Responding to apology : a study of Australian and Indonesian speech act behaviours

  • Adrefiza

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This study examines and compares apology response (AR) expressions and strategies between Australian English (AE) and Bahasa Indonesia (BI) young adult speakers with reference to gender and situation variables. Three prescribed apology situations of moderate severity (being absent at a close friend’s birthday party; revealing a close friend’s secret; and breaking a promise to return a close friend’s book) were identified to elicit responses from male and female respondents from the two language communities whose ages range from 20 to30 years. Based on modified ODCT data from 120 native speakers of both languages, a total of 360 responses from three selected apology situations were digitally audio-recorded. The responses were categorized using Holmes’ (1995) broad classification; Accept (AC); Acknowledge (AK); Evade (EV); and Reject (RJ); and Chen and Yang’s (2010) Compliment Response extended classification. The findings show that regardless of the gender and situation variables, both communities tend to show a non-symmetrical pattern of AR strategies. The largest difference occurs in AK and EV categories, where Australian respondents tend to be much more evasive and less acknowledging than Indonesians in their AR strategies. Also, Australians are likely to be less positive than Indonesians, showing a lower rate in AC + AK categories. The rate of AC category remains high in both languages, comprising more than a third of the total responses (36.1 % in AE and 33.8 in BI),signalling that both communities tend to be other-oriented and self denying in their ARs. The majority of the responses are more complex and elaborate than what Holmes’ (1990; 1995) found in New Zealand English. They embody a number of subsidiary speech acts and expressions used by the respondents to show indirectness and politeness as well as controlling face threats towards the offenders. Surprisingly, in several cases, Indonesians are revealed to be more direct and more face-threatening than Australians in their responses, challenging the cultural stereotype which suggests the opposite characteristics of speech style. Gender differences appear negligible but occur sporadically in the three situations in both AE and BI. The findings offer valuable insights for the teaching of both languages for the benefit of intercultural communication from understanding of socio-cultural, linguistic, politeness, and pragmatic values in both languages.
    Date of Award2011
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorJeremy Jones (Supervisor) & Eleni Petraki (Supervisor)

    Cite this