Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 12. Number2 June 2021                                                    Pp. 521- 539

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Pragma-linguistic and Socio-pragmatic Transfer among Iraqi Female EFL Learners in
Refusing Marriage Proposals

Tabarek Ali Qassim
Department of English, College of Education for Women
University of Baghdad, Baghdad, Iraq
Corresponding Author:

Nawal Fadhel Abbas
Department of English, College of Education for Women
University of Baghdad, Baghdad, Iraq

Fatima Falih Ahmed
English Department, Midlands Technical College
School of English and the Humanities, West Columbia, South Carolina, USA

Sura Hameed
MATC- Milwaukee Area Technical College
Lead and Stem Pathway advisor, USA

Received: 5/4/2021                    Accepted: 6/24/2021                  Published: 6/28/2021


In the framework of this study, the phenomenon of transfer is probed pragma-linguistically and socio-linguistically concerning marriage situations among Iraqi EFL learners. The study also strives to look at the refusal strategies most commonly employed by Iraqi female English as a foreign Language (EFL) learners compared to their counterparts, American native speakers of English. The study involved 70 female participants who answered a Discourse Completion Task (DCT), which contained ten marriage proposals to be refused. Each situation entailed refusal of a person from a higher, an equal, and lower status. The researchers adapted Beebe, Takahashi, and Uliss Weltz’s (1990) taxonomy of refusal for analyzing the data comprehensively. The study’s findings indicated that Iraqi female EFL learners followed similar patterns of refusing marriage situations to American speakers. The most prevalent strategies used by the two groups were “reasons/ excuses and explanations,” followed by “statements of regrets,” and then “non-performative statements” with slight variation in frequency. However, the Iraqi learners’ native language and culture affected how they formulated their refusal; hence they manifested pragma-linguistic and socio-pragmatic transfer in particular areas. The areas of pragma-linguistic transfer included the literal translation of words, expressions, and structures into their refusal in English. As for the socio-pragmatic areas, the transfer occurred in certain Arabic culture features like elaboration, exaggeration, repetition, endearing terms, and many others in expressing the target language, English.
Keywords: Beebe et al.’s taxonomy, Iraqi EFL learners, marriage proposals, pragma-linguistic transfer, refusal, socio-pragmatic transfer

Cite as: Qassim, T. A., Abbas, N. F., Ahmed, F. F., & Hameed, S.  (2021). Pragma-linguistic and Socio-pragmatic Transfer among Iraqi
Female EFL Learners in Refusing Marriage Proposals.  Arab World English Journal, 12 (2) 521- 539.


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Received: 5/4/2021 
Accepted: 6/24/2021   
Published: 6/28/2021

Tabarek Ali Qassim is an M.A. student in the department of English, College of Education for Women in the University of Baghdad. Her major is Linguistics and she has interests in several fields within Linguistics including Applied Linguistics. You can reach her at: My ORCID is

Nawal Fadhil Abbas got her PhD in English Language and Linguistics in 2014 from the school of Humanities, University of Sains Malaysia. Now she is an assistant professor teaching at the College of Education for Women, University of Baghdad. Her field of study is Semantics and Pragmatics. Other fields of interest include Critical Discourse Analysis, Critical Stylistics and Corpus Linguistics. You can reach her publications at: Nawal F. Abbas – Google Scholar Citations.

Fatima Falih Ahmed has her master degree in English literature from University of Baghdad. She is an instructor at English Department, Midlands Technical College, School of English and the Humanities, West Columbia, South Carolina, USA.

Sura Hameed has a master degree in Applied Linguistics at the University of Baghdad. She is an instructor at MATC Milwaukee Area Technical College, Lead and Stem Pathway advisor, USA.