The Interface between Cultural Intelligence and Interlanguage Pragmatics: The Case of Gratitude Speech Act

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Allameh Tabataba’i University

2 Tarbiat Modares University


The process of globalization entails the acquisition of a construct, cultural intelligence, with which EFL students can function appropriately in intercultural situations. This study was, first, intended to find the relationship between cultural intelligence and the use of expressions of gratitude by Iranian EFL learners. Second, it sought to determine whether there were any significant differences between low and high culturally intelligent EFL learners in the way they used expressions of gratitude in English. To this end, 118 intermediate learners were selected through convenient sampling, with their proficiency level being controlled. A discourse completion test (DCT) for the expressions of gratitude and a cultural intelligence scale were given to the participants of the study. Learners’ DCT responses were rated on a five-point Likert scale and then analyzed. Statistical tests including Pearson Correlation Coefficient and t-test were used to investigate the research questions. The results of the analysis revealed that there was not a significant relationship, either positive or negative, between cultural intelligence and use of expressions of gratitude. Furthermore, no difference was found between the two groups, high and low culturally intelligent, in the way they used English expressions of gratitude. These findings have implications for the instruction of pragmatic competence.


Aijmer, K. (1996). Conversational routines in English: Convention and creativity. London: Longman.
Alptekin, C. (2002). Towards intercultural communicative competence in ELT. ELT Journal, 56, 57-64.
Ang, S., & Van Dyne, L., (2008). Conceptualization of cultural intelligence: Definition, distinctiveness, and nomological network. In S. Ang & L. Van Dyne (Eds.), Handbook on cultural intelligence: Theory, measurement and applications (pp. 3-15). New York: M. E. Sharpe.
Ang, S., Van Dyne, L., & Koh, C. (2006). Personality correlates of the four-factor model of cultural intelligence. Group and Organization Management, 31, 100-123.
Ang, S., Van Dyne, L., Koh, C., Ng, K., Templer, K. J., Tay, C., & Chandrasekar, N. A. (2007). Cultural intelligence: Its measurement and effects on cultural judgment and decision making, cultural adaptation, and task performance. Management and Organization Review, 3, 335-371.
Apte, M. L. (1974). “Thank you” and South Asia languages: A comparative sociolinguistic study. Linguistics, 136, 67-89.
Bardovi-Harlig, K., Rose, M., & Nickels, E. L. (2008). The use of conventional expressions of thanking, apologizing, and refusing. In M. Bowles, R. Foote, S. Perpinan, & R. Bhatt (Eds.), Selected proceedings of the 2007 Second Language Research Forum (pp. 113-130). Cascadilla Proceedings Project, Somerville, MA.
Bolten, J. (2001). Interkulturelle Kompetenz. Erfurt, Thüringen, Germany: Landeszentrale für politische Bildung Thüringen.
Bouton, L. (1994). Conversational implicature in a second language: Learned slowly when not deliberately taught. Journal of Pragmatics, 22, 157-167.
Brislin, R., Worthley, R., & MacNab, B. (2006). Cultural intelligence: Understanding behaviors that serve people’s goals. Group and Organization Management, 31, 40-55
Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C. (1988). Politeness: Some universals in language usage. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Byram, M. (1997). Teaching and assessing intercultural communicative competence. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
Caligiuri, P., & Di Santo, V. (2001). Global competence: What is it, and can it be developed through global assignments? Human Resource Planning, 24, 27-35.
Chen, G.M., & Starosta, W.J. (2006). Intercultural awareness. In L. Samovar & R. Porter (Eds.), Intercultural communication: A reader (11th ed.) (pp. 357-366). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Cheng, S.W. (2005). An exploratory cross-sectional study of interlanguage pragmatic development of expressions of gratitude by Chinese learners of English. Unpublished PhD dissertations. The University of Iowa.
Corbett, J. (2003). An intercultural approach to English language teaching. Clevedon:  Multilingual Matters.
Coulmas, F. (Ed.) (1981). Conversational routines: Explorations in standardized communication situations and prepatterned speech. The Hague: Mouton.
Derin, A., Zeynep, C., Pinar, E., Özlem, K., & Gökçe, K.(2009). Turkish EFL teachers’ opinions on intercultural approach in foreign language education. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 1, 1611-1616
 Earley, P.C., & Ang, S. (2003). (Eds.). Cultural intelligence: Individual interactions across cultures. Stanford, CA: Stanford Business Books.
Eccles, J.S., & Wigfield, A. (2002). Motivational beliefs, values, and goals. In S.T. Fiske, D.L. Schacter, & C. Zahn-Waxler (Eds.), Annual review of psychology, 53 (pp. 109-132). Palo Alto, CA: Annual Reviews.
Eisenstein, M., & Bodman, J. (1986). “I Very Appreciate”’: Expressions of gratitude by native and non-native speakers of American English. Applied Linguistics, 17, 411-432.
Eisenstein, M., & Bodman, J. (1993), Expressing gratitude in American English. In G. Kasper & S. Blum-Kulka, (Eds.), Interlanguage pragmatics (pp. 64-81). New York: Oxford University Press.
Gertsen, M.C. (1990). Intercultural competence and expatriates. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 3, 341-362.
Ghobadi, A., & Fahim, M. (2009). The effect of explicit teaching of English 'thanking formulas' on Iranian EFL intermediate level students at English language institutes. System, 37, 526-537.
Goffman, E. (1967). Interaction ritual: Essays in face-to-face behavior. Chicago: Aldine Publishers.
Gudykunst, W. B. (1992). Being perceived as a competent communicator. In W.B. Gudykunst (Ed.), Bridging differences: Effective intergroup communication (pp. 382-392). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Gudykunst, W., & Ting-Toomey, S. (1988). Culture and interpersonal communication. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Hall, E.T. (1959). The silent language. New York: Doubleday.
Hammer, M. R., Nishida, H., & Wiseman, R. L. (1996). The influence of situational prototypes on dimensions of intercultural communication competence. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 27, 267-282.
Hinkel, E. (1994). Pragmatics of interaction: Expressing thanks in a second language. Applied Language Learning, 5(1), 73-91.
Hymes, D.H. (1972). On communicative competence. In B. Pride & J. Holmes (Eds.), Sociolinguistics (pp. 269-293). Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Imahori, T., & Lanigan, M. (1989). Relational model of intercultural communication competence. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 13, 269-286.
Intachakra, S. (2004). Contrastive pragmatics and language learning: Apologies and thanks in English and Thai, Regional Language Centre Journal, 35, 37-62.
Janani, M. (1995). Pragmatic failure of Iranian language learners in expressing gratitude. Unpublished MA thesis, Tarbiat Modarres University, Tehran, Iran.
Koutlaki, S. A. (2002). Offers and expressions of thanks as face enhancing acts: Ta'arof in Persian. Journal of Pragmatics34, 1733-1756.
Kramsch, C. (1999). The privilege of the intercultural speaker. In M. Byram & M. Fleming (Eds.), Language learning in intercultural perspective: Approaches through drama and ethnography (pp. 16-31). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lebra, T. S. (1976). Japanese patterns of behavior. Honolulu, Hawaii: The University Press of Hawaii.
Leech, G. N. (1983). Principles of pragmatics, London: Longman.
Liddicoat, A. J., Scarino, A., Papademetre, L., & Kohler, M. (2003). Report on intercultural language learning. Canberra: Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training.
Lisheng, X. (2000). Intercultural communicative competence. Foreign languages and their teaching, 7, 319-333.
Martin, J. (1993). Intercultural communication competence: A review. In R. L. Wiseman & J. Koester (Eds.), Intercultural communication competence (pp. 16-32). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Milhouse, V.H. (1993). The applicability of interpersonal communication competence to the intercultural communication context. In R.L. Wiseman & J. Koester (Eds.), Intercultural communication competence (pp. 184-203). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Neuliep, J. W. (2003). Intercultural communication: A contextual approach (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Miffling.
Ng, K.Y., Van Dyne, L., & Ang, S. (2009). Developing global leaders: The role of international experience and cultural intelligence. In W. H. Mobley, Y. Wang, & M. Li (Eds.), Advances in global leadership (pp. 225-250). Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing.
Ng, K.Y., Van Dyne, L., & Ang, S. (2009). Beyond international experience: The strategic role of cultural intelligence for executive selection in international human resource management. In P.R. Sparrow (Ed.), Handbook of international human resource management: Integrating people, process, and context (pp. 97-113). West Sussex: Blackwell.
Ng, K.Y., Van Dyne, L., & Ang, S. (2009). From experience to experiential learning: Cultural intelligence as a learning capability for global leader development. Academy of Management of Management Learning and Education, 8, 511-526.
Okamoto, S., & Robinson, W. P. (1997). Determinants of gratitude expression in England. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 16, 411-433.
Porto, M. (2009). Culturally responsive L2 education: an awareness raising proposal. ELT Journal, 64, 45-53.
Redmond, M. (1998). Wondering into Thai culture. Bangkok: Redmondian Insight Enterprises.
Ruben, B.D. (1976). Assessing communication competency for intercultural adaptation. Group & Organization Studies, 1, 334-354.
Rubin, J. (1983). How to tell when someone is saying “no” revisited. In N. Wolfson & E. Judd (Eds.), Sociolinguistics and language acquisition (pp. 10-17): Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
Scarino, A. (2009). Assessing intercultural competence in language learning: Some issues and considerations. Language Teaching, 42, 67-80.
Schmidt, R. (1993). Consciousness, learning and interlanguage pragmatics. G. Kasper & S. Blum-Kulka, (Eds.), Interlanguage pragmatics (pp. 43-57).New York: Oxford University Press.
Schulz, R. A. (2007). The challenge of assessing cultural understanding in the context of foreign language instruction. Foreign Language Annals, 40, 9-26.
Searle, J. R. (1969). Speech acts: An essay in the philosophy of language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Spitzberg, B. H. (2000). A model of intercultural communication competence. In L. Samovar & R. Porter (Eds.), Intercultural communication: A reader (2nd ed.) (pp. 7-24). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.
Sternberg, R. J., & Detterman, D. K. (1986). What is intelligence? Contemporary viewpoints on its nature and definition. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
Takeuchi, R., Tesluk, P. E., Yun, S., & Lepak, D. P. (2005). An integrative view of international experiences. Academy of Management Journal, 48, 85-100.
Tames, R. (1981). The Japan handbook: A guide for teachers. Kent: Paul Norbury Publishers Limited.
Thomas, J. (1983). Cross-cultural pragmatic failure. Applied Linguistics, 4, 91-112.
Triandis, H. C. (2006). Cultural intelligence in organizations. Group and Organization Management, 31, 20-26.
Trosborg, A. (1987). Apology strategies in natives/non-natives. Journal of Pragmatics, 11, 144- 167.
Van Dyne, L., Ang, S., & Koh, C. K. S. (2009). Cultural intelligence: Measurement and scale development. In M. A. Moodian (Ed.), Contemporary leadership and intercultural competence: Exploring the cross-cultural dynamics within organizations (pp. 233-254). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Wiseman, R. L. (2002). Intercultural communication competence. In W.B. Gudykunst & B. Mody (Eds.), Handbook of international and intercultural communication (2nd ed.) (pp. 207-224). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Wong, M. L. Y. (2010). Expressions of gratitude by Hong Kong speakers of English: Research from the International Corpus of English in Hong Kong (ICE-HK).  Journal of Pragmatics, 42, 1243-1257.