28 NNSs were collected at the beginning and end of the immersion programs. A Discourse Completion Task (DCT) format was employed to collect data from 15 native speakers of Russian and 14 native speakers of English. The participants’ request behavior was examined in three different social contexts: request for a book, request for a ride, and request to open a window. Within each context there were two to four situations differing in terms of social factors.

The comparison of the language thus produced results in three important findings. First, the data show the influence of contextual factors in implementing request strategies by NNSs. In standard situations (requests to open a window), the learners followed L2 pragmalinguistic norms. In the other situations the requests follow L1 pragmalinguistic norms. Further, contextual factors also appear to influence the choice of strategies. For instance, hearer preparatory condition and hearer intention strategies seem preferable for situations represented by the request for a ride. Second, conventionally indirect (CI) requests are the top strategy of all three groups. Overall, both native groups show preference toward hearer-oriented CI, whereas the learners apply both hearer-and speaker-oriented CI strategies with a slight preference toward the latter. Third, the results indicate that the immersion training may assist in developing some pragmalinguistic conventions (i.e., request orientation), but not in others (i.e., reference: formal vs. informal form of address).


For those outside the Bryn Mawr community who want access to this dissertation, check Proquest Digital Dissertations, order through your library's ILL department, or see if the dissertation is available for purchase through Proquest.