Attitudes of English Speakers Towards Thanking in Spanish

Carlos De Pablos-Ortega


The aim of this paper is to ascertain the attitudes English native speakers have towards the Spanish
language and culture, specifically, in relation to the speech act of thanking and in connection with Brown
and Levinsons model of politeness ([1978] 1987). Two sources of data were used: First, a corpus of 64
course books which included 250 situations representing the speech act of thanking and, second, a
questionnaire for the teaching of Spanish as a Foreign Language. The situations including the speech act
of thanking were analysed and then categorized according to various criteria. The criteria were created by
taking into consideration Coulmas (1981) proposal for the classification of thanking as well as the
components of this specific speech act. The most frequent situations found in the course books were then
used to devise the second source of data. The aim of this was to determine the attitudes of 300
participants, divided equally between the nationalities used in the investigation, Spanish, British and
American. The questionnaire included 12 scenarios in which the thanking formula was omitted.
Participants were prompted to answer questions based on their perceptions and to include other responses
whenever they considered them to be appropriate. The main findings provided evidence of different
facework values across the three groups of informants for some of the specific scenarios. Both
quantitative and qualitative analyses of data showed that some of the responses were connected to the
thanking formulae, but others to speech acts such as request formulae.

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