Arab World English Journal ( August 2023)                       Theses ID 297              Pp. 1-68

Full Theses PDF 

A Sociopragmatic Study of the Strategies of Ostensible Invitations in Saudi Arabic

Shorouq Ashoor Dhaifallah Alzahrani
Department of English Language and Literature
Imam Mohammed bin Saud Islamic University, Saudi Arabia



Author: Shorouq Ashoor Dhaifallah Alzahrani
Thesis Title: A Sociopragmatic Study of the Strategies of Ostensible Invitations in Saudi Arabic
Institution: Department of English Language and Literature, Imam Mohammed bin Saud Islamic University, Saudi Arabia
Degree: M.A
Subject/Major: Linguistics
Year of award:
Abdulrahman Al-Shabeeb
Keywords: Ostensible invitations, Pretense, Sincerity, Saudi Arabic, Ostensibility


The current study investigated the speech act of ostensible invitations in Saudi Arabic from a sociopragmatic perspective. It was conducted to examine whether Saudi Arabic speakers draw on the same strategies stipulated by Clark and Isaacs (1990) for extending ostensible invitations. Additionally, the study aimed at investigating whether there are Saudi-specific strategies for extending ostensible invitations. To this end, the study examined 37 recalled instances of ostensible invitations provided by Saudi Arabic speakers in the Central Region of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh. The corpus of the study was compiled through face-to-face and written interviews with 37 informants aged between 18 to 60. The collected data was analyzed on the basis of Clark and Isaacs’s seven strategies for establishing ostensible invitations. Results showed that Saudi Arabic speakers utilize the seven strategies proposed by Clark and Isaacs for extending ostensible invitations, yet with relative weight. The most frequently used strategies by Saudi Arabic speakers to issue ostensible invitations in the collected exchanges were the absence of persistence, which was detected in (86%) of the exchanges, and the absence of motivating the invitee, which was used in (73%) of the collected ostensible invitations. Those were followed in order of frequency by vague arrangements (59%), implausibility (49%), inappropriate cues (19%), solicitation (14%), and hedging (5%). In addition to Clark and Isaacs’s proposed strategies, the study found that three more strategies are employed by Saudi Arabic speakers to highlight the ostensibility of their invitations which are: using intensifying and empty swearing devices (e.g., d̪ˁaroori, laazem, wallah, etc.) (27%), extending the invitation in the form of a question (5%), and asking someone else to extend the invitation on behalf of the inviter (5%), the last of which seems to be peculiar to Saudi Arabic speakers.

Cite as: Alzahrani, S.A.D. (2023). A Sociopragmatic Study of the Strategies of Ostensible Invitations in Saudi Arabic. Department of English Language and Literature, Imam Mohammed bin Saud Islamic University, Saudi Arabia (M.A.Thesis). Retrieved from Arab World English Journal (ID Number: 297)  August 2023: 1-68.


Abdel Hady, S. (2013). Ostensible Invitations in Jordanian Arabic: A Sociopragmatic Study [Master’s thesis].

Abdulla, H. (2011). Locutionary, Illocutionary and Perlocutioary Acts Between Modern

linguistics and Traditional Arabic Linguistics. and-perlocutioary-acts_5ae34dbd7f8b9ac2028b4582.html

Alfalig, H. (2016). Invitation in Saudi Arabic: A Socio-Pragmatic Analysis [Doctoral dissertation].

Al-Hamzi, A. M., Sartini, N. W., Hapsari, N. F., Gougui, A., & Mansour Ali Al-Nozili, R. (2020). A cross-cultural pragmatic
study of invitation strategies as produced by

Indonesian and Yemeni EFL language learners. International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature, 9(6),

Al-Hindawi, F., & Kadhim, B. (2017). Pragmatic Functions of Ostensible Invitations in Iraqi Arabic [Doctoral dissertation].

Al-Khatib, M. (2006). The pragmatics of invitation making and acceptance in Jordanian society. Journal of Language
and Linguistics, 5(2), 272-294.

Altalhi, H. (2014). Speech Acts of Thanking and Thanking Responses by Hijazi Females[Master’s thesis].

Aston, G. (1995). Say “Thank you”. Some pragmatic constraints in conversational closings.Applied Linguistics 16: 57–86.

Atkinson, J. M., and Drew, P. (1979) Order in Court: The Organization of Verbal Interaction in Judicial Settings. London: Macmillan.

Austin, J. L. (1962). How to do things with words. Harvard University Press.

Bach, K. & R. Harnish (1979). Linguistic Communication and Speech Acts. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Barron, A. (2003) Acquisition in Interlanguage Pragmatics: Learning How to Do Things with Words in a Study Abroad
Context. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Bella, S. (2009). Invitations and politeness in Greek: The age variable. Journal of Politeness Research. Language,
Behaviour, Culture, 5(2), 243-271.

Billmyer, K. & Varghese, M. (2000). Investigating instrument-based pragmatic variability: Effects of enhancing
discourse completion tests. Applied Linguistics 21: 517–552.

Blum-Kulka, S., House, J., & Kasper, G. (1989). Cross-Cultural Pragmatics: Requests and Apologies. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Brown, P. & Levinson, S. (1987) Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

ChaiSi, L. (2009). Co-relations between ostensible invitation strategies and social distance in Chinese. Unpublished M.A
Thesis. Northeast. Normal University.

Clark, H. & Isaacs, E. (1990). “Ostensible Invitations.” Language in Society. 19: 493-509.u Clark, H. (1996).
Using language. Cambridge: University Press Cambridge.

Conejos, G., & Macarro, A. S. (1998). Linguistic choice across genres: Variation in spoken and written English. John Benjamin


Eslami, Z. (2005). “Invitations in Persian and English: Ostensible or Genuine”. Intercultural Pragmatics (912). 453-480.

Gibbs, R. W., Jr. (2000). Metarepresentations in staged communicative acts. In D. Sperber (Ed.), Metarepresentations:
A Multidisciplinary Perspective
, (pp. 389-410). New York: Oxford University Press.


Goffman, E. (1955). On face-work: an analysis of ritual elements in social interaction. Psychiatry: Journal for the Study
of Interpersonal Processes
, 18, 213-231.

Goldsmith, D., & Normand, E. (2014). Politeness theory: How we use language to save face. In D. E. Braithwaite,
& P. Schrodt (Eds.), Engaging theories of interpersonal communication, 2nd ed. (pp. 267-278). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Gray, J., Grove, S., & Burns, N. (2013). The practice of nursing research – E-book: Appraisal, synthesis, and
generation of evidence
. Elsevier Health Sciences.

Hancher, M. (1979). The classification of cooperative illocutionary acts. Language in Society, 8(1), 1-14.
DOI: 10.1017/S0047404500005911

Jabber, K. (2020). Speech acts of genuine invitations in Iraqi Arabic: a socio-pragmatic study. Misan Journal for
Academic Studies
, 213.

Lakoff, R. (1973). “Language and Woman’s Place.” Language in Society. 2(1): 45 – 80.

Leech, G. (1983). Principles of Pragmatics. London: Longman.

Leech, G. & Thomas, J. (1990) “Language Meaning and Context: Pragmatics”. An

Encyclopedia of Language. London: Routledge.

Levinson, S. (1983) Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lewis, M. (1993). The lexical approach: The state of ELT and a way forward. Heinle & Heinle Pub.

Liberman, M. (2001). Introduction to linguistics [PDF document]. University of

Pennsylvania. l

Link, K., & Kreuz, R. (2005). The Comprehension of ostensible speech acts. PsycEXTRA

Dataset, 24(3).


Mabaquiao, N. (2018). Speech Act Theory: From Austin to Searle. Augustinian: A Journal for Humanities,
Social Sciences, Business, and Education
, 19(1), 35-45.

Mao, L. (1992). Invitational discourse and Chinese identity. Journal of AsianPacificCo mmunication, 3(1), 70-96.

Naim, S. (2011). The speech acts in Moroccan Arabic: An intercultural approach. DoctoralD issertation,
Universitate de Valencia Press, Spain.

Ogiermann, E. (2018). Discourse Completion Tasks. In A. Jucker, K. Schneider, & W.
Bublitz (Eds.), Methods in Pragmatics (pp. 229- 255). (Handbooks of Pragmatics;V ol. 10). Mouton de Gruyter.

Pinto, D. (2011) “Are Americans Insincere? Interactional style and politeness in everyday America”. Journal of Politeness
Research 7: 215-244.

Salmani Nodoushan, M. (1995). A sociopragmatic comparative study of ostensible

invitations in English and Farsi. Unpublished Master’s Thesis, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran.

Salmani-Nodoushan, M. (2005). A sociopragmatic comparative study of ostensible

invitations in English and Farsi. Online Submission. Available from EBSCO host ERIC database.

Salmani-Nodoushan, M. (2006). A comparative sociopragmatic study ofostensible invitations

in English and Farsi. Speech Communication, 48(8), 903-912

Searle, J. (1969). Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Searle, J. (1976). Classification of Illocutionary Acts. Language and Society, 5:1-23.

Thomas, J. (1995). Cross-cultural pragmatic failure. Applied Linguistics, 4(2), 91-112

Trudgill, P. (1995). Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to Language and Society. London: Penguin Books Ltd.


Van Valin Jr., R. (2001). An Introduction to Syntax. Cambridge: Cambridge University


Widdowson, H. (1978). Teaching Language As Communication. London: Oxford University Press.

Widiss, B. (1996). Obscure Invitations. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Wolfson, N. (1981). Invitations, compliments, and the competence of the native speaker.

International Journal of Psycholinguistics, 24(4), 7-22.

Wolfson, N. (1983). An empirically based analysis of complimenting in American English. In

  1. Wolfson & E. Judd (Eds.), Sociolinguistics and language acquisition (pp.82-95). Rowley Mass: Newbury House.

Wolfson, N. (I984). Pretty is as pretty does: A speech act view of sex roles. Applied Linguistics, 5,236-244.

Wolfson, N. (1989). Perspectives: Sociolinguistics and TESOL. New York: Newbury House Publishers.

Yule, G. (1996). Pragmatics. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press


Shorouq Ashoor Dhaifallah Alzahrani holds Mater degree in Linguistics from Imam Mohammed bin Saud Islamic University, Saudi Arabia. ORCiD ID: