Mahmoud Rababah, Minah Harun, Aspalila Shapii


This paper examines the language of requests among the hotel trainees in Jordan. It seeks to explore the ways in which the trainees formulate requests in English as a foreign language at the service counter. Specifically, it discusses the extent to which the Jordanian trainees' use of internal modifiers when managing interpersonal and cross-cultural communication diverges from that of the native speakers who are also the hotel supervisors and to relate any such divergences to politeness and cultural factors. The data collected include conversations between the trainees and hotel guests. The findings demonstrate that trainees underuse internal modifiers to mitigate the imposition of the requests and they favour the marker 'please' more than any other modifiers. The findings also reveal that the trainees deviate from the native speakers' performance in terms of volume and types of modifiers. Some of these deviations might refer to Arabic language influence, pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic transfer or to insufficient linguistic and pragmatic competences.


Article visualizations:

Hit counter



language of request, request modifiers, pragmatic competence, host-guest interaction, Jordan

Full Text:



Abdel-Fatah, M. A. M. (1984). A syntactic and semantic study of modality in Modern Standard Arabic (Doctoral dissertation, University of Salford).

Achiba, M. (2003). Learning to request in a second language: A study of child interlanguage pragmatics (Vol. 2). Multilingual Matters, Clevedon

Aijmer, K. (1996) Conversational routines in English: Convention and creativity. Addison Wesley Longman, New York. USA.

Al-Ali, M. N., & Alawneh, R. (2010). Linguistic mitigating devices in American and Jordanian students' requests. Intercultural Pragmatics, 7(2), 311-339.

Al-Ali, M. N., & Sahawneh, M. B. (2008). An investigation into the generic features of English requestive e-mail messages. LSP and professional communication (2001-2008), 8(2).

Al-Fattah, M. (2009) Politeness strategies in the English international requests of Yemeni learners. Iranian Journal of Language Studies 3(3) pp. 249-266.

Alfattah, M. H., & Ravindranath, B. K. (2009). Politeness strategies in the English interlanguage requests of Yemeni learners. Iranian Journal of Language Studies, 3(3).

Al-Gahtani, S. (2017). Sequence Organization of Requests among Australian English and Saudi Arabic Speakers: A Contrastive Study. Arabica, 64(5-6), 761-784.

Atawneh, A. (1991). Politeness theory and the directive speech act in Arabic-English bilinguals. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Linguistics Department, State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Bailey, B. (1997). Communication of respect in interethnic service encounters. Language in Society, 26, 327-356.

Bardovi-Harlig, K. (1996). Pragmatics and language teaching: Bringing pragmatics and pedagogy together. In L. Bouton (Ed.), Pragmatics and language learning (pp. 21-39). Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois, Division of English as an International Language.

Bardovi-Harlig, K. (2017). Acquisition of L2 pragmatics. The Routledge handbook of instructed second language acquisition, 224-245.

Bardovi-Harlig, K. (2019). Invitations as request-for-service mitigators in academic discourse. Journal of Pragmatics, 139, 64-78.

Bardovi-Harlig, K., & Hartford, B. S. (2005). Institutional discourse and interlanguage pragmatics research. In K. Bardovi-Harlig & B. Hartford (Eds.), Interlanguage Pragmatics. Exploring Institutional Talk (pp. 7-36). London: Routledge.

Barron, A. (2003). Acquisition in interlanguage pragmatics: Learning how to do things with words in a study abroad context. (Vol. 108). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: John Benjamins.

Beebe, L., & Cummings, M. (1995). Natural speech act versus written questionnaire data: How data collection method affects speech act performance. In S.M. Gass & J.Neu (eds.), Speech acts across cultures: Challenges to communication in a second language, 65-88, New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Biesenbach-Lucas, S. (2006). Making Requests in Email: Do Cyber-Consultations Entail Directness? Toward Conventions in a New Medium. In K. Bardovi-Harlig, J. C. Félix-Brasdefer, & A. S. Omar (Eds.), Pragmatics & language learning (Vol. 11, pp. 81-108). Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai'i Press.

Biesenbach-Lucas, S. (2007). Students writing emails to faculty: An examination of e-politeness among native and non-native speakers of English. Language Learning &Technology, 11(2), 59-81.

Blum-Kulka, S. (1992). The metapragmatics of politeness in Israeli society. In R. Watts, S. Ide, & K. Ehlich (Eds.), Trends in linguistics: Politeness in language, studies in its history, theory and practice (pp. 255–280). Berlin, Germany: Mouton de Gruyter.

Blum-Kulka, S., & Olshtain, E. (1984). Requests and apologies: A cross-cultural study of speech act realization patterns (CCSARP). Applied Linguistics, 5(3), 196-213.

Blum-Kulka, S., & Olshtain, E. (1986). Too many words: Length of utterance and pragmatic failure. Studies in second language acquisition, 8(2), 165-179.

Blum-Kulka, S., House, J., & Kasper, G. (1989). Cross-cultural pragmatics: Requests and apologies (Vol. 31). Ablex Pub.

Brown, P. & Levinson, S.C. (1987) Politeness: some universals in language usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Canagarajah AS (1999) Resisting Linguistic Imperialism in English Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Carmona-Lavado, A., & de la O Hernández-López, M. (2015). 5 Customer Perceptions of Politeness as a Differentiating Element in Spanish Restaurants Encounters. In A multidisciplinary approach to service encounters (pp. 85-112). Brill.

Chen, C. F. E. (2001). Making e-mail requests to professors: Taiwanese vs. American students. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Applied Linguistics, St. Louis, USA.

Chen. C. E. (2006). The development of e-mail literacy: From writing to peers to writing to authority figures. Language Learning & Technology, 10(2), 35-55.

Cruz, M. P. (2013). Metapsychological awareness of comprehension and epistemic vigilance of L2 communication in interlanguage pragmatic development. Journal of Pragmatics, 59, 117-135.

Cruz, M. P., & López, N. M. (2017). Interlanguage pragmatics in a service encounter: diagnosing how Spanish learners of English for the Tourism Industry inform tourists at a visitor centre. Letras de Hoje, 52(3), 310-321.

Economidou-Kogetsidis, M. (2002) Requesting strategies in English and Greek: Observations from an airlines call centre. Nottingham Linguistic Circular, 17.

Economidou-Kogetsidis, M. (2005). ‘‘Yes, tell me please, what time is the midday flight from Athens arriving?’’: Telephone service encounters and politeness. Intercultural Pragmatics, 2(3), 253-273.

Economidou-Kogetsidis, M. (2008). Internal and external mitigation in interlanguage request production: the case of Greek learners of English. Journal of Politeness Research: Language, Behaviour, Culture 4 (1), 111-138.

Economidou-Kogetsidis, M. (2009). Interlanguage request modification: the use of lexical/phrasal downgraders and mitigating supportive moves. Multilingua 28 (1), 79-111.

Economidou-Kogetsidis, M. (2010). Cross-cultural and situational variation in requesting behaviour: Perceptions of social situations and strategic usage of request patterns. Journal of Pragmatics, 42(8), 2262–2281.

Economidou-Kogetsidis, M. (2011). Please answer me as soon as possible: Pragmatic failure in non-native speakers‟ e-mail requests to faculty. Journal of Pragmatics, 43(13), 3193-3215.

Economidou-Kogetsidis, M. (2012). Modifying oral requests in a foreign language: the case of Greek Cypriot learners of English. In: Economidou-Kogetsidis, M., Woodfield, H., Woodfield, Helen (Eds.), Interlanguage Request Modification. John Benjamins, Amsterdam, pp. 163-202.

Economidou-Kogetsidis, M. (2013). Strategies, modification and perspective in native speakers‟ requests: A comparison of WDCT and naturally occurring requests. Journal of Pragmatics, (53) 21—38

Edmondson, W. (1981). Spoken discourse: A model for analysis. London: Longman.

Edmondson, W. and J. House (1991) Do learners talk too much? The waffle phenomenon in interlanguage pragmatics. In R. Phillipson, E. Kellerman, L. Selinker, M. Sharwood Smith and M. Swain (eds) Foreign/second language pedagogy research, 273-286, Clevedon, Multilingual Matters.

Ervin-Tripp, S. (1976). Is Sybil there? The structure of some American English directives. Language in society, 5(1), 25-66.

Faerch, C., & Kasper, G. (1989). Internal and external modification in interlanguage request realization. In Blum-Kulka, S., House, J., & Kasper, G. (Eds.), Cross-cultural pragmatics: Requests and Apologies (pp. 221–247). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Félix-Brasdefer, C. (2015). The Language of Service Encounters: A Pragmatic- Discursive Approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Félix-Brasdefer, J. C. (2007). Pragmatic development in the Spanish as a FL classroom: A cross-sectional study of learner requests. Intercultural Pragmatics, 4(2), 253-286.

Félix-Brasdefer, J. C. (2008). Politeness in Mexico and the United States: A contrastive study of the realization and perception of refusals. Philadelphia, USA: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Félix-Brasdefer, J. C. (2012). E-mail requests to faculty. Interlanguage Request Modification, 217, 87.

Fernández-Amaya, L., & Hernández-López, M. D. (2015). Service encounters and communication: Why a multidisciplinary approach. A Multidisciplinary Approach to Service Encounters, 3-12.

Fukushima, S. (1990). Offers and requests: Performance by Japanese learners of English. World Englishes 9 (3): 317_325.

Grice, P. (1975). Logic and conversation. In P. Cole & J. Morgan (Eds.), Syntax and semantics. 3: Speech acts (pp. 41–58). New York, NY: Academic Press.

Hassall, T. (2001). Modifying requests in a second language. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching (IRAL) 39 (4), 259-284.

Hassall, T. (2003). Requests by Australian learners of Indonesian. Journal of Pragmatics, 35(12), 1903-1928.

Hassall, T. (2012). Request modification by Australian learners of Indonesian. Interlanguage request modification, 203-42.

Hill, T. (1997). The development of pragmatic competence in an EFL context. PhD dissertation, Temple University, Philadelphia.

House, J. (1989). Politeness in English and German: The functions of ‘please’ and ‘bitte’. In S. Blum-Kulka, J.

House, J. (1996). Developing pragmatic fluency in English as a foreign language: Routines and metapragmatic awareness. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 18, 225–252.

House, J., & Kasper, G. (1987). Interlanguage pragmatics: Requesting in a foreign language. Perspectives on language in performance, 2, 1250-1288.

House, J., & Kasper, G. (1987). Interlanguage pragmatics: Requesting in a foreign language. Perspectives on language in performance, 2, 1250-1288.

Huddleston, R. (2008). Complementation in English. Encyclopaedia of the Linguistic Sciences: Issues and Theories, 473.

Hymes, D. (1972). On Communicative competence. In J. B. Pride., & J. Homes (Eds.), Sociolinguistics (pp. 269-293). England, Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin.

Jalilifar, A. (2009). Request Strategies: Cross-Sectional Study of Iranian EF Learners and Australian Native Speakers. English language teaching, 2(1), 46-61.

Kachru, B. K. (2001). Why the time is right for India to exploit its most valuable export commodity: English. Learning English, Supplement to the Guardian Weekly.

Kádár, D. Z., & Mills, S. (Eds.). (2011). Politeness in East Asia. Cambridge University Press.

Kasper, G. (1992). Pragmatic transfer. Interlanguage studies bulletin (Utrecht), 8(3), 203-231.

Kasper, G. (1997). Can pragmatic competence be taught? Honolulu: University of Hawaii. Second Language Teaching and Curriculum Center. Retrieved, 6, 2004.

Kasper, G. (2000). Data collection in pragmatics research. In H. Spencer-Oatey (Ed.), Culturally speaking: Managing rapport through talk across cultures (pp. 316–369). London, England: Continuum.

Kasper, G., & Dahl, M. (1991). Research methods in interlanguage pragmatics. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 13(02), 215-247.

Kasper, G., & Rose, K. (2001). Pragmatics in language teaching. In K. Rose & G. Kasper (Eds.), Pragmatics in language teaching (pp. 1–12). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Kasper, G., & Rose, K. (2002). Pragmatic development in a second language. Oxford, United Kingdom: Blackwell.

Kerbrat-Orecchioni, C. (2006). Politeness in small shops in France. Journal of Politeness Research, 2, 79-103.

Koike, D. A. (1989). Pragmatic competence and adult L2 acquisition: Speech acts in interlanguage. The Modern Language Journal73 (3): 279-289.

Koike, D. A., & Pearson, L. (2005). The effect of instruction and feedback in the development of pragmatic competence. System, 33(3), 481-501.

Królak, E., & Rudnicka, K. (2006). Selected aspects of directives in Polish. Revista española de lingüística aplicada, (19), 129-142.

Kuroshima, S. (2010). Another look at the service encounter: Progressivity, intersubjectivity, and trust in a Japanese sushi restaurant. Journal of Pragmatics, 42(3), 856-869.

Kusluvan, S. (2003). Managing employee attitudes and behaviors in the tourism and hospitality industry. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2003. p. 173-200.

Leech, G. N. (1983). Principles of pragmatics. London, England: Longman.

Leech, G. N. (2014). The pragmatics of politeness. Oxford University Press, USA.

LoCastro, V. (1997). Pedagogical intervention and pragmatic competence development. Applied Language Learning, 8(1), 75–109.

LoCastro, V. (1997). Pedagogical intervention and pragmatic competence development. Applied Language Learning, 8(1), 75–109.

Locher, M. A. and Watts, R. J. (2005). Politeness theory and relational work. Journal of Politeness Research 1, 1: 9-33.

Maros, M., & Halim, N. S. (2018). Alerters in Malay and English Speech Act of Request: A Contrastive Pragmatics Analysis. 3L: Language, Linguistics, Literature®, 24(1).

McCarthy, M. M. (2018). A Pragmatic Analysis of Requests in Irish English and Russian. TEANGA, the Journal of the Irish Association for Applied Linguistics, 25, 121-137.

Merritt, M. (1976). On questions following questions in service encounters. Language in society, 5(3), 315-357.

Najafabadi, S. A., & Paramasivam, S. (2012). Iranian EFL Learners' Interlanguage Request Modifications: Use of External and Internal Supportive Moves. Theory & Practice in Language Studies, 2(7).

Ogiermann, E. (2009). Politeness and in-directness across cultures: A comparison of English, German, Polish and Russian requests. Journal of Politeness Research. Language, Behaviour, Culture, 5(2), 189-216.

Pinto, D. R. (2005). The acquisition of requests by second language learners of Spanish. Spanish in Context, 2(1), 1–27.

Placencia, M. E. (2004). Rapport-building activities in corner shop interactions. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 8, 215–245.

Placencia, M. E. (2005). Pragmatic variation in corner store interactions in Quito and Madrid. Hispania, 583-598.

Placencia, M. E. (2015). 3 Address Forms and Relational Work in E-commerce: The Case of Service Encounter Interactions in MercadoLibre Ecuador. In A multidisciplinary approach to service encounters (pp. 37-64). Brill.

Placencia, M. E. (2019). Responding to bargaining moves in a digital era. Technology Mediated Service Encounters, 300, 173.

Reiter, R. M., & Bou-Franch, P. (2017). (Im) politeness in Service Encounters. In The Palgrave Handbook of Linguistic (Im) politeness (pp. 661-687). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Roever, K., & Al-Gahtani, S. (2015). The development of ESL proficiency and pragmatic performance. ELT Journal, 69(4), 395–404.

Rose, K. (2005). On the effects of instruction in second language pragmatics. System, 33(3), 385–399.

Rose, K., & Kasper, G. (Eds.). (2001). Pragmatics in language teaching. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Ruhi, Ş. (2006). Politeness in compliment responses. Pragmatics. Quarterly Publication of the International Pragmatics Association (IPrA), 16(1), 43-101.

Samarah, A. Y. (2015). Politeness in Arabic culture. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 5(10), 2005-2016.

Sato, S. (2008). Use of “please” in American and New Zealand English. Journal of Pragmatics, 40(7), 1249-1278.

Schauer, G. A. (2009). Interlanguage pragmatic development: The study abroad context. London: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Searle, J. (1975). Indirect speech acts. In Cole P., & Morgan J. L. (Eds.), Syntax and Semantics 3: Speech acts (pp.59-82). New York: Academic Press.

Seidlhofer, B. (2004). 10. Research perspectives on teaching English as a lingua franca. Annual review of applied linguistics, 24, 209-239.

Shively, R. L. (2008). Politeness and social interaction in study abroad: Service encounters in L2 Spanish (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Shively, R. L. (2011). L2 pragmatic development in study abroad: A longitudinal study of Spanish service encounters. Journal of Pragmatics, 43(6), 1818–1835.

Sifianou, M. (1992a). Politeness Phenomena in England and Greece: A Cross-cultural Perspective. Clarendon Press, Oxford.

Skewis, M. (2003). Mitigated directness in Honglou meng: directive speech acts and politeness in eighteenth century Chinese. Journal of Pragmatics, 35(2), 161-189.

Spencer-Oatey, H. (2005) ‘(Im)politeness, face and perceptions of rapport: unpackaging their bases and interrelationships’ Journal of Politeness Research 1: 95-119.

Taguchi, N. (2006). Analysis of appropriateness in a speech act of request in L2 English. Pragmatics. Quarterly Publication of the International Pragmatics Association (IPrA), 16(4), 513-533.

Taleghani-Nikazm, C., & Huth, T. (2010). L2 requests: Preference structure in talk-in-interaction. Multilingua, 29, 185–202.

Sundaram, D. S., & Webster, C. (2000). The role of nonverbal communication in service encounters. Journal of Services Marketing, 14(5), 378-391.

Thomas, J. (1983). Cross-cultural pragmatic failure. Applied Linguistics, 4(2), 91–112.

Traverso, V. (2001). Syrian service encounters. Pragmatics. Quarterly Publication of the International Pragmatics Association (IPrA), 11(4), 421-444.

Traverso, V. (2006). Aspects of polite behaviour in French and Syrian service encounters: A data-based comparative study. Journal of Politeness Research, 2, 105-122.

Trosborg, A. (1995). Interlanguage pragmatics: Requests, complaints and apologies. Berlin, Germany: Mouton de Gruyter.

Ventola, E. (2005). Revisiting service encounter genre–Some Reflections. Folia linguistica, 39(1-2), 19-43.

Woodfield, H. (2008). “Interlanguage requests in English: A contrastive study.” In Contrastive Pragmatics: Interlanguage and Cross-Cultural Perspectives, Martin

Woodfield, H. (2012). I think maybe I want to lend the notes from you: Development of request modification in graduate learners. In H. Woodfield & M. Economidou-Kogetsidis (Eds.), Interlanguage request modification (pp. 9-49). Amsterdam, Netherlands: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Woodfield, H. (2015). Sociopragmatic variation in native speakers’ and ESL learners’ requests. In Researching Sociopragmatic Variability (pp. 151-173). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Woodfield, H., & Economidou-Kogetsidis, M. (2010). "I just need more time": A study of native and non-native students' requests to faculty for an extension. Multilingua, 29(1), 77–118.

Yates, A. B. (2015). Pragmatic variation in service encounters in Buenos Aires, Argentina. IULC Working Papers, 15(1).

Yazdanfar, S., & Bonyadi, A. (2016). Request strategies in everyday interactions of Persian and English speakers. SAGE Open, 6(4), 2158244016679473.

Yuen, W. L. (2009). An investigation of the politeness phenomena in hotel service encounters (Doctoral dissertation, Department of English, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University).

Yung, E., & Chan, A. (2002). Business traveler satisfaction with hotel service encounters. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 11(4), 29-41.

Zhang, Y. (1995) Strategies in Chinese requesting. In G. Kasper (eds.), Pragmatics of Chinese as native and target language, pp. 23-68. University of Hawaii at Manoa.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

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

The research works published in this journal are free to be accessed. They can be shared (copied and redistributed in any medium or format) and\or adapted (remixed, transformed, and built upon the material for any purpose, commercially and\or not commercially) under the following terms: attribution (appropriate credit must be given indicating original authors, research work name and publication name mentioning if changes were made) and without adding additional restrictions (without restricting others from doing anything the actual license permits). Authors retain the full copyright of their published research works and cannot revoke these freedoms as long as the license terms are followed.

Copyright © 2018-2023. European Journal of Applied Linguistics Studies (ISSN 2602 - 0254 / ISSN-L 2602 - 0254). All rights reserved.

This journal is a serial publication uniquely identified by an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) serial number certificate issued by Romanian National Library. All the research works are uniquely identified by a CrossRef DOI digital object identifier supplied by indexing and repository platforms. All the research works published on this journal are meeting the Open Access Publishing requirements and standards formulated by Budapest Open Access Initiative (2002), the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing (2003) and Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities (2003) and can be freely accessed, shared, modified, distributed and used in educational, commercial and non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Copyrights of the published research works are retained by authors.