Pragmatic Analysis of Request in Aumm Saad Novella
Prepared by the researcher : Samar M. AlAbadla – Lecturer – University of Palestine
Democratic Arab Center
Journal of Social Sciences : Nineteen Issue – July 2021
A Periodical International Journal published by the “Democratic Arab Center” Germany – Berlin.
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This study aims at analyzing the pragmatic feature of request in Aumm Saad novella in which the researcher used the descriptive analytical methodology where the researcher designed the content analysis card as an instrument of the study which include the request, kinds of request and strategies of request to answer two questions in order to get the results and suggestions which are as follows:
Both of the two kinds of request, the direct and the indirect has been used one more than the other in favor of the indirect request. The hint strategy has been used (4) times. Questioning Hearer`s Ability of Willingness has been mentioned for only one time and so has been the suggestory formula.
All of the three strategies: Statements of Speaker`s Needs and Demands, Statements Obligations and Necessities, and Performatives were mentioned only one time. On the other side, Imperatives has been texted for three times.
Human beings and language cannot be separated from each other in society. Created as social beings, people need a language to communicate and to build a relationship with each other in social interaction. In this interaction, language becomes the primary means of communication. By using language, they reveal their ideas, express their happiness and sadness, make a joke with others, give information, command someone to do something, and influence someone.
To achieve their goals, people do not only say something but also insert an action embedded in their utterances. For this reason, speech acts cannot be separated from conversation. As stated by Austin via Cutting (2002:16), speech acts are the actions performed in saying something. According to him, the action performed when an utterance is produced can be analyzed on three different levels. They are locutionary act, illocutionary act and perlocutionary act. Speech acts are commonly given more specific labels, such as apology, complaint, compliment, invitation, promise, and request.
Request is an expression or act of asking an addressee to do something for the hearer. Trosborg (1995:187) defines a request as an illocutionary act whereby a speaker (requester) conveys to a hearer (requestee) that he/she wants the requestee to perform an act which is very beneficial for him/her. The act may be a request for nonverbal activity, i.e a request for good and services; and a request for an object, an action or some kind of services, i.e. a request for information. A request is somehow more polite than an order since a request is believed as asking somebody to do something than telling somebody to do something.
Fahrurrozi (2015) shows that people always make request which shows that they need people`s help in their daily life. People often make request both directly and indirectly to ask something from other people such as asking for help, asking for permission, asking for direction and so forth. In this case, people need to use some strategies in order to make their request successfully delivered to their addressee.
In conducting the research, the researcher chooses a novella for Ghassan Kanafani entitled Aumm Saad as the source of data and the reference of the study. Besides, since novella is the representation of human culture, human traditions and human achievements. The researcher believes it is acceptable to use novella as a literary form to collect data and information. This novella has been chosen as the object of this research because it reflects the social interaction in which people use different forms and means to communicate, request and suggest all of which contextualize the daily Palestinian life. Moreover, the characters in Aumm Saad frequently use speech act of request in their dialogues so that the utterances can be analyzed easily. For this reason, it can provide a good example of the occurrence of speech act of request in society.
2- The importance of study
- It adds tangible findings for the practical use of pragmatics.
- It helps linguistics researchers how to utilize the theories of pragmatics practically in literature fields.
- It assists English Linguistics professors how to explain pragmatics and speech act Theory in practice.
- This study is regarded a joint study between linguistics and stylistics.
3- Statement of the problem
Communication that happens in society mostly uses language as its primary means. A language consists of grammatical and structural words that can be used to draw meaning of what people utter in communication. The conversation among the characters in the movie usually carry out many aspects of speech acts. In relation to the speech act, the researcher finds some problems which are presented below.
- The first problem is the context of the utterances.
- The second problem is the use of language to perform an action or speech acts.
- The third problem is the request itself.
- The last problem is dealing with the strategies of making request.
4- Questions of study
- What are the types of request uttered by the characters in Aumm Saad?
- What are the strategies applied by the characters in Aumm Saadwhen making a request?
5- Purposes of study
- To describe the types of request uttered by the characters in Aumm Saad.
- To explain the strategies applied by the characters in Aumm Saad when making a request.
6- The objectives of study
1- Identifying the kinds of requests utilised in Umm Salad novella for Ghassan Kanafani.
2- Stating the strategies of requests used in Umm Saad novella.
3- Demonstrating any differences between the strategies of requests utilised in Umm Saad novella.
4- Showing the difference between types of requests used in Umm Saad novella.
7- Significance of the study
The results of the research are expected to give both theoritical and practical significances. Theoritically, the research findings are expected to enrich the comprehension and understanding of pragmatics, especially about speech act of requests to the other linguistic researchers. Practically, the research will give some benefits for certain parties.
- Students of English Language and Literature Study Program.
The students majoring in linguistics can apply the sentence related to the speech act of request in their dialogues to other people.
- Linguistic Researchers.
This research can give references in conducting research related to pragmatics.
8- Delimitations of the study
Based on the identification of the problems above, the researcher comes to research delimitation. This research, however, is limited only to the speech act of requests uttered by the characters in Aumm Saad novella. This research only explains the types of request and the strategies of making request applied by the characters in the novella.
9- Literature view
9.1 Speech act
a- The Definition of Speech Act
Pragmatically, an action that is done through language can be studied under the labels of speech act. Griffith (2006: 17) states that speech act does not refer simply to the act of speaking, but to the whole communicative situation, including context of the utterance (including the situation in which the discourse occurs, the participants and any preceding verbal or physical interaction) and paralinguistic features which may contribute to the meaning of the interaction. Therefore, in order for a speech act to be well formed, certain circumstances must be obtained. These circumstances are known as felicity or appropriacy conditions.
b- The classifications of speech act
Searle via Trosborg (1985:14) divides speech acts into five categories: declaratives, representatives, expressives, directives, and commissives.
Declarations are kinds of speech acts, which change the world via their utterance. The acts of declaratives are approving, betting, blessing, christening, confirming, cursing, declaring, disapproving, dismissing, naming, resigning, etc, for example, “I quit from this job.” In this example, the speaker tells to the hearer that he/she quits the job.
Representatives are kinds of speech acts, which state what the speaker believes to be the case or not. The type includes arguing, asserting, boasting, claiming, complaining, criticizing, denying, describing, informing, insisting, reporting, suggesting, swearing, etc, for example, “I met your sister yesterday.” The speaker here does the act of informing by telling the hearer that he/she had met the hearer`s sister yesterday.
Expressives are kinds of speech acts, which state what the speakers feel. The acts are apologizing, complimenting, condoling, congratulating, deploring, praising, regretting, thanking, etc, for example, “I like your house very much.” By telling so, the speaker shows his/her appreciation to the hearer`s house.
Directives are kinds of speech acts, which the speakers use to get someone else to do something. The acts are ordering, commanding, requesting and suggesting, for example, “Would you like to come to my tea party?” In this sentence, the speaker asks the hearer to come to his/her party.
Commissives are kinds of speech acts, which the speakers use to commit themselves to some future action. The acts are committing, guaranteeing, offering, promising, refusing, threatening, volunteering, vowing etc, for example, “I will be there at 5 o‟clock.” In doing the act of commisives, the speaker says a promise to the hearer to come at five.
a- Definitions of request
According to Trosborg (1995:187), a request is an illocutionary act in which a speaker (requester) conveys to hearer (requestee) that he/she wants the hearer to perform a certain act which is beneficial to the speaker. The act may be a request for non-verbal good and services, i.e., request for an object, an action or some kinds of services, or it can be a request for verbal goods and services, such a request for information.
b- The Types of Requests
Direct request is often perceived as being aggressive and demanding and it is often preceded by the use of personal pronouns such as “I..” or “You …” followed by verbs that express the speaker’s wish or desire such as “like”, “want”, and other verbs of action like “give”, “take” and “make.” For example, “I want my apple.” In this example, the speaker declares that he/she asks the hearer to get his/her apple.
The person is making a request to others in implicit way. A person who makes a request indirectly is seen to be diplomatic and tactful. He or she is also perceived more highly than one who makes a direct request. Indirectness displays respect, courtesy and good breeding, for example, “This place is quite hot.” By saying so, the speaker implicitly wants the hearer to turn the air conditioner on.
In this research, the researcher wants to identify the types of request. To analyze the types of request, the second theory commonly used by many researcherz is proposed by Trosborg (1995:192). She suggests that there are four types of requests based on the direction levels. They are unconventionally indirect request, conventionally indirect request (hearer-based), conventionally indirect request (speaker-based), and direct request.
Trosborg adds the term “unconventionally” and “conventionally” to indicate the directness level of a request. “Unconventionally indirect” means that the request is not in the form of utterance. Therefore, it is expected that the hearer pay more attention to the situation i.e. the speech event. In conventionally indirect request, the request is in the form of question or statement based on preparatory condition (hearer-condition) and sincerity condition (speaker-based). Sometimes, the requests are explained in modal verbs, such as can, could, will, would, may and wantsstatement like I need. and I want. Meanwhile, performative verbs conveying requestive intents such as ask, request, demand, command; obligation containing modal verbs such as such as must, have to, should, ought to; and imperative statements are formed with infinitive verb.
c- The Strategies of Requests
Trosborg (1995:192) argues that there are eight strategies of request. They will be presented as follows:
In this strategy, the speaker hides his request and does not mention the request directly in the utterances. By making a statement, for example describing an undesired state of affairs, he or she can imply to the hearer what he or she wants. In this strategy, by asking a question, the requester can imply to his/her listener what he/she wants. When interpreting a hint, it is often necessary to possess intimate knowledge of the other person, to have specific background knowledge, and to be aware of specific situational features, etc., for example, “It`s cold here.” In this sentence speaker complains about bad weather.
2)Questioning Hearer`s Ability/Willingness
He /she wants someone to set the thermostat. However, his/her sentence is delivered indirectly since he/she does not explicitly tell that the hearer should set the thermostat. Another example can be seen in the sentence “The kitchen is a total mess.” By saying that the kitchen is very dirty, the speaker asks implicitly to the hearer to clean the kitchen immediately.
Then this strategy is applied by the speaker, the hearer is expected to understand that the question asked by the speaker is a request. It involves a transition from a question about ability or willingness to requestive illocutionary force.
Therefore, it is up to the hearer whether the request is complied or not, for example,
“Can you reach this jar for me, please?” In the example, the speaker believes that the hearer has the ability to reach jar, yet he/she still asks it. By doing so, the speaker expects the hearer to comply the desired act.
Intensification such as like, kind, mind, and object can enlarge the willingness pre-condition, for example, “Would you like to make a contribution to our charity?” By adding “like” to the question, the speaker expects more from the hearer to comply the request.
Making a request for permission can also be used to ask hearer`s willingness to comply a request. Switching the hearers` attention explicitly can also be applied instead of mentioning the hearer as the agent of the action, for example, “Can I have the salt, please?” This request involves a shift of focus alluding explicitly to the speaker as the beneficiary or recipient of an activity instead of mentioning the hearer as the agent of the action.
In addition, a request may be embedded in expressions of appreciation, hope, etc.on the behalf the requester, for example, “I`d be grateful if you`d send me a parts list.” The speaker here says that he/she will appreciate if the hearer comply the request.
When employing a suggestory formula, the requester does not feel obliged to question any particular hearer-based condition, rather he/she tests the hearer`s cooperativeness in general by inquiring whether any conditions exist might prevent the hearer from carrying out the action specified by the proposition. By presenting a request by means of suggestory formulae, the speaker makes his/her request more tentative and plays down his/her own interest as a beneficiary of the action, for example, “How about lending me some of your books?” In this example, the speaker gives a suggestion to the hearer. However, it contains a request. In this case, the speaker wants the hearer to lend him/her some books which is not mention directly.
Another example is the sentence “Why don`t you sweep the floor?” By giving a suggestion to the hearer, the speaker actually wants the hearer to sweep the floor in implicit way.
4) Statement of Speaker`s Wishes and Desires
In this strategy, the requesters desire is control. It is usually expressed in a polite way so that the hearer does not feel imposed to comply the desired act, for example, “I would like to have some more tea.” In this example, the speaker puts his desire as a focal point and adds “would” to make the request sounds polite. In other words, the speaker says his request in a polite way. Another example is “I would like you to do the cleaning today.” This request is applied by telling the speaker`s wish.
The speaker says that he would like the hearer to do the cleaning duty.
5) Statements of Speaker`s Need and Demand
The speakers who employ this strategy tend to look impolite since the request contains a high degree of imposition. As a result, the hearers feel imposed by the request. Therefore, the chance of a conflict to occur between the speakers and the hearers is high if the request is not fulfilled, for example, “I need a book.” In this example, the speaker states his need and demand clearly by saying that he/she needs a book.
However, this strategy of request can be made to be more polite by adding
“Please” or other mitigating device, for example, “I want the manuscript ready by noon, please.” In this example the states his/her demand. However, by adding
“Please”, he/she makes his/her demand more polite.
6) Statements of Obligations and Necessities
When employing this strategy, the speaker exerts either his/her authority, or he/she refers to some authority outside the speaker (institution, speaker`s authority, etc.). In this case, compliance is expected and non-compliance is considered inappropriate behaviour. The use of this strategy employing auxiliary verb such as, ought to, have to and must, marks the utterance as a request. The structures with should and ought to involve moral obligation. Have to may involve some obligation stemming from a source outside the speaker. Must often expresses obligation imposed by the speaker, for example, “You should eat now.” In this sentence, the speaker imposes his/her authority to the hearer since he/she has a higher position that the hearer. By saying so, the speaker asks the hearer to eat immediately. Another example is “You have to leave now.” By saying that the hearer needs to leave immediately, the speaker obliges the hearer to comply the request.
The inclusion of a performative verb conveying requestive intent, for example, ask, request, order, demand, command, etc, explicitly marks the utterance as request. Performative statements with requestive intention are very direct and usually authoritative, for example, “I order you to submit the assignment.” By saying so, the speaker asks directly to hearer to submit the assignment as soon as possible. The request is lees polite compared to the statements of obligation and necessity.
However, if the requester wants to soften this form, it is possible to hedge the illocutionary force of the utterance. The result is a hedged performative, for example, “I would like to ask you to bring me a drink.” This request is direct, however, by adding “Would”, it sounds more soft and polite.
The imperative is the grammatical form directly signaling that the utterance is an order. In its unmodified form it is very authoritative. The hearer needs to do what the speaker wants since the speaker has the power over the hearer, for example, “Get a car!” This sentence is direct because the speaker says his request in a very direct way. It also sounds authoritative. Therefore, the hearer`s compliance is expected by the speaker.
Imperatives can be softened by adding tags or the marker please and will you, for example, “Open the window, please.” Here, the speaker clearly says his request.
However, he/she adds “Please” to soften it. Therefore, this request sounds less authoritative and blunt.
The request strategies are summarized in Table 1 in the following page (Trosborg, 1995:205) with regard to a situation in which the speaker asks to borrow the hearer`s car. Each of them is presented at level of increasing directness.
9.3 Previous studies
There have been some researchers conducted research that deal with speech act of request.
This research is a pragmatic study which focuses on the analysis of speech act of requests as reflected in the film entitled Office Space. The objectives of the study are: (1) to investigate the types of request and (2) to identify the strategies of request employed by characters in themovie.
This research was a descriptive qualitative research in which visual analysis was used to interpret and analyze the data. This research was also supported by quantitative analysis in which the researcher used numbers and percentages to count the occurrences of the types and request strategies of request. The data of this research were in the form of lingual units. Meanwhile, the context of the data was dialogues which have speech act of requests. The sources of the data were Office Space movie and its script. The main instrument of this research was the researcher himself and the secondary instrument was the data sheet. To ensure the trustworthiness of the data, the researcher applied triangulations by conducting peer discussions and routine consultations with his supervisors.
The research reveals two findings. First, there are four types of request used by the characters in Office Space. They are unconventionally indirect request, conventionally indirect request (hearer-oriented condition), conventionally indirect request (speaker-oriented condition), and direct request. In the application of the types of request, the characters in Office Space mostly use conventionally indirect request (hearer-based condition) because the hearer is in the position of controlling whether he/she will comply the request or not. Second, there are seven strategies employed by the characters in Office Space. They are giving hints, questioning hearer`s ability and willingness, giving suggestions, giving statements of speaker`s wishes and desires, giving statements of speaker`s needs and demands, giving statements of obligations and necessities, and giving imperatives. The characters in Office Space mainly use the strategy of questioning hearer`s ability and willingness because they often make their request indirectly in the form of question since the condition of this strategy refers to the hearer`s capacity to perform the desired act. By asking a question as a request, the characters want to show that they do not give any assumption that what they expected should be carried out.
Rabe‟a Shams and Akbar Afghari (2011)
Other previous research is Effects of Culture and Gender in Comprehension of Speech Acts of Indirect Request” by Rabe‟a Shams and Akbar Afghari (2011). The research had an objective to analyze the comprehension of indirect request speech act used by Iranian people in daily communication. The result shows that the participants in the research try to use indirect request rather than direct form (regardless of culture). It is because people tend to choose indirect forms over direct ones to show politeness since being direct is face-threatening.
Another study related to the topic of this research was “A Pragmatic Analysis on the Speech Act on Request Used by the Main Character in The Pursuit of Happyness” by Nina Sulistyowati (2012). She investigated the types of request and strategies of requst based on Trosborg`s theory and respond to request based on Tsui`s theory. The result shows that there are four types of request by the main character in The Pursuit of Happyness. They are unconventionally indirect request, conventionally indirect request (hearer-based), conventionally indirect request (speaker-based) and direct request. In addition, there are seven strategies of request employed by the character in the movie. They are hints, questioning hearer`s ability or willingness, suggestory formulae, statement of speaker`s need and demand, statement of obligation and necestion and the imperative. Besides, there are three kinds of responses to request uttered by the main character in the movie. They are positive responding act to request, negative responding act to request and temporization.
This study focuses on the speech act of request found in Aumm Saad novella. The data are classified by using Trosborg`s theory of request to find out the types of request and the strategies of making request.
10- Methodology of study
10.1 Approach of study
The research used a descriptive qualitative methodology. A qualitative research refers to a research which produces descriptive data. It deals with the possibilites to solve the problem by collecting, classifying, analyzing, and interpreting data.
10.2 Instrument of study
The main tool of study is the content analysis card which is used to collect the data from the written texts containing request act in Aumm Saad novella.
10.3 Source of data
The data of this study were in the form of words, phrases, clauses and sentences taken from the texts and the transcript by the characters in Aumm Saad novella.
Table 1. The Form of Data Sheet for Types and Strategies of Request Uttered by the Characters in Aumm Saad
|Texts||Type of Request||Strategies of Making Request|
|Aumm Saad: If Saad wants to go to the war then why doesn’t his commander send him?
The narrator: A man who joins AL Fedayeen doesn’t need his mother to look after him anymore.
|Ab||: Questioning Hearer`s Ability of Willingness|
|Sf||: Suggestory Formulae|
|Wi||: Statements of Speaker`s Wishes and Desires|
|Ne||: Statements of Speaker`s Needs and Demands|
|Ob||: Statements Obligations and Necessities|
9- Findings and Discussion
A request is an illocutionary act whereby a speaker conveys to a hearer that he/she wants the hearer to perform an act which is for the benefit of the speaker (Trosborg, 1995:187). The phenomena of requests happen in Aumm Saad. In accordance with this, the first objective of this research is to identify the types of requests in the characters` conversations. Thus, the identification and analysis are shown in this chapter. The four types of request proposed by Trosborg occur in this novella. They are unconventionally indirect request, conventionally indirect request (hearer-oriented condition), conventionally indirect request (speaker-oriented condition), and direct request. Meanwhile, there are seven strategies of making request occur in Aumm Saad’s script. They include hints, questioning hearer`s ability and willingness, suggestory formulae, statement of speaker`s wishes and desires, statements of speaker`s needs and demands, statement of obligations and necessities, and imperatives. Most of strategies of making request according to Trosborg are found in this film.
Table 2.Types and Strategies of Request Employed by the Characters in Aumm Saad
|No.||Types of Request||Strategies of Request||TOTAL||
In light of the above mentioned data, the indirect request took place more than the direct request by nine times for the former and six times for the latter. Besides, the hint strategy has been used 4 times while the Questioning Hearer`s Ability of Willingness has been mentioned for only one time and so has been the suggestory formula. In a similar way, all of the three strategies: Statements of Speaker`s Needs and Demands, Statements Obligations and Necessities, and Performatives were mentioned only one time. On the other side, Imperatives has been texted for three times all of which indicating the level of tolerance, patience and sacrifice proving that such a community is undoubtly able to climb the mountain of civilization.
9.1 Findings and results for the first question
Both of the two kinds of request, the direct and the indirect has been used one more than the other in favor of the indirect request with a slight difference representing in three situation showing that the Palestinian society lives in a destructive enteral conflict but the members of that society always prove that they are capable of managing to control, release and hide those pure and escaping feelings just like Saad and his mother.
9.2 Findings and results of the second question
Among the eight various strategies all of them has been used differently and gradually for instance the hint strategy has been used 4 times while the Questioning Hearer`s Ability of Willingness has been mentioned for only one time and so has been the suggestory formula. In a similar way, all of the three strategies: Statements of Speaker`s Needs and Demands, Statements Obligations and Necessities, and Performatives were mentioned only one time. On the other side, Imperatives has been texted for three times all of which indicating the level of tolerance, patience and sacrifice proving that such a community is undoubtly able to climb the mountain of civilization that is full of situations, incidents and events that need a warrior, a lover and a peaceful person.
This study aimed at analyzing the pragmatic feature which is request dealing it is different types and strategies in Aumm Saad novella in which all of them found their way into the readers’ minds. Both of the two kinds of request, the direct and the indirect has been used one more than the other in favor of the indirect request. the hint strategy has been used 4 times while the Questioning Hearer`s Ability of Willingness has been mentioned for only one time and so has been the suggestory formula. In a similar way, all of the three strategies: Statements of Speaker`s Needs and Demands, Statements Obligataaaions and Necessities, and Performatives were mentioned only one time. On the other side, Imperatives has been texted for three times all of which indicating the level of tolerance, patience and sacrifice proving that such a community is undoubtly able to climb the mountain of civilization that is full of situations, incidents and events that need a warrior, a lover and a peaceful person.
Based on the findings of the research, some suggestions can be stated as follows:
- To Linguistic Students
The students majoring in linguistic are suggested to learn pragmatics, since they need to know the intended meaning in communication. In addition, by reading the result of this research, students as foreign language learners can learn that performing act via language can be conducted in various ways. They can perform request in different ways such as direct and indirect request.
- To English Lecturers
A novella which is the representation of human real life can be a good and interesting medium to learn about requests. Moreover, using a novella as the medium in learning activity will be much more enjoyable because the students can enjoy the story and study of requests which are uttered by the characters in the novella as well.
- To Other Researchers
This research does not cover all of the aspects of speech act of requests. It only focuses on the types of request and request strategies viewed from pragmatic analysis. Other researchers aresuggested to conduct research on requests analyzed from different perspectives, for example socio pragmatic analysis.
- Cutting, J. (2002). Pragmatics and Discourse. London: Routledge.
- Fahrurrozi, M. 2015.A PRAGMATIC ANALYSIS OF SPEECH ACT OF REQUESTS EXPRESSED BY THE CHARACTERS IN OFFICE SPACE, unpublished Master degree in English linguistics and literature. YOGYAKARTA STATE UNIVERSITY. Indonesia.
- Griffiths, P. (2006). An Introduction to English Semantics and Pragmatics. British: Edinburg University Press.
- Shams, R. and Afgahri, A. (2011). Effects of Culture and Gender in Comprehension of Speech Acts of Indirect Request. Journal, 4,4, 279-287.http://www.ccsenet.org/ journal/index.php/elt/article/view/13384. Retrieved on 5 September 2014 at 16:08.
- Sulistyowati, N. (2012). A Pragmatics Analysis on Speech Act of Requests Used by the Main Character in The Pursuit of Happyness. Undergraduate Thesis. Yogyakarta: State University of Yogyakarta. Unpublished.
- Trosborg, A. (1995). Interlanguage Pragmatics Request, Complaint and Apologies. New York: Mouton de Gruyter.