THE EXPRESSION OF POLITENESS IN A BILINGUAL SETTING: EXPLORING THE CASE OF MALTESE ENGLISH

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Abstract


Single-moment studies have traditionally been carried out with the aim of investigating the pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic skills of non-native speakers compared to those of native speakers of a particular language. The present study aims to investigate the parallel skills in expressing politeness of Maltese bilingual speakers rather than differences between native and non-native speakers in this respect. Since the variety of English spoken in Malta has often been characterised as distinct from British English, we used a small-scale spoken discourse completion task to examine the extent to which British English and Maltese affect the expression of politeness in Maltese English, in the context of requests and apologies. To this end, we compared the responses provided by three distinct groups of participants in terms of the use of particular politeness strategies, as well as the frequency and intonation of politeness markers. The re-sults obtained remain largely inconclusive partly due to certain limitations arising from use of the discourse completion task methodology. They nevertheless do provide preliminary evidence, which is, to our mind, worth exploring further, of a close similarity between Maltese English and Maltese in terms of the into-nation that accompanies markers of politeness.

Martina Cremona

martina.cremona.14@um.edu.mt
University of Malta Msida, MSD 2080, Malta

Martina Cremona is a graduate of Linguistics at the University of Malta. Research interests: sociolinguistics, politeness theory and cross-cultural studies.

Stavros Assimakopoulos

stavros.assimakopoulos@um.edu.mt
University of Malta Msida, MSD 2080, Malta

Stavros Assimakopoulos is a Senior Lecturer in Linguistics at the University of Malta. Research interests: linguistics, philosophy and cognitive psychology, inferential pragmatics and discourse analysis. He recently edited two volumes: Pragmatics at its Interfaces (Mouton de Gruyter, 2017) and Current issues in Intercultural Pragmatics (John Benjamins, 2017; with Istvan Kecskes).

Alexandra Vella

alexandra.vella@um.edu.mt
University of Malta Msida, MSD 2080, Malta

Alexandra Vella is a Professor of Linguistics at the University of Malta. Research interests: phonetics and phonology, particularly intonational phonology. Her main research focus is on prosody and intonation in Maltese and its dialects, and on the influence of the language background of Maltese speakers on the intonational structure of Maltese English. She is also interested in interlanguage phonology and in accent and dialect variation.

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