Invitations Refusal Strategies In North american And Vietnamese

an communication is a blend of co-operation and understanding. Success in communication relies greatly on the ability to recognize speakers' communicative motives and pragmatic meaning of the utterances. Actually, those who may be thought to be fluent in a second language due to their phonetic, syntactic and semantic knowledge of that dialect may still be struggling to produce vocabulary that is socially and culturally appropriate. Because of this, Larina (2008) shows that numerous problems in communication appear because people do not only speak different languages but utilize them in various ways relating to specific public and linguistic norms, principles, and social-cultural convention.

Many people devalue the value of invitation's refusal strategies because normally, this can be a person right to say something he/she doesn't like or doesn't want to. However, it is not as easy as it is regarded as since misbehavior in this area can lead to the interlocutor's sense of being shocked, upset, or even really insulted. It is because every body, as a human being, expects the appreciation and admiration from others. America and Vietnam are two countries with different culture so their communal and linguistic norms are different as well. This paper is an try out give a cross-culture evaluation of ways North american and Vietnamese offer with a tactful-required kind of speech take action: refusing an invitation. On this paper, the similarities and dissimilarities in refusal strategies between American native audio system and Vietnamese local audio speakers will be talked about under three circumstances: when the invitee is at a lower status; when the invitee reaches an equal position; and when the invitee reaches a higher status. To create my subject matter more practical, I also suggest some implications in vocabulary teaching. I hope that this newspaper is a contribution to the analysis of cross-cultural pragmatic understanding and effective communication.

Speech acts

In the 1950s and 60s two philosophers of dialect, John Austin and John Searle, developed conversation act theory using their observation that dialect can be used to do things apart from just refer to the reality or falseness of particular claims. Austin's book How to Do Things with Words (1962) is another to a series of lectures he offered at Harvard School on this subject matter. John Searle, a student of Austin, further developed Austin's work in his publication Speech Acts, which was published in 1969.

Austin's and Searle's work appeared at the same time when reasonable positivism was the prevailing view in the viewpoint of vocabulary. They launched a strong and influential strike upon this work. The rational positive view of language argued a sentence is definitely used to describe some reality, or situation and, unless it could be tested for truth or falsity, is basically meaningless. Austin and Searle witnessed that we now have many phrases that cannot meet such truth conditions but that are, nevertheless, valid sentences and do stuff that exceed their literal meaning.

Searle and Austin argued that in the same way that people perform physical acts, such as having meals or concluding a door, we can also perform works by using terms. We can use dialect, for example, to provide orders, to make demands, to give warnings, or even to give advice. They called these speech acts. Thus people do things with words in quite similar way as they perform physical actions.

Paltridge (2000) provided us the definition of Speech Function:

A Speech Work is an utterance that acts a function in communication. Some examples are an apology, greeting, demand, complaint, invitation, go with or refusal. A speech action might contain just one single phrase such as 'No' to execute a refusal or several words or sentences such as: "I'm sorry, I can't, I have a previous engagement". It's important to say that speech works include real-life interactions and require not only understanding of the terminology but also appropriate use of this language within confirmed culture. Socio-cultural parameters like authority, sociable distance, and situational setting effect the appropriateness and effectiveness of politeness strategies used to understand directive speech works such as demands (p. 15).

Refusal as a conversation act

According to Al-Eryani (2007), a refusal is a respond negatively for an offer, request, invitation, etc. Refusals, as the rest of the speech acts, happen in all languages. However, not all languages/ ethnicities refuse just as nor do they feel comfortable refusing the same invitation or suggestion. Furthermore, how one says "no" may be more important in many societies than the answer itself. Therefore, mailing and receiving a message of 'no" is an activity that requires special skills. The interlocutor got to know when to use the correct form and its function. The talk act and its social elements depend on each group and their cultural-linguistic ideals.

Refusals are believed to be always a face-threatening act one of the speech serves. "Face" means the general public self-image of an person. It identifies that mental and communal sense of do it yourself that everyone has and desires everyone else to recognize. Refusals threaten the inviter's face because they contradict his\her goals and restrict the inviter's independence to act regarding to his\her will. Alternatively, refusals may threaten the addressee's general population image to keep up approval from others.

Because a failure to refuse appropriately can risk the interpersonal relationships of the sound system, refusals usually include various ways of avoid offending one's interlocutors. However, it requires a high degree of pragmatic competence and the choice of the strategies can vary greatly across languages and civilizations. For example, in refusing invitations, offers and suggestions, appreciation was regularly expressed by American British speakers, but hardly ever by Egyptian Arabic loudspeakers (Nelson, Al-batal, and Echols, 1996). When Mandarin Chinese speakers wished to refuse requests, they portrayed positive opinion (e. g. , 'I would like to. ') significantly less frequently than North american English since Chinese language informants were concerned that if they ever expressed positive opinions, they would be forced to comply (Liao and Bressnahan, 1996).


Politeness can be at once be realized as a social phenomenon, a means to achieve good interpersonal associations, and a norm imposed by sociable conventions. So it is phenomenal, instrumental and normative naturally. According to Dark brown and Levinson (as cited in "Politeness, " 1997), politeness strategies are developed in order to save the hearers' "face. " Face refers to the respect that an individual has for him or herself, and preserving that "self-esteem" in public or in private situations. Usually you stay away from embarrassing your partner, or making them feel uneasy. Face Threatening Serves (FTA's) are works that infringe on the hearers' need to keep up his/her self-confidence, and be reputed. Politeness strategies are developed for the primary purpose of coping with these FTA's. What can you do if you saw a cup of pens on your teacher's desk, and you wished to use one, would you

say, "Ooh, I wish to use one of those!"

say, "So, could it be O. K. if I use one of those pens?"

say, "I'm sorry to bother you but, I just wished to ask you if I could use one of those pens?"

Indirectly say, "Hmm, I sure could use a blue pen right now. "

You will find four types of politeness strategies, described by Dark brown and Levinson (as cited in "Politeness, " 1997), that sum up human "politeness" habit: Bald On Record, Negative Politeness, Positive Politeness, and Off-Record-indirect strategy.

If you answered A, you used what's called the Bald On-Record strategy which gives no effort to minimize hazards to your educators' "face. "

If you replied B, you used the Positive Politeness strategy. In this situation you recognize that your tutor has a desire to be respected. It also confirms that the relationship is friendly and expresses group reciprocity.

If you solved C, you used the Negative Politeness strategy which comparable to Positive Politeness in that you know that they want to be respected. However, additionally you assume that you are for some reason imposing about them. Some other good examples would be to say, "I don't want to bother you but. . . " or "I had been wanting to know if. . . "

If you answered D, you used Off-Record indirect strategies. The main purpose is to take some of the pressure from you. You are trying not to immediately impose by asking for a pen. Instead you would rather it be wanted to you after the teacher realizes you need one, and you are looking to find one.

In many ways, politeness is universal. It is resorted to by speakers of different languages as a way to an end and it is recognized as a norm in all societies. Despite its universality, the actual manifestations of politeness, the ways to realize politeness and the requirements of common sense differ in several cultures. On her thesis, Nguyen, T. L (2010) points out some aspects we ought to consider in order to attain the goal of politeness as following:

- The cultural background of the communicator. Generally, a lot more educated a guy is, a lot more he tends to show his politeness to other people. The greater he knows about the best ways to show politeness, the better he uses those to be polite to others. Besides, the personality of the communicator is also very important here. Good-tempered person prefers to use "face-saving take action" while bad-tempered person prefers "face-threatening work" when they come across the "face-losing condition".

- The communicative circumstances. Communication is a very complicated process. In formal occasions, people have a tendency to use formal expressions showing politeness, esp. between the new acquaintances. While in informal states, people have a tendency to be casual to show intimacy even if it is in the minute they meet. And it doesn't mean impoliteness. Look at the following example:

Ex 1: A man came into a club and said to the waiter: "Hi! Pal! Gimme some whisky, would ya?" Although they've never attained before, the man used very casual phrases to enclose their romance. That is a regular way to show friendliness to strangers in similar entertaining places.

- The interpersonal distance. The communal distance between presenter and hearer is one of the factors that determine politeness conducts. The notion of social distance identifies the concern of the functions people are consuming relation to each other in a particular situation as well as how well they know each other, which means the degree of intimacy between interlocutors. However, you may still find some exceptions. For example, people often use family labels to call their good friends, and when these people speak to each other, they'll use immediate offer or need. But sometimes they use very formal expressions in their talk. Go through the pursuing example.

Ex 2: Hubby to his partner: "Can you be so kind concerning hand the breads to me?"

Surely we know that the better half has just quarreled with the spouse and the partner is wanting to amuse her in a certain way.

- The cultural differences. Different culture causes different views of principles, which influences the standards of politeness and brings about differences in various aspects.

+Ways to greet each others and farewells.

+ Methods to address terms.

+ Ways to reward others.

+ Methods to express thanks

Directness and indirectness

Directness and indirectness are basic form of manifestation, which are general in all languages and culture.

Directness is a method of communication in which speaker want to get the straight forward to the factors. The speech interprets exactly and virtually what the presenter said. The energy of directness is the hearer doesn't have to look for what the speaker might have mean by uttering such and such phrase. Everything in their relationship is portrayed explicitly. Misunderstanding scarcely occurs.

Indirectness is any communicative behavior, verbal or nonverbal that conveys something more than or not the same as what it basically means. To be able to protect privacy, to reduce the imposition on the hearer and to avoid the risk of shedding face, there is a desire for indirectness for the speaker to even the conversational connections. For example when conveying the pragmatic so this means I want you to definitely do it, the British make special effort to diminish and soften their imposition and show their admiration for other's privateness. An illustration of the is when someone says "is it possible to pass the sodium?" Here, they are not requesting about your capability to pass the salt - the literal so this means of the word - but requesting you to go away the salt. That is very common operating encounters where "can" is often used to make reference to something other than ability or permission.

There a wide range of socio-cultural factors affecting the directness or indirectness of utterances. Nguyen (1998) (as cited in Nguyen, T. M. P, p. 13) proposes 12 factors that, in his view, may affect the decision of directness and indirectness in communication:

1. Age group: the old tend to be indirect than the young.

2. Gender: females favor indirect manifestation.

3. Dwelling: the rural population will use more indirectness than the urban.

4. Feeling: while furious, people have a tendency to use more indirectness.

5. Profession: those who research social sciences tend to use more indirectness than those who examine natural sciences.

6. Personality: the extroverted have a tendency to use more directness than the introverted.

7. Issue: while referring to a sensitive subject, a taboo, people usually opt for indirectness.

8. Place: when at home, people have a tendency to use more directness than when they are in other places.

9. Communication environment/setting: when in an informal environment, people tend to go to town in a direct way.

10. Community distance: those who have closer relations tend to talk in a far more direct way.

11. Time pressure: when in a rush, people are likely to use direct expressions.

12. Position: when in an excellent position, people tend to use more directness with their inferiors.

These factors help determine the strategies as well as the number of semantic formulae used when speakers perform the function of refusing.

Comparison of refusal strategies in America and Vietnamese

Basing on the info gathered from Nguyen, T. L (2010), I'll focus on three situations where American and Vietnamese refuse the invitations from inviters who have higher, similar and lower status than theirs respectively.

(1), (2), (3), (4) means position of the utterance is provided.

When the invitee is at a lower position.

The components which are typically found in American's way of refusals when the invitee is at a lower position are (1) Appreciation/appreciation + (2) Excuse/reasons/reason + (3) Positive opinion. For example, whenever a university student declines a professor's invitation of experiencing lunch time with his/her family, he/she might answer as following:

"Thank you. I've already eaten. It's so nice of someone to ask".

[(1) Appreciation + (2) Reason + (3) Positive opinion]

2. "Many thanks but I simply experienced lunch".

[(1) Appreciation + (2) Reason]

3. "I simply ate at the Indian restaurant outside and I got a little indigestion, many thanks though".

[(1) Reason + (2) Gratitude]

Vietnamese native audio speakers tend to use the formula: (1) Thank you + (2) Dealing with term + (3) Offer for alternatives or a offer for future acceptance. For example:

"Cm  n gio s , ˜» khi khc em s dng b»‡a cng gia ˜nh thy ".

(Many thanks, professor. I'll join with your loved ones the next time. )

[(1) Appreciation + (2) Handling term + (3) Promises for future approval]

2. "Cm  n gio s , m»i thy v gia ˜nh c» dng b»‡a t»± nhin ".

(Many thanks, professor. Be yourself along family. )

[(1) Gratitude + (2) Dealing with term + (3) Alternaitves]

3. "Em cm  n thy, thy dng b»‡a t»± nhin, em ng»"i u»˜ng n »c tr ˜»i thy cng ˜ »c ".

(Thank you, teacher. Be yourself. I am going to drink some tea to wait for you. )

[(1) Appreciation + (2) Addressing term + (3) Alternatives]

According to the results above, both North american and Vietnamese use manifestation of "gratitude/appreciation" in their refusals; However, gratitude maybe in several orders (either at the start or by the end of the utterance).

One visible difference occurs in this component of refusal is that Vietnamese prefer offering a promise in the foreseeable future to maintain the partnership between the teacher and the scholar. Vietnamese audio system are somehow less likely to give a logical respond to decline the professor's invitation. In contrast, People in america often say directly the key reason why they cannot admit the invitation by expressing "I have consumed" or "I just got lunch". Besides, People in america only use their popular addressing term "you and I' while Vietnamese tend to use many handling conditions such as "Professor" or "Mr. " in the dialog between the professor and the students.

When the invitee reaches an equal position.

The second circumstance involves the presenter refusing an inviter who may have equal position with him/her. When refusing a classmate's invitation, American normally use this formulation: (1) Regret/excuse + (2) Offer of alternatives or a assurance for the future acceptance. For instance:

"I'm really sorry. I've another determination. I am generally available. Can we set it up for another time?"

[(1) Regret + (2) Reason + (3) Offer an alternate]

2. "Just what a pity. I curently have plans. Please i want to know the next time you go and I would love to arrive".

[(1) Regret + (2) Reason + (3) Promises for future acceptance]

Meanwhile Vietnamese semantic solution is (1) A promises for future years approval/ an offer of alternative + (2) reasons as following:

"» ln sau nh, ln n y mnh bn mt r»"i. »"ng ch»?"

(Perhaps the next time, I'm active now. All right?)

[(1) Promise for future years popularity + (2) Reason]

2. "» b»‡a khc ˜ »c khng? Hm nay mnh m‡c h»c r»"i".

(Can we arrange it for another time? I have to examine today. )

[(1) An offer of alternate + (2) Reason]

These instances show that both People in america and Vietnamese seldom say "no" directly to their friends even though they can be in equal position. Mostly, People in america use regret like "I'm sorry/what a pity" to start out their refusal. This style is culturally and socially important and appropriate in the us. On the other hand, Vietnamese may believe that it is less necessary to point out their regret due to the familiarity and close sociable distance. It reflects traditional thinking of Vietnamese that in close romance, people should be open, friendly and casual with each other. Although both two organizations have a tendency to use the excuse and reason to soften their refusal, there exists marginally different in the order between People in america and Vietnamese. Whereas Vietnamese people offer alternatives or assurance for future years acceptance before supplying their excuse in an effort to reduce intimidating face of inviter, Americans use excuse first and follow other alternatives in the foreseeable future.

When the invitee reaches an upper status.

In the previous situation, the speaker, who's at a higher social status, declines an invitation to visit the spa with the staff.

American audio system refuse this kind of invitation by stating patterns like (1) regret + (2) reason/excuse/description. For example:

"Sorry, I've made plans".

[(1) Regret + (2) Reason (subjective reason)]

2. "That seems lovely. But I have much too much to work right now. Say thanks to for inviting me".

[(1) Positive thoughts and opinions + (2) Reason (subjective reason) + (3) Gratitude]

Vietnamese's responses are more complicated and detailed. The most common method is (1) Appreciation + (2) Reason

"Cm  n cu nh ng mnh khng ˜i ˜ »c. Mnh khng mu»˜n cc nhn vin khc hi»u nhm. Thng cm cho mnh nh".

(Thanks a lot, but I cannot choose you. I'm frightened to be misunderstood by other staffs. Sympathize with me!)

[(1) Gratitude + (2) Reason (objective reason) + (3) Sympathy)

2. "Cm  n cu rt nhi»u nh ng cu»˜i tun n y mnh phi tham d»± ˜m c »i c»a ˜»a bn mt r»"i".

(Thank you so much but I'll show up at one of my friend's wedding at the weekend. )

[(1) Appreciation + (2) Reason (objective reason)]

Once again, regrets are favored by Us citizens when refusing an invitation. Vietnamese, however, produce many "thanks" as gratitude first and express reasons later. In this case, although Vietnamese bosses are in higher status than invitees, almost all of them say thank you to their staff in order to understand their staff's good will. There's a attractive difference between North american and Vietnamese speaker systems when giving known reasons for their refusals. Americans often give their subjective reasons like "I'm so busy", "I've made my plan" to see the inviter that they can not go. Because one of American culture principles is to respect individual flexibility. Therefore, if the invitees give their own personal reasons, the inviter encourage their refusals and are not interested in real reasons nowadays. Meanwhile, Vietnamese have a tendency to use objective reasons to soften the facial skin threatening act of the refusals.


America and Vietnam are two countries with different linguistic and social features. However, in cross-culture linguistic, beside the differences due to socio-norm dissimilarities both of these countries still have something in common. When taking strategies in refusing an invitation under consideration, we will get out main similarities and variations as pursuing:


- When refusing an invitation, American and Vietnamese speakers usually use indirect strategy with most communicating partners. Both of them avoid expressing no directly to their interlocutors if they are in high, low or equal status.

- The common tendency is the fact Us citizens and Vietnamese give a variety of reason to avoid burning off their inviters' faces.


- People in the usa produce much more appearance of regrets and reasons to refuse invitations. Typically, regrets often follow reasons in an utterance of refusals. People in the usa have a tendency to give their subjective reasons in most cases.

- Vietnamese counterparts are fond of offering alternatives or a promises for acceptance in the foreseeable future to help make the inviter feel released. They also try to give the interlocutors the objective reasons to soften the face threatening act.

Teaching implications

The results of this thesis demonstrate that refusing generally speaking and refusing an invitation to be specific is a sophisticated task since it requires the higher level of communicative competence. To avoid pragmatic failure, speaker systems need to comprehend fully both socio-cultural strategies employed by most native speakers and the guidelines for their appropriate implementation. Therefore, I've some following teaching tips for L2 teachers:

- Prepare traditional materials for learners because learning a second language does mean learning another culture. Students should have an opportunity to get familiar with materials that are tightly related to the day to day activities of the country of the dialect they are learning.

- Teach words varieties and functions parallel and contextually in both formal and informal situations in order to develop the learners' sociolinguistic potential in an L2.

- Encourage students to perform different speech serves in an L2 in several situations of communal status, public distance, and with reference to the gender relationship between the loudspeakers and interlocutors.

- Organize activities that students can have chances to communicate with both indigenous and non-native audio speakers of British.

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