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Journal of Politeness Research

Language, Behaviour, Culture

Ed. by Grainger, Karen

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Comparing apologies in Australian English and Bahasa Indonesia: Cultural and gender perspectives

Jeremy F. Jones
  • Corresponding author
  • Program in TESOL and Foreign Language Teaching, University of Canberra Australia
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/ Adrefiza
  • English Education Program, Faculty of Education, Jambi University, Sumatra Indonesia
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Published Online: 2017-02-02 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/pr-2016-0033


This study examines sociocultural, pragmatic, and gender differences between native speakers of Australian English (AE) and Bahasa Indonesia (BI) in expressing the speech act of apology. Based on an oral discourse completion task (DCT) using data from 24 native speakers of both languages, the study focuses on the variations in the use of apology strategies in three situations of moderate severity. The findings show that the two groups use a variety of strategies in expressing apologies. The majority of BI speakers tend to use requests for forgiveness with relatively strong hearer-oriented strategies. AE apologies, on the other hand, seem to be dominated by the frequent use of expressions of regret, with speaker-oriented strategies. Another noticeable speech phenomenon lies in the differences in showing directness and politeness: BI speakers are likely to be more elaborate and less straightforward in their expressions than AE speakers. It is also evident that Indonesian apologetic acts tend to be somewhat formulaic and less varied compared with those in Australian expressions. Finally, the findings show quite pronounced gender differences both within and between the two languages in terms of the strategy use and expressions.

Keywords: apologies; speech acts; cross-cultural pragmatics; culture; socio-cultural; politeness; Indonesia; Australia

About the article

Published Online: 2017-02-02

Published in Print: 2017-02-01

Citation Information: Journal of Politeness Research, ISSN (Online) 1613-4877, ISSN (Print) 1612-5681, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/pr-2016-0033. Export Citation

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