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SIL Electronic Working Papers 2002-001

The speech act of promising in an intercultural perspective

Author  Egner, Inge
Abstract 

The paper claims that what Westerners interacting with Africans tend to perceive as a "false promise" is in fact a politeness strategy. Some examples of such polite promises are discussed according to classical speechact theory, as well as according to their interactional and conversational context. It is suggested that they are used to politely close a conversational exchange. The question of how a binding promise is made in an African cultural context is addressed by looking at lexical expressions for the speech act of promising from various African languages.

  The speech act of promising in an intercultural perspective
Published  2002
Subjects  Anthropology
Cross-cultural communication
Speech acts
Keywords  pragmatics; speech act; promise/promising; intercultural perspective; politeness; negotiation; West Africa; Speech acts; Cross-cultural communication