J. César Félix-Brasdefer
February 13, 2008
This study examines one type of dispreferred response, refusals, and analyzes (socio)pragmatic variation in two sociocultural contexts, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, when refusing an interlocutor of equal status, but with different degrees of social distance (+D, −D). Thirty-six male university students participated in the current study (18 Mexicans and 18 Dominicans), and data were collected in each country in face-to-face interactions. Each participant interacted with a native speaker of Mexican or Dominican Spanish in three refusals: one to a request; one to an invitation; and one to a suggestion. Data were analyzed across the interaction using Scollon and Scollon's (2001) framework of face: involvement and independence. The 108 interactions were analyzed using descriptive and inferential (t-tests) statistics and the results show that although situational variation was the norm between both groups, the Mexicans used a significantly higher number of refusal strategies across the interaction than the Dominicans, whose strategies were employed in fewer and shorter turns. The Mexicans showed a preference for independence face (mostly indirect refusals and the use of mitigation), whereas the Dominicans demonstrated an orientation toward involvement face through direct, unmitigated refusals. The results are discussed in light of previous studies on (socio)pragmatic variation, dispreferred responses, and politeness.