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Web of Proceedings - Francis Academic Press

A comparative study on the realization of the condolence speech act between KCFL learners and CNSs

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DOI: 10.25236/iclahd.2019.022


Xinyu Han

Corresponding Author

Xinyu Han


Working under the framework of Selinker’s interlanguage hypothesis (1972) and Searle’s speech act theory (1976), this study investigates the Korean Chinese as Foreign Language (KCFL) learners' realization of the condolence speech act in Chinese and compares their realization with Chinese native speakers’ (CNSs) realization patterns. The study further analyzes if and how the social relation, social distance as well as degree of sadness influence KCFL learners’ realization patterns of condolence. 30 KCFL learners and 30 CNSs completed a 4-item Discourse Completion Test (DCT). The responses are analyzed based on Elwood’s (2004) coding scheme. The preliminary results indicate that learners’ condolence strategies and formulas differ from NSs’. KCFL learners use the “other” strategy the most and use the “offer of assistance” strategy the least, while CNSs use the “acknowledgement of death” strategy the most and use the “expression of concern” strategy the least. Furthermore, learners’ realization patterns vary across situations. Culturally, both affected by Confucianism, KCFL learners and CNSs generally show a similar pattern. Confucianism also influences how learners address situations with different social relations (Xiao, 2000). Also, the Korean conventional value that people should treat strangers with more caution (Kwon, 2016) affects learners’ responses in situations with different social distances. Moreover, attitudes that owners view pets as functional rather than family members in the Eastern world leads to more serious and formal expressions in the human-related situation and less in the dog-related situation (Chen, 2011). Linguistically, nonnative responses are produced due to L1 transfer (Wu, 2012). The deixis also influences KCFL learners’ responses in situations with different degrees of sadness (Qian, 2010). Pedagogically, the nonnative-like and formal style in KCFL learners’ responses result from the textbook used in the Chinese class (Huang & Sun, 2010). One implication of this work is for Chinese teachers and textbook-designers to add more condolence-related linguistic and pragmatic knowledge in classes and textbooks.


Expressive speech acts; the condolence speech act; interlanguage pragmatics; speech act realization patterns; Korean; Chinese