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    THẠC SĨ An investigation into some types of verbal responses to questions in English and Vietnamese conversation

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  6. An investigation into some types of verbal responses to questions in English and Vietnamese conversation

    Introduction
    I. Rationale
    In order to become competent in a foreign language, it is important for language learners not only to acquire new vocabularies and a new set of phonological and syntactic rules but also to learn what Wilson (1986) calls the rules of speaking: the patterns of sociolinguistic behavior of the target language. The rules of speaking involve us in knowing when and how it is suitable to open a conversation, what topics are appropriate to particular speech events, how speech acts are to be given and interpreted. In many cases, this interpretation goes beyond what the language learners might intend to convey and includes assessments such as “polite” and “impolite”.
    In Vietnam, as the economy grows and international business develops, English proficiency becomes a master tool for young people to get a job. They encounter foreigners in everyday settings where communication is necessary. In the modern society, the need for communication is increasing, especially in the process of globalization, when communication spreads beyond the boundary of a country. During the last decades, linguistic researchers have broadened their focus of their interests from the development of grammatical competence to other areas of target language development, such as discourse and pragmatic competence, common speech routines, for example, requests, apologies, complaints, compliments, refusals, and the like have been most frequently studied in cross-cultural and interlanguage pragmatics. According to Tsui (1994), there seems to be little empirical research that has been conducted in responses to questions. For a long time, question-response has been considered one of the most basic structures of conversation (Schegloff, 1974) but as Tsui (1994; p. 160) points out: “responses have been given little attention in the speech acts literature. Most of the acts characterized and listed in the various taxonomies are illocutionary acts which are often done by making the function of utterance in discourse, and as many responding acts do not have a corresponding responding performative verb, this kind of analysis inevitably neglects responses”
    A characterization of utterances (based on observation of real-life discourse) is not likely to neglect the importance of responses. Let’s consider an example illustrated by Tsui (1994)
    A: What’s the time?
    B: (a) Eleven
    (b) Time for coffee
    (c) I haven’t got a watch, sorry
    (d) How hold I know
    (e) Ask Jack
    (f) You know bloody well what time it is
    (g) Why do you ask?
    (h) What did you say?
    (i) What do you mean?
    Various possible responses from (a) to (i) shows us the complicated relationship between question and a proper answer. For the same question, the speaker A may be replied in different ways with different intentions by the addressee. Obviously, a response can be a proper answer, an indirect or implicit reply, an evasive answer, a refusal or denial, an outright lie or even a challenge to the speaker’s questioning act. Moreover, the question-answer exchange cannot always be a simple relationship in the actual communicative process. It is the addressee’s response that may establish, deepen and maintain the conversation, develop the intimacy among interlocutors, or interrupt the interactional process and even badly change the participants’ role, for example, from friends to enemies. There is no doubt that the addressee’s responses depend on so many social factors: the speaker’s intent; the hearer’s perception of that intent, the various fits between actual and perceived intents, concurrent gestures, facial expressions, movements and some decisions as to how the two parties are to deal with this complex mix of factors (Wardhaugh,1997). A question which is now posed to us is how we can precisely understand and interpret the speaker’s intents to a question; what types of question responses are; what strategies the speaker uses to respond to questions; and what factors affect speaker’s responding behavior. This is the reason that motivated our choice of the research to present a contrastive analysis of responses to questions in English and Vietnamese conversation. Through the study, we hope to gain some insights which highlight both the similarities and the differences between English and Vietnamese response types, strategies used to respond to question by Native Speakers of English and Vietnamese. The study will also try to present difficulties as well as some practical recommendations for the process of teaching and learning English.
    II. Aims of the study
    In order to distinguish the different ways of replies and responses to questions as well as different responding strategies in English and Vietnamese, this research aims at:
    - describing and analyzing different types of responses to questions in English and Vietnamese conversation
    - investigating how verbal responses to question express cultural values by examining the relationship between gender, closeness of relationship and status of the interlocutors and the kinds of responses to questions.
    - putting forward some implications for teaching and learning the functions of responses to questions in everyday conversation.
    III. Scope of the study
    In this research, we mainly concentrate on some types of responses to seeking- information questions. The term, “question”, whose illocutionary focus is to elicit information and knowledge, is defined as a functional or speech act label. A question is asked when the questioner does not really know the answer and wants the addressee to supply a piece of information (Tsui, 1994). As we mentioned the name of the study “An investigation on some types of verbal responses to questions in English and Vietnamese conversation” above, non-verbal responses such as silence, gestures, movements and the like will be outside the scope of the study.
    IV. Research questions
    1. What are the various types of verbal responses to questions in English and Vietnamese conversations?
    2. What are the differences and similarities in the choice of response patterns to questions between native speakers of English and Vietnamese?
    V. Organization of the study
    The study contains three parts. Part A: Introduction establishes the rationale of the study, the aims, and the scope of the study; the research questions and organization of the study. Part B: Contents consists of four chapters. Chapter one points out comprehensible review of theoretical background on speech acts, discourse and conversation analysis, and it is concerned with literature review in which attention is paid to the classification of questions and responses in the theoretical framework by Tsui (1994). Chapter two gives the method to collect and analyze data. The next is chapter three, in which we compare and contrast various types of responses to questions and their pragmatic functions in English and Vietnamese conversations. This chapter also analyses the data collected from linguistic books, articles, novels, tape records, find out some similarities and differences in verbal responses to questions in English and Vietnamese conversation. In the chapter four, we investigate sociolinguistic variables affecting to some typical types and strategies of responses to questions in English and Vietnamese conversation. Part C is the conclusion and some implications for English learning and teaching.

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