Pragmatic failure revisited: Jaworski’s (1994) study in a new light

Galina Shleykina
Miami university
Keywords: pragmatic competence, pragmatic failure, greeting responses, ELF, EFL


In the current conditions of globalization and the use of English as a lingua franca (ELF), the notions of pragmatic competence and appropriateness as well as pragmatic failure become of paramount importance to the language learners and instructors. The current article discusses these questions through an approximate replication of Jaworski’s (1994) study of pragmatic failure in responses to English greetings by Polish English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students. The need for the replication arises from the lack of studies addressing pragmatic failure of EFL learners and the need to approach pragmatic behaviour of EFL learners in the conditions of ELF. The replication duplicates the methods of data collection and analysis of the original study but alters the native language (L1) of the participants and expands the study through the analysis of responses and the ratings. The data consists of Russian EFL learners’ responses to the “How are you?” greeting question in the examination context. The results showed that Russian EFL learners achieve pragmatical success: the majority of the responses was rated as appropriate by the English native speakers. It is concluded that the original study’s concern with teaching pragmatics should be applied and investigated in greater details focusing on ELF. Additionally, the notions of pragmatic competence and pragmatic failure need to be reevaluated and applied in the context of ELF.

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