A Sociopragmatic Analysis of the Speech Act of Criticism by Persian Native Speakers

Maryam Farnia, Hiba Qusay Abdul Sattar


This paper examines the speech act of criticism among Iranian native speakers of Persian. Making and taking criticism can be difficult since no one would like to be told that he or she is wrong. In fact, criticism is a very important speech act in people’s daily life. More and more people view criticism as a panel from where they can improve their performance or how to do things better. It is commonly used by people in almost all cultures. However, this speech act is very situation-dependent in that speakers should know how to perform the speech act considering such aspects as the hearer, the relationship with the hearer, the topic, the purpose of the speech, and the appropriate linguistic forms for the speech act. Empirical studies on speech acts show that the same speech act is very likely to be realized quite differently across different cultures. Accordingly, the primary objectives of this study are to examine Iranians’ perception and production of the speech act of criticism. Data are based on the distribution of a Discourse Evaluation Test (DET) and a structured interview. It consisted of four situations given to 100 Iranian native speakers of Persian at Payame Noor University, Iran. The corpus was then analyzed and categorized based on Nguyen’s (2005) coding scheme, in which criticisms are coded according to their realization strategies and external modifiers. The overall findings showed that the use of direct strategies outnumbered that of indirect strategies and mitigating devices. However, one distinctive feature of the present data was that politeness is achieved through the use of mitigating devices.


Pragmalinguistics, sociopragmatics, speech act, criticisms, Persians.

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