The refusal speech act in a cross-cultural perspective: A study of Iranian English-language learners and Anglo-Australian speakers

Homa Shishavan, Farzad Sharifian

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26 Citations (Scopus)


This study aimed to investigate the refusal strategies of Iranian English-language learners and Anglo-Australian students to shed light on possible areas of cross-cultural miscommunication. Data were collected through a discourse completion test. Sociocultural norms underlying refusals of Iranian students were also investigated through focus group interviews (FGIs).In interaction with addressees of higher social power, both groups of participants used more indirect strategies. However, while making refusals to status equals, the performance of the Iranian and Australian participants differed from each other to a degree that could lead to intercultural miscommunication. The FGIs revealed that first language cultural schemas of tă'ărof (ritual politeness) and ru-dar-băyesti (state/feeling of distance-out-of-respect) greatly affected the refusals of the Iranian students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-88
Number of pages14
JournalLanguage and Communication
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • Cross-cultural/Intercultural communication
  • Cultural schema
  • Ru-dar-băyesti
  • Speech act of refusal
  • Tă'ărof

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