Performance of EFL Students in The Requesting Speech Act : English-Arabic Translation

Discussion Committee: 
Ahmad A. Atawneh
Odeh J. Odeh
Maria Yousef Al-Aqra'
Modal items are considered of the most intricate linguistic units facing translators. Although the notion of modality is universal, there might be, often, a mismatch between the modal system in one language and that m another. Such discrepancy might cause different pragmatic interpretations across cultures and languages, which, in turn, might lead to communication breakdown or pragmatic failure. In an attempt to better understand such an issue, this research explores the translatability of non-epistemic, root modals (i.e., modals used for social interaction) employed in the requesting speech act from English into Arabic. It also holds a comparison /contrast between American English and Arabic in terms of employing appropriate (modal) request strategies. Moreover, it examines whether the competency level (Cl.) in L2 affects appropriate performance. The author used three kinds of questionnaires to test eighty undergraduate learners of English as a foreign language in Palestine: Results revealed that there was a noticeable disparity between native Americans' and Arabs' employment of modals, and therefore, of request strategies. In the TT, it was found that the politeness as evidenced in the source language (i.e., English) was not carried over in the target language (i.e., Arabic). Thus, English "would", "will", "could", and "can" were all rendered into Arabic "mumkin" or "btiqdar". On the other hand, the CL was found to be insignificant in subjects' performance. The incapability of the translators to match English politeness weights might be attributed to cultural differences, and, basically, to a flaw in the teaching process, including teachers, materials, and syllabi. The thesis consists of five chapters: chapter one states the problem and its significance besides the purposes of the research; chapter two reviews literature on cross-cultural politeness and modality with particular focus on English and Arabic; chapter three describes subjects of the study, method and procedures; chapter four presents the results and their analysis; and, finally, chapter five gives a summary and recommendations.
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