Requests by Australian learners of Indonesian

Timothy Hassall

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    This study examines how Australian learners of Indonesian perform requests in everyday situations compared to Indonesian native speakers. The data were collected by means of interactive roleplay. Results showed that both groups of subjects favour the same request type: query preparatory. However, learner subjects used a different modal verb to perform their requests, used Want statements and hint statements more than native Indonesians do, and used elided imperatives less often. The findings emphasise the potential importance of positive pragmatic transfer, of the negative effect of formal instruction, and of learners' concern for clarity. The study also has developmental implications for L2 pragmatics. Most broadly, it supports the claim of Bialystok [Bialystok, Ellen, 1993. Symbolic representation and attentional control in pragmatic competence. In: Kasper, Gabriele, Blum-Kulka, Shoshana (Eds.), Pragmatic Interlanguage. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 43-57.] that the main task for adult learners of L2 pragmatics is to gain control over knowledge rather than knowledge itself. It also suggests that Want statements and hint statements will be used in inverse proportion to language proficiency, that competence in aspects of requesting linked to conversational management will develop in tandem with linguistic proficiency, and that a U-shaped curve of development is likely in the acquisition of request strategies realised by very short forms.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1903-1928
    JournalJournal of Pragmatics
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


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